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The doctrine of the church in the theology of John Owen

James, Jean (1975) The doctrine of the church in the theology of John Owen. Masters thesis, Durham University.



When examining a man's theology, the obvious starting point is the scrutiny of the forces which shapedthat man and that theology. We thus first of all investigate the ecclesiastical events in sixteenth and seventeenth century England, noting the effects these events had on John Owen, gradually convincing him that the 'Congregational Way' was God's chosen way of church government. The doctrine of the church is, however, only one part of Owen's total theology. His views on other important doctrines are therefore considered to see how they are shaped "by, and shape, his doctrine of the church. The doctrines examined are the Person and Work of Christ, the Holy Spirit, Holy Scripture and Grace. The doctrine of the church is then discussed in detail. The salient points of Congregational belief are pointed out - the stress on the local, particular church as opposed to the universal church, the concept of the church as completely independent and comprising visible saints, voluntarily gathered together, the total reliance on the Scriptures as the sole rule of 'worship, the rejection of liturgies. The Congregationalists were frequently accused of schism because of their practice of drawing people out of parish churches to form gathered churches. A chapter is therefore devoted to these charges and Owen's refutation of them, chiefly by redefining the term schism more scripturally. This doctrine of the church is, however, not peculiar to Owen. A comparison between his doctrine and that of the Congregationalist Thomas Goodwin, discloses a substantial agreement between the two men. Owen was, therefore, expounding the Congregational way, and not a way of his own devising. The thesis is concluded by a critical assessment of Owen and his theology.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1975
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:44

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