Book Review: Communion with the Triune God by John Owen

C.S. Lewis understood the devotional benefit of reading good theology. “For my own part,” wrote Lewis, “I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.”

I believe Lewis is right. I found my heart singing while reading this lengthy treatise on the Trinity written 350 years ago by an English Puritan pastor-theologian. In Communion with the Triune God, John Owen shows from Scripture how to enjoy fellowship with each person of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

Editors Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor have once again done the church a great service by publishing this book. Following a Foreword by Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Kapic provides a helpful introductory essay, “Worshiping the Triune God: The Shape of John Owen’s Trinitarian Spirituality” that gives a “panoramic view of Owen’s approach to communion with the triune God” (p. 20).

The goal of this volume, according to Taylor, is to provide “unabridged but updated and accessible edition of Owen’s Communion with God” (p. 47). In other words, the editors let Owen speak for himself. This isn’t an abridgement or a paraphrase. The original content is reformatted to assist the modern reader. Owen’s notoriously long paragraphs are broken into smaller units. All Greek and Hebrew words are transliterated. Pithy Latin phrases are translated. Difficult words are footnoted. Helpful headings and subheadings aid in following Owen’s flow of thought.

This is good news for those of us who find Owen difficult to read. However, the effort required to read this book will be repaid many times over. Mining for gold is always hard work. Passages like this keep me coming back to Owen to mine for more gold: “So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in Him, and no more. Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from Him; but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto Him” (p. 128).

All who desire to grow in their love and adoration for the glorious Triune God will want to read this book.

ISBN: 9781581348316 
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 448 pages
Publisher: Crossway Books (September 27, 2007)

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