Published on October 12, 2022 by Steve West

Banner of Truth, 1966 | 639 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

by Steve West


Editor’s Note:  Most of our readers will already be at least somewhat acquainted with John Owen (1616-1683), “the prince of Puritans,” but it is not likely that many have read him extensively. His works are not only voluminous – they are tightly packed and deeply considered. Owen is neither quick nor light reading!

Today we continue our year-long series of summaries of Owen’s famous works. We trust these will be of help in introducing and/or increasing your acquaintance with this giant Puritan theologian.




Vindiciae Evangelicae:

or, The Mystery of the Gospel Vindicated and Socinianism Examined

[This polemic work of Owen is a point-by-point response to the Socinian catechisms produced by a man named Mr. Biddle, as well as the Racovian Catechism.]


Of the Nature of God

Biddle’s work on the essence, nature, and properties of God is blasphemous. He rightly says that there is one God, and he identifies the Father as God, but later on, he rejects the Trinity. He also rightly says that God is a spirit, but this generates contradictions when Biddle discusses God’s form. God is said to be in heaven (not omnipresent and infinite), and that his right and left hand can be distinguished by sight. Biddle is right that God is in heaven, but where does Scripture teach that he is nowhere else? God manifests himself gloriously in heaven, but Scripture explicitly teaches that he is not confined there; God’s essence is in every place. Since his essence is infinite and immense, it is present in and to creation equally (i.e. it is not diffused or spread out or over creation). Being limited or circumscribed is an imperfection and a lack, and since God is infinitely perfect he must not have such limitations. How could God effectively use his power everywhere if he is only present in heaven, or in a part thereof? Even many pagans were aware that God could not be spatially-bound.


Of the Shape and Bodily Figure of God

Biddle’s conclusion is that God is shaped like a man. This absurd view is drawn from literalizing anthropomorphisms, and from identifying our creation in the image and likeness of God with the shape and appearance of our physical being. Scripture makes clear that humans bear the image of God not in their physical bodies but in their mental and spiritual faculties and virtues. That God is not an old man with white hair sitting on a physical throne is made evident by the rest of the biblical revelation. The texts Biddle appeals to are obviously metaphorical. Vainly imagining that God is shaped like a man is a denial of biblical teaching that there is no likeness or image that he can be compared to. This view is worse than making and worshiping graven images and imagining that God is like a bull or something else in creation. This conceit is overthrown by God’s infinity and immutability since to be corporeal and shaped is to be finite and mutable. Jews and Greeks alike have recognized that an infinite being cannot have a shape like Biddle believes God to have. . . .

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Banner of Truth, 1966 | 639 pages

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