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.
Summary, Part 2
The Church of Rome No Safe Guide
All those who want to grow spiritually and take care of their souls will look for a guide in the things of religion. In these areas, our own reason and wisdom is not a sufficient guide. The role of a guide is especially important when there are so many competing doctrines and teachings in the world, as well as so many scandalous practices. Some differences do not overthrow the foundation of faith and love which is essential, but they can still be pernicious since they harm the soul’s growth and hinder the gospel. When professors begin to damn in their own minds everyone who disagrees with them, they are open to doing all kinds of mischief; they become both judge and executioner. There are those who make every trivial divergence from themselves to be a cause for damnation, but thanks be to God it is Christ and not themselves who is the judge. There are, however, genuinely vital issues on which salvation depends. The question before us is, “What guide or conduct a man that takes care of his own salvation, that would know the truth, and have the benefit of it, that would please God here, and come unto the eternal enjoyment of him hereafter, ought to betake himself, and firmly adhere unto, as that which will safely lead and direct him unto all these ends?, for ‘if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch’.”
Two things claim to be this sure and infallible guide. The first one is the church of Rome. To support this claim, they contend that they alone are the church. (This claim can only be taken on their own authority since they look nothing like that which we find in the New Testament.) Next, they must argue that the church alone is the only guide in matters of truth and religion and that those who do not yield their minds and consciences to them cannot have eternal life. A person is told that they must give themselves entirely to the conduct of the church, obeying all of its commands without question. . . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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