The Heart of John Owen :: a book review

An Introduction to John Owen: A Christian Vision for Every Stage of Life

by Crawford Gribben; Crossway, Wheaton, 2020

Crawford Gribben has already written a biography of John Owen (John Owen and Puritanism: Experiences of Defeat, 2016). In this work, Gribben seeks to give insight into Owen’s ministry to the spiritual lives of those who first read and listened to him.

Owen’s work as pastor, preacher, chaplain, politician, and professor is quite fascinating. Over the course of his life, for instance, he ministered from positions of power, as Cromwell’s chaplain, as well as being regarded as seditious by the government of Charles II. Owen was vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford and the pastor of small, struggling Congregational churches. He suffered the deaths of all of his ten children. He endured long periods of ill health. He wrote outstanding theological treatises, and he was deeply pious and a theologian of the heart. He lived through the Great Plague in London and the Great Fire of London.

Gribben draws out the development and changes in Owen’s life, and more importantly, how Owen continued to exhibit a pastoral concern for the people God led him to serve. From a life that was characterized by defeat in many ways, John Owen was a pastor, a shepherd who cared deeply for the souls of the people in his charge.

Owen’s growth from youth through middle age to old age, and the development of his ministry through each stage, provide perspectives of his life and work that gave me insight into John Owen that I will apply to my study of his great works.

Gribben has done a great service in his introduction to John Owen, the man.

Thank you to Crossway for providing a complimentary copy of this book through the Blog Review Program.