Cromwell's Theological Spokesman

Congregationalist Reformed Puritan beginnings

John Owen was born in 1616 into a clergyman's household, Elstow near Bedford, England. At only 19 years old he earned his Master's Degree at Queen's College, Oxford and became so thoroughly suffused enough with Greek and Latin to launch him to his goal of theology. Albeit he disdained the English High Church Arminianism (basically favor the idea of man's free will) of that school. These sympathies with Augustine of Hippo, John Calvin, and other English Reformation leaders (believed God's sovereignty predestined man), led this newly ordained minister to Fordham, Essex in 1643. He became chaplain in different house churches, and finally he was pastor of his own parish. He wrote at this place and time: A Display of Arminianism where he crossed that "line in the sand" when he supported Reformed theology, and more consequentially, backed Parliament over Royalty. He also interpreted Scriptures that led to a philosophy which adopted a congregationalist polity (church members making key decisions) instead of Presbyterian rule (elders manage). This was added to his Puritan Calvinism with which he wanted to purify the National Church.

The Cromwell Connection

Just after his move to Coggeshall, Essex in 1648, he was a natural to become Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentary Army Chaplain following them to their victorious campaigns from Ireland and then Scotland. Owen was rewarded by becoming his confidential adviser and was brought to Oxford to operate and infuse that school with Godly good order and scholarship. Owen's shared vision of pushing Gospel principles on the Universities, the Church, and the whole nation became astigmatic with the end of Richard Cromwell's rule following his father's death. King Charles II's return meant he became the ex-dean of Christ Church, and he joined the several thousand in exodus from a re-instituted Episcopal edifice, and they now considered themselves: Protestant Nonconformist/Dissenters, eventually pastoring his gathering in a London Congregationalist Assembly.

Theologian's Legacy

This man of bodily, mental, and spiritual stature did not leave any heirs from his two wives (not Mormon-style) but left us his work before he died in 1683. His scholarly estate handed down complete well thought-out writings on Calvinist Protestant classic orthodoxy, Biblical and historical theology, difficult doctrinal study: e.g. The Trinity, personal publications like Correspondence, commentaries on the book of Hebrews, and of Psalm 130. His devotion to his beliefs, and his maintenance of his own Holy living were the cause of "conformists" harassing him until his death. Even though he was sociable and witty, the serious, sober, and weighty style in John Owen's books has caused him to be overshadowed by the fame of Richard Baxter and John Bunyon; but that is why he is considered the "Theologians' Theologian, not the teacher for the layman.

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