Trinitarian Spirituality: John Owen and the Doctrine of God in Western Devotion

Overview

This work examines the problem of how to connect the historic doctrine of the Trinity to Christian devotional practice. Two criteria for a successful Trinitarian spirituality are proposed: that of drawing significantly from nuances of the classic formulations of the doctrine and dealing with the mode of original Trinitarian self-disclosure, that is, the unfolding biblical doctrine of the historia salutis. Various historical attempts at articulating a method are examined, with special emphasis given to the Puritan...

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Overview

This work examines the problem of how to connect the historic doctrine of the Trinity to Christian devotional practice. Two criteria for a successful Trinitarian spirituality are proposed: that of drawing significantly from nuances of the classic formulations of the doctrine and dealing with the mode of original Trinitarian self-disclosure, that is, the unfolding biblical doctrine of the historia salutis. Various historical attempts at articulating a method are examined, with special emphasis given to the Puritan John Owen.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Brian K. Kay is Senior Pastor, Trinity Presbyterian Church, San Luis Obispo, CA.

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Table of Contents

Foreword   J.I. Packer     xiii
Introduction     1
The Old Divorce of Spirituality from Theology and New Reasons for Hope     8
The Historical Roots of the Divorce     11
Integration Projects Old and New     16
Karl Barth and God's Purpose in Triune Self-Revelation     17
Re-Asserting the Economy: Strengths and Devotional Pitfalls in Karl Rahner     20
Broad Models of Relating the Doctrine of God to Spirituality     23
In Search of Trinitarian Spirituality: Definitions, Criteria, and Marginal Successes     29
The Criteria for a Successful Trinitarian Spirituality     30
Explanation of the First Criterion: Orthodoxy in Historical and Systematic Theology     30
The Content of the First Criterion: Defining the Doctrine     31
The Trinity Revealed in the New Testament: Doctrine for the Sake of Communion     31
The Doctrine in Formulation: What Has Been Meant by 'Trinity'     33
God's 'Essential Works' vs. 'Personal Works'     35
Explanation of the Second Criterion: The Trinity of Redemptive History     36
Narrative vs. Drama     37
Non-Dramatic Spirituality and Critique of Nietzsche     39
Covenantal Drama and Evangelical Spirituality     42
SampleQuestions     44
Probing Three Devotional Traditions     45
Early English Quakerism     46
Popular Puritan Devotion     50
Medieval Devotion     57
Realist Mysticism on the Continent     59
Realist Mysticism in Britain: The 'English Mystics'     62
Owen's Method for Meditating on the Trinity     68
Walter Hilton's Scale of Perfection: Towards Success     71
The Devotio Moderna: Realist Mysticism Goes Mainstream     75
The Devotio Moderna's Tendency Toward Moralism     79
Counterbalance: The Devotio Moderna's Affective Use of Gospel Imagery to Engage the Historia Salutis     81
The Imitation of Christ     84
Excursis: Owen's Mechanics of Meditating on the Cross     89
The Two Nominalisms and John Owen     92
General Features of Trinitarian Spirituality     98
The Dilemma of God's Incomprehensibility and the Solution of Salvation History     98
Owen's Dual Affirmation and the Point Where Speculation Yields to Devotion     103
Owen and the History of One-ness vs. Three-ness     106
Connecting Theology to Doxology: What is Communion with God?     113
The Enjoyment of Communion Flows from the Fact of Union     118
Distinct Communion with Each Divine Person     120
Owen's Communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit     124
Communion with the Father     124
Responding to the Father's Love: Receiving and Returning     129
The Meditative Technique Regarding the Father     132
The Four Adjectives of Fatherly Love: Free, Distinguishing, Unchangeable, Eternal     134
The Pastoral Context: Confronting Apathy, Instilling Assurance     138
Communion with the Son     145
Purchased Grace     147
Purchased Grace Through Christ's Active Obedience     147
Purchased Grace Through Christ's Passive Obedience     149
Three Aspects of the Human Response to Christ's Purchased Grace     150
Responding to Christ through Justification     151
Responding to Christ through Sanctification     156
Personal Grace     161
The Song of Songs in Bernard of Clairvaux: The Theology of the Kiss     161
The Song According to John Owen     165
Communion with the Holy Spirit     169
The Spirit's Economic Procession     170
Indwelling     174
Union with Christ and the Resulting Prospect of Trinitarian Indwelling     177
The Meaning of the Believer's 'Participation in the Divine Nature'     181
Conclusions, and the Significance of Owenian Devotion     185
The Slipperiness of Evangelical Spirituality     185
The First Test: A One Substantia, Three Persona Spirituality     187
Owen and Alignment with the Western Theological/Spiritual Tradition     187
Owen's 'Spirit-Christology' as a Key Ingredient for a Trinitarian Spirituality     189
The Second Test: The Devotional Use of Divine Drama     194
Selected Bibliography     200
General Index     211
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