Thursday, May 18, 2006

Augustine & Owen: On Perseverance

Notes on Henry Knapp, “Augustine and Owen on Perseverance.” Westminster Theological Journal 62 (2000): 65-87.

The purpose of Knapp's article is to compare and contrast Augustine and Owen’s teaching on the doctrine of perseverance. He begins by surveying Augustine’s three primary works on perseverance, De correptione et gratia, De praedestinatione sanctorum, and De dono perseverantiae, and notes Augustine’s emphasis on perseverance as a gracious gift of God. Likewise, Knapp observes that Owen clearly acknowledged God’s graciousness in perseverance but differs slightly from Augustine in concentrating on the infallible efficacy of the doctrine as it is anchored in God’s immutable character and promises. As a result, Owen also argued for a level of assurance, rooted in God’s preserving grace, which could be achieved in the life of the elect, an application which Augustine seemed hesitant to make.

Knapp draws the bulk of his analysis of Owen’s teaching on perseverance from the polemical work, The Doctrine of the Saints’ Perseverance – a detailed refutation of the Puritan and Arminian John Goodwin’s Redemption Redeemed. In addition, Knapp briefly mentions Owen’s pastoral work The Nature of Apostasy from the Profession of the Gospel – of which the first chapter, Knapp perceptively notes, corresponds nearly verbatim to Owen’s exegesis of Hebrews 6:4-6 in his An Exposition of the Epsitle to the Hebrews.

Knapp is to be commended for ably providing a historically and theologically contextual reading of Owen’s polemical and exegetical writings. The article is well researched and argued.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi John,
What's your e-mail. I'm a John Owen fan and would like to ask you some questions about your studies at Edinburgh.
Mark Jones


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