Saturday, July 15, 2006

Piper and Taylor are at it again ...

I think the Bible approves of partnerships in the Gospel. You see it everywhere - Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy. And I'm starting to notice partnerships par excellence about today as well where men and women develop friendships but extend that into working together for the glory of God. Terry Virgo seems particularly good at it. You have Terry Virgo and Nigel Ring, Terry Virgo and Stuart Townend, Terry Virgo and David Holden. Who else? Oh yes - Gerald Coates and Noel Richards.

But one partnership in the theological world that I am particularly grateful for is that of John Piper and Justin Taylor. They have brought us outstanding books such as "A God Entranced Vision of All Things", "Beyond the Bounds" and "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ". And now I see from the Crossway website that we can soon look forward to this adaptation of Dr John Owen's classic - "Overcoming Sin and Temptation".

Volume 6 of the Works on "Overcoming Sin and Temptation" was probably the first volume of Owen's that I really got my teeth into. I got the 16 volumes on an amazing deal at my favourite Christian bookshop where I used to live in Dunstable. They were the only Christian bookshop that I knew of outside London who used to stock Puritan works. My pastor Dr Stanley Jebb urged me to get the Works - and I never ignore him! But no question - John Owen is the hardest of the Puritans.

This volume however is very pastoral and stirring. Owen makes it his ambition for every reader to see sin for what it truly is. Here are a few of my favourite quotes:

"All other ways of mortification are vain, all helps leave us helpless; it must by done by the Spirit" (p7).

"The vigour and power and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh" (p9).

"Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you" (p9).

"Let a soul exercise itself to a communion with Christ in the good things of the gospel - pardon of sin, fruits of holiness, hope of glory, peace with God, joy in the Holy Ghost, dominion over sin - and he shall have a mighty preservative against all temptations. As the full soul loatheth the honeycomb - as a soul filled with carnal, earthly, sensual contentments finds no relish nor savour in the sweetest spiritual things; so he that is satisfied with the kindness of God as with marrow and fatness - that is every day entertained at the banquet of wine, wine upon the lees and well refined - hath a holy contempt of the baits and allurements that lie in prevailing temptations and is safe" (p144).

So that all being said, I am glad that this volume is coming out. I would still recommend the "proper" version but for those who simply don't have the time to sit down with Dr John Owen in full, then this is a must have! I have no doubt that Justin Taylor and Kelly Kapic will have done an excellent job.


Ollie said...

I'm not sure I totally approve of dumbed down versions. I know - I know I might make hackles rise. But I do think that there is always a danger of an element of truth being lost or watered down. People SHOULD attempt Owen. What would happen if no one ever tried to ascend Everest? We wouldn't know what the top of the world looked like.

And I think mastering Owen could mean an appreciation of theology and of God Himself that could be quite unique.

Plus I like the hardbacks.

Anyway - that's just me.

Anonymous said...

What about the partnership of C J Mahaney and Joshua Harris?

James B said...

I've never attempted Owen I must admit Ollie, but I can see your point. But surely Dan's point is right that not everyone actually has the time to sit down and work their way through Owen's Works. Some pastors might not have the time I would warrant!

A quest worth embarking on to be sure, but until we all attain to that level of commitment to reading, then surely we should be grateful for this new book.

Ollie said...

Erm ... what about C J Mahaney and Joshua Harris?!?

MTonks said...

I agree the team of Piper and Taylor is a great combination. I think that the book will be good for those who do not have the time or the vocabulary to go through the original text of Owen.

Baxter's Boy said...

Thanks for the comment mtonks - good to hear from you and come across your website! There's some good stuff there that I'm looking forward to reading. A very God-centred website - horray.

I haven't really given a huge deal of thought to the partnership issue until today when I saw the book. The well known phrase among Newfrontiers might apply here I think - "More together than we are apart".

This is a divine idea of God's! To bring together men like this to work together on projects such as this book which will ultimately glorify Him and aid His church. And what a task it must have been. Owen is hard as I have said. I can't even imagine the work that it must have taken to edit it to a more accessible format.

Sheila said...

Thoughts on the Mahaney/Harris partnership:

They compliment each other VERY well.

My favorite partnership, dedicated to the gospel of Christ, is the "Tim/Sheila partnership". ;-)

*eyebrow wriggle*

Ollie said...

I don't think it's a partnership though really. I see it more as a mentor/disciple kinda thing. The others mentioned seem more like equals working together and pooling gifts and resources. Harris is Mahaney's successor whereas doesn't Mahaney do some kind of itinerate work around the world? Or am I getting it wrong? Does a partnership suggest a lot of being together/doing together?

Baxter's Boy said...

My feeling is that it matters less "what" the partnership is but more "what" are they doing and "where" are they going for the gospel.

Partnerships are known everywhere. In law - in medicine - in business. But they are totally secular!

I am more bothered about the kind of partnerships that glorify God and advance the cause of the Gospel. I think the Bible leaves a lot of scope for individual personalities, variety and so on. But the end is - are the partnerships on a mission? Do they have a vision?