Mystical Puritans: A look at “The Affective Spirituality of John Owen” by David M. King

In his article The Affective Spirituality of John Owen [the-affective-spirituality-of-john-owen] David M. King shines a light on the white hot passion for God that existed among the “frozen chosen”. In direct contrast to the common perception that Reformed Theology leads to cold orthodoxy, King uses John Owen a paradoxical portrait.

Insights from the article:

  1. We are here to be sanctified, and it’s “both God’s promised gift and man’s prescribed duty”.
  2. Sanctification includes both the “vivification” (life of the new nature) and “mortification” (death of the old nature).
  3. Subjective communion with God is to be cultivated, but is possible only through Christ, and in agreement with the Word of God.
  4. Experiential religion mixes knowledge with power and efficacy, and it’s the greatest deterrent to apostasy.
  5. A knowledge of God can lead to life, but an experience of God is necessary to achieve peace.
  6. Cognitive contemplation is thinking about truth, affective contemplation is allowing truth to shape our hearts and minds with “love, delight, and humiliation”.

This quote should help summarize the article, “Some have caricatured Puritanism, and indeed much of the Reformed tradition, as a cold and lifeless intellectualism. In contrast, the religion of the Puritans was an affective and experiential religion, as those who look to this tradition for insight into ‘evangelical spirituality’ will discover”.

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