John Owen on Scripture and Community

Posted: May 19, 2011 in bible, books, puritans, quotes

[John Owen affirmed] the standard Protestant point that Scripture is perspicuous, in the sense that every Christian who uses the means of grace as he should, can learn from it all he needs to know for life and godliness. This formula is not, however, a warrant for anyone to go off on his own with a Bible and expect to learn everything by reading it in isolation; Owen makes it plain by listing as the prime means of grace, which personal Bible study presupposes, those afforded by the corporate life of the Christian community, namely the public preaching of the word and informal discussion with Christian people… Of the latter, he writes:

The mutual instruction of one another in the mind of God out of the Scripture, is also required… And the neglect of this duty in the world, which is so great that the very mention of it, or the least attempt to perform it, is a matter of scorn and reproach, is one cause of the great ignorance and darkness that yet abounds among us.

This may be a word in season in our own day. Only in the context of the church’s corporate learning from the Scriptures, both formally and informally, does Owen expect the individual to reach a right understanding of biblical teaching.

– J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness, p. 93


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