A Review of The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen

This profound work by John Owen discusses the nature and extent of Christ’s death on the cross (Since reading this book I have become aware of some of the controversy over his treatment of different issues, but since I have not had time to delve deeper into these shoals I will write this review based my initial impression from reading the book). Owen is a notoriously difficult author to read, one author attributing to his rhetoric the grace of an elephant’s gait, but upon reading his work one is usually rewarded with the depth of his thought and the insights he derives from his studies of Scripture.  His study on the priesthood of Christ in relationship to both the sacrifice He makes and the intercession He offers is insightful, and his analysis of the use of the Greek word κοσμος (kosmos; world, universe, humanity) (192 has a diagram of his analysis and the surrounding chapter gives his discussion) is very intriguing. I found it to be an able and convincing exposition of the doctrine of Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption) and a cutting critique of Universal Atonement as championed by Thomas More, the Amyraldians[1], and Arminians. Whether or not the critiques of I have encountered prove to be as effective as they are suggested to be, at the very least proponents Universal Atonement would do well to wrestle with Owen’s exegesis and arguments for the opposing view and proponents of Limited Atonement will, even if not agreeing with every conclusion and argument, find Owen’s thought enlightening to their own position. The introduction by J.I. Packer is also outstanding and almost worth the price of the book in itself.

This book gets a rating of 5/5

[1] This is an over simplification, but basically an Amyraldian is a 4-point Calvinist, they explain their understanding of Universal Redemption by appealing to the order of God’s decrees.


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