John Owen, the Baptist?

I’m dreaming someday about forming a pastor’s college as a part of the wider ministry of Mercy Hill, the church of which I’m the organizing pastor (church planter) here in South Jersey.

This is part of my own heritage, having grown up in a church and a ministry which had a vision many years ago for church based theological training that eschewed accreditation and aimed, as with the original American pastor’s college, founded by the Tenent Brothers, the Log College, to raise up men for the ministry, not for the academy.

At the top of the list so far in my mind, in terms of naming said college is the title, “Owen Hall,” after the great Congregationalist Puritan theologian and minister, John Owen.

But was he a baptist?

That wouldn’t pose a problem per se with our pastors college project, because I hope that both baptists and presbyterians would benefit from the instruction in its rooms, and be sent as men and women to serve the King more faithfully in their respective callings.

But it would be important to know, before naming a place, who the namesake really was.

So I read with some interest the essay posted here by Luke Stamps, and gave my reply some thought. You can read the latter here. Go ahead, read it now.


Welcome back. There’s more to be said on the topic, and I obviously have some reading assignments to do if I intend to delve further into this subject.

But as I said in my conclusion over there, we tend to broad brush the saints of old and their views, and the individual textures they bring to the conversation, their inconsistencies, their character flaws, and their foibles, all serve to add to their usefulness to the larger conversation about how to serve and honor God in our world today.

If by careful study our heroes are brought down a notch, this will, in many (though certainly not all) cases serve to brighten the godly flame that they in fact did carry for Christ and His church in their generation.

As for Owen’s as-of-yet-to-be-determined incipient baptist theology, our faith rises and falls not on the words of man, but on the Written Word of God. Which is important, generally, to remember when we set men before us as models, exemplars, and teachers.

My heroes of the faith, which include Schaeffer, Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Edwards, Bunyan, Calvin, Anselm, Augustine, Paul (among others)–all have weaknesses and “issues” as we like to call them today, things through which the grace of God shines, and the Gospel is announced in this way: “we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that…”

Soli Deo Gloria.