The Spirit and the Son: John Owen’s Pneumatology and Divine Revelation

God has revealed himself through his Son, the Word of God. God has also revealed himself through his Word, the inspired Holy Scripture. In both instances of revelation, the Father is at work through the Son and in the Spirit. In both instances, moreover, the Spirit works actively through a human instrument to bring about the Word of God made physical so that his people may know God and enjoy him. Recently, scholars have argued varying theses regarding Owen’s use of the Spirit’s role in the Incarnation of the Son. Moreover, Andrew Leslie has recently explicated Owen’s robust doctrine of inspiration, demonstrating the Spirit’s role in this act as well. Resourcing John Owen’s doctrines of the incarnation and the inspiration of Scripture gives a robust and unified theology of revelation that stresses the role of the Holy Spirit in each of these doctrines, specifically concerning the Spirit’s efficient causation, the human material causation, and the Son being the material subject in both events. In this paper, I will argue that John Owen’s pneumatic doctrines of the incarnation of the Son and inspiration of Scripture provide a metaphysical framework for understanding the similarity between these two operations ad extra by comparing Owen’s doctrines in virtue of their efficient cause, material cause, and material subject of each event, thus demonstrating a common paradigm in the economy of revelation. This analogy and similarity between these two doctrines allows for the two doctrines to speak into one another in order to provide clarity for the other. In other words, the metaphysical resemblances between the two establishes a constructive symbiosis as a tool for doctrinal clarity.

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