Polemical and Practical? The Trinitarian Spirituality of Francis Cheynell and John Owen in Context

Paul C. H. Lim

in Mystery Unveiled

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195339468
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979097 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Historical Theology

Polemical and Practical? The Trinitarian Spirituality of Francis Cheynell and John Owen in Context

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This chapter presents the two major proponents of Trinitarian spirituality among the Puritans, John Owen and Francis Cheynell. The first part of the chapter situates the context of Francis Cheynell's defense of the Trinity in the Civil War and Interregnum Oxford, after which his undeservedly neglected The Divine Triunity is analyzed as an exemplar among Puritan “polemical and practical” divinity. The larger part of the chapter, however, deals with various aspects of Owen's writings on the Trinity: the nature of the Triune God promulgated vis-à-vis John Biddle's anti-Trinitarian insistence; the importance of “mystery” and “apophatic” theology in Owen's defense of the Trinity; his exegesis of the Song of Songs as a way of encouraging not only a more Christocentric biblical interpretation, but also as a mode of fostering a deeper communion with the Triune God; and finally, how this “mystical” tendency was challenged by William Sherlock in the Restoration, and yet remained as sine qua non in Owen's vision of Trinitarian spirituality and theology. Furthermore, by noting the continuity of theological issues with which Owen was engaged, with nearly identical type of casts, viz., Socinians and anti-Puritan Church of England divines, the chapter further confirms and suggests ways in which the Restoration controversies over politics of religion can be better evaluated.

Keywords: Trinitarian spirituality; Puritans; John Owen; Francis Cheynell; divinity; John Biddle; Song of Songs

Chapter.  20579 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christian Theology

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