John Owen, 1658, and the Bond between the Spirit and Word

John Owen, with erudite precision makes the following observations dealing with the role of the Spirit in the confirmation of the Authority of Scripture. Owen argues that in reading the Scripture the covenant keeper hears the Authority of the Holy Spirit’s testimony in the word, and the self-authentication of the Truth spoken by the Spirit.

Sect. 11.2 There is a testimony of the Spirit, that respects the object, or the Word its self, and this is a public testimony, which, as it satisfies our souls in particular, so it is, and may be pleaded [alleged], in reference unto the fashion of all others, to whom the Word of God shall come. The Holy Ghost speaking in and by the Word, imparting to it Virtue, Power, Efficacy, Majesty, and Authority, affords us the Witness, that our faith is resolved unto. And thus whereas there are but two heads, whereunto all Grounds of Assent do belong, namely Authority of the Testimony, and the self Evidence of Truth, they do here both concur in one. In the same Word we have both the authority of the testimony of the Spirit, and the self Evidence of the Truth spoken by him; yea, so, that both these are materially one and the same, though distinguished in the formal conceptions…. The Spirit’s communication of his own Light, and Authority to the Scripture, as evidences of its originall, is the testimony pleaded for [or alleged, or the argument maintained].

Owen is alleging [testimony pleaded for] that the testimony of the Spirit and the self-evidence of the truth spoken by the Spirit concur in the Word both being materially “one and the same.” Though formally distinct, the Spirit’s testimony, or the communication of his own Light, and the Authority of Scripture as self-attesting or self-evidencing are evidence of its source in the original or autographa.

John Owen, Of the Divine Originall, Authority, self-evidencing Light, and Power of the Scriptures: With an Answer to that Enquiry, How we know the Scripture’s to be the Word of God. Also A Vindication of the Purity and Integrity of the Hebrew and Greek Texts of the Old and New Testaments; in some Considerations on the Prolegomena (Oxford: Printed by Henry Hall, Printer to the University for Tho: Robinson, 1658), 96-98.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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