Though the preeminent English theologian of the 17th century, there is much about John Owen's life which remains obscured to us today. One of the achievements of Crawford Gribben
's new book John Owen and English Puritanism: Experiences of Defeat
(Oxford University Press
, 2017) is to use Owen's voluminous writings on religion to provide new insights into this critical Puritan figure. Born in 1616, Owen grew up in an Anglican faith increasingly influenced by Arminian doctrine. Though Owen sided with Parliament during the English Civil War, it was hearing a sermon in London that had a far more profound impact on Owen's life by triggering a born again experience. Thanks to a succession of wealthy patrons, Owen rose to prominence during the war, preaching before Parliament and serving as a chaplain in Oliver Cromwell's campaign in Ireland. For his support Cromwell appointed him vice chancellor of Oxford University, a post that Owen held until the Restoration led to his removal. Though offered opportunities in Massachusetts colony, Owen elected to remain in England, where he wrote and preached until his death in 1683.