07 February 2008

Derek Thomas, John Owen and Learning

I spend a fair amount of time reading and listening to well known theologians. I like learning and studying theology but I’m always cautious so as not to just make all this learning purely an intellectual endeavor. Rather, I try to also incorporate all of this theology I’ve been absorbing over the years and incorporate it into my devotional life. Thus, for all these smarter-than-me living and dead theologians that I’ve been reading and listening to over the years I have to admit that I also enjoy learning about their personal life just as much. What was their life like, how did they grow up, what physical difficulties did they experience, how did they come to know the Lord and how did they spend time with the Lord? Often if I want to buy one of their books I usually lean towards buying one of their devotional works first over anything else they may have published.
I’ve taken a break recently from some other studies to spend some time on the Puritans (again) and John Owen particularly. I’ve been listening to some lectures by Derek Thomas on John Owen given at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Its fascinating and enlightening stuff and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. At one point, Thomas, in connection with his talk on Owen, relates his own conversion experience which I liked hearing about and I’m glad he shared it. For all his knowledge, Thomas, like all of us, was saved by simple grace. A friend gave him a book by John Stott which he read followed by his own reading of the Bible (the first he Bible he ever owned). Sensing his need he prayed, he can’t remember his exact words but it was something like what a “drowning man would say when the waters were coming upon him, 'Lord save me’.” He went on to say that he could not have “formulated anything that was theologically sound…” but he simply believed Matthew 11:28-30 and that’s all there was to it. What a simple and yet profound story of God’s grace working in a man’s heart. Of all the issues he spoke about this was just as encouraging and interesting and a great little diversion from the focus of the lecture. It really brought home his point about Owen’s view on conviction of sin.
It was Herman Bavinck, who, on his death bed, said "My dogmatics avails me nothing nor my knowledge but I have my faith and in this I have all.” May we all remember this sentiment as we travel the life-long road of learning.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

More on Derek Thomas here & his Owen lectures are here.

No comments: