Safeguarding the treasury : John Owen and the analogy of faith
This work explores the uses and understanding of the hermeneutical principle of the analogia fidei within early Protestantism, and particularly in the works of the seventeenth century Puritan John Owen. Through an introductory analysis of the literature, at large and more narrowly in relation to Owen, it is contended that much of the work on this subject has resulted in confusion and caricature leading to conflicting views of the principle, its constrained aspects, and its usage within post-Reformation Protestantism. By considering how Owen and other early Protestants regarded the various aspects of the analogy of faith and issues surrounding its use a clearer picture of harmonious understanding and continuity emerges. In chapter one the analogy of faith of early Protestantism is defined as a coherent hermeneutical principle with both formal and practical expressions, over and against views of numerous versions of the principle. Chapter two then examines Owen’s theological presuppositions and how these both supported and necessitated the employment of the analogia fidei. Chapter three considers Owen’s views of Romans 12:6, the analogy of faith’s biblical foundation, in relation to the ideas of internal and external perspicuity. Chapter four addresses scholarly criticism that the analogy of faith is inherently contradictory to the principle of sola Scriptura, and the resulting determination by some to distance Owen from this principle in its more established forms. A chapter is then dedicated to the examination of the patristic regula fidei as a possible source for the analogia fidei. Finally, the analogy of faith is examined in the works of John Owen. In chapter 6, his various applications of the principle are systematically analyzed; and in the final chapter Owen’s use of the analogy of faith in his exposition of Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-29 is considered.