The Doctrine of Justification by Faith: Through the Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ Explained, Confirmed, and Vindicated (Owen)

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Reformation Heritage Books

John Owen presents one of the most rigorous defenses of the Reformed doctrine of justification ever written. This reprint of The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, taken from the 19th century edition produced by the Presbyterian Board of Publications, will serve as a welcome improvement for many readers. Latin and Greek quotations have been moved to footnotes, and English translations are given for those large blocks of material that Owen left untranslated. It also contains a new introductory essay by Carl R. Trueman, which analyzes Owen’s treatment of justification in light of the highly charged debates of his day. While Owen’s work is technical and challenging, this edition is an effort to make his profound exposition more manageable.


Table of Contents:

General Considerations

1. Justifying Faith, the causes, object, and nature of it declared

2. The Nature of Justifying Faith

3. The Use of Faith in Justification

4. Of Justification, the Notion, and Signification of the Word in the Scripture

5. The Distinction of a first and second Justification examined

6. Evangelical Personal Righteousness, the Nature and Use of it

7. Imputation, and the Nature of it; with the Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ in particular

8. Imputations of the Sins of the Church to Christ

9. The Formal Cause of Justification

10. Arguments for Justification by the imputation of the Righteousness of Christ

11. The Nature of the Obedience that God requires of us

12. The Imputation of the Obedience of Christ to the Law

13. The Nature of Justification proved from the difference of the Covenants

14. The Exclusion of all sorts of Works from an interest in Justification

15. Faith alone

16. The Truth pleaded, further confirmed by Testimonies of Scripture, Jer. Xxiii. 6

17. Testimonies out of the Evangelists

18. The Nature of Justification as declared in the Epistle of Paul

19. Objections against the Doctrine of Justification

20. The Doctrine of the Apostle James, concerning Faith and Works 



John Owen (1616–1683), amongst the best known of the Puritans, was an English Puritan who served as vice-chancellor of Oxford University and pastor of congregations in Coggeshall and London. His writings continue to be widely read and greatly appreciated to this day. 



 "John Owen’s treatment of justification is a classic example of Reformed Orthodoxy at its best: rooted in the ongoing Anti-Pelagian trajectory of Western theology and operating within the established Protestant consensus, Owen yet demonstrates the ways in which that consensus was itself under strain, exegetically, theologically, and socially, in the seventeenth century, and how it was necessary for doctrinal formulation of the doctrine to undergo careful elaboration in order to respond to such. In particular, his defense of the imputation of Christ’s active and passive righteousness and his vigorous rejection of Baxter’s accusations that his theology was antinomian and demanded a doctrine of eternal justification, points towards the covenantal/Christological heart of his theology.

As such, he is an example of how federal theology could be deployed to set the Protestant confessional consensus on a much firmer conceptual foundation than was the case in the early Reformation; and also how Reformed Orthodoxy’s theological structure is highly elaborate and irreducible to soundbites about dogmatizing; rather, Owen’s treatment exhibits the typical Reformed attention to the exegesis, doctrinal synthesis, and church consensus, and is one more piece of evidence as to how and why the Reformed faith became more elaborate in its argumentation during the course of the seventeenth century." - CARL R. TRUEMAN, From the Introductory Essay