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Barrett’s Book Notes—John Owen, Carl Henry, and Charles Darwin

Christopher Cleveland. Thomism in John Owen. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2013.

What impact did the theology of Thomas Aquinas have on the great (greatest?) Puritan theologian, John Owen? This is the question Christopher Cleveland’s new book sets out to answer. In short, Cleveland argues that Aquinas’ theology influenced (1) Owen’s rebuttal of Pelagian and semi-Pelagian affirmations of human autonomy and (2) Owen’s trinitarian theology. But the book does much more, showing the influence medieval theology had on Reformed scholasticism as well. John Webster and Carl Trueman commend the volume:

“With exemplary clarity, patience and erudition, this illuminating study demonstrates how much Owen shares with the theological and spiritual culture of Thomas and his followers.”
John Webster, University of Aberdeen, UK

“During the last fifty years, scholars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have sought to transcend the old ecclesiastical paradigms of historical theology in order to understand how much cross-fertilisation took place in the early modern period between Protestant and Catholic thinkers. In this book, the author has done good work in demonstrating the deeply Thomistic roots of that most Protestant of theologians, John Owen. A good contribution to the growing literature in the field.”
Carl Trueman, Westminster Theological Seminary, USA


Gregory Alan Thornbury. Recovering Classic Evangelicalism: Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F. H. Henry. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.

Newly appointed president of King’s College (New York City), Gregory Thornbury, has a new book out on Carl Henry. But this is not your usual biography. Rather, Thornbury makes the case that evangelicals need to retrieve the wisdom and theology of evangelical-great, Carl Henry, calling Henry’s approach “classic evangelicalism.”

Ligon Duncan commends the book, writing:

“The witness of Carl Henry and classic evangelicalism to absolute truth and objective knowledge; the critical importance of theology in life and ministry; the total truthfulness of Scripture and biblical inerrancy; a churchly, faithful, and Christian engagement with culture; and a vision of what evangelicalism could and should be, are all things that we need to hear, or hear again, today. The content of every chapter of this book instructed, challenged, and encouraged me personally, and prompted me to want the evangelicals of this generation to read and heed the lessons of the story that Greg Thornbury tells so well.”
– J. Ligon Duncan, John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary; Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi

Here is a dialogue between John Wilson and Thornbury:

Stephen C. Meyer. Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. New York: HarperOne, 2013.

Stephen Meyer is at it again, and his most recent publication investigates what has become known as the “Cambrian explosion.” Meyer is the author of Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design and director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

Here is the book’s description:

When Charles Darwin finished The Origin of Species, he thought that he had explained every clue, but one. Though his theory could explain many facts, Darwin knew that there was a significant event in the history of life that his theory did not explain. During this event, the “Cambrian explosion,” many animals suddenly appeared in the fossil record without apparent ancestors in earlier layers of rock.

In Darwin’s Doubt, Stephen C. Meyer tells the story of the mystery surrounding this explosion of animal life—a mystery that has intensified, not only because the expected ancestors of these animals have not been found, but because scientists have learned more about what it takes to construct an animal. During the last half century, biologists have come to appreciate the central importance of biological information—stored in DNA and elsewhere in cells—to building animal forms.

Expanding on the compelling case he presented in his last book, Signature in the Cell, Meyer argues that the origin of this information, as well as other mysterious features of the Cambrian event, are best explained by intelligent design, rather than purely undirected evolutionary processes.

Be sure to catch Justin Taylor’s interview with Meyer here.

Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University (OPS), as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. He is the author of The Grace of Godliness: An Introduction to Doctrine and Piety in the Canons of Dort, Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration, as well as the coeditor of Four Views on the Historical Adam (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology), and Whomever He Wills: A Surprising Display of Sovereign Mercy. He is the author of several other forthcoming books, which you can read about at

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