Noted biblical writers on dispensational lines - mostly of the persuasion known to the world as "Plymouth Brethren"



by H. G MacKay, Greensboro, N. C.

Extract by Gaebelein within, relating to the teachings of Arthur Pink

In certain sectors of American religious life there is a resurgence of interest in ultra-calvinism. This may be attributed, in part, to the appearance on the Christian literary scene of a periodical published in Fallbrook, California by New Reformation Fellowship and bearing the title, Present Truth. According to the mast head it is "dedicated to the restoration of New Testament Christianity and committed to upholding of the great Reformation principle of justification by faith." It is amillenialism and anti-dispensational. But possibly the interest in ultra-calvinism is fuelled to a greater extent by the writings of Arthur W. Pink, many of whose writings are published by the reputable firms, MOODY PRESS and BARKER BOOK HOUSE. it is the purpose of this paper to examine the teachings of this author.

Few people today read John Calvin's INSTITUTES, but many are reading Pink's prolific writings, and are being influenced by them, without realizing some of the serious errors contained in his teaching. The writers only purpose in preparing this critique is to draw attention to these errors and to warn the flock of God against imbibing that which can only prove detrimental to their spiritual growth and well-being.

Like many other Christian readers, this writer was first introduced to Pink's writings through the helpful volume, GLEANINGS IN GENESIS. This was published (at that time) by OUR HOPE magazine, of which the late
Dr. A. C. Gaebelein was its editor., but Dr. Gaebelein, an able expositor, had this to say in answer to a question submitted by a reader of the magazine.

The question:
Do you think Mr. Pink's book THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD is scriptural ? I recently read this book, and it has upset me as no other book I ever read. I was attacked by terrible doubts as to God's justice and His very being.

Dr. Gaebelein's reply:
"Mr. Pink used to be a contributor to our magazine. His articles on GLEANINGS IN GENESIS are good, and we printed them in book form. But when he began to teach his frightful doctrines which make the God of love a monster we broke fellowship with him. The book you read is totally unscriptural, It is akin to blasphemy. It presents God as a being of injustice and maligns His holy character. The book denies that our blessed Lord died for the ungodly. According to Pink's perversions He died for the elect only. You are not the only who has been led into darkness by this book. Whoever the publisher is and whoever stands behind the circulation of such a monstrous thing has a grave responsibility. It is just this kind of teaching that makes atheists."

In case this indictment be thought too severe and uncharitable, let us consider some of the more obnoxious statements in the above mentioned book, THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.

"Has God foreordained certain ones to damnation? - that God decreed that the non-elect should choose the course they follow we now undertake to prove - therefore in giving birth and being those He knew would reject Christ. He necessarily created them unto damnation.

He purposed either that this one should spend Eternity in Heaven or that this one should spend Eternity in the Lake of Fire.

Without faith there is no salvation - "He that believeth not shall be damned hence if there are some of Adam's descendants to whom He purposed not to give faith, it must be because He ordained that they should be damned."

One cannot read such slander on the character of God of love who gave His only Son that salvation might be available to whosoever would believe., without a great surge of holy indignation welling within. How Christian publishers can print and circulate, and how Christian people can read with complacency, such wicked perversion of the truth is beyond this writer's comprehension! The God who would decree that men should spend Eternity in the lake of fire, without any offer of salvation being made to them during their life on earth is not the God whom I have served for Half a century.

The question undoubtedly arises in the minds of many, "But how can Pink teach such things in the light of that grand gospel verse, John 3:16? "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life"

The answer is to be found in his terrible perverted notion regarding the love of God .

He writes:
In like manner, "the world" in John 3:16 must, in the final analysis, refer to the world of God's people - It cannot mean the whole human is unfair to insist that it means every human being now living.

That the world" in John 3:16 refers to the world of believers (Gods elect) in contradistinction from the world of the ungodly' (2 Pet. 2:5) is established, unequivocally established, by a comparison of the other passages which speak of God's love.

The utter folly of such an "interpretation?" is seen immediately by this simple application of it to the verse in question;

For God so loved the world (of believers) that whosoever believeth in Him (evidently some believers do not believe!) should not perish but have everlasting life (then nonbelievers among the elect will perish- such nonsense!)

It is not surprising that one with such a distorted conception of the character of God should err in his regarding the entrance of sin and the consequent fall of man, nevertheless we are shocked to find Pink writing:

"Clearly it was the divine will that sin should enter the world or it would not have done so. God had the power to prevent it. Nothing ever comes to pass except what He decreed - Gods decree that sin should enter this world was a secret hid in Himself."

"God had foreordained everything that comes to pass - though He had predestinated the fall of our first parents, yet in no sense was He the‚Instigator or approver of their sins, and their accountability was left entirely unimpaired - The decree of God in no way infringes on man's moral agency, for it neither forces nor hinders man's will, though it orders and bounds its actions."

When one recovers from the shock (if he does) of being told that it was the divine will and decree that sin should enter the world, and that man was predestinated by God to fall. Pink's terribly perverted reasoning stands exposed for all to see.

First of all, these statements are absolutely unscriptural. Where, in all of Scripture, does it declare or infer that God decreed the entrance of sin into the world, or that the fall of man according to the predestination of God?

Second, Pink's reasoning is ridiculously illogical. Take a look at the contradictions:
Everything is according to the divine decree.
These decrees are inexorable.
God decrees that man should sin.
Man sins, but it is his sole responsibility

Does add up?
Everything God decrees must comes to pass .
But God's decree "neither forces nor hinders man's will."
But God's decree "orders and bounds its (mans will) actions.
God does not "force" man's will but it orders its actions."

Can you explain that?

One final question:
If man's will is neither forced nor hindered, is that not "freewill?" But a good Calvinist would rather die than admit that man has a free will!

In connection with the fall of man Pink's most serious error is undoubtedly attributing it to the divine decree, but that is not the only error he is guilty of. His notion of that total depravity which issued from the Fall includes the idea that man was rendered incapable of believing God. So pink teaches that faith is the gift of God, given (as we has seen) only to the elect. He writes:
Faith is God's gift, and "all men have not faith" (2 Thess. 3:2) : therefore we see that God does not bestow this gift upon all. Upon whom then does He} bestow this saving favour? And we answer upon His Elect --- "as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). Hence it is that we read of "the faith of God's elect" (Tit. 1:1 ). But is God partial in the distribution of His favors? Has He not the right to be?

In Scripture faith is presented as the acceptance of the word of God as truth, with resultant confidence and trust in the Promiser:

So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God - Rom. 10:17

He believeth not God hath made Him a liar - 1 John 5:10

Take heed brethren lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God --- Heb. 3:12

No error can stand by itself, and Pink's erroneous views on faith and his insistence that man cannot believe God, forces him into another error regarding the pre-salvation work of the Holy Spirit. He teaches that the quickening of the Spirit precedes and alone makes possible faith in Christ. He expresses it this way:

Notwithstanding these difficulties the point of doctrine which we shall insist upon is that no one is able to comply with the terms of the gospel until he is made the subject of special and effectual grace of God, that is, until he is divinely quickened, made willing, so that he actually can comply: with its terms.

The work of the Spirit in quickening' the one dead in sins precedes faith in Christ, just as cause ever precedes effect.

What is the sanctification of the Spirit? ( 2 Thess. 2:13). We answer, the new birth.

There is absolutely no warrant in Scripture for stating that quickening precedes faith, or that one born again before believing in Christ. The exact opposite is the teaching of the Word of God. To "quicken" is to make alive. Scripture always presents life as the result of faith., not as the cause of it. "He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life .(John 6:47) NOT "He that hath life believeth on Me." According to John 5:25 it is the "dead" (not the "quickened") who hear the voice of the Son of God and live. "Hear and your soul shall live."

Although hotly denied by its advocates, the ultra calvinistic views propagated by Pink inevitably stifle concern for the lost, and stultify evangelistic and missionary effort. How could it be otherwise when the love of God and the redemptive work of Christ are limited to the elect, and man is reduced to a mere automation unable to make any personal decisions outside the inexorable decrees of God by which he is predestinated to an eternal destiny already decided for him before he was born? But possibility few of Pink's most ardent admirers would be ready to follow him as far as he goes when, in commenting on the silence enjoined upon the children of Israel as they encircled Jericho (Jos. 6:10). He writes:
"The forbidding of "the people" to open their mouths signified that the rank and file of Christians are to have no part in the oral proclamation of the truth - they are neither qualified for nor called to the ministry the saints as such to engage in public evangelism, nor even to do personal work or seek to be "soulwinners" (13)

That is surely carrying the unscriptural notion of clergy and laity to ridiculous lengths! How good it was for Peter that his brother Andrew hadn't heard that (John 1:40-42). Or the scattered saints of Jerusalem (Acts 8:1-4). Or the Thessalonian converts (1 Thess. 1:1,8). Or the Philippians believers Phil. 2:15-16). One wonders how Pink would "interpret" the blowing of the trumpets by priests (Jos. 6:4,8), seeing all Gods people are priests. It is just such reckless distortion of Scriptures that has brought the study of the types into disfavor.

Arthur Pink either drastically changed his views regarding the covenants or else he writes in a most contradictory fashion. In one book he writes:
During the palay days of the Puritans considerable attention was given to the covenants - until a generation arose who had no light thereon. This made it easier for certain men to impose upon them their vagaries and crudities, and make poor dupes believe a wonderful discovery had been made in the "rightly dividing of the word of truth." These men shuffled Scripture until they arranged the passages treating of the covenants "to arbitrarily divide them into seven dispensations," and partition off the Bible accordingly. How dreadfully superficial and faulty their findings" are appear from popular ( far too popular to be of much value - Luke 16:15) Scofield Bible where no less then eight covenants are noticed, and yet nothing is said about the "everlasting covenant." (emphasis his)

---as G. S. Bishop pointed out, "it is clear that there can be but two and only two covenants possible between God and men - a covenant‚founded on what man shall do for salvation, a covenant of what God shall do for him to save him; in other words, a covenant of works and a covenant of Grace" - all the divine covenants may be reduced to two, the other subordinate ones being only confirmations or adumbrations of them, or having to do with their economical administration (emphasis his)

Here he:
Indirectly assails the rightly dividing of the word of truth. Finds fault with using the covenants to divide Scripture into seven dispensations. Criticizes the Scofield Bible for listing eight covenants and] making no reference to the everlasting covenant.
Quotes approvingly a writer who declares "there can be but two and only two covenants".

In an earlier book Pink had written:
"The covenants referred to therein constitute one of the principal keys to interpretation of the Old Testament, denoting as they do the dividing line between the different dispensations, and indicating the several changes of procedure in God's dealing with the earth - The Word of Truth can only be rightly divided as due attention is paid to the different covenants recorded therein - There are exactly seven covenants made by God referred to in the Scripture, neither more nor less. First the Adamic - Second, the Noahic - Third, the Abrahamic - Fourth, the Mosaic - Fifth, the Levitic - Sixth, the Davidic - Seventh, the Messianic or New."

Here he:
Stresses the importance of rightly dividing the word through careful consideration of the covenants.
Declares that "the covenants are the dividing lines between the different dispensations." Lists seven covenants in the identical order and with same designations as the Scofield Bible
Categorically states there are "exactly seven covenants, neither more nor less," and makes no reference to the everlasting covenant.
The foregoing instances do not, by any means, exhaust the doctrinal errors which abound in the writings of Arthur W. Pink, but enough has surely been written to prove that he is not a reliable guide into the truth of God. Undoubtedly there are many helpful things in his writings, but error is so interlaced with truth that those not firmly rounded in the word can very easily be led astray.

Some may be asking "who is Arthur W. Pink?."
From the jacket of the 1922 Moody Press edition of GLEANINGS IN GENESIS we quote this:
"Arthur W. Pink was born in Nottingham, England, and died in Stornway, Scotland, in 1952. His widespread ministry included pastorates in Australia and the United States. Mr. Pink's view of the Scriptures, of doctrine, and of Christian practice was not the view of the twentieth century, nor even of many of his contemporary evangelicals. Few men have travelled so widely and yet remain uninfluenced by prevailing opinions and accepted custom - He was, in some ways, a Puritan born out of time - in his desire to escape Arminianism he does not fall into Hyper Calvinism."

In light of Pink's radical views on predestination unto damnation, as exposed in this critique, this last statement is rather difficult to accept. One wonders just what Hyper Calvinism is if not what Pink taught.

The tragedy is that the "contemporary evangelicals" referred to above, from whose teachings Pink differed, were some of the ablest Bible teachers and preachers raised up by God in the Church since Apostolic times. The 18, 19th and early 20th centuries may well prove to have to have been the revival period of Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13). The roll call of preachers, teachers, missionaries, poets, hymnwriters, etc., of that era causes on to exclaim, "There were (spiritual) giants in the land in those days." And during that period many fruitful evangelical movements had their birth. A flood of fresh light on the Scriptures burst forth on a dark world through the preaching and writings of numerous men of God . How impoverished our Christian libraries would be today if robbed of those writings. But Arthur W. Pink stood apart from all this, wrapped in solitary aloofness, his face turned backward toward the godly Puritans. That he should have missed the blessing is regrettable, that many today should be unsettled by his extreme views is deplorable.

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