Throwing Arthur Pink Under the Bus

by Mike Ratliff

Back on January 17 Dan Philips over at Pyromanics posted an article that resembled, to me, a character assassination of Dr. Arthur Pink who died in 1952. Here is the link to the post. I was busy at the time and, to be honest, I really have lost the desire to waste my valuable time over there at TeamPyro since their format changed. When this post came out I was notified of it in our CRN discussion forum, but no one really wanted to tackle it. I mean, who wanted to go defend Arthur Pink? It’s not like Dan Phillips was attacking the Gospel or being postmodern or anything like that. I let it go. However, I have a couple of Pink’s books and one of them was very important to me in the early stages of my understanding of Reformed Theology. It was his book The Sovereignty of God

I have always been grateful to God for that book along with those of R.C. Sproul and Dr. James White in explaining that true Reformed Theology was far richer and deeper and broader than the Five Points of Calvinism. From an understanding of the Sovereignty of God and the Depravity of Man comes immense joy when we study divine election because we understand the tremendous gift that is Justification by Grace alone through Faith alone. From that perspective, when we study the blood sacrifice of our Lord to become our propitiation and then we marvel and are humbled and lift up our Heavenly Father in praise and worship for having mercy on us who deserved nothing but his wrath, but that wrath was poured out on his beloved son paying the penalty for our sin.

This evening my other book by Pink, which I have not yet read, caught my eye. At the same time I remembered Dan Phillips diatribe against Pink and wondered where this could possibly go since so many seem to look at Arthur Pink these days as somewhat untouchable. The book I am reading now by Pink is his The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross. I will review it when I am done. For this post I want to share the two “Forward Introductions.” Perhaps that will assist you in putting Dan Phillips’ article in a different light and question what motivated him to write something like that.

Forward by Warren W. Wiersbe

When I began my ministry over fifty years ago, like many other ministers of my generation I found great help in the books of Arthur W. Pink. His reverence for God’s Word, his desire to exalt Jesus Christ, and his emphasis on practical obedience all helped to keep me balanced in the study, in the pulpit, and in my personal life.

“Unless our ‘Bible Study’ is conforming us, both inwardly and outwardly, to the image of Christ,” Pink wrote, “it profits us not,” He told his close friends that his articles in his publication Studies in Scripture were “hammered out on the anvil of [his] own heart.” He carried on that publication for many years, always trusting the Lord to provide the needed finances, and he claimed that he had read over a million pages of theological literature as he prepared his messaged and articles. It was clear that he had a special love for the old Puritan divines. “Mr. Pink is Puritan in reality,” said his wife, “and often says to me that he is 200 or 300 years out of his time.” Yet he was consistently very contemporary as he applied the Word.

Pink taught us to have faith in the Scriptures. “Do your duty where God has stationed you,” he counseled his readers. “Plough up the fallow ground and sow the seed; and though there be no fruit in your day, who knows but what an Elisha may follow you and do the reaping.”

During my years of pastoral and radio ministry, I often preached messages based on the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross. I have found this volume very helpful, and I know it has been instructing and encouraging Christians for decades. Pink has a way of keeping the text in context, relating it to parallel texts, explaining it, and then applying it to everyday life.

He died in 1952, and his last words were, “The Scriptures explain themselves.” I am grateful that he left behind many books that have helped us grasp the truth of that testimony.

Forward by John MacArthur

Arthur Pink was a master of biblical exposition, carefully mining the biblical text for every ounce of true meaning, every nuance of doctrine, and every point of personal application he could discover. He always wrote with heartfelt conviction and persuasive insight. He was warm and positive yet bold and unequivocal.

This volume has long been one of my favorite works from Pink’s pen. He was at his best whenever he wrote about Christ, and he was never more focused, more thorough, or more compelling then when he proclaimed Christ crucified. In this book, he expounds the meaning of the cross through the last words of the Savior Himself. These are deeply moving glimpses of Christ in His extremity. Every chapter is a treasure.

Pink’s approach is a masterful blend of literary and sermonic styles. He expounds each of the seven last sayings of Christ in seven points, all drawn straight from the biblical text. The gospel is plainly expounded throughout, so this book is a good say to introduce unbelievers to the true meaning of Christ’s sufferings. But there’s also enough substance here to satisfy anyone’s spiritual appetite.

The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross is now nearly fifty years old–and timelier than ever. Public interest in the story of the crucifixion is approaching an all-time high, thanks to a spate of recent films, books, and television programs on the subject.

At the same time, however, many Christians today seem terribly confused about the meaning of the crucifixion. we occasionally hear evangelical leaders wondering out loud if the doctrine of substitutionary atonement is simply too medieval for this postmodern era. Some have even complained that it seems overly harsh to teach that Christ suffered to pay the penalty of sin–and that He did so in obedience to His Father’s will. At least on popular Christian book has likened the idea to “cosmic child abuse.”

Arthur Pink would have been appalled. He had no such artificial scruples. He certainly had no wish to tone down the offense of the cross just to accommodate the tastes of the contemporary culture. His chapter on “The Word of Anguish” (explaining why Jesus cried out to His Father, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”) is a masterpiece of clarity and candor. It is the kind of straightforward teaching that is desperately needed in an era when difficult biblical truths are sometimes purposely softened, made foggy, or revised to suit the gentle preferences of sophisticated postmodernity. Arthur Pink would have none of that. Nor should we (see 1 Cor. 2:1-5; Gal. 1:10).

You cannot read The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross and come away confused about the meaning of the cross our untouched by the pathos and power of Christ’s death in the place of sinners. Here is an ideal antidote to some of the superficiality and silliness of today’s prevailing spiritual climate.

I’m very grateful to see this book in a new edition and hopeful that it will be used by God to awaken a generation of readers to the real significance of what Christ said and what He accomplished–especially the eternal victory He won for sinners–during those dark hours while He hung on the cross.

Soli Deo Gloria!

30 thoughts on “Throwing Arthur Pink Under the Bus

  1. Mike, I am SO glad you addressed this, when I saw the post, I decided it was time to quit ‘following’ Pyro. A.W. Pink has been used by God to bless me tremendously. When I read his book ‘the attributes of God’, I was so immensely blessed. I also read, ‘the Sovereignty of God’ by Pink; again, I was deeply moved by the deep insight and wisdom God gave this man. I just ordered another book on the Holy Spirit penned by him.

    It is sad to see professing Christians attack and belittle Godly men who have been such a blessing to the body of Christ. Rather than stoop to their level, I simply avoid blogs that make a practice of this.

    I do believe I will have to add to my collection the seven sayings, it sounds like a ‘must read’ for me!

    His writings, along with others, are available to read on-line at http://pbministries.org/

    Thank you for this post!

  2. I prefer Pink to Pyro, and always have. Thus, till this post I knew nothing of the controversy. Your post however confirms my prior preference!

  3. Hey Mickey, I agree with you. When I was a relatively new Christian I had a pastor/mentor who couldn’t stand Pink. I think it had something to do with Pink’s systematic way of exegeting Scripture. It left no one with any wiggle room. This very same pastor had to leave the ministry a few years later because he left his wife and moved in with a woman from our congregation who left her family so they could be together. Now I saw him and his family together and I know that it was difficult and I also knew that other family and knew that the husband was a jerk and the wife was sweet, etc. That’s a bad combination, but as I look back on how this fellow handled scripture and how he continually bad mouthed Pink, MacArthur, and all those leaders in our denomination who were over him, well I should have put two and two together. Those who read Pink and love him are those who love the Word of God and love to submit to it and be under its authority and are grateful to men like Pink for opening it up for them. Those who despise him and those like him can often have another agenda.

  4. I, too, quit reading Pyro a while back. Dan Phillips, having moved to my “home town” of Houston, leaves me a bit colder. His rant against Pink, if taken across the board, would throw himself under the bus as well. Since I have grown in my understanding of the redemptive historical view of Scripture, I have been overwhelmed at the lack of personal holiness in any “hero of God” that we might hold up as our model. Man after man is revealed as a redeemed sinner who yet needs the grace of God in Christ, pointing us to the God-Man all the while; never pointing us to a mortal man. We ALL get thrown under the bus if we expect complete alignment to any given standard. But Dan’s standard his own and we d\need not worry about it. Fear God – what can Dan Phillips do us?

  5. A.W. Pink has aided my understanding of God’s Sovereignty. Approaching mid-life I first heard the doctrines of grace preached and began to grasp the indescribable gift of salvation more fully, all of God and not of me; so, I praise God for men like Pink, MacArthur, and Calvin (the latter so maligned in today). God bless.

  6. Amen Manfred, all of us in Christ should be broken about our lack of personal holiness, but this should draw us repentance and to be joyful that our sins are completely covered by the blood of the Lamb. We will never be perfect in this life, but we should seek to walk one and only one way until we go home to be with our Lord, that is, to daily take up our own crosses and follow the Lord Jesus…

  7. Mike, thanks for this. AW Pink has written well and we have all benefitted. Yet, at the same time, he was a sinner. Though he was saved and being conformed to Christ, he was stiill a work in progress, as all of us are. We are not what we should be – none of us, including John MacArthur, Dan Phillips, me and you and whoever else! Who of us, if people were to scrutinize our lives would not come up with at least a few oddities, quirks and blind spots? Not to mention sins? For my part, I’ve found myself looking down on those who may be faithful teachers or preachers but are grossly overweight. This seems incongrous to me, but there are alot of faithful men out there that seem to have this particular weakness.

    This is a good reminder — we are not to elevate men (or women) nor are we to denigrate those who have faithfully taught us the scriptures. We are to remember that Jesus Christ uses jars of clay and that the very men He handpicked still had their flaws and weaknesses as well. Yet, they were the ones He chose and they were the ones He chose to use.

  8. Good points Julie, thanks. I think that is what disturbed me about Dan’s article. How can any of us expect perfection from any of us, especially ourselves. Pink had issues, but God used that to bless the Church with his writings. Who are we to look down on him because he was not like someone one from our day and time. He was a godly man from an era that few people in our time understand.

  9. Over weight?!?! Julie!!! Mike and I prefer under height instead, that way we are victims! LOL Actually, I can’t speak for Mike but as for me, I am actually allergic to food! Yep, every time I eat, I swell up more… :)

  10. I can’t help myself. They give a coupon so I get the buffet for $4. And I weigh the same as when I got married in ’78 – though not all the weight is in the same locations it was 34 years ago!

  11. Dan’s mistreatment of Arthur Pink was disgusting. There are doubtless a myriad of reasons why he would stoop to such a low estate, none of which are acceptable. He owes his readers an apology, not to mention the one due to Pink.

    The premise for his anger and subsequent dismissal of Pink and his writings as valid Christian works was just as silly and appalling as was his conclusion. If church attendance is now the new standard for ‘acceptance’ into the brotherhood, then those who require this have fallen far from their Savior. In the current climate of apostate and heretical proclamations from the pulpit one can be greatly challenged to find a ‘church’ that is worth attending. To say that Pink was disquailified from being accepted and respected in his writings because he chose to devote his latter years to writing and not be involved (as Dan required) in his local church far exceeds any brother’s right to pronouce such a broad condemnation on any man. If Pink’s words were that of a heretic I would have gladly joined the chorus. But Pink is not a heretic. It would be difficult for anyone to find erroneous teaching coming from his pen or tongue.

    As one who has stood toe to toe and eyeball to eyeball with a group of six “church leaders” who were not only allowing for heretical teaching, but encouraging it and less than a year later (different church) listen to a “preacher” (false brother) tell his congregation that Jesus murdered a young boy when He was eight years old and then proceeded to raise the dead boy back to life ’cause He felt sorry for him, I find little effort is needed to rebuke such a one as Dan for his unjustfied vilification of one of the finest Christian writers of the twentieth century. It is inexcusable, Dan, and time to repent.

    Darrel
    The same one that was evicted from pyro-the dust has been shaken.

  12. Mickey – A.) It ain’t Valentine’s Day. B.) We don’t much care for celebrating that day (look up the history). C.) She is busy most days, back in college learning to be a Vet Tech so she can take care of the animals we intend to eat.

  13. LOLOL “Take care of the animals we intend to eat.”
    But you didn’t deny the CiCi’s thing!
    Whose going to butchers school? (Vodie’s gonna want a tenderloin tithe you know! ) :)

  14. Voddie has cut WAY down on his meat intake – blood pressure and other things. He has become, as he puts it, a reverse Catholic: eating meat only on Friday. My wife began learning to dissect cats this week. She will work her way up to the bigger meat animals.

    Deny CiCi’s? Far be it from me to deny that. Salad, pizza, and dessert for $4. Being “between jobs” as I am, that’s a pretty good deal :-)

  15. Thank you for sharing this link, Mike. I stopped following Pyro six-eight months ago and the blog on Pink just confirmed my reasons.

  16. If she is doing cat then perhaps you will be eating…um…never mind.
    CiCi’s salad is great, and the pizza when fresh is too. The $4 thing is a blessing as well. I have a 15 yr old that is 6’4″ and 260 so they know him there as well!
    Finish your animals on timothy grass and not on corn etc and the cholesterol will not be a problem! But perhaps I should let Voddie know when I see him in April in Penna. for the homeschoolers CHAPS Convention. LOL
    Seriously, it’s how we raise the beef that creates the issues thanks to corporate farming practices.

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/523941-difference-between-grass-fed-beef-grain-fed-beef/
    http://www.livestrong.com/article/415107-grass-fed-beef-cholesterol/

    In addition the Irish studies have shown that the cholesterol isn’t sticky and cloggy in the grass fed beef.

    @Mike Ratliff
    Mike, this is well within the parameters of this thread, as when one talks about beef, the more PINK the better the taste! :) :) :) :)

  17. Mike, it seems to me that Dan Phillips’ blog post was addressing Pink’s failure in regards to actually living out the great doctrines that Pink wrote so much about. I don’t think that anyone questions whether Pink possessed an orthodox and substantial theology, but the critique that Phillips offered was Pink’s shortcomings in regards to orthopraxy.

    If it is true that Pink isolated himself and refused to associate with even believers, then I would say that Phillips is correct to place these failures in the llight, even if the light of truth reveals Pink’s warts and wrinkles.

    Obviously you hold that Pink’s writings are a great asset to the Church, which everyone would agree with (I think even Phillips himself would say so). But surely you can’t hold to the position that Pink’s self created isolation should be swept under the rug?

    So it seems to me that Phillips argued, “Pink had great theology and bad orthopraxy” and you respond by saying, “you’re wrong Phillips, Pink had a great theology.” So it seems that there is no real argument here. I agree with both you and Phillips. Let’s not justify Pink’s sin simply because he had a wonderfully orthodox theology.

  18. No Luis, I am not arguing what you are insinuating at all. I waited several days to even respond to that post and the day that it came out I watched and read several responses to it and they were all the same, “Dan Phillips doesn’t like Pink and I don’t either and here’s why… blah, blah, blah.” In no case was there any real substance to what these people were saying and then we come back to your central point and Dan’s central point and that is the Orthopraxy is all important. No it is not. I have no idea where God has you nor do you have any idea where God has me in our walks. I read Dan’s article the first time with a knot in my stomach because it was from that same Self-Righteous, here is what a real Christian looks like, period! stance, no exceptions. I doubt if Dan would think I was much of a Christian either since, through God’s own doing and not mine, I have been excluded from church after church as I tried to become part of them, the Pastor/Elder of each one attempted to take control of this ministry and either shut it down or make it part of their ministry. Therefore, my wife and I would move on. This has continued for several years and has made me very wary of even mentioning what I do when we attend Church. When it does come out, I am attackted and vilified for my doctrines or whatever and that is hard on my wife. I can take it, but I will not subject her to that.

    What am I saying? I reject Dan Phillips’ post or stance on Pink totally because he demands something from all Christians that is Biblically artifical.

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