A Book Review: The Life of Arthur W. Pink
In writing essays from biographies, one can develop at least three distinguishing characteristics of the individual or one can list three areas in which the critic admires or does not admire the individual. For The Life of Arthur W. Pink by Ian Murray published by Banner of Truth, the reviewer chose to use three areas of Pink’s life and work to illustrate three important areas. Our outline:
AW Pink, his life and work
IAW Pink – Her Life – Three Continents
II. AW Pink – His Work – The Preaching – The Controversy
III. AW Pink – His Writing Work – Thirty Years of Perseverance
On April 1, 1886, Arthur Walkington Pink entered the world in Nottingham, England. Meanwhile, there was concern about the state of the Church in England. Men like JC Ryle and Charles H. Spurgeon noticed the “downgrade”. In this climate, AW Pink entered the scene. Thomas and Agnes Pink had no idea of the situation and how their son would contribute to it. In a house like Roses, while business mail might arrive on Lord’s Day, no one would open it until Monday. Children read illustrated editions of Pilgrim’s Progress and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs on Lord’s Day rather than playing with the usual toys. We will examine the life and work of AW Pink.
Although AW Pink grew up in this Christian home, he didn’t believe it. He turned to Theosophy, “a cult which, although formed as a Society in 1875, claimed a special knowledge preserved from generation to generation by a brotherhood of initiates. It is Britain’s best-known publication, the magazine , Lucifer, made his anti-Christian nature quite clear…” (p.5) Pink became famous for speaking out on behalf of the sect. Thomas Pink made a habit of waiting for Arthur on his return from these meetings, reminding him of scriptures such as: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12 (KJV) Pink didn’t like his father’s insistence, but one night this text stayed with him as he tried to work on an upcoming talk. For three days he did not leave his room, and when he did, God had saved him. Instead of going to an English seminary, he decided to study at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
After six weeks, he decided that continuing at the Institute was unnecessarily delaying his entry into the pastorate. His first pastorate took him to Silverton, Colorado, a mining town. With the Scofield Reference Bible in hand, Pink would find the sum total of Dr. Gray’s instructions. From Colorado he went to the west coast, probably to the Los Angeles area. While we don’t know how long he spent in California, we do know that he later traveled to rural Kentucky where he met Vera Russell. On November 16, 1916, they were married, at which time she became his “indispensable helper”. Apparently he visited England a few times during those years, but after pastoring in Kentucky they moved to South Carolina to pastor at Northside Baptist. Church from July 1917 to February 1920. While they had difficulty relating to the effect of World War I on the economy, they had even more difficulty relating to Pink’s understanding of Scripture. By 1910 he had more books than his Scofield Reference Bible that influenced his thinking. This will play an important role in his work. Sometimes the Pinks lived in houses with other families and other times they rented their own place. I admire those of that time who shared the living space with other families. This also happens nowadays, which creates additional difficulties while alleviating financial difficulties. AW Pink’s work took him from the United States to Australia, from the United Kingdom to the United States and finally to England and Scotland.
God had called Arthur to preach, he was convinced of it. At times, on all three continents, many flocked to hear Pink preach. God used him mightily, but over time the doors closed to his preaching. What happened? On the one hand, in general, the church has experienced a “downgrading” as Spurgeon called it or a shift from liberalism on one extreme to “easy belief” among evangelicalism on the other. He explored different denominations, but none with which he could agree enough to become a member. Non-members did not receive invitations to speak. Guided by his call to preach, Pink continued to search for some time. In the end, Pink stopped going to church. What about Hebrews 10:25? “Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves, as is the way of some; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.” (KJV) This controversy affects our thinking about Arthur W. Pink. Knowing God’s insistence on the importance of the church throughout the New Testament and this particular command to gather with other believers, I wonder how Pink could not find a church where he could at least less attend. His studies had taken him away from the teaching of the Scofield Reference Bible. To the Pinks’ credit, even though they didn’t go to church, they studied and worshiped at home. Moreover, he searched the scriptures to see what they taught.
Even while Pink was preaching and looking for churches where he could join and speak, he began publishing Studies in the Scriptures, a monthly magazine. At first they lived with couples who did much of the typing and publishing of these magazines. Eventually, Vera learned to type and they handled it all. Somewhere along the line, he recognized that his voice would only be heard through the printed word. At times many subscribers would receive the magazine while at other times they were unsure if they could continue. Pink provided a varied feed by maintaining different series that ran from month to month. He spent a lot of time corresponding with pastor-hearted readers. Later these were republished as journals for each year or as books. Among his most famous books: The Sovereignty of God and The Attributes of God. Additionally, many have read Gleanings from Genesis and Gleanings from Exodus. His first publication, Divine Inspiration of the Bible, appeared in 1917. The first volume of Studies in the Scriptures appeared in 1922. In December 1953, the final issue of Studies in the Scriptures appeared months after his death. Pink persevered thirty long years in this ministry. Ian Murray, the biographer, provides the reader with a timeline of Pink’s published works. This allows readers to note when each was released understanding how Pink’s thinking has matured over the years. AWPink’s influence grows as more and more readers discover his works.
Arthur and Vera Pink lived in Stornoroway, Scotland for his last seven years. Arthur breathed his last on July 15, 1952. He had prepared articles for Studies in the Scriptures for future issues. Vera wrote to friends: “I can only say, ‘He has done all right’… My dear is now in the glory where he so longed to be with Christ.” P. 184 It completes the editorial part which ends at the end of the following year. Although she recovered somewhat from a stroke, her ability to type declined. Pink’s beloved wife “returned” home on July 17, 1962 at the age of sixty-nine. Although their lives have come to an end, their works live on in the writings of AW Pink.