A Question I Was Asked:

'I Have an 'Arthur Pink Problem' - Can You Help?'

The Question:

"Your detailed explanations concerning limited and unlimited atonement have won me over during the last two years after going through a lot of Bible study, in fact, it has refreshed my love for the Word which had waned after the passionate study of my youth. I really want to thank you for that. I now agree that limited atonement is not really in the Bible but unlimited atonement sure is. It is strange that John 3:16-17 is one of the greatest statements in the Christian Faith and that statement alone means that "limited atonement" teaching must be wrong. I used to admire the work of Arthur Pink but I have now found some things he said which are unscriptural to my mind. Do you have any thing to say to me on this?"

My Reply:

You are absolutely right! John 3:16-17 and 'limited atonement' can't both be right!

'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.'

(John 3:16-17, NIV).

If 'limited atonement' were true, God did indeed send His Son to condemn the world, only intending to save a very small, fore-ordained group: but that is not a biblical teaching.

Regarding Arthur Pink (1886-1952), he was a writer whose works have been deeply influential among American Calvinistic Baptists. He has also had a rather more limited influence among north American Christians in general, but he is not regarded as a major theologian in Britain or Europe.

Pink was 'hard-line reformed' (full-blown 5 point Calvinist) and his theology is distinguished by some rather odd assertions which have raised a few eyebrows. He claimed, for example, that God does not really love the world (despite Scriptures such as John 3:16-17), and he made other assertions which appear to find no biblical support. His extreme fatalist position means that human decision becomes a virtual irrelevance, whereas human decision is very important in Holy Scripture and this in no way undermines grace, divine sovereignty and election.

As Norman Douty has pointed out,

'In Ezek. 18:23,32 we read, "Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked? saith the Lord Jehovah; and not rather that he should return from his way and live?...For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord Jehovah wherefore turn yourselves and live." Similarly in ch. 33:11: "As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Put with these passages, Ps. 145:9: "Jehovah is good to all; and His tender mercies are over all His works;" Lam. 3:33: "He doth not afflict willingly (from His heart), nor grieve the children of men;" and Mic. 7:18: "He delighteth in lovingkindness." See also Luke 7:30; 19:44; Acts 13:46; Rom. 10:21; 2 Cor. 2:15; Rev. 22:17.'

Douty compared the scriptural view that the Lord would prefer to see people repent, with some statements by Pink and other hyper-Calvinists:

'He says (that is, Pink in his "The Sovereignty of God in Reprobation"), "God decreed that the non-elect should choose the course they follow." "In giving being and birth to those He knew would reject Christ, He necessarily created them unto damnation."'

(See Norman Douty's 'Did Christ Die Only for the Elect?', page 14).

The point Douty was making, and which I also frequently make against the "5-pointers," is that clear Scriptures become distorted in the furtherance of upholding a particular theological/philosophical line. The Bible says human decision is important - that it actually matters, and that God takes no joy in the death of the wicked but that he would really prefer them to change their ways, but in complete contrast, 5-point Calvinism states 'God has decreed the non-elect's path on the road to Hell which is inevitable and without remedy' Do we see the difference? It is rather an important one.

Robin A. Brace, 2007.