Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Book Review - The Life of A.W. Pink

I always enjoy any biography by Iain H. Murray, he has an eye to give a good biography, with warts and all, and he does so by highlighting their strengths and their weaknesses too. This biography on A. W. Pink is no different.

First Murray traces the history of Pink, how he grew up in a pious home, but became attracted to the occultist realm. He then traces how Pink was slowly advancing in the occult society until one night where Pink’s father, as his custom, waits for Pink to return and speaks some words or bible verses to Pink. That night, Pink was constantly interrupted by the very verse spoken by his father “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12). That marked the return of Pink to the faith. So real was his conversion that he took the pre-arranged appointment to speak at the occultist meeting to preach the gospel to the people gathered there.

Murray then showed how Pink was called to be pastor at various churches in the U.K. until his move to Australia, which proved to be his most enjoyable time as a preacher. Not only did he enjoy his time there, the people were rejoicing at a preacher who finally preached the words of God to them. He was able to speak to large crowds and people were coming to hear him speak, however, due to his inability to agree fully to the church’ doctrinal belief. He volunteered to resign and thereafter left his beloved Australia, going to the U.K..

After a period of dry season, being unable to find any church to pastorate, Pink was given a change to go the U.S.A. to do some open preaching. However, being unable to find a permanent place that he could fully agree with, he was on the move again, going back to his homeland, the U.K. This time, he was no longer looking for any more churches to pastorate, but to long hours of reading, studying and writing, until his eventual death in 1952.

What I have learnt from his life is firstly, the importance and amount of studying and writing he undertook! He sure was a reader and thinker. Astonished to learn that he reads roughly over a hundred pages of puritan writings a day! (Including the notoriously difficult puritan, John Owen). How he is able to do that, I do not know, but I sure hope to be able to be given the ability at such a pace. To be sure, he was not learning for learning’s sake, he was learning because he needed to write his magazines that were distributed to readers all over the world.

2nd, both his strength and weakness, his conviction to the truth is something that I should emulate, however, his withdrawal from all churches is well… staggering. I cannot agree to the total withdrawal from all churches for any Christian, given the many denominations the Christian Church has, I’m sure one would at least have agree with the major points he held. Secondly, I’m not sure if Pink himself had any 2nd tier doctrines that he could agree to disagree within a church, that does not seemed to be the impression I had as I was reading through this biography.

Inside this biography there are also many helpful sections like a chapter by Murray on “Interpreting Pink’s Isolation”, a bibliography of Pink’s Major Writing, which also highlighted Pink’s maturation of his understanding of the doctrine of grace between his first edition of “The Sovereignty of God” and future editions

Murray has done a great job on this biography on a rather obscure author (outside of the reformed circle) hopefully this biography will spur more to read Pink for themselves.