Monday, March 27, 2006

Recommended Reading-The Life of Arthur W. Pink By Iain Murray

Biographies are popular for a variety of reasons—sometimes for the wrong reasons. “Juicy” gossip and scandal sell books. But biographies can be popular for good reasons-in them we can see history, and God’s hand in it. This can be true even when it’s not explicit-or even intended by the author. When biographies of Christians are well written they show God at work in history, offer encouragement, and teach. Iain Murray is a gifted author with a special talent for biography. His other biography subjects include Charles Spurgeon and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He doesn’t get in the middle of the story-and lets his subjects speak for themselves.

Arthur Pink’s life is an engaging tale-from his childhood in a Christian home to his conversion to his death. His life is little known, and often misunderstood. He was born in 1886 in Nottingham, England. Murray starts by looking at the world at that time and the family Pink was born into—but he moves on quickly. By page 5 Pink is 16. Part of the reason is that there are big gaps in our knowledge of his life. We do know that he did not embrace his parents’ faith at this time.

Pink didn’t just reject the Christianity; he turned to Theosophy- a “Society” that claimed to have special knowledge preserved through their brotherhood. The Society boasted of occultic abilities. It had much in common with some elements of the New Age movement, and is apparently enjoying a resurgence. Pink rose through the ranks of Theosophy. He was invited to move to India, where he would become one of the top leaders. He accepted.

But Pink’s father did not give up on his son. He would often stay up to greet Arthur, who would be returning home late from Theosophy meetings. His “Good night” to his son was often accompanied by a brief passage of scripture. One night the verse was Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

This was so disturbing to Pink, that he could not work on a speech for an important “annual conclave of theosophists.” The Lord worked on him through that verse, as he stayed in his room for almost three days. When he emerged from his room, he was a Christian. His last speech to the theosophists was a gospel sermon, and he resigned his membership in the Theosophy Society. They labeled him as insane.

With the Theosophy Society he had been a lecturer, as a Christian he would become a preacher/pastor/teacher.

And that’s still early in the book. Murray takes us along with Pink as he goes to the U.S. to attend Moody Bible Institute. From there he becomes the pastor of several churches in the US and Australia. He meets his wife. He starts a ministry through a magazine, Studies in the Scriptures, that spreads around the world.

Murray presents Pink’s life without pulling punches. He evaluates Pink’s strengths and weaknesses. He points out Pink’s triumphs, failures, mistakes, and convictions. His sources include Pink’s magazine, correspondence to & from Pink, and other writings.

Pink is often portrayed as bitter in his later years, but Murray paints a different picture. Pink was discouraged by much that he saw in the Church,
but he didn’t give up on it completely. Through his magazine, books, and correspondence he ministered to many around the world. His life was an odd one in many respects, but he was a godly man.

Murray dissects Pink as a teacher in a later chapter. He notes few react to Pink with indifference. He sees this as a strength. He lists three reasons for this reaction:
1-Pink was not theoretical, writing was his ministry. He believed he had to live what he wrote, and he wrote directly.
2-His writings tended to bring people to definite conclusions.
3-He believed in application of teaching.

Even within the Church there were those who opposed Pink, and Murray relates this also. He points out some of Pink’s growth and change in his belief as important to evaluating him. When looking at his writings it’s important to check when it was written. He later rejected many of his earlier writings, and over all his later works were the better ones. Still many of the writings he rejected continue to be reprinted.

Murray also addresses Pink’s withdrawal from the corporate life of the church. Murray recognizes this as a weakness, but shows it does not ultimately disqualify his teaching ministry. His magazine and correspondence ministry transcended denominational bounds in a way unusual for that time. But his greater impact has come since his death in 1952.

The book ends with excerpts from his writings, and a bibliography of his major writings-including some comments. He notes reprints of the books to assist his readers in finding them.

In this book we see Pink’s life, passion, and ministry were all inseparable. We see him as a pastor, writer, husband, friend, and, most importantly, as a child of God.

This book is published by Banner of Truth Trust.


Blogger Jeremy Weaver said...

I have wanted to read this book for a while now. It's hard to find the time for all the good stuff I keep finding!
Thanks for the review.

8:29 PM  
Blogger pilgrim said...

I rarely buy books anymore, as I have too many to red--but every now & then another one gets in my collection.

I hope most of them will be futre recommendations.

I think you'll enjoy the book.

8:30 PM  

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