Enlarged Edition of Iain Murray’s Life of Arthur Pink: Author’s Preface
In these pages I have returned to the Life of Arthur W Pink which I wrote nearly a quarter of a century ago. My reasons for the present revision and enlargement are threefold.
First, there is some more information on Pink available to me than there was in 1981. A number of Pink’s own notebooks and manuscripts were not in my hands at that date. Further many letters written by him between 1917 and 1920 have now come into the public domain. For the latter we are indebted to Richard D. Belcher of Columbia, South Carolina, who undertook their publication in Letters from Spartanburg and Letters of an Itinerant Preacher. Dr Belcher has also contributed valuable additions to the understanding of Pink in his biography, Arthur W. Pink: Born to Write (1982, and his current enlarged edition of the same title). It may be that still more sources of information will come to light and, if so, the writer and the present publishers would be glad to hear of them.
Second, opportunity to reflect on my first edition of the biography, as well as perhaps on Dr Belcher’s Born to Write, has left me with the impression that there was too much attention given to the unusual in Pink. Anything extraordinary or unique in an individual always tends to gain over-much attention from biographers and can thus distort the picture presented. If we erred in this regard it happened in part because of our incomplete knowledge. Not only did Pink write very little about himself, there is almost no surviving correspondence of a personal nature – nothing, for instance, between him and those who knew him best such as his parents and his wife.
Presumably on the basis of the limited information in our biographies, opinions have sometimes been expressed about Arthur Pink which give no true impression of the man. In a recent article in an Australian magazine entitled ‘Ten Years on and Still a Calvinist’, the author wrote of his concerns when he first became a Calvinist: ‘Would I’, he asked himself; ‘become a schismatic, breaking fellowship with an increasingly large number of people until there was just me and my copy of Arthur Pink’s Collected Works left?" (Rory Shiner in “The Briefing”), Matthias Media, October 2003, p.5). I hope this revision may do something to remove such misconceptions. The real Pink was a man who could write:
‘We should view God’s children, separated as they now are by party partitions and denominational walls, as members of the same family, and sharing a common interest. Let our hearts embrace and our prayers include the entire household of faith.’ (Studies in the Scriptures, 1947, p.229)
I do not deny that there is the unusual in Pink’s life and that is one reason he gave why ‘We shall not relate our own spiritual history . . . There are probably some things about our conversion and some things in our subsequent spiritual history which have been duplicated in very few others, if they should look for parallel in themselves.’ (Spiritual Growth or Christian Progress, Grand Rapids, Baker, 1971, p. 34. Another reason why he had no concern to leave records of himself was ‘we are not so conceited as to imagine that our own particular conversion and the ups and downs of our Christian life are of sufficient importance to narrate.’). He had no wish that anyone should take the events of his life as an example for themselves.
Third, there are good reasons why the fullest possible biographical information should be set down. For one thing, the widespread circulation of his writings after his death made him one of the most influential evangelical authors in the second half of the twentieth century. Yet his life has been little known. When Donald McKinnon, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, was addressing the Divinity Faculty and others in Edinburgh in 1974 there was only one who could respond to his question, ‘Does anyone here know Pink?’ (Surprised at the question, Ian Hamilton queried if he meant A.W. Pink.) Still today his life is sometimes unreported where you would expect to find it. There is no entry for him in the Twentieth Century Dictionary of Christian Biography, edited by J. D. Douglas (Grand Rapids: Baker; Carlisle: Paternoster, 1995). There is an entry, however, in the Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, edited by Timothy A. Larsen (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2003). We are reminded of the words of a Puritan, ‘There will be a resurrection of reputations as well as bodies.’
The life of Pink tells us much that is for the glory of God. No Christian can know him without appreciation and profit. He was led by God along a difficult path, and could say, ‘Much failure attached to us at every point’, but we can now see how he was guided to be a God-honouring witness in a day of much superficiality. We are humbled in the presence of his love of Scripture and his single-minded devotion to Christ. While the portrait we have attempted in these pages is still incomplete we believe it will be of help to fellow pilgrims who are all called to live by faith.
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