Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

PARADOX FILES, Vol. 12 - A.W. Pink

A.W. Pink (1886-1952) gets one of our famous t-shirts. Although Pink is regarded as the consummate "ultra-high" Calvinist, and although he is considered by some to have been an actual hyper-Calvinist during at least a period of his life, it is clear from the excerpt below that Pink became a firm believer in theological balance and paradox. He is well known for denying that God has any love for the non-elect. On that matter, he was certainly expressing a hyper-Calvinistic tendency, and was at odds with Calvin and every other mainstream Reformed theologian in history. If Pink had applied some paradoxical thinking to the topic, he would have moved into a more balanced position. But we all have our blind spots.

The excerpt below is from an article written by Pink in 1936, in which he tenaciously argues against the hyper-Calvinist's denial of "duty faith" (duty faith refers to the fact that God commands every person to repent and believe the Gospel, and therefore it is everyone's "duty" to do so). It is important to note that Pink is not denying the validity and usefulness of reason or logic, as such. Rather, he is showing how "human" reasoning stands opposed to divine, inerrant Truth. Human logic is good as far as it goes, but in dealing with divine matters there is a need for revelation, which exceeds the capacities and categories of mere human logic. In other words, God's ways cannot be mapped out mathematically by the human brain.

Pink also wrote a book about the attributes of God, in which he made some very strong statements in favor of the doctrine of incomprehensibility. Perhaps he will win another t-shirt for that. But for now, enjoy A.W. Pink's bold attack on theological imbalance - complete with a strong appeal to the concept of paradox.

"Now if we resort to human reasoning it will logically follow that it is quite useless to exhort the unregenerate to turn unto God or come unto Christ; yea, to exhort those who are utterly incompetent to respond, will appear to be most inconsistent and the height of absurdity. But, my reader, the things of God cannot be encompassed by human reason, and the moment we attempt to measure them by the line of our "logic," we open the door for Satan to deceive by his subtleties. He will tell us that if the Lord our God be one Lord then He cannot be a plurality of Persons, and that if we hold to three Divine Persons we are most "inconsistent" in affirming the unity of God. Satan will tell us that if God be Love then He will never banish any of His creatures to everlasting woe, and that if we hold to eternal punishment of the wicked we are altogether "inconsistent" in believing in the Divine benevolence.
What, then are we to do? This: repudiate all reasoning upon spiritual things as utterly worthless, and believe with the simplicity of a child whatever God's Word teaches. The Apostles held firmly the revealed truth of a glorious and victorious Messiah, and they could not "harmonize" with that fact a humiliated Messiah that would be crucified: the two things appeared to be altogether "inconsistent" and contradictory. But to them Christ said, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken" (Luke 24:25).That, my reader, should be a lasting warning to us of the utter inadequacy of human logic and philosophizing upon Divine things! We must turn from the vain reasonings of the Unitarian, and while holding fast to the Unity of the Divine nature, we must also believe there are three co-equal Persons in the Godhead. We must turn from the vain reasonings of the Universalist, and while holding fast to the love of God, we must also believe in the eternal punishment of His enemies. And why? Because Holy Scripture teaches both!
In like manner, we must turn from the vain reasonings . . . of the hyper-Calvinist, and while holding fast to the total depravity and the spiritual inability of the natural man, we must also believe in his moral responsibility and accountability to God."

(Note: I have emboldened some text for emphasis, but the italics are all Pink's)

HT: Phil Johnson

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