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The Life of Arthur Pink

Arthur Pink was an unusual man and little has been written about him.  To my knowledge, only two biographies exist on A.W. Pink — The Life of Arthur W. Pink by Iain Murray, and Arthur W. Pink: Born to Write by Richard Belcher.  In light of the dearth of material available online, here are the class notes from the ‘Quotables’ class that’s in progress right now.  Oh, and if you’d like to read his works, here’s a link to the Arthur Pink Archives, which has virtually all of his writings in digital form.

——–Forgive the rough form & formatting of the notes.  They have not really been prepared for publication to the web or of any sort.——–{mosimage}

Arthur Walkington Pink (1886-1952)


»    Born to Christian Parents
»    Converted from the occult.
»    Preached to crowds of people across America, England & Australia.
»    Eventually lost influence due to preaching sovereignty & responsibility
»    His books didn’t ever sell well.
»    He chose to leave every church he pastored or attended.
»    He maintained a monthly magazine for over thirty years, writing almost all of the content.
»    Magazine subscriptions never went much over 1,000 and often were below.
»    He lived the last 16 years of his life in virtual isolation on an island off Scotland.

An unusual man…

A Brief Sketch
of His Life


~ Youth

Arthur Pink was
born in Nottingham, England to Thomas & Agnes Pink
on April 1, 1886.

His dad was a
corn miller, who worked hard.

  • My
    father “was an exceptionally busy business man: so busy that for over thirty
    years he never had more than three consecutive days’ holidays. He was a corn merchant, and after returning
    from market attended to much of the clerical work in person, so that for years
    he did not cease till 11:50 Saturday night.

Father arose
Sunday mornings & took everyone to church, then came home & spent a
couple hours reading to the children from Scripture, Book of Martyrs, Pilgrim’s
Progress and like books.

Despite such an
upbringing, Pink had no interest in gospel matters.

Instead, he
turned to Theosophy – a cult popular in England during that time which
claimed special knowledge preserved in their brotherhood.

» Popularized
eastern religions & reincarnation, through occult practices.

~ His Conversion

He quickly rose
in prominence, became involved with their leadership & was in dialogue with
one of the leaders in India
about him moving over there to take a more active role.

» Through
this time, his father would await him each evening to wish him good night &
speak a word of Scripture as admonition to him.

» In
1908 (age 18), Pink heard Proverbs 14:12, “there is a way which seems right to
a man, but its end is the way of death.”

» He
heard this & he could not shake it. After three days agony, he gave his life to Christ.

» His
last message to the Theosophical Society was, “Why did I leave Spiritism &
Theosophy?” wherein he confessed Christ & resigned his membership.

For the next two years, he would read 10 chapters of
Scripture daily & study a particular portion of it for seven days straight.

» He
would also take one verse with him on paper daily for meditation.


~ Early Years

As D.L. Moody’s visits to Britain
were still well-remembered, but the prevailing state of churches in England was low, Pink immigrated to America
to attend Moody Bible Institute.

» He
was there for a bit less than two months and determined that he was wasting his
time, hearing things taught that he’d already learned in personal study back in

» After
speaking with the leadership there, they agreed with his assessment and helped
find him a pastorate in Colorado. 1910 (age 20).

» Stayed
there for two years. No certain reason
why he left – likely became a Baptist serving in a Congregational church.


Much of his early life is sketchy, but it appears that he
went to California for a time and preached in Garden Grove and at
BIOLA. Somewhere in here was his second
pastorate, which lasted for around two years, until he determined he should
return home for a time to see his parents.

Somehow and by some motivation, he went back to the U.S., taking a pastorate in Kentucky.It was here that he met his future wife – Vera Russell,
another boarder at the same house.After nine months, he chose to
take another pastorate (likely better paying) and they were married.

Married on Nov. 16, 1916 (Arthur
30, Vera 23)

The next year saw them in another church in Spartanburg, South
Carolina. It was here that he began doing serious writing, publishing The
Sovereignty of God

In Spartanburg
is found the first hint of contention within a church that Pink pastored.

As he preached and as his book circulated, some began to be
very uncomfortable with his view of God’s sovereignty and his lack of pastoral

Pink did do a good job in
comforting the sick & dying. He just
couldn’t do small talk. And small talk
in South Carolina
was (& is) a big thing.

He preached three messages a week,
read around 12 books a month (largely Puritans), wrote books for publications
& did a lot of letter writing.


By the two year mark, they were
considering a change – mainly due to the stress of the workload.

Eventually, they relocated to a
small town to focus on writing.

Yet shortly thereafter, he went to California to fill a pulpit interim, and
then preach at a number of bible conferences (tent meetings).

These went well
initially as he did the follow-up teaching after the evangelist, preaching on
the nature of the Christian life and the character of God.

Yet some within the revival leadership grew frustrated with
his theology…Calvinistic.


~ Middle Years

After a year and a half of this, they returned to their east
coast small town to regroup and write.

His book, Gleanings in Genesis, was picked up by
Moody Bible Inst. for publishing, and he prepared an exposition on the Gospel
of John for press as well. It was at
this time that he also began a monthly periodical, at the urging of his publisher. The magazine’s name was Studies in Scriptures. That
magazine would become his life’s work.

From there, they went to Australia, where he did bible
conferences for the span of a year.

» By
the close of 1925, Pink had preached over 300 times that year.

» At
the same time, he was writing, printing & circulating Studies in Scriptures.

That year, he accepted the pastorate at a ‘Strict & Particular Baptist

This lasted
about two years, but ended when the church couldn’t abide by him making free
offers of salvation to hearers of the gospel during messages.

To them, those
were the words of a “rank free willer.” (p.114-115)

He then helped a group of 40-60 start a new church for about
10 months until resigning from there because he felt that their motives in
starting the church had been impure.

Despite all this, Australia was remembered 18 years
later as “three and a half of our happiest & busiest years.”


~ Later Years

For the next three years, the Pinks wandered…living here
& there, finding no permanent home for their ministry. (1928-1930)

Then from 1931-1936, Pink lived in the U.S., England
and Scotland,
all the while seeking to find a church he could minister in. His conclusion at the end of 1936 was that
there was nowhere that he could serve in with good conscience.

For the next four years, he lived in a coastal town of the
southeastern side of England. After two years of bombing from WWII, they
chose to move to Scotland,
and eventually settled in Stornoway, a small island off the coast of Scotland,
where the inhabitants mainly spoke Gaelic.

From 1940 till his death in 1952, Arthur & Vera Pink
lived in a small apartment, writing the monthly magazine, making a few slight
friends, but mainly keeping to themselves.

Vera lived on for another
10 years, cultivating rich friendships with a number of people on the island.


Thoughts on the Hallmarks of His


~ Pastor

Arthur saw himself called to pastoral ministry.

His preaching and writing reflected that.

His concern was always on the experimental – how life was to
be lived.

His preaching was
exhortational. His writing was
doctrinal, exposition and pastoral.

It is in the pastoral writing that
he most shined.

His letters to people reflect this same concern.


~ Writing

His writing was NOT well received.

During the first twenty years of his ministry, he questioned
whether he was doing the right thing.

The condition of Christianity at that point was the
beginning of the Modernist movement.

Denial of supernatural. Accommodation of science. Downplaying of inerrancy.

Strong Arminianism. Big on revivals, altar calls &
evangelistic meetings.

Large swing towards
dispensationalism & prophecy.


His writing was expositional. It was Calvinistic. It shunned minor issues to focus on majors.

It was NOT well-received, nor well-publicized. It spread solely due to word-of-mouth.

Yet it lasted.

Bound volumes in particular!


Most of his books are collections of articles that he wrote
for the magazine.

He poured hours & hours daily into the magazine.


It was only in the last 3-4 years of the magazine’s
existence that it’s circulation began to grow…

But it was not
until after his death that the Banner of Truth began to republish his writings
as books that his reputation and his writings really began to take off.


~ Correspondence

By 1946, 6 years before his death, Pink had already written
over 20,000 letters.

He sometimes wrote 10/day. His writing was an outflow of his pastoral heart.

Some of those who wrote were those who’d sat under his
pastoral ministry.

Others were readers of his books & magazines.

In fact, he encouraged his readers
to write to him.

To those who wrote, he answered questions, asked them
questions to lead them to study to their own conclusion, offered life advice,
and occasionally shared what was going on in his life.

It was from the letters that he assessed (& was encouraged by) the
effect that the magazine was having in the lives of its readers. Apart from this input, it seems likely he’d
have thrown in the towel.

 It is from these letters that a lot of what’s known about
Pink is known. He kept no diary or
journal and few newspapers mentioned him.


Some Lessons from

~ His Isolation from
the Church Was Not Healthy

1) It wasn’t healthy
for the church.

~ churches missed out what he had to offer

— If I had behaved as Pink
did, I would have achieved nothing. Nothing at all. I could see that
the only hope was to let the weight of truth convince the people. So I had to be very patient and take a very
long-term look at things. Otherwise I
would have been dismissed and the whole thing would have been finished. (D.M. Lloyd-Jones)

~ his preaching was truly blessed & people remembered it long


2) It wasn’t healthy
for him.

~ no accountability from others

~ no one to moderate harsh tones or to talk theology with


3) It wasn’t healthy
for his ministry.

~ it had a lower view of the church than really existed

~ it could’ve been more effective if he’d been involved in lives more


As something for you to consider…

Most men who have great impact for the kingdom (& those
who linger long into history) are the ones who’ve exercised a long ministry in
ONE church.

~ Luther, Calvin,
Zwingli, Edwards, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Sproul, Piper, MacArthur
(the same could be said for Chuck Smith & Rick Warren, too.)

~ His Perseverance in
Labor is a Model


1) In ministry, he
imitated the OT prophets who often saw little fruit but kept laboring.

~ he often lamented being a
Puritan born 200 years too late

~ OR he was born 25 years too

— but his work paved the way for
much of the resurgence in Calvinistic doctrine

— many ministers read his
magazines & it completely revolutionized their theology

~ in his 40’s
when most men are at their peak in work, he saw his circle of influence at its
smallest – yet he persevered!

2) In truth, he
maintained solid doctrine until the end of his life.

~ it seems that as men grow older,
they soften as to what’s true, biblical &/or essential


~ Personal Study


1) From the time of his conversion, he was always a student
of the Word of God

~ many of us leave off personal
study after a time as life grows busier; he never did!

~ personal
time with God in prayer & study was always a priority; when preaching,
writing, visiting or corresponding – he saw his usefulness in direct
correlation to his spiritual vitality


2) His personal study
of the Word was always concerned with life.

~ for one who came out of
Theosophy, his interests were intensely practical

~ he wrote how the articles are
“hammered out on the anvil of our own heart.”


3) His last words reveal what was on his mind as
he entered glory, "The Scriptures explain themselves"


—-If you’d like a more complete, blanks-filled-in version, then the audio from the class may be of help.—-

Author: John Pleasnick

John serves as a pastor and elder at Faith Bible Church

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