21 February, 2017

“The Forgotten Pink”

Rev. Ronald Hanko

 [Source: British Reformed Journal, issue 17, January-March 1997]

Spurgeon First Forgotten

We have deliberately chosen the title of this article in reference to the book entitled The Forgotten Spurgeon, published by the Banner of Truth Trust and written by Mr. Iain Murray. In that excellent book Murray accuses the religious world of forgetting that Spurgeon was a Calvinist and shows what an implacable opponent of Arminianism he was.

Thus Murray speaks with disapproval of the Kelvedon edition of Spurgeon's works in which "Arminianism" was removed from some sermons. Murray says, "More seriously, 'Arminianism' has been removed from the text of some of Spurgeon's Sermons reprinted in the Kelvedon edition, though no warning of the abridgement is given to the reader" (The Forgotten Spurgeon, second edition, 1973, p. 52, note).1

Let us note that Murray's criticism revolves primarily around the removal of all references to Arminianism, and the fact that no notice of the removal is given to the reader. That removal is sufficient, in Murray's opinion, to make the Kelvedon edition of Spurgeon's sermons an "abridgement."

Pink Pinked2

To our surprise we learned a number of years ago that the Banner of Truth Trust (hereafter referred to as the Banner), with which Mr. Murray has had the closest possible connections over many years, had done the same thing to Arthur Pink's important book The Sovereignty of God. At that time we were told that one chapter of Pink's book, a chapter entitled "The Sovereignty of God in Reprobation," had been removed in the Banner edition.

Not having a copy of the Banner edition we were unable to check the truth of what we had been told, and did not think much more of the matter. More recently, and for various reasons, we decided to investigate further, and were surprised by what we found.

The truth is that there are three whole chapters missing from the original edition of Pink's book. The chapter entitled "The Sovereignty of God in Reprobation" is missing, but so are two others, entitled "God's Sovereignty and Human Responsibility" and "Difficulties and Objections." Not only that, but four lengthy appendices (18 pages of the fourth edition as published by Baker Book House) are also missing from the Banner edition, appendices which are by no means unimportant. The titles alone will indicate to any discerning reader how important they are: "The Will of God," "The Case of Adam," "The Meaning of 'Kosmos' in John 3:16," and "I John 2:2."

What is more, large sections of other chapters are also missing—in many cases whole paragraphs, and in others sentences and words. By our count 94 of 269 complete pages of the fourth (Baker) edition are missing and 241 of 525 paragraphs, not including missing words and sentences. More than half of the book, therefore, is missing in the Banner edition, the only edition generally available to British readers.

The notices of this are found on the title page, where the Banner edition is referred to as a "Revised Edition," and in the publisher's preface which makes reference to "certain minor revisions and abridgements" (pp. 2-3). Whether this covers what the Banner has done to Pink's book, we leave to the reader to judge, especially in light of Mr. Murray's reference to the Kelvedon edition of Spurgeon's sermons as an "abridgement."

The only other reference we know of to this "revision" of The Sovereignty of God is found in Murray's biography of Pink, The Life of Arthur W. Pink, where he speaks of "the removal of some material" from the book. Again, we leave it to the reader to judge whether this constitutes "a warning … given to the reader."

Justification Attempted and Aborted

In his biography of Pink, Mr. Murray gives what we presume to be a justification of what the Banner has done to Pink's book. He says:

To aid readers in making a classification of Pink's writings we are supplying an Appendix giving the dates of all his major writings. In addition it may be of help to point to specific subjects where changes took place in his thinking.

First, with respect to Calvinistic theology, no fundamental alteration in his views took place after the publication of The Sovereignty of God in 1918. His last revision of the title was done at Morton's Gap, Kentucky, in 1929, when he wrote: "During the last ten years it has pleased God to grant us further light on certain parts of his Word, and this we have sought to use in improving our expositions of different passages. But it is with unfeigned thanksgiving that we find it unnecessary to either change or modify any doctrine…" (Foreword to the Third Edition). He had no part in Herendeen's publication of a fourth edition in 1949, although by that time there were certainly points which he would have stated differently.

In the 1929 edition, for example, he objected to the gospel being presented as an "offer": "The gospel is not an 'offer' to be bandied around by evangelistic peddlers." But he came to accept, in the words of Calvin, that "the mercy of God is offered to those who believe and to those who believe not." This is not to say that in 1929 Pink held the hyper-Calvinistic view that sinners are not to be commanded to repent and believe: as we have seen, it was his preaching on that point which prompted the trouble in Belvoir Street, Sydney in 1927-28, but thereafter he did become clearer in stating the freeness of the gospel. "The gospel," he wrote to a friend in 1949, "is as free as the air, and I Timothy 1:15 gives us full warrant to tell a murderer in the condemned cell that there is a Saviour for him if he will receive him.... The ground on which any sinner is invited and commanded to believe is neither God's election, nor Christ's substitution, but his particular need of responding to the free offer of the gospel. The gospel is that Christ died for sinners as sinners (not 'elect sinners') and is addressed to their responsibility."

Similarly Pink's views of human responsibility were improved after 1929. When the 1929 edition of Sovereignty was published he was prepared to reject all terminology attributing "free-agency" or "free-will" to sinners. By 1940, however, in his articles "The Doctrine of Man's Inability," though not basically changing his teaching, he had come to see that there is a legitimate sense in which it is necessary to insist upon both the freedom of the will and free-agency. Human responsibility is presented with an exactness much closer to Scripture in these articles and he rightly abandons an argument, based upon the would-be distinction between natural and moral inability, to which he had wrongly given emphasis in The Sovereignty of God.

For these reasons when the Banner of Truth Trust published the first British edition of The Sovereignty of God in 1961 they believed they were warranted in making a revision which included the removal of some material relating to these points. In this respect the 1961 "Revised Edition" is a more accurate presentation of Pink's mature thought and, we think, more likely to do good than the 1929 edition which is still published in the U.S.A. (pp. 194-196).

We quote at length to show how completely the Banner has misled the readers of The Sovereignty of God. Half the book is not "some material." Nor does much of what was removed have anything to do with the points Murray raises. It is true that Pink did not write the foreword to the Fourth Edition, but it was published while he was still living, by a friend of his, and without any indication from Pink himself at that time or afterward that he was unhappy with anything in the book. Indeed, Pink himself says in his preface to the third edition (essentially the same as the fourth) that he found it "unnecessary to change or modify any doctrine." Murray himself admits that "with respect to Calvinistic theology, no fundamental alteration in his views took place after the publication of The Sovereignty of God in 1918." Yet the Banner made fundamental alterations not only to this book but to his theology as well, as we will show.

Reasons That Reason Cannot Tell

Murray, then, justifies the Banner's wholesale slaughter of Pink's book by referring to two supposed changes in Pink's theology, the first having to do with the preaching of the gospel and the second with human responsibility. As proof for the first assertion, Murray gives one quote from Calvin and one from Pink, for the second no quotes at all, but only a reference to Pink's Studies in the Scriptures.

How a quote from Calvin is supposed to prove a change in Pink's views we cannot tell, but Mr. Murray does give one quote from Pink to support his contention that Pink's views of the gospel changed. The quote, however, proves nothing.

In the Sovereignty of God Pink says: "The gospel is not an 'offer' to be bandied around by evangelistic peddlers." Murray quotes an unpublished letter of 1949 (this is the best and only evidence, apparently, that the Banner has to offer) that is supposed to contradict this. There Pink says:

"The gospel is as free as the air, and I Timothy 1:15 gives us full warrant to tell a murderer in the condemned cell that there is a Saviour for him if he will receive him…. The ground on which any sinner is invited and commanded to believe is neither God's election, nor Christ's substitution, but his particular need of responding to the free offer of the gospel. That gospel is that Christ died for sinners as sinners (not 'elect sinners') and is addressed to their responsibility."

What is the difference between this quote and what Pink writes in Sovereignty? The difference exists only in the mind of Mr. Murray. We do not believe that the gospel is an "offer" to be "bandied about by evangelistic peddlers." We have, however, no problem with the quote Murray uses to prove his point. We believe that "the gospel is as free as the air, and I Timothy 1:15 gives us full warrant to tell a murderer in the condemned cell that there is a Savior for him if he will receive him." We would insist, too, that "the ground on which any sinner is invited and commanded to believe is neither God's election, nor Christ's substitution, but his particular need of responding to the free offer of the gospel. The gospel is that Christ died for sinners as sinners and is addressed to their responsibility."

All that could possibly be proved from the quotes is that Pink's views of the word "offer" changed. Perhaps he came to see, as we have come to see, that the problem is not with the word "offer." The word can be used in a legitimate sense, as the Westminster Larger Catechism uses it in Question and Answer 63, to mean that God testifies in the gospel "that whosoever believes in him shall be saved … excluding none that will come unto him."

But even if there was some change in Pink's teaching (and Murray himself admits there was "no fundamental alteration in his views"), Pink's views of the gospel were never those of Murray and the Banner. Pink never taught that God loves everyone or desires to save everyone, or promises salvation to everyone in the gospel, as the Banner does. Pink says, for example, in The Sermon on the Mount (printed originally in 1938-43, not long before the Fourth Edition of Sovereignty): 

The Gospel is a message of "good news." To whom? To sinners. But to what sort of sinners? To the giddy and unconcerned, to those who give no thought to the claims of God and where they shall spend eternity? Certainly not. The Gospel announces no good tidings to them: it has no music in it to their ears. They are quite deaf to its charms, for they have no sense of need of the Saviour (p. 357).

He emphatically denies, therefore, that the gospel has good news in it for every sinner who hears the gospel.

A little further on he again rejects the Banner's views of the gospel:

The true prophet accords God His rightful place. He is owned as the King of kings and Lord of lords, as the One who "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." He is acknowledged to be the sovereign Ruler of heaven and earth, at whose disposal are all creatures and all events, for whose pleasure they are created (Rev. iv, 11), whose will is invincible and whose power is irresistible. He is declared to be God in fact as well as in name: One whose claims upon us are paramount and incontestable, One who is to be held in the utmost reverence and awe, One who is to be feared and rejoiced in with trembling (Psalm ii, 11). Such a God the false prophets neither believe in nor preach. On the contrary, they prate about a God who wants to do this and who would like to do that, but cannot because His creatures will not permit it. Having endowed man with a free will, he must neither be compelled nor coerced, and while Deity is filled with amiable intentions He is unable to carry them out [italics mine, R.H.]. Man is the architect of his fortunes and the decider of his own destiny, and God a mere spectator (p. 365).

Many other such quotes could be cited from Pink's later writings. From them it is obvious that it was not Pink's views that changed, but the Banner that has changed Pink.

Free-Willing Changes

Regarding the other matter, that is, the supposed change in Pink's views of human responsibility and free will, we also disagree with Murray. In proof of his assertions Murray gives no quotations, but does make reference in a footnote to Pink's Studies, 1940, pp. 158-160 (also printed in Gleanings from the Scriptures: Man's Total Depravity, 1969, Moody Press, pp. 238-242).

The two things Murray disagrees with in The Sovereignty of God are Pink's repudiation of the notion that man is a "free moral agent" and Pink's distinction between natural and moral inability. Murray says, for example, that in his later writings Pink "rightly abandons an argument, based upon the would-be distinction between natural and moral inability, to which he had wrongly given emphasis in The Sovereignty of God," a distinction, Murray says, that "does not clarify the real spiritual issue"' (Life, page 196, note).

We have read and reread these pages and cannot find how they prove the point Murray is making. They do not even make reference to the distinction between natural and moral inability, and they say nothing about whether man is a free moral agent. In fact, we can find nothing in those pages of the Studies that Pink does not teach in Sovereignty.

That Pink does deny in Sovereignty that man is a free moral agent is clear. But it is also clear that Pink only means that man does not have free will in the Arminian sense. In denying man's free moral agency he is only contradicting the teaching that "'God Himself cannot control my moral frame or constrain my moral choice:'"

The will is not sovereign; it is a servant, because influenced and controlled by the other faculties of man's being. [The sinner is not a free agent because he is a] slave of sin—this was clearly implied in the Lord's words, "If the Son shall therefore (sic) make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). Man is a rational being and as such responsible and accountable to God, but to affirm that he is [a free moral agent] is to deny that he is totally depraved—i.e., depraved in will as in everything else (the words in brackets are changed in the Banner edition to read "[The will is not free because the man is the] slave of sin, … but to affirm that he is [capable of choosing that which is spiritually good] is to deny that he is totally depraved") (p. 138).

What person who believes in total depravity could possibly have any serious objection to this? Murray himself defines free agency in a note in the Banner edition of Sovereignty with a quote from Charles Hodge that contradicts nothing Pink says, except that Hodge uses the phrase "free moral agent" and Pink does not.

But even if Pink's repudiation of the phrase "free agency" is objectionable, we find it incredible that this is the justification for deleting so much material from Pink's book, including the whole chapter on human responsibility. In omitting the chapter, the Banner omits a total of 48 paragraphs or 21 pages (the discussion of natural and moral inability fills only 16 paragraphs, and most of what Pink says there must be judged acceptable even by Murray and the Banner)! Would not a note or a brief appendix have done far better, especially in light of the fact that this is the chapter where Pink insists on the very important point that God's sovereignty in no way destroys or impinges on man's responsibility?

Is Half a Book Better Than No Book?

We would add, too, that Murray has not proved that Pink's views of reprobation changed, or his views on the operations of the Spirit, or his views on the love of God, or his views on the will of God, or his interpretation of such passages as II Peter 3:9, yet the Banner has omitted his "views" on all these matters from The Sovereignty of God. Certainly that is worse than anything the Kelvedon edition did to Spurgeon.

In any case, would it not have been far more honest, if the Banner really felt that Pink's views had changed so considerably as to affect half the book, either to leave the book unpublished, or at the very least to print, perhaps as a supplement or appendix to Sovereignty those passages from other of Pink's writings that they believed were more correct? At least in that case the reader could have judged for himself.

We have no principle objection to an abridgment of a book if it is done to simplify and condense a book that would otherwise be beyond the capacity or patience of some readers, and if it is clear from the book itself that it is an abridged version. The abridgment of John Owen's The Death of Death is of that sort (the abridgment is published under the title, Life by His Death). But the Banner's editing of Pink was not done merely to simplify, nor is Sovereignty at all a difficult book to read, but one of the easiest of all Pink's writings.

What, then, should the Banner's edition of Pink be called: an abridgment? a condensation? Perhaps "Bowdlerized Version"3 would be best. Whatever we call it, however, we believe the Banner should stop printing this so-called "Revised Version," admit its mistake, and refund those who are no longer satisfied to own such an impoverished edition of such an important book.

The Forgotten Pink

But we did not entitle this article "The Forgotten Pink" merely to indict the Banner. Rather, we are concerned to show that what was true of Spurgeon's Calvinism some 40 years ago—that it was forgotten or misunderstood—is also true of Pink's Calvinism today.

At the time Murray wrote The Forgotten Spurgeon, Calvinism was largely in disrepute both in America and in Britain. Today that is no longer true, due in large measure to the efforts of Mr. Murray and others. Yet the Calvinism they represent and teach is not the same as that of Arthur Pink. Pink's Calvinism is a higher and stricter Calvinism than theirs.
Pink's Calvinism differs in a number of respects from the more moderate Calvinism of today. For one thing, Pink's Calvinism is logically consistent with itself, something abhorrent to the more moderate Calvinists of today who are not only willing to find, but delight in finding contradictions, apparent or otherwise, both in Scripture and in their own theology.

In the second place, Pink's Calvinism has a higher view of God, especially in that it emphasizes the self-consistency, self-sufficiency, immutability, and perfection of God. A more moderate Calvinism is willing to speak in ways that suggest that God changes and that He can and does will and work opposite things.

In the third place, Pink's Calvinism has a stronger emphasis on predestination, and is not silent about the doctrine of reprobation. The more moderate modern Calvinism tends to speak little if at all of reprobation and does not find election to be the source and fountain of every saving good. Instead it speaks of a love and grace of God that are divorced from election and from the cross.

Fourthly, Pink's Calvinism has a strong particularity to it. Not only does he insist clearly and unmistakably on particular election and particular redemption, but he carries this over into an emphasis on particular love, mercy, and grace. Even those more moderate Calvinists of today who believe in particular redemption do not want particular grace, particular love, and a particular promise of God (i.e., a promise only for the elect, though preached to all).

Having carefully taken note of the omissions in the Banner edition of Sovereignty, we can come to no other conclusion than that the material was removed by way of softening Pink's high Calvinism, and that in support of the watered-down version of Calvinism that the Banner itself has been promoting over the years. This watered-down version of Calvinism teaches a love of God for all men, a will of God to save all men, and a gospel offer through which God actively seeks the salvation of all men, views that Pink would have nothing of.

We believe an examination of the material removed will confirm that the difference between Pink's and the Banner's teaching on these matters is the reason for most of the changes. What follows, then, is a selection of omitted material. This, we believe, will show more clearly than anything we can write, the kind of Calvinism Pink represented, a Calvinism with which the Banner is extremely uncomfortable. And, in quoting this material, we remind our readers that all of it is missing in the Banner edition of The Sovereignty of God.

Reprobation "Passed By"

We begin our examination by looking at the three omitted chapters and the four omitted appendices, since these are the most serious omissions of all. This material fills 88 pages of the Baker edition of Sovereignty. Nor is there a single mention in this chapter of the two matters the Banner uses as an excuse for omitting "some material."

In the first place, then, the removal of the chapter on reprobation is significant. It is this doctrine more than any other that conflicts with the idea that God wills and seeks and makes a well-meant offer of salvation to all men without exception. The doctrine of reprobation, after all, is the teaching that God has eternally willed the damnation of some, a teaching that can hardly be reconciled with a will of God to save all.

Indeed, in that chapter Pink explicitly denies that God wills the salvation of all men. He speaks, for example, of the Old Testament, and points out that in those times God obviously did not will the salvation of the other nations around Israel in that He did not vouchsafe to them even the means of salvation (Baker edition, p. 83—all references to The Sovereignty of God from here on are taken from this edition).

He goes on to say:

Coming down to our own day, and to those in our own country—leaving out the almost innumerable crowds of unevangelized heathen—is it not evident that there are many living in lands where the Gospel is preached, lands which are full of churches, who die strangers to God and His holiness? True, the means of grace were close to their hand, but many of them knew it not. Thousands are born into homes where they are taught from infancy to regard all Christians as hypocrites and preachers as arch-humbugs. Others, are instructed from the cradle in Roman Catholicism, and are trained to regard Evangelical Christianity as deadly heresy, and the Bible as a book highly dangerous for them to read. Others, reared in "Christian Science" families, know no more of the true Gospel of Christ than do the unevangelized heathen. The great majority of these die in utter ignorance of the Way of Peace. Now are we not obliged to conclude that it was not God's will to communicate grace to them? Had His will been otherwise, would he not have actually communicated His grace to them? If, then, it was the will of God, in time, to refuse to them His grace, it must have been His will from all eternity, since His will is, as Himself, the same yesterday, and today and forever. Let it not be forgotten that God's providences are but the manifestations of His decrees: what God does in time is only what He purposed in eternity—His own will being the alone cause of all His acts and works. Therefore from His actually leaving some men in final impenitency and unbelief we assuredly gather it was His everlasting determination so to do; and consequently that He reprobated some from before the foundation of the world (pp. 83, 84).

In the same connection he writes:

Now if God had willed their salvation, would He not have vouchsafed them the means of salvation? Would He not have given them all things necessary to that end? But it is an undeniable matter of fact that He did not. If, then, Deity can, consistently, with His justice, mercy, and benevolence, deny to some the means of grace, and shut them up in gross darkness and unbelief (because of the sins of their forefathers, generations before), why should it be deemed incompatible with His perfections to exclude some persons, many, from grace itself, and from that eternal life which is connected with it? seeing that He is Lord and sovereign Disposer both of the end to which the means lead, and the means which lead to that end? (p. 83).

We do not think, of course, that the Banner and other moderate Calvinists all disbelieve the doctrine of reprobation, but at best it is a doctrine which is "passed by" among them, or, if mentioned, is watered down. Pink himself speaks of this. He begins the chapter with these words:

In the last chapter when treating of the Sovereignty of God the Father in Salvation, we examined seven passages which represent Him as making a choice from among the children of men, and predestinating certain ones to be conformed to the image of His Son. The thoughtful reader will naturally ask, And what of those who were not "ordained to eternal life?" The answer which is usually returned to this question, even by those who profess to believe what the Scriptures teach concerning God's sovereignty, is, that God passes by the non-elect, leaves them alone to go their own way, and in the end casts them into the Lake of Fire because they refused His way, and rejected the Saviour of His providing. But this is only a part of the truth; the other part—that which is most offensive to the carnal mind—is either ignored or denied (p. 81).

Now it may be that the Banner does not like Pink's views on reprobation, but does that justify omitting everything he taught on the subject in Sovereignty? What Pink teaches and what the Banner does not like, of course, is the idea that God has willed some to condemnation, for this can hardly be reconciled with the teaching beloved to moderate Calvinists, that God wills the salvation of all.

In the same chapter Pink deals with some of the passages favored by those who believe that God desires to save all without exception, something He actively pursues in the preaching of the gospel by well-meaningly "offering" salvation to all. He deals with such passages as Ezekiel 18:31Acts 17:30, and I Timothy 2:4, and gives an interpretation of those passages that would not sit well with any "well-meant offer" man. We include just one sample, Pink's exegesis of Acts 17:30

Again: if God has chosen only certain ones to salvation, why are we told that God "now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30)? That God commandeth "all men" to repent is but the enforcing of His righteous claims as the moral Governor of the world. How could He do less, seeing that all men everywhere have sinned against Him? Furthermore; that God commandeth all men everywhere to repent argues the universality of creature responsibility. But this Scripture does not declare that it is God's pleasure to "give repentance" (Acts 5:31) to all men everywhere (p. 103).

He also rejects the long-cherished notion that it is possible for the unregenerate to seek after God:

Second, the doctrine of Reprobation does not mean that God refuses to save those who earnestly seek salvation. The fact is that the reprobate have no longing for the Saviour: they see in Him no beauty that they should desire Him. They will not come to Christ—why then should God force them to? He turns away none who do come—where then is the injustice of God fore-determining their just doom (pp. 100, 101)?

It is no wonder, really, that the chapter was omitted, when so many popular notions are destroyed by it. But we are convinced it was not honest, no more so than suggesting by omission that Spurgeon was a friend of Arminianism.

The Difficulties Are the Banner's

In another omitted chapter, "Difficulties and Objections," Pink makes many of the same points. So it becomes obvious why this chapter, too, was omitted by the Banner. In the chapter Pink deals again with many favorite passages of those who believe in a universal love of God and a will of God to save all men, such passages as Matthew 23:37John 3:16, and II Peter 3:9. We offer, as a sample of Pink's views, his explanation of II Peter 3:9:

Let us now quote the verse as a whole: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Could anything be clearer? The "any" that God is not willing should perish, are the "usward" to whom God is "longsuffering," the "beloved" of the previous verses. 2 Peter 3:9 means, then, that God will not send back His Son until "the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" (Rom. 11:25). God will not send back Christ till that "people" whom He is now "taking out of the Gentiles" (Acts 15:14) are gathered in. God will not send back His Son until the Body of Christ is complete, and that will not be till the ones whom He has elected to be saved in this dispensation shall have been brought to Him. Thank God for His "longsuffering to us-ward." Had Christ come back twenty years ago the writer had been left behind to perish in his sins. But that could not be, so God graciously delayed the Second Coming. For the same reason He is still delaying His Advent. His decreed purpose is that all His elect will come to repentance, and repent they shall. The present interval of grace will not end until the last of the "other sheep" of John 10:16 are safely folded—then will Christ return (pp. 206-207). 

In this chapter Pink also flatly rejects the idea that God loves all men (a popular Banner teaching) and the related idea that God loves the sinner, but hates his sin. Concerning a supposed universal love of God he says:

One of the most popular beliefs of the day is that God loves everybody, and the very fact that it is so popular with all classes ought to be enough to arouse the suspicions of those who are subject to the Word of Truth. God's Love toward all His creatures is the fundamental and favorite tenet of Universalists, Unitarians, Theosophists, Christian Scientists, Spiritualists, Russellites, etc. No matter how a man may live—in open defiance of Heaven, with no concern whatever for his soul's eternal interests, still less for God's glory, dying perhaps, with an oath on his lips—notwithstanding, God loves him, we are told. So widely has this dogma been proclaimed, and so comforting is it to the heart which is at enmity with God, we have little hope of convincing many of their error (p. 200). 

With regard to the preaching of the gospel the following paragraph ought to be compared with the teaching of the Banner regarding the well-meant offer of the gospel, and it will be plain enough why this chapter, "Difficulties and Objections" was omitted. Pink is answering the question, "Why preach the Gospel to every creature?" He says:

Concerning the character and contents of the Gospel the utmost confusion prevails today. The Gospel is not an "offer" to be bandied about by evangelistic peddlers. The Gospel is no mere invitation, but a proclamation, a proclamation concerning Christ; true, whether men believe it or not. No man is asked to believe that Christ died for him in particular. The Gospel, in brief, is this: Christ died for sinners, you are a sinner, believe in Christ, and you shall be saved. In the Gospel, God simply announces the terms upon which men may be saved (namely repentance and faith) and, indiscriminately, all are commanded to fulfil them (p. 209).

It would be nice to quote the whole of Pink's discussion of what the Gospel is and why it must be preached. He has some notable things to say about the nature, power, and purpose of gospel preaching, and about the command to preach the gospel to every creature. But it is not our purpose in this article to show what Pink believed on all these matters. Those who are interested in these questions are urged to purchase and read the Baker Book House edition of The Sovereignty of God for themselves. They will be much enlightened.

Irresponsible Editing

We have already dealt with the Banner's suggestion that it was Pink's views on human responsibility that justified the removal of so much material. That material is found primarily in the chapter "God's Sovereignty and Human Responsibility." Here, too, the Banner has dealt very callously with Pink.

Even if the Banner's objections are correct and Pink's views on responsibility did change, this in no sense justifies the removal of the whole chapter. There is much material deleted that is not only above objection, but very important to the argument of the book. It is in this chapter especially that Pink shows that God's sovereignty does not destroy human responsibility. But here again the omission is easily explainable when Pink's words are compared with the teaching of moderate Calvinism as represented by the Banner.

Already at the beginning of the chapter, Pink claims that sovereignty and responsibility are not contradictory, but can be reconciled. The moderate Calvinists of today prefer to see in them an example of contradiction, antinomy, or tension.4 The following quote from Pink, therefore, is an example of the kind of teaching that would have Banner-style Calvinists beating their breasts in horror:

Others have acknowledged that the Scriptures present both the sovereignty of God and responsibility of man, but affirm that in our present finite condition and with our limited knowledge it is impossible to reconcile the two truths, though it is the bounden duty of the believer to receive both. The present writer believes that it has been too readily assumed that the Scriptures themselves do not reveal the several points which show the conciliation of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. While perhaps the Word of God does not clear up all the mystery (and this is said with reserve), it does throw much light upon the problem, and it seems to us more honoring to God and His Word to prayerfully search the Scriptures for the completer solution of the difficulty (p. 144).

In this and other matters addressed in the chapter, we believe the Banner had a hidden agenda in what it deleted. This same chapter, for example, makes the following points:

We shall therefore digress a little at this point to define and consider what is implied and involved in the words "No man can come to Me"—cf. John 5:40, "ye will not come to Me that ye might have life."

For the sinner to come to Christ that he might have life is for him to realize the awful danger of his situation; is for him to see that the sword of Divine justice is suspended over his head; is to awaken to the fact that there is but a step betwixt him and death, and that after death is the "judgment"; and in consequence of this discovery, is for him to be in real earnest to escape, and in such earnestness that he shall flee from the wrath to come, cry to God for mercy, and agonize to enter in at the "strait gate."

To come to Christ for life, is for the sinner to feel and acknowledge that he is utterly destitute of any claim upon God's favour; is to see himself as "without strength," lost and undone; is to admit that he is deserving of nothing but eternal death, thus taking side with God against himself; it is for him to cast himself into the dust before God, and humbly sue for Divine mercy.

To come to Christ for life, is for the sinner to abandon his own righteousness and be ready to be made the righteousness of God in Christ; it is to disown his own wisdom and be guided by His; it is to repudiate his own will and be ruled by His; it is to unreservedly receive the Lord Jesus as his Saviour and Lord, as his All in all.

Such, in part and in brief, is what is implied and involved in "Coming to Christ." But is the sinner willing to take such an attitude before God? No; for in the first place, he does not realize the danger of his situation, and in consequence is not in real earnest after his escape; instead, men are for the most part at ease, and apart from the operations of the Holy Spirit whenever they are disturbed by the alarms of conscience of the dispensations of providence, they flee to any other refuge but Christ (p. 150).

* * * * * * * * * *

Now let it be clearly understood that, when we speak of the sinner's inability, we do not mean that if men desired to come to Christ they lack the necessary power to carry out their desire. No; the fact is that the sinner's inability or absence of power is itself due to lack of willingness to come to Christ, and this lack of willingness is the fruit of a depraved heart (p. 151).

The idea that the sinner cannot even desire to come to Christ or realize his danger apart from the saving operations of the Spirit makes nonsense of a well-meant and loving offer of the gospel. Yet this is the type of moderate Calvinism the Banner has been promoting for many years. So the Banner has removed everything that contradicts or conflicts with its view from The Sovereignty of God without any "warning to the reader." The supposed changes in Pink's views appear to be no more than a smoke screen.

An Appendectomy

The omission of the four appendices is also significant. In the first and second appendices Pink deals with the question of God's secret and revealed will and rejects the idea that there is any conflict between them. Those who believe that God in the gospel expresses a love for all and a desire to save all often try to reconcile this teaching with the doctrine of predestination by saying that there are two conflicting wills in God, a will to save all and a will to save only some. No wonder, then, that the Banner did not want these two appendices printed in its edition.

Here are some samples:

In treating of the Will of God some theologians have differentiated between His decretive will and His permissive will, insisting that there are certain things which God has positively fore-ordained, but other things which He merely suffers to exist or happen. But such a distinction is really no distinction at all, inasmuch as God only permits that which is according to His will (p. 243).

* * * * * * * * * *

It has been objected by Arminian theologians that the division of God's will into secret and revealed is untenable, because it makes God to have two different wills, the one opposed to the other. But this is a mistake, due to their failure to see that the secret and revealed will of God respect entirely different objects. If God should require and forbid the same thing, or if He should decree the same thing should and should not exist, then would His secret and revealed will be contradictory and purposeless (p. 244).

* * * * * * * * * *

That there is no conflict whatever between the secret and revealed will of God is made clear from the fact that, the former is accomplished by my use of the means laid down in the latter (p. 246).

* * * * * * * * * *

Here then is the difficulty: If God has eternally decreed that Adam should eat of the tree, how could he be held responsible not to eat of it? Formidable as the problem appears, nevertheless, it is capable of a solution, a solution, moreover, which can be grasped even by the finite mind. The solution is to be found in the distinction between God's secret will and His revealed will. As stated in Appendix I, human responsibility is measured by our knowledge of God's revealed will; what God has told us, not what He has not told us, is the definer of our duty. So it was with Adam.

That God had decreed sin should enter this world through the disobedience of our first parents was a secret hid in His own breast. Of this Adam knew nothing, and that made all the difference so far as His responsibility was concerned. Adam was quite unacquainted with the Creator's hidden counsels. What concerned him was God's revealed will. And that was plain! God had forbidden him to eat of the tree and that was enough (p. 249).

In the last two appendices Pink deals with those two Scripture texts that are so often used to prove a broader scope for the love of God than for just the elect, John 3:16 and I John 2:2. Pink shows clearly that these texts do not teach anything but a love of God for the elect alone, demonstrating from Scripture that the word "world" applies only to the elect in these passages. He says for example in Appendix III, "The Meaning of 'Kosmos' in John 3:16":

That "the world" in John 3:16 refers to the world of believers (God's elect), in contradistinction from the "world of the ungodly" (2 Pet. 2:5), is established, unequivocally established, by a comparison of the other passages which speak of God's "love." "God commendeth His love toward US"—the saints, Rom. 5:8. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth"—every son, Heb. 12:6. "We love Him, because He first loved US"—believers, I John 4:19. The wicked God "pities" (see Matt. 18:33). Unto the unthankful and evil God is "kind" (see Luke 6:35). The vessels of wrath He endures "with much longsuffering" (see Rom. 9:22). But "His own" God loves!! (p. 255).

Pink would have nothing whatsoever to do with the idea that God in some sense loves all men, but every reference to this idea has been carefully excised. An inexcusable action!

Chapter Chopping

Many other omissions throughout the book are of the same kind. The deleted material usually contradicts the Banner teaching regarding a love of God for all, a desire of God to save all, and God's making a loving and "well-meant" offer of salvation to all who hear the gospel.

For example, in chapter 1, "God's Sovereignty Defined," one long paragraph in which Pink explains that "God bestows His mercy on whom He pleases" and the three paragraphs in which he shows that "God is sovereign in the exercise of His love" (pp. 24-25) are completely omitted. So is a footnote in which Pink rejects as "an invention pure and simple" the distinction often made today between God's "love of complacency" and his "love of compassion" (p. 25).

Note, then, especially this paragraph:

God is sovereign in the exercise of His love. Ah! that is a hard saying, who then can receive it? It is written, "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27). When we say that God is sovereign in the exercise of His Love, we mean that He loves whom He chooses. God does not love everybody; if He did, He would love the Devil. Why does God not love the Devil? Because there is nothing in him to love; because there is nothing in him to attract the heart of God. Nor is there anything to attract God's love in any of the fallen sons of Adam, for all of them are, by nature, "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3). If then there is nothing in any member of the human race to attract God's love, and if, notwithstanding, He does love some, then it necessarily follows that the cause of His love must be found in Himself, which is only another way of saying that the exercise of God's love towards the fallen sons of men is according to His own good pleasure (pp. 24-25).

The following paragraph is one of two omitted in the third chapter, "The Sovereignty of God in Administration." Why this paragraph? To read the last part of it is to see why: 

Mark, too, the sovereignty which God displayed in His dealings with men! Moses who was slow of speech, and not Aaron his elder brother who was not slow of speech, was the one chosen to be His ambassador in demanding from Egypt's monarch the release of His oppressed people. Moses again, though greatly beloved utters one hasty word and was excluded from Canaan; whereas Elijah, passionately murmurs and suffers but a mild rebuke, and was afterwards taken to heaven without seeing death! Uzzah merely touched the ark and was instantly slain, whereas the Philistines carried it off in insulting triumph and suffered no immediate harm. Displays of grace which would have brought a doomed Sodom to repentance, failed to move an highly privileged Capernaum. Mighty works which would have subdued Tyre and Sidon, left the upbraided cities of Galilee under the curse of a rejected Gospel. If they would have prevailed over the former, why were they not wrought there? If they proved ineffectual to deliver the latter then why perform them? What exhibitions are these of the sovereign will of the Most High! (p. 45).

In chapter 4, "The Sovereignty of God in Salvation," five lengthy paragraphs are deleted in which Pink denies that it is the present purpose of the Holy Spirit to convict all men of sin (p. 74). There too, most of his explanation of the parable of the marriage supper (Luke. 14:16-24Matt. 22:2-10) and of the words "compel them to come in" is missing (one paragraph and parts of two others are deleted, and several sentences are changed, pp. 78-79).5

Listen to Pink:

But, it may be said, is not the present mission of the Holy Spirit to "convict the world of sin"? And we answer, It is not. The mission of the Spirit is threefold: to glorify Christ, to vivify the elect, to edify the saints. John 16:8-11 does not describe the "mission" of the Spirit, but sets forth the significance of His presence here in the world. It treats not of His subjective work in sinners, showing them their need of Christ, by searching their consciences and striking terror to their hearts; what we have there is entirely objective. To illustrate. Suppose I saw a man hanging on the gallows, of what would that "convince" me? Why, that he was a murderer. How would I thus be convinced? By reading the record of his trial? by hearing a confession from his own lips? No; but by the fact that he was hanging there. So the fact that the Holy Spirit is here furnishes proof of the world's guilt, of God's righteousness, and of the Devil's judgment (pp. 75-76).

* * * * * * * * * *

We say "compel" the sinner, for this is precisely what the Holy Spirit does, has to do…. Herein is seen His sovereignty, His omnipotency, His Divine sufficiency. The clear implication from this word "compel" is, that those whom the Holy Spirit does "bring in" are not willing of themselves to come (pp. 78-79).

In chapter 7, "God's Sovereignty and the Human Will," there are more significant omissions:

But someone may reply, Did not Joshua say to Israel, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"? Yes, he did; but why not complete his sentence?—"whether the gods that your fathers served which were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell" (Josh. 24:15)! But why attempt to pit scripture against scripture? The Word of God never contradicts itself, and the Word expressly declares, "There is none that seeketh after God" (Rom. 3:11) (p. 127).

No seeking after God, no desire for God on the part of the unregenerate! That, too, a moderate Calvinist does not like. Nor does he like the idea that the will is moved to obey God only by "the victorious efficacy of God's grace," as the following quote shows:

It is only as we see the real nature of freedom and mark that the will is subject to the motives brought to bear upon it, that we are able to discern there is no conflict between two statements of Holy Writ which concern our blessed Lord. In Matt. 4:1 we read, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil"; but in Mark 1:12, 13 we are told, "And immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan." It is utterly impossible to harmonize these two statements by the Arminian conception of the will. But really there is no difficulty. That Christ was "driven," implies it was as by a forcible motive or powerful impulse, such as was not to be resisted or refused; that He was "led" denotes His freedom in going. Putting the two together we learn, that He was driven, with a voluntary condescension thereto. So, there is the liberty of man's will and the victorious efficacy of God's grace united together: a sinner may be "drawn" and yet "come" to Christ—the "drawing" presenting to him the irresistible motive, the "coming" signifying the response of his will—as Christ was "driven" and "led" by the Spirit into the wilderness (pp. 132-133).

Blue-Penciled Pink

Many of the other omissions and changes follow the same pattern. They, too, weaken Pink's sharp emphasis on the particularity of God's love and grace. In the chapter "The Sovereignty of God in Salvation," there is a sentence which reads, "If Christ was 'made a curse' for all of Adam's race then none are now 'under condemnation.'" This is changed by the Banner to read, "If Christ was 'made a curse' for all of Adam's race then none will finally be condemned" (p. 62). Two pages later, part of another paragraph is deleted because it also makes reference to the fact that the some who do not believe are now already under condemnation (p. 64). This teaching that some men are now already under condemnation does not reconcile with the Banner teaching that God wants and seeks to save all.

Many omissions and changes, however, seem merely to be by way of softening Pink's strong and sharp emphasis on the subject of the book, the sovereignty of God, and his equally sharp condemnation of error. Examples of the Banner's attempt to soften Pink's sharp emphasis are numerous. A few follow.

In the chapter on God's sovereignty in salvation, page 70, the words "This passage need not detain us long" have been substituted for a sentence in which Pink rejects the doctrine of universal atonement with the words, "A false doctrine has been erected on a false translation." In another chapter, "God's Sovereignty and Prayer," Pink sharply condemns the idea that prayer "shapes God's policy" as blasphemous (p. 168). In the Banner edition this has been changed to say that the idea is in defiance of the teaching of Scripture. Likewise, on page 139 most of a paragraph which condemns the Romanist and Arminian teachings concerning free will is also omitted. To give just one more example, in the chapter "The Value of This Doctrine," the Banner edition reads "not all are made partakers of that grace" where Pink actually wrote "multitudes will be tormented forever and ever" (p. 216). And so throughout the book.


Pink's Calvinism is the sharp, sure, logically consistent Calvinism that makes so many Calvinists today uncomfortable, a high Calvinism that emphasizes the glory of God above all else and does not remake God in the image of man. This kind of Calvinism is not only forgotten and neglected today, but misrepresented as hyper-Calvinism and fatalism and openly ridiculed by those who claim to be Calvinism's friends.

That it should be so is not surprising. As Pink himself wrote nearly 70 years ago:

We are well aware that what we have written is in open opposition to much of the teaching that is current both in religious literature and in the representative pulpits of the land. What is surprising is that men (who have a reputation for integrity) should go to such lengths in trying to find support for their teachings that they would so shamefully misrepresent another as though he was a friend of that half-baked Calvinism they hold, when in fact he is no friend but a sworn enemy (p. 18).

Let the Banner take note!

We do not agree with everything Pink wrote in The Sovereignty of God or elsewhere, but we abhor the way this most valuable of all his writings has been presented to the public by the Banner. The Pink we meet in the Banner edition of Sovereignty is not Pink at all but some entirely different color.



The Forgotten Spurgeon

In the second edition (1973) of The Forgotten Spurgeon there is only a brief note on page 52 concerning the Kelvedon edition of Spurgeon's sermons. This note only states: 

More seriously, "Arminianism" has even been removed from the text of some of Spurgeon's sermons printed in the Kelvedon edition, though no warning of the abridgement is given to the reader. Compare, for example, the sermon preached on 18 October, 1857 which is No. 159 in the New Park Street Pulpit, Volume 3 and which appears in Volume 13 (Sermons of Comfort and Assurance), page 222 of the Kelvedon edition published by Marshall, Morgan & Scott.

This footnote leaves the impression that only a single word was removed from the Kelvedon edition of Spurgeon's sermons. In fact, that edition removed large sections of the sermons, carefully excising all references to the sovereignty of grace versus Arminianism.

In the first edition of The Forgotten Spurgeon (1966) Murray himself showed this. That first edition included an appendix which compared part of one of Spurgeon's sermons as printed in the New Park Street Pulpit (Sermon No. 159) with the Kelvedon text of the same sermon to show how it had been butchered.

In the introductory part of that Appendix, Murray says concerning the Kelvedon version of the sermon:

There is also no indication given as to the nature of the editing which was considered necessary. It is only by comparison with the original that one discovers that "the editing" consists almost entirely of abridgements which in places are considerable, and as the following pages appear to show, their omissions may not be without theological significance (p. 207).

These words were originally published in two issues of The Banner of Truth magazine in 1962, the very next year after the Banner had done exactly the same thing to Pink's Sovereignty of God! Indeed, Murray might well have been describing what the Banner had done to Pink. It is really no wonder, therefore, that Murray omitted these words and the appendix which included them in the second edition of The Forgotten Spurgeon.



A Response from the Banner

In the August-September 1997 issue of The Banner of Truth magazine the Banner published a response to this article as it first appeared in the January - March issue of the British Reformed Journal. This response is by Iain Murray and carries the title "A.W. Pink's Sovereignty of God—Revised or Unrevised?"

That it is a response is also clear from several things: (1) the date of Murray's article; and (2) the fact that eight copies of the issue of the British Reformed Journal in which our article appeared were sent to the Banner office at their request; and (3) reference to "one critic" in connection with a brief quotation from this article.

Nevertheless, it would not have been evident to most readers of the Banner that Murray was responding to our article. In the quotation Murray does not even give a reference, though every other citation in his article is carefully referenced.
One of the British Reformed Fellowship committee members (the organization that publishes the British Reformed Journal) wrote to the Banner about this matter. He said:

It seems clear that the Revd. Iain Murray's article: A.W. PINK'S SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD - REVISED OR UNREVISED? in Issue 407-8 of The Banner of Truth August-September 1997 is directed in the main to the Revd. Ronald Hanko's article "The Forgotten Pink" in Issue No. 17 of the British Reformed Journal - March 1997.

There need be no quarrel about such a response. The issues of the Offer of the Gospel and the Love of God are amongst the most complex with which we who are Reformed have to deal. Having written a “Life” of Pink, Mr. Murray is probably as well placed as any both to debate the issues and to discuss any changes in Pink's views. Historically theological knowledge has often been advanced by just such discussion and if the Odium theologicum which has often characterized theological dissentions in the past can be avoided that is all to the good.

But it is no help to your readers if they are left without any reference to Mr. Hanko's article. It might reasonably have been expected at the outset; but not only is it omitted there, but of Mr. Murray's 32 footnotes—31 being carefully referenced—the only omission occurs on p. 15 footnote 4, where Mr. Hanko is being directly quoted.

It would be invidious to speculate on the reason. May I perhaps hope that the publication of this letter will provide the lacuna? 

Murray's only response (dated 19 August 1997) was as follows:

My reason for not referring to Ronald Hanko's article by name is precisely because of the point which you refer to in your letter, Odium theologicum. I do not care at all for the manner in which Mr. Henko (sic) conducts controversy, and to be truthful I am sorry indeed that you should be supporting the British Reformed Fellowship. The Protestant Reformed Church thrives on controversy and we have no intention of becoming engaged with it.

It is not our purpose, however, to make an issue of this. We leave further judgment of that to those who have followed the controversy. Our purpose is to examine briefly Murray's continued attempts to justify what the Banner has done to Pink's book.

In his article Murray acknowledges publicly, for the first time in the 36 years since the publication of the Banner edition of Pink's book, that their editing involved more than "minor revisions and abridgements." Nevertheless he still continues to try and justify the dishonesty and deception that were involved in the Banner's editing and publishing of it.

For the most part Murray attempts to justify himself and the Banner by insisting again that Pink's views on many matters changed over the years and that, therefore, Pink himself would have made the same changes as the Banner or approved them if he had republished the book later in life:

There is the strongest possible presumption that Pink would not have allowed The Sovereignty of God to stand unaltered had he been re-issuing the book thirty years later (p. 16).

Whether even this justifies the omission of half the book with only a reference to "minor revisions and abridgements" we also leave the reader to judge.

There are, however, several very telling admissions in Murray's article. For one thing he as much as admits that the omission of the chapter on reprobation was simply due to the fact that the Banner does not like the Reformed doctrine of reprobation which Pink firmly held and never repudiated.

He describes Pink's view of reprobation thus (p. 7), quoting from Pink himself:

"'if there were some of Adam's descendants to whom He purposed not to give faith, it must be because He ordained that they should be damned;'" and thus: "the non-elect are 'fitted to destruction' by God—'objectively by his eternal decree.'" He is correct. That was Pink's view of reprobation. It is also Scripture's (I Pet. 2:8, Jude, 4, Rom. 9:22; cf. also Acts 13:48John 10:26II Pet. 2:12) and the Reformed creeds'.

The Westminster Confession of Faith says that God, as well as passing by, "ordained them (the rest of mankind) to dishonor and wrath for their sin" (III, 7) and quotes Romans 9:22 as proof. The Canons of Dordt say: "That some receive the gift of faith from God and others do not receive it proceeds from God's eternal decree" (I, 6).

The Banner does not want the Reformed doctrine of reprobation because of their devotion to the well-meant offer of the gospel and the notion that God loves all men and expresses that love by expressing in the gospel His desire for the salvation of all without exception. As we have pointed out elsewhere:

The teaching that God in the gospel intends and desires the salvation of all who hear is, on the face of it, not compatible with the teaching that God has eternally intended and willed the damnation of some. Now, we believe that the theology of the well-meant offer is also in conflict with such doctrines as the simplicity and immutability of God, total depravity, particular redemption, and unconditional election. But it contradicts none of these other doctrines so plainly as it does the doctrine of reprobation. Reprobation means exactly and explicitly the opposite of the well-meant offer.

If you ask: "What should the preacher say concerning God's intention with respect to those who go lost?" the answer of those who teach the well-meant offer is: "God sincerely seeks their salvation through the preaching of the Gospel." The doctrine of reprobation says: "God has eternally and unconditionally determined them to damnation." It ought to be evident that the two cannot possibly be reconciled ("The Well-meant Offer and Reprobation," British Reformed Journal, October - November 1997, p. 7).

Murray suggests that Pink's view does not do justice to the fact that "the condemnation of those finally lost will not be without regard to their guilt" (p. 6). Yet he admits on the other hand that Pink does include the qualification "God has not created sinful creatures in order to destroy them … the responsibility and criminality are man's." In fact, Pink spends several pages in the chapter on reprobation insisting on man's responsibility and guilt, and two sections of a further chapter dealing with the same issue,6 but that chapter also has been omitted by the Banner.

Thus Murray is reduced to pleading that Pink's "exposition lacks the clarity which is essential precisely at this point," and that becomes the justification for removing the entire chapter. By the same token, that gives us right to republish Murray's essay with all its lack of clarity edited out or changed (as we judge it), though in that case there would probably be little left besides the title and the name of the author.

Further, Murray charges Pink with "leaving out of view" "God's holy justice in all his dealings with men." He says, "this consideration Pink ignores" (p. 7). If it is left out of view, that is the case only because the Banner has omitted the chapters on reprobation and responsibility. Several times in the chapter on reprobation Pink makes a point of establishing God's justice in connection with reprobation. He says, for example, in his fine exposition of Romans 9:

Finally, it is worthy of careful consideration to note how the vindication of God in His dealings with Pharaoh has been fully attested. Most remarkable it is to discover that we have Pharaoh's own testimony in favor of God and against himself! In Exodus 9:15 and 16 we learn how God had told Pharaoh for what purpose He had raised him up, and in verse 27 of the same chapter we are told that Pharaoh said, "I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked." Mark that this was said by Pharaoh after he knew that God had raised him up in order to "cut him off," after his severe judgments had been sent upon him, after he had hardened his own heart. By this time Pharaoh was fairly ripened for judgment, and fully prepared to decide whether God had injured him, or whether he had sought to injure God; and he fully acknowledged that he had "sinned" and that God was "righteous" (p. 89).

The second damaging admission by Mr. Murray is made in the footnote on page 15 of his article. He says:

One critic of the Banner's revised edition of Sovereignty claims that the revisers disagreed with Pink's belief in the sovereignty of divine love and edited him accordingly. But there is no disagreement over whether the saving love of God is sovereign and effective. The question is whether there is any love for any apart from the elect. Pink's 1921 statements that asserted that there is no such love were omitted by the revisers and this was, in my belief, the only omission which occurred in editing which could not be justified from his later writings. But no view contrary to Pink's was introduced into the revision, and to allege, as the critic to which we have referred has alleged, "that it was not Pink's views that changed, but the Banner that has changed Pink," is absurd.

This is blatant dishonesty. First, we never claimed that the issue was simply "the sovereignty of divine love" and whether "the saving love of God is sovereign and effective." We insisted that the issue was that of particular love, i.e., whether there is love of God for all men, the kind of love the Banner insists is expressed in the preaching of the gospel. This should be abundantly clear from our article.

Second, Mr. Murray's statement that nothing contrary to Pink's views was introduced is nothing more than a smoke screen. Does the fact that an editor introduces nothing contrary to the author's views really justify the complete removal of his views on a certain subject and that without any notice given to the reader? Surely even Mr. Murray himself does not believe that!

Third, the charge that the Banner changed Pink is not absurd. If we remove from Mr. Murray's collected writings every reference to a universal (though non-saving) love of God, he will be the first to charge us with changing his teaching, and that with perfect justice.

Indeed, the whole article is a hodge-podge of insinuations, half-truths, and evasions. Let us note a few more.

First, Murray suggests that the last Pink had to do with Sovereignty was in 1921 when the second edition was published.
This is not true. In 1929, eight years later, Pink wrote a "Foreword" to the third edition (really only a reprint as Murray points out). Pink himself says there: 

It is with unfeigned thanksgiving that we find it unnecessary to either change or modify any doctrine contained in the former editions. Yea, as time goes by, we realise (by Divine grace) with ever-increasing force, the truth, the importance, and the value of the Sovereignty of God as it pertains to every branch of our lives (p. 9).

This is significant in that the lengthy quotation that Murray uses to prove a supposed change in Pink's views on human responsibility, a change that to his mind justifies the omission of so much material from Sovereignty, is a quote that predates what Pink says in the 1929 "Foreword to the Third Edition." Murray's quote is from Pink's Studies in the Scriptures, 1927, pp. 260-261.

Second, Murray implies in the article that it was only later that Pink came into contact with hyper-Calvinism and that this was a major factor in his supposed change of views. This, too, is false. There are a number of references in Sovereignty to hyper-Calvinism that make it clear that Pink not only knew of it, but rejected it. Already in Sovereignty he asserts plainly over against the error of hyper-Calvinism that it is the duty of every sinner to repent and believe and search the Scriptures (pp. 158, 159—part of the chapter on human responsibility omitted by the Banner). He asserts this already in the 1921 edition of Sovereignty in spite of Murray's misleading statements: that "by 1936 he speaks very fully and pointedly of the error of hyper-Calvinism and especially its denial of the truth that 'it is the bounden duty of all who hear the Gospel to savingly trust in Christ'" (p. 12); and that "an unrevised edition was calculated in places to enforce the very Hyper-Calvinism which he came to regard as a serious danger" (p. 18).

Third, both in his biography of Pink and in his article Murray makes much of Pink's distinction between natural and moral inability and suggests that this is a major theme in Sovereignty and therefore a justification for leaving out half of the book. The fact is that Pink mentions the matter only a few times (we counted six). Now it so happens that we agree with Mr. Murray on this point and think Pink is wrong, but we cannot see that a few references warrant what the Banner has done.

Murray also suggests that Pink's views on the "offer" of the gospel changed (we have already discussed whether or not they did). The fact is that there is one reference from Sovereignty in which Pink explicitly rejects the "offer" of the gospel and he only says there that it is "not an offer to be bandied about by evangelistic peddlers." For the rest he is only rejecting the theology of the well-meant offer—some kind of love of God for all and a desire on God's part to save all.

Remember now that, according to Murray, the supposed changes in Pink's thinking on these two matters is justification for the kind of "editing" that the Banner has done to Pink's book. Mr. Murray will recognize, we think, that we would not be writing if the Banner had omitted a few paragraphs or references from Sovereignty. They have in fact omitted almost half the book.

It is, therefore, pure supposition on the part of Murray to say that Pink would himself have made a number of changes in Sovereignty if he were to rewrite it today. The evidence points in the other direction. In a 1943 letter to Robert C. Harbach (later a minister in the Protestant Reformed Churches) Pink speaks of his earlier works. The only book he does not recommend is The Antichrist. He says:

Most of my earlier works are out of print, but a few may still be had from the B.T.D. Swengel (Union Co.), Pa. I would not recommend my book on "The Antichrist" which was written twenty years ago (about the same time as Sovereignty(Letters to a Young Pastor, Grandville, MI, 1993, p. 6). 

No suggestion that he was at all so unhappy with Sovereignty as Murray seems to think.

We are not saying that Murray and the Banner do not have a perfect right to their views on the love and will of God and the gospel. They are free to disagree with us on these matters, as they surely will do. Nor are we denying them the right to promote their views. We are only protesting the dishonesty that is involved in editing a book that does not agree with their views on these issues in order to bring it in line with their teaching.

If Pink's views as expressed in Sovereignty are so out of line with Reformed theology and with his own later views, as understood by Murray and the Banner, that half of the book had to be removed, then the book would better have been left unpublished. We believe, in fact, that the Banner ought to cease publishing it in its present form.



The Banner Edition of Pink's Sovereignty

We include here a section from chapter 4 of The Sovereignty of God comparing the original version with the edited Banner version by way of demonstrating what the Banner has done to Pink. This is the fifth chapter in the Banner edition, though the chapters are not numbered in that edition. The part shown is from section 3, "The Sovereignty of God the Holy Spirit in Salvation" (pages 73-79 in the Baker edition). Words in brackets are added or changed in the Banner edition.

We have included this section for several reasons. First, it presents an unusual view of Genesis 1:1, 2, a view that most evangelicals today would reject. However, even that does not in our opinion warrant the omission of the large portions of the chapter that have been left out in the Banner edition. Second, it shows very clearly the Banner's reasons for omitting so much material, especially in the omissions of Pink's explanation of John 16:8-11 and Luke 14:16-24.


That the work of the Holy Spirit precedes our believing is unequivocally established by 2 Thess. 2:13—"God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." What then is the "sanctification of the Spirit"? We answer, the new birth. In Scripture "sanctification" always means "separation," separation from something and unto something or someone. Let us now amplify our assertion that the "sanctification of the Spirit" corresponds to the new birth and points to the positional effect of it.

Here is a servant of God who preaches the Gospel to a congregation in which are an hundred unsaved people. He brings before them the teaching of Scripture concerning their ruined and lost condition; he speaks of God, His character and righteous demands; he tells of Christ meeting God's demands, and dying the Just for the unjust, and declares that through "this Man" is now preached the forgiveness of sins; he closes by urging the lost to believe what God has said in His Word and receive His Son as their own personal Saviour. The meeting is over; the congregation disperses; ninety-nine of the unsaved have refused to come to Christ that they might have life, and go out into the night having no hope and without God in the world. But the hundredth heard the Word of life; the Seed sown fell into ground which had been prepared by God; he believed the Good News, and goes home rejoicing that his name is written in heaven. He has been "born again," and just as a newly-born babe in the natural world begins life by clinging instinctively, in its helplessness to its mother, so this new-born soul has clung to Christ. Just as we read, "The Lord opened" the heart of Lydia "that she attended unto the thing which were spoken of Paul" (Acts 16:14), so in the case supposed above, the Holy Spirit quickened that one before he believed the Gospel message. Here then is the "sanctification of the spirit:" this one soul who has been born again has, by virtue of his new birth, been separated from the other ninety-nine. Those born again are, by the Spirit, set apart from those who are dead in trespasses and sins.

[Note in the Revised Pink that the entire following section is omitted]

A beautiful type of the operations of the Holy Spirit antecedent to the sinner's "belief of the truth," is found in the first chapter of Genesis. We read in verse 2, "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." The original Hebrew here might be literally rendered thus: "And the earth had become a desolate ruin, and darkness was upon the face of the deep." In "the beginning" the earth was not created in the condition described in verse 2. Between the first two verses of Genesis 1 some awful catastrophe had occurred—possibly the fall of Satan—and, as a consequence, the earth had been blasted and blighted, and had become a "desolate ruin," lying beneath a pall of "darkness." Such also is the history of man. Today, man is not in the condition in which he left the hands of his Creator: an awful catastrophe has happened, and now man is a "desolate ruin" and in total "darkness" concerning spiritual things. Next we read in Genesis 1 how God refashioned the ruined earth and created new beings to inhabit it. First we read, "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Next we are told, "And God said, Let there be light; and there was light." The order is the same in the new creation: there is first the action of the Spirit, and then the Word of God giving light. Before the Word found entrance into the scene of desolation and darkness, bringing with it the light, the Spirit of God "moved." So it is in the new creation. "The entrance of Thy words giveth light" (Ps. 119:130), but before it can enter the darkened human heart the Spirit of God must operate upon it.

[Here ends the section omitted from the Revised Pink]

To return to 2 Thess. 2:13: "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." The order of thought here is most important and instructive. First, God's eternal choice; second, the sanctification of the Spirit; third, belief of the truth. Precisely the same order is found in I Pet. 1:2—"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." We take it that the "obedience" here is the "obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5), which appropriates the virtues of the sprinkled blood of the Lord Jesus. So then before the "obedience" (of faith, cf. Heb. 5:9), there is the work of the Spirit setting us apart, and behind that is the election of God the Father. The ones "sanctified of the Spirit" then, are they whom "God hath from the beginning chosen to salvation" (2 Thess. 2:13), those who are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (I Pet. 1:2).

[The following section is again omitted from the Revised Pink:]

But, it may be said, is not the present mission of the Holy Spirit to "convict the world of sin"? And we answer, It is not. The mission of the Spirit is threefold; to glorify Christ, to vivify the elect, to edify the saints. John 16:8-11 does not describe the "mission" of the Spirit, but sets forth the significance of His presence here in the world. It treats not of His subjective work in sinners, showing them their need of Christ, by searching their consciences and striking terror to their hearts; what we have there is entirely objective. To illustrate. Suppose I saw a man hanging on the gallows, of what would that "convince" me? Why, that he was a murderer. How would I thus be convinced? By reading the record of his trial? by hearing a confession from his own lips? No; but by the fact that he was hanging there. So the fact that the Holy Spirit is here furnishes proof of the world's guilt, of God's righteousness, and of the Devil's judgment.

The Holy Spirit ought not to be here at all. That is a startling statement, but we make it deliberately. Christ is the One who ought to be here. He was sent here by the Father, but the world did not want Him, would not have Him, hated Him, and cast Him out. And the presence of the Spirit here instead evidences its guilt. The coming of the Spirit was a proof to demonstration of the resurrection, ascension, and glory of the Lord Jesus. His presence on earth reverses the world's verdict, showing that God has set aside the blasphemous judgment in the palace of Israel's high priest and in the hall of the Roman governor. The "reproof" of the Spirit abides, and abides altogether irrespective of the world's reception or rejection of His testimony.

Had our Lord been referring here to the gracious work which the Spirit would perform in those who should be brought to feel their need of Him, He had said that the Spirit would convict men of their un-righteousness, their lack of righteousness. But this is not the thought here at all. The descent of the Spirit from heaven establishes God's righteousness, Christ's righteousness. The proof of that is, Christ has gone to the Father. Had Christ been an Imposter, as the religious world insisted when they cast Him out, the Father had not received Him. The fact that the Father did exalt Him to His own right hand, demonstrates that He was innocent of the charges laid against Him; and the proof that the Father has received Him, is the presence now of the Holy Spirit on earth, for Christ has sent Him from the Father (John 16:7)! The world was unrighteous in casting Him out, the Father righteous in glorifying Him; and this is what the Spirit's presence here establishes.

"Of judgment, because the Prince of this world is judged" (v. 11). This is the logical and inevitable climax. The world is brought in guilty for their rejection of, for their refusal to receive, Christ. Its condemnation is exhibited by the Father's exaltation of the spurned One. Therefore nothing awaits the world, and its Prince, but judgment. The "judgment" of Satan is already established by The Spirit's presence here, for Christ, through death, set at nought him who had the power of death, that is, the Devil (Heb. 2:14). When God's time comes for the Spirit to depart from the earth, then His sentence will be executed, both on the world and its Prince. In the light of this unspeakably solemn passage we need not be surprised to find Christ saying, "The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him." No, the world wants Him not; He condemns the world.

"And when He is come, He will reprove (or better, "convict"—bring in guilty) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on Me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment because the prince of this world is judged" (John 16:8-11). Three things, then, the presence of the Holy Spirit on earth demonstrates to the world: first, its sin, because the world refused to believe on Christ; second, God's righteousness in exalting to His own right hand the One cast out, and now no more seen by the world; third, judgment, because Satan the world's prince is already judged, though execution of his judgment is yet future. Thus the Holy Spirit's presence here displays things as they really are.

[Here ends the section omitted by the Revised Pink]

The Holy Spirit is sovereign in His operations and His mission is confined to God's elect: they are the ones He "comforts," "seals," guides into all truth, shews things to come, etc. The work of the Spirit is necessary in order to the complete accomplishment of the Father's eternal purpose. Speaking hypothetically, but reverently, be it said, that [italicized is omitted from the Revised Pink] if God had done nothing more than given Christ to die for sinners, not a single sinner would ever have been saved. In order for any sinner to see his need of a Saviour and be willing to receive the Saviour he needs, the work of the Holy Spirit upon and within him where imperatively required. Had God done nothing more than given Christ to die for sinners and then sent forth His servants to proclaim salvation through Christ, leaving sinners entirely to themselves to accept or reject as they pleased, then every sinner would have rejected, because at heart every man hates God and is at enmity with Him. Therefore the work of the Holy Spirit was needed to bring the sinner to Christ, to overcome his innate opposition, and compel him to accept the provision God has made.

[The following is omitted from the Revised Pink]

We say "compel" the sinner, for this is precisely what the Holy Spirit does, has to do, and this leads us to consider at some length, though as briefly as possible, the parable of the "Marriage Supper."
In Luke 14:16 we read, "A certain man made a great supper, and bade many." By comparing carefully what follows here with Matt. 22:2-10 several important distinctions will be observed. We take it that these passages are two independent accounts of the same parable, differing in detail according to the distinctive purpose and design of the Holy Spirit in each Gospel. Matthew's account—in harmony with the Spirit's presentation there of Christ as the Son of David, the King of the Jews—says, "A certain king made a marriage for his son." Luke's account—where the Spirit presents Christ as the Son of Man—says, "A certain man made a great supper and bade many." Matt. 22:3 says, "And sent forth His servants;" Luke 14:17 says, "And sent His servant." Now what we wish particularly to call attention to is, that all through Matthew's account it is "servants," whereas in Luke it is always "servant." The class of readers for whom we are writing are those that believe unreservedly, in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, and such will readily acknowledge that there must be some reason for this change from the plural number in Matthew to the singular one in Luke. We believe the reason is a weighty one and that attention to this variation reveals an important truth. We believe that the servants in Matthew, speaking generally, are all who go forth preaching the Gospel, but that the "Servant" in Luke 14 is the Holy Spirit Himself. This is not incongruous, or derogatory to the Holy Spirit, for God the Son, in the days of His earthly ministry, was the Servant of Jehovah (Isa. 42:1). It will be observed that in Matt. 22 the "servants" are sent forth to do three things: first, to "call" to the wedding (v. 3); second, to "tell those which are bidden ... all things are ready; come unto the marriage (v. 4); third, to "bid to the marriage" (v. 9); and these three are the things which those who minister the Gospel today are now doing. In Luke 14 the Servant is also sent forth to do three things: first, He is "to say to them that were bidden, Come: for all things are now ready" (v. 17); second, He is to "bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind" (v. 21); third, He is to "compel them to come in" (v. 25), and the last two of these the Holy Spirit alone can do!

In the above scripture we see that "the Servant," the Holy Spirit, compels certain ones to come into the "supper" and herein is seen His sovereignty, His omnipotency, His divine sufficiency. The clear implication from this word "compel" is, that those whom the Holy Spirit does "bring in" are not willing of themselves to come. This is exactly what we have sought to show in previous paragraphs.

[Here ends the omitted section of the Revised Pink]

By nature, God's elect are children of wrath even as others (Eph. 2:3), and as such their hearts are at enmity with God. But this "enmity" of theirs is overcome by the Spirit and [Here the Revised Pink adds the words: "it is in consequence of His regenerating work that they believe on Christ” and omits the following phrase.] He "compels" them to come in.

Is it not clear then that the reason why others are left outside, is not only because they are unwilling to go in, but also because the Holy Spirit does not "compel" them to come in? Is it not manifest that the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the exercise of His power, that as the wind "bloweth where it pleaseth," so the Holy Spirit operates where He pleases?

And now to sum up. We have sought to show the perfect consistency of God's ways: that each Person in the Godhead acts in sympathy and harmony with the Others. God the Father elected certain ones to salvation, God the Son died for the elect, and God the Spirit quickens the elect. Well may we sing:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.



1. Cf. also Appendices #1 and #3.

2. "To cut with a jagged edge."

3. Mr. Bowdler was an editor of Shakespeare who removed everything objectionable from Shakespeare's works. As a result his name has become a part of our language in the word 'bowdlerise.'

4. Another high Calvinist, Gordon Clarke, was tried for heresy in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church for claiming that there was no contradiction between them. Cf. Herman Hoeksema, The Clark-Van Til Controversy, Trinity Foundation, 1995.

5. Cf. Appendix #3.

6. The chapter referred to is Chapter 8, "God's Sovereignty and Human Responsibility." The two sections are: "III. How is it possible for God to DECREE that men SHOULD commit certain sins, hold them RESPONSIBLE in the committal of them, and adjudge them GUILTY because they committed them?" and "IV. How can the sinner be held responsible to receive Christ, and be damned for rejecting Him, when God FOREORDAINED him TO condemnation?"

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