A Book Review: The Life of Arthur W. Pink

by Maggie Dail

In writing essays from biographies, one may expand on at least three distinguishing characteristics of the individual or one may enumerate three areas in which the reviewer admires or does not admire the individual. For The Life of Arthur W. Pink by Ian Murray published by Banner of Truth, the reviewer has chosen to use three areas of Pink’s life and work to illustrate three important areas. Our outline:

A.W. Pink, His Life and Work

  1. A.W. Pink – His Life – Three Continents
  2. A. W. Pink – His Work – Preaching – The Controversy
  3. A.W.Pink – His Work—Writing – Thirty Years of Perseverance

On April 1, 1886 Arthur Walkington Pink entered the world in Nottingham, England. During this time, concern existed for the state of the church in England. Men like J.C. Ryle and Charles H. Spurgeon noticed the “downgrade.” Into this climate, A.W. Pink entered the scene. Thomas and Agnes Pink had little idea of the situation and how their son would contribute to it. In a home like that of the Pinks, while business mail could arrive on the Lord’s Day, no one would open it until Monday. Children would read pictorial editions of Pilgrim’s Progress and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs on the Lord’s Day rather than play with the regular toys. We will examine A.W. Pink’s life and work.

Though, A.W. Pink grew up in this Christian home, he did not believe. He turned to theosophy, “a cult which, though only formed into a Society in 1875, claimed a special knowledge preserved from generation to generation by a brotherhood of initiates. It’s best known British publication, the magazine, Lucifer, indicated clearly enough its anti-Christian nature …” (p.5) Pink became well known for speaking on behalf of the cult. Thomas Pink made it a habit to wait up for Arthur upon his return from these meetings, reminding him of Scriptures such as, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof is the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12 (KJV) Pink did not like his father’s insistence, but one night this text stayed with him as he tried to work on an upcoming speech. For three days, he did not leave his room, and when he did, God had saved him. Instead of going to an English seminary, he decided to study at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

After six weeks, he decided that to continue at the Institute delayed his entry into the pastorate unnecessarily. His first pastorate took him to Silverton, Colorado, a mining town. With the Scofield Reference Bible in hand, Pink would find the sum total of Dr. Gray’s instruction. From Colorado, he went to the West Coast, probably in the Los Angeles area. While we do not know how long or much about his time in California, we do know that he then went to rural Kentucky where he met Vera Russell. On November 16, 1916 they married at which time she became his “indispensable ‘help meet.’” Apparently, he visited England a couple of times during those years, but after the Kentucky pastorate, they moved to South Carolina to pastor at Northside Baptist Church from July 1917 to February, 1920. While they had difficulties related to World War I’s effect on the economy, they had even greater difficulties related to Pink’s understanding of Scripture. By 1910, he had more books than his Scofield Reference Bible that influenced his thinking. That would play an important part in his work. At times, the Pinks lived in homes with other families and other times they rented their own accommodations. I admire those in that era who shared living space with other families. This happens in our day as well, making for additional struggles while relieving financial difficulties. A.W. Pink’s work took him from the U.S. to Australia, to the United Kingdom back to the U.S. and finally back to England and Scotland.

God had called Arthur to preach, of this he was confident. At times in all three continents, many flocked to hear Pink preach. God used him mightily, but as time passed doors closed to his preaching. What happened? For one thing, in general, the church experienced a “downgrade” as Spurgeon called it or an evolution to liberalism at one extreme to an “easy believism” among evangelicalism on the other. He explored different denominations, but none with which he could agree enough to become a member. Nonmembers did not receive invitations to speak. Guided by his call to preach Pink continued searching for some time. In the end, Pink stopped attending church. What about Hebrews 10:25? “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”(KJV) This controversy affects our thinking regarding Arthur W. Pink. Knowing God’s insistence on the importance of the church throughout the New Testament and this particular command to assemble with other believers I wonder how Pink could not find a church where he could, at least attend. His studies had led him away from the teaching of the Scofield Reference Bible. To the Pinks’ credit, though they did not attend church, they did study and worship in their home. Further, he did search the Scriptures to see what they taught.

Even while Pink preached and searched for churches where he could join and speak, he began publishing Studies in the Scriptures, a monthly magazine. Early on they lived with couples who handled much of the typing and publishing of these magazines. Eventually, Vera learned how to type and they handled everything. Somewhere along the line, he recognized that his voice would only be heard through the printed word. At times, many subscribers received the magazine while at other times they did not know whether they could continue. Pink provided a varied diet maintaining different series that ran from month to month. He spent much time in corresponding with readers with a pastor’s heart. Later, these were republished as journals for each year or as books. Among his most famous books: The Sovereignty of God and The Attributes of God. Further, many have read Gleanings from Genesis and Gleanings from Exodus. His first publication, The Divine Inspiration of the Bible, appeared in 1917. Volume One of Studies in the Scriptures appeared in 1922. In December 1953, the final issue of Studies in the Scriptures appeared months after his death. Pink persevered thirty long years in this ministry. Ian Murray, the biographer, provides the reader with a chronology of Pink’s published works. This allows readers to note when each was published understanding how Pink’s thinking matured over the years. A.W.Pink’s influence grows as more and more readers find his works.

Arthur and Vera Pink lived in Stornoroway, Scotland for his last seven years. Arthur breathed his last breath on July 15, 1952. He had prepared articles for The Studies in the Scriptures for future issues. Vera wrote to friends, “I can only say, ‘He hath done all things well’… My dear one is now in glory where he so longed to be with Christ.” P. 184 She completed the publishing part concluding at the end of the following year. Though she recovered somewhat from a stroke her ability to type diminished. Pink’s beloved wife ‘went’ home on July 17, 1962 at the age of sixty-nine.  Though their lives had ended, their labors live on in A.W. Pink’s writings.

Ronnie Dail’s Afterword:

My wife and I have both benefited from reading some of the many thought provoking books written by Arthur W. Pink. It is without controversy that we would not be the Christians we are today had we not been so mightily blessed by this beloved brother in Christ. We would greatly encourage others to pursue as many of A.W. Pink’s books as possible. It will be time well-spent.