Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Clark Pinnock - A Modern Parable?

Clark Pinnock died on Sunday at the age of seventy-three. Dr. Pinnock was a theologian who stirred up no small amount of controversy during his life. Early in his career Pinnock was a conservative of the fundamentalist sort. A strong advocate for the Bible's inerrancy, Dr. Pinnock (a Canadian) was influential in warning Southern Baptists about their slide into theological liberalism. During his tenure at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary he taught young pastors to have confidence in the full trustworthiness of God's Word even writing an influential book A Defense of Biblical Infallibility (1967). He thus became instrumental in the conservative resurgence in the SBC.

However, Clark Pinnock ultimately retreated from almost every theological tenet he once contended for so valiantly. He retreated from his Calvinistic convictions and embraced Arminianism. He came to believe that if man were to be truly free then God must not be truly sovereign. In time, Pinnock became the unacknowledged leader of the "Openness of God" movement which teaches that God possesses no foreknowledge of future events. What is more, Openness theology, not surprisingly, holds that God has no sovereignty over those events that are yet to come. The future is...open.

Pinnock would come to deny the necessity of faith in Christ if one was to be saved. He denied the imputed righteousness of Christ, the doctrine of Christ's substitutionary atonement, and the historic doctrine of hell and God's judgement. But it all began with denying the doctrine for which he once fought: the Bible's inerrancy. After abandoning inerrancy, Pinnock called upon evangelicals to not seek coalescence around inerrancy but instead to look to the doctrine of Jesus' atoning sacrifice as that which provides evangelical unity. Certainly, the doctrine of Christ's atoning work on the cross is central not only to our faith but our unity as well. But of course, if you follow the theological evolution of Clark Pinnock it was not long before he began to deny Christ's blood atonement. Once the inerrancy of God's Word is denied then it is usually not long before other doctrines are tossed into the dustbin. If inerrancy is abandoned for not being "intellectually satisfying" then can Christ's deity, virgin birth, atonement, and resurrection last long? For Clark Pinnock the answer was an unfortunate "no."
Certainly our condolences go to Dr. Pinnocks friends and family. He died of Alzheimer's which is a sad end for such an intelligent man or any man for that matter.
According to Dr. Pinnock's theology, God did not know that he would contract this terrible disease. What is more, God had no control over the circumstances. He could only watch and hope for the best along with Clark's friends and family. What a sad and pathetic god. But for Pinnock, Greg Boyd and the other advocates of Openness Theology, we can only be assured of God's goodness if He is completely unresponsible for the unpleasant things that come our way. It is as if they have said, "You can believe that God is good so long as you believe he is incompetent."
What a sad distortion of the God who reveals Himself in Scripture. He declares the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). He is the God who works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11). God is sovereign over the weather. He is sovereign over his enemies. He is sovereign over cancer cells and earthquakes. He is sovereign over the salvation of his people. And God is sovereign over the number of our days. What a comfort these truths could have been for Clark Pinnock in his later days.

You can read a wonderful article on Clark Pinnock by Russell Moore HERE.
Also, you can read a more sobering assessment of Pinnock by Scott Clark HERE.

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