19 August 2010


I pause this day to give thanks for the ministry of Clark Pinnock, who died unexpectedly on August 15, 2010. It is fitting to link here to the obituary published by Christianity Today, which is, of course, the leading magazine for evangelical Christianity.

Clark Pinnock was one of my heroes during the height of my own journey within evangelical Christianity. In college in California at the time (1974-1978), I was a leader in the Occidental Christian Fellowship, and I attended both Hollywood Presbyterian Church (where Lloyd Ogilvie preached) and All Saints Episcopal Church (when George Regas was rector). I also participated at Lake Avenue Congregational Church, and I actually attended classes at Fuller Theological Seminary during my free time.

I believe it was at a retreat sponsored by Lake Avenue where I first met Clark Pinnock, and I was immediately attracted to his quick intellect and his warm, engaging, and open spirit. He was thoughtful, orthodox, and open to the Spirit. I liked those qualities.

Apparently, those qualities also created friction in the more partisan evangelical circles of the day. Pinnock began to question his own views on scriptural authority, and he allowed that non-Christians might gain heaven. He wrote more progressively on both those issues, and I usually agreed with him. I loved those collegial arguments within evangelical Christianity, of good will in those days.

Then, I lost track of Clark Pinnock. Every now and then, I would read with interest that certain evangelical groups had ostracized him. But I was proud of his journey, and I was especially appreciative of his concept of "open theism," a fairly direct refutation of classical Calvinism.

Most evangelical groups, and certainly all Calvinist and Reformed types, have been quite wary of me, too, for some time, though I share deep commitments to biblical revelation. I want to be on Clark Pinnock's side. There's a wideness in God's mercy, and I believe fervently in that mercy which welcomes Clark Pinnock into the kingdom.


  1. Thank you for this appreciation of a towering theologian of the twentieth century, Sam. I was a young student at Regent College, Vancouver when I heard him lecture more than thirty five years ago, and have never forgotten his setting forth of the "wideness in God's mercy" in the context of biblical revelation. Every Sunday at Christ the King, Lilburn, we remember those who have died in the peace of Christ and those whose faith is known to God alone. Thank you, Clark, a good and faithful servant.

  2. Thanks, John:
    I did not realize you had been at Regent. It is good to share such appreciation of creative scholars.