Here we are again with a disendorsement of someone whom we previously endorsed. Many will take this as proof that we continue to narrow our criteria regarding whom we consider to be Christians and that we go out of our way to search for dirt on people so we can declare them unregenerate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The criteria for judging saved and lost remain the same, because God's Word stays the same. The reason we are disendorsing those whom we once endorsed is that we have found new evidence that makes us conclude that the person was unregenerate. We take no joy in this; in fact, we sorrow over this. It gets more overwhelming and disheartening and disillusioning the more we find that people who we thought were Christians were actually enemies of the truth. And it does not seem to stop. In the modern-day realm, we had to disendorse the PRC (Doug Kuiper, Ron Hanko, Jason Kortering, Allen Brummell, Steven Houck, et al.), Sovereign Grace Church (John Pedersen and his followers), the Trinity Foundation/Trinity Review (Gordon Clark and John Robbins), and Eager Avenue Grace Church (Bill Parker, Mark McCulley, David Adkins, Bobby Bullington, et al.). In the historical realm, we had to disendorse John Calvin. And we mean it when we say that we had to. When we find out that someone whom we endorsed (either recommended their ministries or quoted them favorably) actually was/is unregenerate, we must tell and warn our readers. It makes no difference how famous or well-liked or revered as a "father of the faith" these people were/are. We are no respecter of persons. If they do not speak according to the true gospel, it is because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20).
So now we come to A.W. Pink, whom we have quoted favorably in Outside the Camp and whom we considered to be a man of God. Yet a quote was brought to our attention that cannot be explained by anything other than that Pink spoke peace to those who were ignorant of the righteousness of God. The quote comes from the "Conclusion" chapter in The Sovereignty of God. I do not remember reading this passage, although the only time I did read through the book in its entirety was before God regenerated me. Following is the quote that has me absolutely flabbergasted:
HETERODOXY HALL OF SHAME
"It is true that the degenerate days in which our lot is cast, when on every side man is exalted and 'superman' has become a common expression, there is real need for a special emphasis upon the glorious fact of God's supremacy. The more so where this is expressly denied. Yet even here much wisdom is required lest our zeal should not be 'according to knowledge.' The words 'meat in due season' should ever be before the servant of God. What is needed, primarily, by one congregation may not be specifically needed by another. If called to labor where Arminian preachers have preceded, then the neglected truth of God's sovereignty should be expounded, though with caution and care lest too much 'strong meat' be given to 'babes.' The example of Christ in John 16:12 'I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now,' must be borne in mind."
In this one statement, Pink eviscerates everything he had previously said about God's sovereignty, especially as it relates to the gospel, by saying that it is some "strong meat" that only the mature in Christ can bear. He is saying that those who had been part of a church where Arminian preachers had preceded were "babes," i.e., immature, Christians who were ignorant of sovereign salvation. He is speaking peace to the haters of God. The truth is that every Christian upon regeneration believes the gospel, which includes the fact that salvation is not conditioned on the sinner in any way to any degree. (Note also that Pink wrenches Romans 10:3's "zeal not according to knowledge" out of context and applies it to preachers who preach the sovereignty of God to those who supposedly aren't ready for it.)
At almost the same time this quote was brought to my attention, another quote from Pink was providentially brought to my attention from a book that I had never read. The book is Studies on Saving Faith. After reading the quote, I downloaded some chapters from the book and found even more heterodoxy. Below is not everything heterodox that I found; I would like to do a complete book review at some point.
Pink believed that some unregenerate people possess a faith that is of the Holy Spirit:
"Call the above a mere historical faith if you will, yet Scripture also teaches that people may possess a faith which is one of the Holy Spirit, and yet which is a non-saving one. This faith which we now allude to has two ingredients which neither education nor self-effort can produce: spiritual light and a Divine power moving the mind to assent. ... Saving faith has Christ for its object; so has a non-saving faith (John 2:23, 24). Saving faith is wrought by the Holy Spirit; so is a non-saving faith (Heb. 6:4)."
The fact that Pink used Hebrews 6:4 as a proof text is astounding. He uses it like the Arminians use it. Also, non-saving faith does not have the true Christ for its object; it believes a false Christ and a false gospel.
Further on in the book, Pink uses fictitious conversations between himself and "Mr. Carnal Confidence" (someone who believes he is regenerate but is actually unregenerate) and between himself and "Mr. Humble Heart" (someone who believes he is unregenerate but is actually regenerate). (I will italicize the name of who is speaking for readability.) Amazingly, Pink endorses the heresy that there is a prerequisite to salvation that a sinner must meet before God will save him:
"Mr. Carnal Confidence: 'Well, let us turn to Acts 16:31, that is simple enough. There is no room allowed there for any quibbling. God says 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved': God says that to me; I have believed on Christ, and so I must be saved.' Writer: 'Not so fast, dear friend. How can you prove God says that to you? Those words were spoken under unusual circumstances, and to a particular individual. That individual had been brought to the end of himself; he was deeply convicted of his sins; he was in terrible anguish of soul; he had taken his place in the dust, for we are told that he "came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas" (Acts 16:29). Now is it fair to take the words of the apostles to such a man and apply them indiscriminately to anybody? Are we justified in ignoring the whole setting of that verse, wrenching it from its context, and giving it to those who have not any of the characteristics which marked the Philippian jailor? ... Christ saves none who is still in love with sin; but He is ready to save those who are sick of sin, who long to be cleansed from its loathsome foulness, who yearn to be delivered from its tyrannizing power.'"
Amazing? It certainly was for me. Pink believed that a necessary prerequisite of salvation is a loathing of sin and a desire to be cleansed and delivered from it. This is a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner. Considering that Pink believed that the faith of some unbelievers is of the Holy Spirit, I do not doubt that Pink held to the heresy of "Holy Spirit conviction" in which the Holy Spirit convicts an unregenerate person of his sinfulness (without causing him to believe the gospel) as a necessary prerequisite to salvation (this "grace" of the Holy Spirit being resistible). The truth is that there are no conditions a sinner must meet before God saves him. Salvation is an unconditional, unilateral act of God. Any doctrine that opposes this truth is a doctrine of demons. (See the articles "Pernicious Puritan Preparationism" and "Holy Spirit Conviction.")
The remainder of the quotes will focus on Pink's belief that the main evidence of salvation is not belief of the gospel but is a desire to obey coupled with being troubled over one's inability to obey. (For other articles related to the heresy espoused below, see "True and False Humility," "Faith Is Assurance," and "Is a Christian's Heart Deceitful and Desperately Wicked?")
"Humble Heart: 'I am sore troubled in spirit: I long so much to be able to call God "my Father," but I fear I might be guilty of lying were I to do so. There are many times when I have a little hope that He has begun a good work within me, but alas, for the most part, I find such a mass of corruption working within, that I feel sure I have never been made a new creature in Christ. My heart is so cold and hard toward God, that it seems impossible the Holy Spirit could have shed abroad God's love in me; unbelief and doubtings so often master me, that it would be presumptuous to think I possess the faith of God's elect. Yet I want to love Him, trust Him, serve Him; but it seems I cannot. Editor: 'I am very glad you called. It is rare indeed to meet with an honest soul these days.' Humble Heart: 'Excuse me, Sir, but I do not want you to form a wrong impression of me: an honest heart is the very blessing I crave, but I am painfully conscious, from much clear evidence, that I possess it not. My heart is deceitful above all things, and I am full of hypocrisy. I have often begged God to make me holy, and right after, my actions proved that I did not mean what I said. I have often thanked God for His mercies, and then have soon fretted and murmured when His providence crossed my will. I had quite a battle before I came here to see you tonight, as to whether I was really seeking help, or as to whether my secret desire was to win your esteem; and I am not sure now which was my real motive.' Editor: 'Hypocrites are not exercised about their motives, nor troubled over the deceitfulness of their hearts! At any rate, I am thankful to see you so deeply concerned about your soul's eternal interests.' Humble Heart: 'alas, Sir, I am not half as much concerned about them as I ought to be. That is another thing which occasions me much anguish. When the Lord Jesus tells us that the human soul is worth more than the whole world put together (Mark 8:36), I feel that I must be thoroughly blinded by Satan and completely under the dominion of sin, seeing that I am so careless. It is true that at times I am alarmed about my state and fearful that I shall soon be in Hell; at times too, I seem to seek God more earnestly and read His Word more diligently; but alas, my goodness is "as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away" (Hosea 6:4). The cares of this life soon crowd out thoughts of the life to come. O Sir, I want reality, not pretense; I want to make sure, yet I cannot.'"
Pink puts forth the heresy that doubts about one's salvation based on one's perception that one is too full of sin to be saved is evidence of Christian humility. In fact, it is just the opposite; it is evidence of wicked pride. It is the height of pride to think that acceptance before God is based on the sinner rather than on the work of Christ alone. "Mr. Humble Heart" should have been named "Mr. Carnal Humility." Mr. Humble Heart believes that his heart is deceitful above all things (a reference to Jeremiah 17:9). Obviously, Pink believes that a Christian's heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and that all Christians believe such. The truth is that Jeremiah 17:9 is talking about the totally depraved heart of the unregenerate. When God regenerates someone, He takes away the depraved heart and gives that person a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). More Pink:
"'[Editor:] And now, dear Brother, for such I am assured you really are, What is it that most causes you to doubt that you have passed from death unto life?' Humble Heart: 'My inward experiences, the wickedness of my heart, the many defeats I encounter daily.'"
Pink makes sure the reader knows that he is putting forth Mr. Humble Heart as an example of a true Christian. On what does Pink base his judgment? In this whole conversation with Mr. Humble Heart, there is no evidence that Mr. Humble Heart believes the gospel. Pink, as the "Editor," does not even ask whether Mr. Humble Heart believes the gospel. He considers Mr. Humble Heart to be his brother in Christ because of his concern over the state of his soul. There are tons of lost people who are concerned over the state of their souls. This gives absolutely no evidence of regeneration. And what is it that causes Mr. Humble Heart to doubt his salvation? His "inward experiences." This is nothing but the carnal navel-gazing of a lost sinner. Nowhere is there a looking to Christ; it is always a looking to self. Mr. Humble Heart believes that his heart is wicked, and it most assuredly is.
So what does Pink believe are the evidences of being a true Christian? Is belief of the gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ one of them? Let us see:
"Humble Heart: 'Would you kindly turn to the positive side, and give me a brief description of what characterizes a genuine Christian.' Editor: 'Among other gifts, every real Christian has such a knowledge of God in Christ, as works by love, that he is stirred up to earnestly inquire after the will of God and studies His Word to learn that will, having a sincere desire and making an honest endeavour to live in the faith and practice of it.' Humble Heart: 'I cannot boast of my knowledge of God in Christ, yet by Divine grace this I may say: that I desire no other Heaven on earth than to know and to do God's will, and be assured that I have His approval.' Editor: 'That is indeed a good sign that your soul has been actually renewed, and doubtless He who has begun a work of grace in your heart, will make the great change manifest in your life and actions. No matter what he thinks or says, no unregenerate man really desires to live a life which is pleasing to God.'"
Is this not very telling regarding what Pink really believes? Pink believes that "every real Christian has such a knowledge of God in Christ ..." And what would that knowledge of God in Christ be? Now would be the time for Pink to put forth the gospel, would it not? Instead, Pink says that the evidences of being a true Christian are earnestly, sincerely, and honestly seeking to obey God. While it is true that all Christians earnestly, sincerely, and honestly seek to obey God, there are exponentially more people who earnestly, sincerely, and honestly seek to obey who they think is God but who is not the God of the Bible whose righteousness is revealed in the gospel. Pink says that it is a good sign that Mr. Humble Heart is a regenerate man in that he has a desire to obey God and to thus be assured that he has God's approval. A desire to obey "God" is no evidence in and of itself of salvation; in fact, if one believes that his acceptance before God is based on his desire for and pursuit of obedience, that person is yet dead in his sins.
Here is more from the falsely-named Mr. Humble Heart:
"'I am too well acquainted with my wretched self: I know too well that by nature I am alive to vanity and sin, but dead to God and all real goodness; that folly possesses my soul, darkness shrouds my understanding; that I am utterly unable to will or to do what is pleasing in God's sight, and that my natural heart is set contrary to the way of salvation proposed in the Gospel, rising up against its flesh-condemning precepts and commandments.'"
Mr. Humble Heart believes he is alive to sin and dead to God. The Bible says this about Christians: "We who died to sin, how shall we still live in it? ... So also you count yourselves to be truly dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:2,11). Mr. Humble Heart says that he still has a"natural heart" that is against the way of salvation put forth in the gospel. Thus, he believes that there is still a heart in him that believes in salvation conditioned on the sinner. This sounds just like the heresy of John Pedersen and his disciples. The truth is that there is no part of a Christian that believes a false gospel. Christians have been given a new heart. They are new people. "So that if anyone [is] in Christ, [he] is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
"Brother H. H.: 'Yes, I realize that, and it makes me feel so bad because God's Word has not been written on my heart. I have gone over in my mind, again and again, all that you said at our last interview, and I am sure that I am unregenerate.' Editor: 'What leads you to such a conclusion?' Bro. H. H.: 'This, if I had been regenerated the Holy Spirit would be dwelling within me, and in that case He would be producing His blessed fruit in my heart and life. It is written, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (self-control) - Galatians 5:22-23; and as I have endeavored to examine and search myself, I discover in me the very opposite of these heavenly graces.' ... [Editor:] 'So it is, my Brother, with the heart of the Christian. Though the incorruptible seed of God's Word is planted there (1 Peter 1:23), yet the heart - neglected all through the years of unregeneracy - is overgrown with weeds (the lusts of the flesh), and to the anointed eye the heart looks more like the Devil's weed plot than "the king's garden" (2 Kings 25:4).'"
Mr. Humble Heart believes that God's Word has not been written on his heart. The Bible says this about Christians: "But this [shall be] the covenant that I will cut with the house of Israel: After those days, declares Jehovah, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jeremiah 31:33). Mr. Humble Heart is sure that he is unregenerate, based on the fact that there is still sin in his life. Again, there is no looking to Christ at all; there is looking to self. And what does Pink do? Does he agree with Mr. Humble Heart that he is unregenerate, which is what every Christian must do when he encounters a person who confesses to be unregenerate? Does he tell Mr. Humble Heart that he is not humble at all but believes in salvation conditioned on the sinner? No. He confirms that every Christian's heart looks like Mr. Humble Heart's heart - "like the Devil's weed plot." Notice what Pink is saying here. He first says that the Christian's heart, before salvation, was "neglected all through the years of unregeneracy." True enough. But what happens to that neglected, wicked heart after regeneration, according to Pink? It is still there in the regenerate person and just needs some cleaning up. Pink has no idea what takes place at regeneration. He thinks that the old heart just gets a little better, a little more improved. In reality, upon regeneration, the old heart gets replaced!! Go back to Ezekiel 36:26: "And I will also give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give to you a heart of flesh." Is the stony heart reformed to make an improved heart? No! The stony heart is removed, and a new heart, made of completely different material, is implanted. Pink does not believe this.
"Brother H. H.: 'I do not believe that any real Christian is ever plagued as I am: plagued so often with a spirit of rebellion, with unbelief, with pride, with such vile thoughts and desires that I would blush to mention them.' Editor: 'Ah, my Brother, few unregenerate souls would be honest enough to acknowledge as much! The very fact that these inward workings of sin plague you, is clear proof that you are regenerate, and there is within you a nature or principle of holiness which loathes all that is unholy.'"
Can you believe it? Pink believes that if a person admits he is plagued by sin, it is clear proof that he is regenerate!! How many unregenerate people are plagued by sin? How many of them have natural conscience convictions? How many of them feel bad when they have vile thoughts and desires and thoughts of rebellion, unbelief, and pride, as they define them? How many churchgoers who believe in salvation conditioned on themselves feel bad when they have a thought of lust or hatred or covetousness? Pink is here speaking peace to those people who are down in the dumps over their sins, apart from whether or not they believe the true gospel! He is speaking peace to people who believe that they do not have favor with God because of their sins! This is absolutely repugnant.
Pink later goes into a conversation between "Brother Humble Heart" and "Sister Fearing." Again, it is obvious that Pink puts forth "Sister Fearing" as a regenerate person who thinks she is unregenerate.
"[H.H.:] 'I asked her why she ever entertained the thought that God had cast her off? She told me that most of the time she felt herself to be such a vile and polluted creature that a holy God could not look with any complacency upon her. She said she was so constantly tormented by doubts and fears that God must have given her over to an evil heart of unbelief. She added that, in spite of all her reading of the Word and crying unto the Lord for strength, her case seemed to grow worse and worse, so that it appeared Heaven must be closed against her.'"
Here Pink speaks peace to a person (not only speaks peace but actually made up the person of "Sister Fearing" in order to demonstrate what some true Christians believe!) who believes that she is unregenerate because she is so vile and polluted that God could not look upon her favorably. This is so blatant that it almost does not need explanation. If a person believes that God cannot look on her with favor because of her sin, what does she think favor with God is based on - her own obedience or Christ's imputed righteousness?
And what would such a person do to gain favor with God? Obviously it would be to improve her character and conduct! This is blatant salvation conditioned on the sinner. The "humility" that Pink puts forth is the wicked, counterfeit, prideful "humility" of those who believe that one's own righteousness is the basis of favor with God.
True humility believes that one is seen as righteous before God based Christ's work alone.