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Clark H. Pinnock: Journey Toward Renewal: An Intellectual Biography Paperback – July, 2000
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At the height of the "battle for the Bible" that boiled within American evangelicalism in the 1970s, fundamentalist leader Harold Lindsell bitterly remarked of Clark Pinnock, "his pilgrimage has been inexplicable." In this detailed and sympathetic intellectual biography, Barry L. Callen admirably shows otherwise. Drawing on his ample research, including his revealing interviews with the subject, Callen offers a vivid account of Pinnock's theological journey from a Reformed-determinist fundamentalism to an open-ended, narrative-oriented, Arminian evangelicalism of Word and Spirit. -- Gary Dorrien, Kalamazoo College
Barry Callen's intellectual biography of Clark Pinnock reveals that the evangelical theologian many have labeled a "moving target" is in fact a pilgrim on a consistent journey. Biography and theology are inseparable. Pinnock's life story and the story of his consistent, single-minded path toward a reasonable, faithful, and contemporary interpretation of Scripture are shown to be one story in this fascinating account. Even those of us who disagree with some of Pinnock's conclusions understand better how and why he has arrived at them because of Callen's superbly critical and sympathetic portrayal of the man and his journey. -- Roger E. Olson, Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University
No twentieth-century evangelical thinker has been more controversial than Clark Pinnock. He has been lauded as an inspiring theological pilgrim by his admirers and condemned as a dangerous renegade by his foes. Yet no story of evangelical theology in the twentieth century is complete without the inclusion of his fascinating intellectual journey from quintessential evangelical apologist to anti-Augustinian theological reformist. For this reason, Barry Callen's intellectual biography of Pinnock is not only "must reading," but also an insightful guide for Clark's supporters and detractors alike. -- Stanley J. Grenz, Carey Theological College and Regent College
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Author Barry Callen (a professor of Christian Studies at Anderson University) wrote in the Foreword to this 2000 book, "This intellectual biography of Clark H. Pinnock is an attempt to highlight the needs and point toward promising solutions. The means used is the story of the eventful career of one key player in the contemporary evangelical community of scholars and church leaders. Narrating the stages and struggles of Pinnock's own journey is judged an excellent way to name the issues and point in good directions. His experiences and thoughts may not be the last word, but at least it is a committed, informing, stimulating, and sometimes inspiring word." (Pg. xvii)
He notes early in the book, "After years of theological searching, Pinnock placed himself in the 'moderate' category of theologians. His intention has been to function between the 'conservatives,' who concentrate heavily ... on what they see as the unchanging biblical revelation, and the 'progressives' who seek... to update Christian foundations by so connecting them to today's issues and experiences that they become almost unrecognizable as distinctly Christian." (Pg. 9) He adds, "Pinnock particularly notes C.S. Lewis, whom he trusted as an orthodox thinker." (Pg. 23)
In 1967 Pinnock and his young family began attending a different church: "Here was found an authentic 'charismatic' renewal in progress in a mainline church. Pinnock found this congregation 'immensely nourishing.' ... Pinnock came to soften his negative critique of pentecostalism, but without granting spiritual experience a position of equal partnership with biblical authority." (Pg. 78) He even attended the "Toronto Blessing" congregation in Canada for the first time in 1994 (Pg. 199).
Commenting on Pinnock's book A Wideness in God's Mercy: The Finality Of Jesus Christ In A World Of Religions, he states, "it is God's will to save all people even if they have no opportunity in their earthly lifetimes to hear about the gospel of Christ... 'Surely God judges the heathen in relation to the light they have, not according to the light that did not reach them'... universal salvation is not guaranteed; what is guaranteed is the universal possibility of salvation." (Pg. 163)
One need not agree with all of Pinnock's evolving views, but this book will be immensely helpful to anyone who wants to follow the process through which he developed them.
Not so with Pinnock. Over a period of three or so decades (despite previously published works) he changed his mind concerning Calvinism, the nature of hell, strict inerrancy, God's foreknowledge - and published new works contradicting the old works! In a nutshell, he moved from the evangelical right to the evangelical left; became less militant and more pilgrim; less threatened and more irenic; threw off the shackles of his Augustinian tradition, replete with the presuppositions of Greek philosophy; embraced a more Pentecostal/Wesleyan/Eastern expression of the Christian faith; thereby becoming less cognitive and more relational (even intuitive) in his spirituality.
Did he take some flack from his conservative counterparts for doing so? Predictably, yes (R.C. Sproul has gone so far as to call him a heretic and unbeliever). Why the animosity? Pinnock's answer probably sums it up best: "The meanderings of a pilgrim can be infuriating for defenders of a fortress." Indeed.
The point is that you don't have to agree with all of Pinnock's conclusions to be inspired by his refusal to be a slave to a system. He exercised a life-long passion for vibrant, imaginative spirituality.
Barry Callen presents Pinnock as a humble man, despite the controversy surrounding his theology. Pinnock himself writes in the afterword: "I trust that my failures can be redeemed and that I can be an inspiration to others."
They can, and you are, Dr. Pinnock. Let this book be an inspiration to us all to dare to change our minds. Pinnock got himself into trouble with certain of the gatekeepers of evangelical theology for not leaving supposedly irreformable issues alone. If he could thus be brave in his pursuit of truth, how much more so ordinary believers without 'reputations' to uphold. One may not doctrinally agree with him, but one should certainly want to be like him. Because we're pilgrims!
Recommended Pinnock books for thinking evangelicals who like to have their iron sharpened and hearts warmed:
* A Wideness in God's Mercy (1992)
* Flame of Love (1996)
* Most Moved Mover (2001)
* The Scripture Principle (Third Edition, 2009)