Is A. W. Pink's Hebrews commentary good?

Discussion in 'Commentaries' started by housta, Jan 1, 2013.

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  1. housta

    housta Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello everyone. I have Richard Phillips, and Calvin's commentaries on Hebrews, in fact I just finished up working through Phillips commentary a few months back. Here's my question. I have 4 bucks left on my amazon gift card and amazon has a monergism books kindle version for 3 bucks. Is it worth getting? I have Pink's book Saving Faith and it was very good, but I don't know much about him. Is there anything doctrinally that I need to be aware of?

    Eventually I will get Owens for my kindle, but amazon doesn't have a kindle version, and converting the online pdfs to kindle didn't work all that well.

    I apologize if this has already been discussed before.
     
  2. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

  3. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Pink is to Owen what plain white rice is to a steak dinner.
     
  4. louis_jp

    louis_jp Puritan Board Freshman

    Well, he's Baptist, which I imagine would be especially relevant to a Hebrews commentary. I believe he was also a dispensationalist at one time, though he later recanted and wrote a treatise against dispensationalism.
     
  5. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    That's pretty good!

    I was thinking that Pink is sort of the Reader's Digest version of Owen. He draws heavily from Owen and William Gouge, which is good. It is quite condensed compared to the older authors.

    I think Pink's work was a series of articles, so it has a different audience. I do think it is worth having for skimming and lightish reading after plowing through Owen for hours.
     
  6. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Well, Bob, that's a little extreme – I'd say it's more like tasty pork-fried rice to a steak dinner. Owen is good when you want to get into really detailed – exhaustive – exegesis; Pink for a quicker but still excellent study.
     
  7. LeeD

    LeeD Puritan Board Freshman

    I have found Pink's commentary to be quite good the few times I have used it.
     
  8. housta

    housta Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you brothers! Think I'm going to try some white rice with my steak dinner! :D
     
  9. tyndale

    tyndale Puritan Board Freshman

    Iain Murray's bio on Pink is one of the best books I've ever read and it was funny that Pink complained (in the book) that Owen was almost impossible to understand.

    Pink's greatest contribution were those writings called Studies in the Scriptures which have become books now. Even though, the subscribers were a small lot, soldiers in World War 2 were clamoring for more of his material, as it really encouraged them in the battlefield along with the Word itself.
     
  10. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    Pink is one of my earlier heroes. In his early days he was dispensationalist but he dropped it eventually. A prolific reader (immoderately so, in some cases). His commentary on Hebrews I think was composed over the space of ten years, as he published each part as an article. For Hebrews he consulted no less than 40 different commentaries, and Pink's own style of exposition was generally to dig in the Scripture himself first before consulting other works. I think his biography shows a great fear of the Lord even if he was wrong in some aspects of his walk, and you can be sure that Hebrews was composed with the same spirit.
     
  11. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate


    Steve, whether that is a little extreme I will let others decide.

    Arthur Pink was a useful servant of the Lord and influential in keeping an ember glowing of the vital doctrine of the sovereignty of God among an evangelical community which had surrendered that pivotal tenet of the faith. I appreciate that usefulness.

    But he was neither a theologian nor an exegete of the first order. For example on Hebrews 2:17-
    “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17”

    Pink says
    Owen, on this place, says
    Elsewhere on THE SATISFACTION AND MERIT OF Christ Owen says,
    With this Shedd, in his Dogmatic Theology agrees, saying
     
  12. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Pink is worth reading. There are many better commentaries, Owen most certainly being one of them (indeed, it would be difficult to imagine a better commentary on Hebrews than Owen). I agree that Pink's dispensationalism got in his way.
     
  13. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

  14. Theogenes

    Theogenes Puritan Board Junior

    I finished reading it about two months ago. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it!
     
  15. housta

    housta Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks everyone!
     
  16. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Hello Bob,

    I am not sure what you object to in the quote you gave of Pink; was it the imprecise way he depicted the union of Christ with His people in the bearing of their sins? Here is the paragraph just above the one you quoted from:



    However great the dignity of the substitute, or however deep his voluntary humiliation, atonement for us would not have been possible unless that substitute became actually, as well as legally, one with us. In order to ransom His church, in order to purge our sins, Christ must so unite Himself with His people, that their sins should become His sins, and that His sufferings and death should become their sufferings and death. In short, the union between the Son of God and His people, and theirs with Him, must be as real and as intimate as that of Adam and his posterity, who all sinned and died in him. Thus did He, in the fullness of time, assume their flesh and blood, bear their sins in His own body on the tree, so that they, having died to sin, may live unto righteousness, being healed by His stripes. Therefore, no human transaction can possibly illustrate the surety-ship and sacrificial death of Christ, and any attempt to do so is not only to darken counsel by words without knowledge, but is, really, to be guilty of presumptuous impiety. Probably more than one preacher will be led to cry with the writer, "Father, forgive me, for I knew not what I did."


    I would appreciate it if you clarified your objection for me. It may well be my discernment is not keen here. Nor will I argue against the
    proposition that Owen is the better of the two – it is that I have found Pink to be a great help when I have not had time to read the corresponding portions in Owen. Ought I to be more wary of him, in that he errs in things like this?

    And Lane, what other commentaries do you think better than Pink's on Hebrews?
     
  17. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    But he was neither a theologian nor an exegete of the first order. For example on Hebrews 2:17-
    “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17”

    Pink says
    “… for when sin was found upon Him, God ‘spared not His own Son’ … But it was against no “innocent Victim” that God bade His sword awake. It was against One who had graciously condescended to be “numbered with transgressors,” who not only took their place but had become one with them. Had He not first had a real and vital relation to our sins, He could not have undergone their punishment.”

    Owen, on this place, says
    “His sufferings were of the same kind with them that the brethren underwent, or ought so to have done; yet they had far different effects on him from what they would have had on them. For whereas he was perfectly innocent and perfectly righteous, no way deserving them in his own person, he was free from all impressions of those sinful consequents which attend the utmost sufferings under the curse of the law by sinners themselves.”

    Elsewhere on THE SATISFACTION AND MERIT OF Christ Owen says,
    “What then was this, ‘God made him to be sin?’ It cannot be that God made him sinful, or a sinner by any inherent sin; that will not stand with the justice of God, nor with the holiness of the person of our Redeemer. What is it, then? … Why, clearly, by dispensation and consent, he laid upon him and imputed unto him all the sins of all the elect, and proceeded against him accordingly.

    With this Shedd, in his Dogmatic Theology agrees, saying
    “… the vicarious sufferings of Christ were not due from him as from a guilty person. He was innocent, and retributive justice had no claims upon him.”

    It is at just this point that Pink most seriously errs in his doctrine of the imputation of sin to Christ. For Pink to deny the innocence of our Savior is a most grave error.
     
  18. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member


    I remember reading that passage from Pink and thinking it over. He was emphasizing that God's wrath against the Son was no unrighteous wrath, because the Son had placed himself in the place of sinners.

    The Owen quote emphasizes the same thing from a different aspect: Christ was innocent in himself.

    I just don't see much conflict here.
     
  19. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Vic, Pink's phrase no innocent victim negates the concepts both of innocence and victimhood. It cannot be argued that there was any loss of innocence in the Person of Jesus Christ.

    Heb 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

    Luk 23:47 Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, "Certainly this man was innocent."

    Pink was, at best, careless and inconsistent in his negating the innocence (however qualified) of our Substitute.
     
  20. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Fair enough about the lack of precision. I admit I had to think it over a few times upon reading that, because I knew Pink elsewhere emphasized Christ's innocence.

    Admittedly he has warts. So does Owen in obscure places. And I remember Machen wrote in an essay, without qualification or clarification, how the Jews were justified by keeping the law while Christians were justified by faith. I thought that was a howler, but I still profited from reading him.
     
  21. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Two bad evryones not purrfeck like us!
     
  22. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    O'Brien, Attridge, Gouge, Delitzsch, Ellingworth, Lane (not me, William Lane), and France are all better than Pink, in my opinion.
     
  23. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

  24. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Bob, I think this that Charnock says is at the heart of your objection to Pink’s view:

    “(1) Imputation cannot be understood of the infection of sin. The filth of our nature was not transmitted to him. Though he was made sin, yet he was not made a sinner by any infusion or transplantation of sin into his nature. It was impossible his holiness could be defiled with our filth.”

    From, The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, page 531 Discourse on Christ Our Passover (or here)​

    And having pondered it a while, I would have to agree with you. At the very least Pink is being unclear at a point where clarity is of the utmost importance. At the worst he errs with regard to the nature of the imputation of our sin to Christ. Thanks for your clarity!
     
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