Clark Pinnock is dead at age 73.
Sitting on my bookshelf directly in front of me are books entitled “God’s Greater Glory” and “God’s Lesser Glory” both written by theologian and Southern Seminary professor Bruce Ware. Ware took the time to write out a detailed, orderly account of why he believes “Open Theism” to be so dangerous to the church. He took the time largely because of the vast influence of Clark Pinnock.
Pinnock was a professor of systematic theology at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario and one of the more influential theological thinkers of our day. Throughout the course of his life Pinnock found himself moving from conservative to moderate to liberal back to moderate on a host of issues within the evangelical spectrum. Many of these issues, most notably Open Theism, landed Pinnock in controversial waters. I can assure you that the professors at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary respect Pinnock and his influential writing enough to broadly and repeatedly discuss his views in the classroom. Granted, these discussions were more often than not aimed at where Pinnock veered away from Christian orthodoxy, but the nevertheless understood how powerful of a voice he was and is still is.
I believe Open Theism is one of the most bizarre and absurd theological positions. Having said that, I also believe it is the logical conclusion to a belief in Arminianism, so that Pinnock ultimately embraced a position that is unavoidable if you are an Arminian and continue to think through your position (obviously, Arminian proponents are going to disagree with me on that point). Pinnock certainly came to the conclusion that Arminianism did not go far enough if humans truly have libertarian freedom and that is exactly why he became a proponent of Open Theism. What I appreciate about Pinnock, however, is that he believed the Bible. He loved Scripture. He loved Jesus Christ. And there is no question that his heart’s desire was to be faithful to the Bible. Pinnock is not one of these guys who supplants Scripture with the current cultural and theological tendencies of the day. Although for me it is a difficult thing to read about Pinnock’s move from position to position that led him to Open Theism, I have to appreciate a guy who is willing to radically change his belief system because he truly felt that Scripture taught it. That is why during a vote to potentially remove Pinnock from ETS (Evangelical Theological Society), the vote came back to keep him in the society in good standing.
So, a part of me feels like I have lost an old acquaintance. I never met Pinnock, but I studied his teaching so much that I feel like we should have been on speaking terms. I believe that Pinnock had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If I am correct, then today he is understanding it better by and by. Thank God for that.