Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A.W. Pink and Spartanburg, SC

The International Mission Board of Trustees will be having their meeting next Monday through Wednesday, September 11-13, 2006 in Spartanburg, S.C.

A.W. Pink, friend of my grandfather's and well known evangelical author of the 20th Century, spent several years in Spartanburg as pastor. I will be visiting his former church while in Spartanburg and will attempt to make contact with a couple of people mentioned in Richard Belcher's book "Letters from Spartanburg" while in town.

However, in researching some of Pink's life in preparation for my visit to Spartanburg, I read again about Pink's conversion, as summarized by Ian Murrary. I think you will find it interesting that A.W. Pink was heavily involved in the occult and spiritism prior to coming to faith in Christ. The following is adapted from Murray's summary of Pink's conversion and illustrates how when God truly converts a sinner, the converted person's love for Christ cannot be hidden.

His Early Involvement With the Occult

A.W. Pink's initial interest in the occult and spiritism eventually led to a thorough commitment. He addressed cult meetings and became so closely involved with the London headquarters of theosophy that a photograph taken of some of the leaders at that period showed him seated in their midst.

When news of Pink’s eloquent propagation of theosophy reached Madame Besant in Madras she opened a correspondence with him — and subsequently proposed to confer a title upon him which would rank him among the cult’s chiefs (a dignity which apparently would also entail his removal to India).

One of Pink’s closest friends, although a fellow theosophist, was not enamoured with the proposal. This man was an opera singer by profession and, having a high opinion of Pink’s baritone voice, he urged him to study for the same career.

But the appeal of Madame Besant’s offer was stronger than that of music, and Pink accepted it. It ‘fed my ego’, he later commented, characterising the whole system as one that ‘appeals to the flesh, panders to pride, and exalts man’.

A Verse of Scripture Like an Arrow to the Heart

The date when the Besant proposal came to Pink is not known. It was probably early in 1908, for we know that in that year he was still in Nottingham. He was now twenty-two years of age, and so deeply involved in the occult that he later recorded, ‘Five years ago I was a medium’, practising ‘clairvoyance, psychomancy, and magical healing’.

All this time Pink was earning a living in business and living at home, which tells us something about his patient parents. They grieved, prayed and were not altogether silent. His father always waited up until his son returned from meetings late in the evening and to Arthur’s annoyance often accompanied his ‘Good-night’ with some brief but telling word of Scripture.

One such evening in 1908, as Pink hurriedly passed his father and dashed upstairs to his room, the text he received was, ‘There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death’ (Proverbs 14:12).

He shut the bedroom door, intending to do some work on a speech for an important meeting of theosophists that was to take place on the Friday evening of that same week. But the text so disturbed his concentration that work was impossible.

A Holy and Sovereign God

The story continues in the words of Charles and Elsie Pressel:

‘AWP decided he was fatigued, and would take a bath to relax, but during this process all he could see "mentally" was, "There is a way that seemeth right, etc." Again he returned to work on his speech and all his mind brought forth was Proverbs 14:12.

‘He ... told us he could no longer reject the God of the Bible and began to cry unto the Lord in prayer, convicted by the Holy Spirit and his power to bring a soul to see his lost condition and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour. His early training taught him about our Lord, but now, like Paul of old, was the appointment with a Holy Sovereign God.

‘For almost three days he did not leave his room to join the family, but his father and mother prayed, and in late afternoon on the third day AWP made his appearance and his father said, "Praise God, my son has been delivered."

‘AWP kept his next appointment before the Society of Theosophists; the speech he was preparing was never completed but by God’s grace he made known to them the God of the Bible. A "groan" went up from the listeners. Many remarked that he had "gone mad" and needed a rest, for they were aware of his plans to join Madame Besant.’

Suddenly Struck Down

This last address of Pink’s among theosophists was a gospel message on the true God and Jesus Christ, his Son, in whom alone there is salvation. He must have told them what he recorded a few years later.

He put the question, ‘Why did I leave Spiritism and Theosophy?’ and replied, ‘Because it failed to satisfy my soul. I was trying to save myself. There was no peace for a burdened conscience, no assurance of sins forgiven, no power of sin broken, no satisfaction of heart. I found I could not save myself and came to the only One who could save me. "Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find".

No one, it appears, stood with him on that Friday night in 1908. Alone he confessed Jesus Christ and alone resigned his membership of the society. Later he would write: ‘I have yet to meet the first Spiritist who bows the knee to Christ and owns Him as Lord’. His testimony should not be interpreted as though a prolonged inner dissatisfaction preceded his conversion, for he speaks elsewhere of being suddenly struck down in the midst of rebellion.

Christ ‘apprehended him when he was altogether unconscious of his deep need, and had no desire whatever for a Saviour’.


Pink had no doubt that his conversion, like every true conversion, was a deliverance from the power of Satan, and now the nature of that Satanic power appeared to him as it had never done before. His eyes were opened to the real meaning of spiritism.

It was true some clairvoyants might be simply tricksters, but that had not been his position and he was sure ‘the whole phenomenon cannot be accounted for on natural grounds’.

Many of the spirit-communicated messages were real, but they came not from the dead but from demons impersonating the departed. God had called him from the deepest darkness and, if he dwelt on the subject in later years, something of the darkness could come back to him.

In 1919 when he had a prolonged correspondence with a person caught in spiritism, and seemingly seeking deliverance, he commented to a friend: ‘This correspondence has weighed on me: Satan is trying hard to use it as a hindrance. It has always affected me detrimentally whenever I have turned my mind and attention back to Spiritism’.

Called to Serve

For two years after this spiritual crisis Pink continued in his daily work, but in his bedroom it was now his Bible that was ever open. Ten chapters of Scripture were read daily, plus one particular portion to which he would give particular study, ‘ten minutes or more’, through seven days.

In addition, he would take one special verse each day for meditation, carrying it with him on a slip of paper to which he would turn in spare moments, ‘asking God to open to me its spiritual meaning and to write it on my heart’.

Recommending the practice to others, he was to say, ‘The writer memorised the whole epistle of Ephesians on the street-car, a verse at a time’. On days when he was free of business he could spend up to ten hours in his new delight with the Bible.

In part this intense study of Scripture was connected with a conviction that his lifework lay in the service of the gospel. In a brief summary of his early life, written in 1934, he said, ‘I was born in England in 1886, and at the age of sixteen entered business, in which God granted me considerable success. In 1908 he saved me in my bedroom. I knew right then he had also called me to be his servant.’

In that same year he had first addressed a Christian gathering. He recalled in 1948: ‘Forty years have passed since the editor preached his first sermon. It was on the words, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" etc. (Romans 1:16), and to a congregation of over 700 people. Though it was not the first time we had spoken in public, yet it was quite an ordeal, especially as it was in our home-town, Nottingham.’

May God give us more Pink's in this 21st Century.

In HIs Grace,

Wade Burleson


Scotte Hodel said...

It's one thing to profess publicly at church, another to do so among one's peers in an environment that is hostile to the gospel.

May Christ grant us all that boldness and conviction!

Wayne Smith said...


Thanks for sharing this story on A.W.Pink. Our old church had all of Pink's books in the library.

One of the great witnesses for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Wish I could visit Spartanburg with you.

Our Prayers are with You and Yours.

In Jesus Name Wayne

Christopher Redman said...

I love Pink's books. I still reread "The Sovereignty of God" from time to time along with "The Attributes of God".

I never knew anything about his conversion or life before his conversion. This post has been benificial to me.

Thank you,

The Fletcher Family said...

Six years ago I am studying the bible each day the way I always had while serving "gloriously" at the mega church I attended at the time. Boy was I a big shot...teaching evangelism, Adult Bible Study Coordinator, AWANA's Director, etc...etc...etc...blah, blah, blah. And then, one day it hit me that every Christian said they believed in the sovereignty of God. Alarms went off like never before. I knew something wasn't right. Any time every person in any group believes in the same thing...something ain't right. So I wanted to find out what it meant when someone says they believe in this sovereignty. What did others mean when they said they believed in it? What do I mean when I say the same thing? Do I really mean sovereign...or just kinda, sorta sovereign? My first read...AWP's The Sovereignty of God. My life changed as radically as my theology did. All glory to God as opposed to 99% of the glory to God. I know serve as a missionary with the IMB and I am way out of my comfort zone...and I love comfort! Thank you for a stroll down memory lane.

Dull Iron

Writer said...


Thanks for an edifying post. I have read Pink's biography but had forgot about his pre-Christian life.

A. W. Pink wrote some of the greatest books ever. "Sovereignty of God," "Attributes of God," and "The Life of Elijah," are some of my favorites. His "Studies in Scripture" newsletters are wonderful as well and can be found in various reprints.

His theology was a work in progress as well. He was a staunch dispensationalist in his early years but changed to a pre-mill post-trib view in later years.

It's sad to say that as brilliant as Pink was, he couldn't hold down a pastorate for long.



dave said...


I'm new to your blog and am appreciative of your spirit of cooperation.

In regards to Spartanburg, if you're looking for some local cuisine, try the Beacon. It is definitely a unique experience.



. said...

I will be in the area at NGU. Allen McWhite has invited me to be a part of the missions conference there. It would be great to see you if we can work it out.
I will gladly meet you for a meal. But I have to put a warning in front of Dave's reccomendation of the Beacon . .GREAT food, but only eat there after you have bought a roll of Tums, and only if you will be near a restroom! :)

dave said...

Yeah, I did leave that part out.. sorry :)

wadeburleson.org said...


I would love to meet with as well.

The IMB Hotel is the Spartanburg Marriott at Renaissance Park (864)-596-1211. Feel free to call and leave a message sometime Monday.

Alex F said...

Wade -

In seminary someone gave me a couple of Pink's books that, sadly, I haven't yet read. Your post has encouraged me to do so. I'm interested to know about his time in Spartanburg as I am now nearby in Greenville. Could you rec. a good biography?

Thanks for the interesting read.

wadeburleson.org said...


Obtain Ian Murray's biography of Pink, as well as Pink's autobiograhy. Both are available through your local bookstore.

Rick Stones said...

I love Pink's writing. His "Gleaning" series in Genesis and Exodus are really cool! He may go a little over the top with his typology analysis, but I love that sort of thing anyway.

But, I heard Alistair Begg on his radio program tell a story about the end of Pink's life - how he didn't "finish well". I can't remember any of the details, but was just wondering if anyone knew the story?

Mike Jeshurun said...

Dear Brothers, I came to understand the Reformed Faith thirteen years ago. But I truly did not really understand it like I should have until I read A.W.Pink’s ‘The Sovereignty of God’! I was first given the compromised condensed form of this book published by the ‘Banner of truth’, and I was so blessed. But sadly I had not eaten the whole meal until I read the complete book published by The Bakers!

I said this then, and I’ll say it again – There is no writer who is familiar with the Scriptures and is faithful to it as A.W.Pink! He stands in a class of his own and has an insight into the scriptures which is second to none!

Unlike most writers of our day, Pink never wrote anything just to be writing. He really had something to say. Not only that, but what sets Pink apart from the rest is that He saw the present Christendom of his day for what it really was….APOSTATE! And in obedience to his Lord he steered clear of it and admonished others to do so.

He was no half-baked, pusillanimous, milquetoast, string for a backbone ‘panty waist’ like the majority of the ‘Reformed’ preachers today! Like His Master and His Apostle Paul, he could care less what people thought of him as long as he was faithful to His God!

A lot of folks who read Pink and quote him today do not really know him. They ought to read his letters to understand where he really stood!

Oh may God give us more men like A.W.Pink!

Anonymous said...

Pink also preached against evangelism. Odd, we are suppose to preach repentance and faith towards God. So how can you do that unless you go out into the world? well I guess the proper response is to hide your lamp under a bushel like Pink did! A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgement. proverbs 18:1 Come off it people, Pink couldn't deal with life and became a useless hermit! He couldn't get over himself!

Anonymous said...

Chris, you need to do your own homework not repeat his critics without looking at his own words. The work he did on the Studies in the Scriptures has nourished countless Christians and the church has been blessed. God blocked the door to a public ministry toward the end of his life. He sought to be a pastor but could not go along with the Hyper-Calvinists. The Presbyterians would not let him preach there because he was a Baptist. God gave him the gift of writing and followed God's plan for his life with his faithful wife beside him. In that way he has blessed pastors and the church in a way a man with a public ministry may not have done.

You must have him mixed up with someone else. He did not preach against evangelism! You really need to read more about him before making such accusations against someone who heard from his Master, "Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord!".

He was converted out of Spiritism and preached the gospel at a spiritism meeting when he was a brand new Christian! Studies on the Scriptues are online for anyone to read.
His quote, ""O may God help us to maintain the balance of truth!! There is something more in this Book, brothers and sisters, beside election, and particular redemption, and the new birth. They are there and I would not say one word to weaken or to repudiate them, but that is not all that is in this Book.There is a human side.There is the man's responsibility. There is the sinners repentance. There is the sinners believing in Christ. There is the pressing of the Gospel upon the unsaved. And I want to tell you frankly that a church that does not evangelize will fossilize. Numbers of them that once had a healthy existence are now no more. And some others are already dead, but they are not yet buried; And I believe one of the main reasons for this is this- they failed at the vital point of evangelism. If a church does not evangelize it will fossilize." - A.W. Pink"