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Pink: The Sovereignty of God

As I mentioned earlier I’m wading back into Arthur Pink’s 1918 book The Sovereignty of God. This is one book, G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy (1908) being another, that makes for better quoting than it does reading. I am sometimes given to wonder whether anyone today, a hundred years later, actually reads these books, let alone understands them, or whether they are better browsed or mined for quotes.

Chesterton’s book is difficult in part because he rarely ends a paragraph talking about the same thing he was talking about when he started at the top of the paragraph. Pink is difficult because his style consists mostly of asking and then answering questions, not so much challenging the reader to think as demanding that he agree. He mostly assumes what he claims as implicit in his premise; he doesn’t consider counter-arguments. He instead appeals to caricatures and straw men. It’s a mess, and an unhelpful mess.

His introduction consists mostly of asking the question “who is regulating affairs on this earth today — God, or the Devil?” and responding with various flourishes, none of which entertain the possibility that this isn’t a reasonable question, and none of which actually answer the question. Pink, so far as I can tell, never entertains the thought that God meant for people to be free, or that God could make a world that had both a grand plan and personal freedom.

What worries me reading this sort of thing is this: I wonder if the world has changed so much in the last hundred years that it is impossible to read hundred-year-old books and draw anything more from them than the occasional well-turned phrase. I’d rather believe that these books are outliers. But of course I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just not anywhere near the book’s intended audience.

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