The Scripture Principle

Clark Pinnock’s precarious balance between openmindedness and doctrinal instability.

Any work by Clark Pinnock, now professor of systematic theology at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, deserves the attention of the theological world, and especially of evangelicals. His most recent book, The Scripture Principle (Harper & Row, 1984), is certain to be much attended. It is a very ambitious attempt to present the authority and inspiration of Scripture in a comprehensive and positive manner, and to defend it against many modern attacks. But The Scripture Principle will not be received without controversy. Pinnock “calls the shots” as he sees them, and he believes that evangelicals have been evasive or unconvincing about a number of matters involving the nature of Scripture.

This theologian, a lucid and trenchant communicator, seems to thrive in an adversary posture. He moves into his subject like a man cutting a trail through a thicket with great machete slashes on the right and on the left. The consequence is that Pinnock provides delightful reading when he spars with common adversaries. He raises some hackles when the reader’s view appears to be under attack. Pinnock’s interpretation of biblical inerrancy (differing markedly from his earlier writings on the subject) is likely to raise the most hackles. In the assessment of Carl F. H. Henry, with which I am inclined to agree, Pinnock “retains inerrancy as a concept, but seems to thin it out almost to the breaking point.”

An Ambitious Scope

Pinnock has undertaken to discuss in a single volume the Scripture’s unique claim to divine authority, articulated through human language and personalities, ...

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