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Two Theologians No Longer with Us — Yet Still Speaking to Us

posted by Scot McKnight

What did you like most about these theologians? 

Clark Pinnock, by Doug Koop
 Clark H. Pinnock’s life journey is over. The influential and often controversial evangelical theologian died unexpectedly August 15 of a heart attack. He was 73. In March, the long-time professor of systematic theology at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, had announced he was withdrawing from public life and revealed that he was battling Alzheimer’s disease. 
 It was a difficult admission for a man whose mercurial mind and openness to the Holy Spirit led him to stake out theological positions that challenged evangelical orthodoxies. Renowned for exploring the frontiers of biblical truth, he was reputed to study carefully, think precisely, argue forcefully, and shift his positions willingly if he discovered a more fruitful pathway of understanding. He said he preferred to be known, “not as one who has the courage of his convictions, but one who has the courage to question them and to change old opinions which need changing.” 
 
Donald Bloesch, by Trevor Persaud

Donald G. Bloesch, a prominent evangelical scholar in the United Church of Christ (UCC) and an advisory editor at Christianity Today, died on Tuesday in Dubuque, Iowa.

Bloesch, who was professor emeritus at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, was well known as a voice of renewal in the United Church of Christ.

“He gave us not only an understanding of the deep perversity in the mainline church, but theological skills to be effective witnesses in a difficult time,” said David Runnion-Bareford, executive director of the Biblical Witness Fellowship, a spiritual renewal group within the UCC. “It is ironic that this evangelical was the most widely read and respected UCC theologian of his generation.”



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John-Mark Mullan

posted August 29, 2010 at 3:47 pm


I was sorry to hear about Clark Pinnock’s illness and death. I found his book “The Scripture Principle” to be a breath of fresh air – I had been wading through lots of stodgy stuff about inspiration and revelation and inerrancy, and a lot of it was very logical and carefully argued, but I felt I was drowning in abstractions. For me, Pinnock’s writing was full of clear reasoning, but also full of common sense and heart and humanity. It clarified my thinking about Scripture but also gave me new heart and encouragement.
I couldn’t follow him down the open theology road, but even when reading that stuff, I felt like I was dialoguing with a smart, gracious and generous-spirited friend. I think we need more like him.



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Allan R. Bevere

posted August 29, 2010 at 4:12 pm


We who remain now stand on their shoulders. Thanks be to God for their life and witness!



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Allan R. Bevere

posted August 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm


Scot,
I suppose I should have answered your question. In a nutshell, what I liked about Pinnock was his willingness to ask the difficult questions and explore in areas where many evangelicals simply did not want to go. I need to confess that I am one evangelical theologian who is quite open to open theology, and that is due in large part to Pinnock’s work.
For me Bloesch was the consummate scholar always attempting to go on to perfection. He would publish something in theoogy that was very competent and well written, and then would proceed almost immediately after publication to begin revising to make an excellent piece of work even better.



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MattR

posted August 29, 2010 at 7:03 pm


Pinnock will be missed!
He is one of those names that we haven’t heard enough in recent years (partially, I’m sure due to his health)… but he had a big impact on my theology, and is one of those guys that doesn’t get enough credit for helping set the stage for the emerging/missional movement.
I’m one who found hope in his challenge (using Scripture) to Platonic/traditional philosophy’s framing of our view of God: ‘Openess of God,’ ‘Most Moved Mover,’ etc.
However, I have to say, his chapter on ‘Spirit Christology’ in his book ‘Flame of Love’ is HUGE! Pinnock helped introduce me (as a theology undergrad in the 90s) to a more holistic view of salvation. And influenced by the Eastern Fathers, a trinitarian view of salvation, especially the work of the Spirit.
And of course, I respect theologians who are not ‘dogmatic,’ but rather open to the Spirit… “one who has the courage to question them and to change old opinions which need changing.” Seems like that quote is a great tribute to the man and his teaching!



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Rachel H. Evans

posted August 29, 2010 at 9:44 pm


I discovered Clark Pinnock’s book “A Wideness in God’s Mercy” in the middle of a serious faith crisis in my early twenties. It made such a positive impact on me that I sent Clark an email thanking him for reminding me that “God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34)
I appreciate that he was a theologian willing to change his mind, listen to his detractors, and handle conflict with grace. He seemed transformed by the love that he preached…and I am so grateful



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