Clark Pinnock Passes on to Glory

August 16th, 2010 / 55 Comments

One of the more influential and controversial Evangelical theologians in recent decades passed away Sunday afternoon, August 15, 2010.

Clark Pinnock was a giant in theology. His theological exploration inspired me and many others to follow the Spirit’s leading in seeking truth about God and creation.

I agree with much of what Clark proposed theologically in the latter years of his life.  In fact, I’ve written extensively about Clark’s version of Open theology in past blogs. And one of my new books, The Nature of Love: A Theology, explores what I like about Clark’s thought, although I do propose some ways I think Open and Relational theology could be improved.

But some other aspects of Clark’s life have been especially exemplary. I’ll list four:

  1.      1. Clark was not afraid to change his mind. He began his academic career as a quasi-fundamentalist with strong Calvinist leanings. He changed his mind about how we ought to read the Bible, how he should think of God’s nature, and what God knew about the possible future. I appreciated his honesty in his quest for strong theology!

  2.      2. Clark was unafraid to draw from many sources in his theological quest. While the Bible was his primary tool, he dipped in Arminian theology, Calvinist theology, process theology, Trinitarian theology, and creation theology, among others. The best theology can draw from diverse sources, while keeping a coherence amidst generative differences.

  3.      3. Clark was humble. Although he surely had convictions about how we should think theologically, he never presented himself as having all things figured out. When he and I disagreed about some issues, he was always ready to hear me out and learn from me. This made me more open to learning from him.

  4.      4. Clark was creative up to the end. His scholarly and devotional output was amazing! Although Alzheimer’s disease eventually took over his life, he participated in several projects with me in his final years. In fact, two of his last essays are printed in books I edited: “Evangelical Theology after Darwin,” in Creation Made Free, and “A Cosmology of Love,” in Love Among Us.

I plan to attend Clark’s funeral this week. My friend, Jason White, passed along some details you may want to know if you also plan to attend the funeral or send a card to Clark’s wife, Dorothy.

The funeral will be Thursday evening, August 19, at Little Bethel Community Church. The church is located at 320 Paling Avenue Hamilton ON Canada L8H 5J9. Send cards to Dorothy Pinnock at this address.

I would have liked to discuss more issues with Clark. He was a good friend. I hope one day to continue our conversation in heaven.

Today as I think of Clark’s life, legacy, and our friendship, I’m reminded of the refrain of a hymn I sang as a youngster:

     When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.

     When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!

Add comment


Hans Deventer

Thanks for sharing the sad news with us, Tom. He will be missed, but I also realize how the disease had stolen his mind and how he is now healed again.

His contributions to theology should not be forgotten. And certainly won’t by me.

George Chiahotny

Tom,thank you for a wonderful testimony of the man that Clark was. Dorothy is holding up as well as can be expected but understandably she is devastated by Clark’s death. Please hold her in your prayers and pray for healing for her soul and a spirit that is receptive to the leading of the HOly Spirit. Hopefully we can meet at the remembrance service

Amos Yong

Here’s to the memory & celebration of Clark Pinnock, who taught us all about the eternal and relational dance of the Spirit of the Triune God!

Maxwell Ryan

I appreciate receiving your tribute to Clark, as well as details of the funeral, which I plan to attend. As well, thank you for contributing to my recent article about Clark in “ChristianWeek” newspaper. As the old gospel song says, “Further along we’ll know all about it…”

Linda Mercadante

I did not know!  This is such sad news. I did not know that he was sick.  He was the main reason I became a theologian. I considered both of them prime mentors and friends.
Linda Mercadante

Brint Montgomery

He was a very kind, and flexibly-minded man.  Thanks for writing this, Tom.

Kerry Huffman

So sorry to hear this news, Tom! I’m so grateful that you introduced me to his work through your class! I’ll keep you and Clark’s family in my prayers as you grieve.

Dr. Marty Folsom

I had him for Systematic Theology II. I will never forget how he taught me to ask what is missing in a text. We were using Erickson’s Christian Theology: 5 chapters on the work of the cross, a page and a half on the Resurrection. “What does that say” he asked. I will miss him but not forget….

John McKenna

With many others, many I join in giving thanks to God for the life and work of Clark Pinnock. We met only twice, once in Canada and once at Azusa Pacific University, but I would testify also to the generous and probing spirit of this man. We talked each time of my mentor T.F. Torrance, who passed last December, and Clark expressed always his deep interest in the relationship between theology and science that was his and Tom’s concerns. We miss them.

“Doc” Irving Laird

Tom (My Dear “Doctor Love”)

Thanks for the update on Dr. Pinnock. Blessings on you as you travel up to Canada for his memorial service.

I try to read each book you write and you give me. Half of them are rather “slow read” for me. However, I am blessed to live here with you and your great family. I enjoy seeing you in Nampa First Early Church whenever you are in town. I rejoice, like yesterday, when I look across the gym during the worship service and your hand or hands are often lifted up in Praise to our Lord of mercy and grace. (I understand more fully than five years ago when I went to ENC as interim chaplain (at 75 years of age) that the theology students there kept telling me how much they missed “Dr Love” which NNU had stolen from them. You don’t get that title just because you lecture on the subject all the time. You get it because you really know how to love people.)

I am one of the recipients whenever I see you. I too love you AND your wonderful family.

I wanted to state these thoughts on your public blog because many who read you know me. I know at least half of those who have responded to your your various blogs to date.  I am not a theological scholar but I have spent the past 65 years very closely connected and involved with a a Nazarene campus and 80 years very closely connected and involved in a local Nazarene Church.

I’m very thankful for your desire to keep a strong deliberate writing connection with both the laity and academic community within. IMHO if ever our church needed to endeavor to really discuss and try to understand some challenges that face us such as words like “open”, “process”, “emerging”, “relational” etc.that may be “hot” on the current theological scene as it seems to be now in some circles.(“Hot” has two different meanings in this regard.)

I have said enough. Above all keep the Joy as you journey with us, old and young. It reaches out more than you know or need to know

I have a copy of Nouwen’s newest book that my daughter and husband just completed “HENRI NOUWEN (FOLLWING THE MOVEMENTS OF THE SPIRIT) – SPIRITUAL FORMATION.” I’ll drop it off at your office. Write Rebecca and /or Michael with your response. 

I am blessed to live here with you, attend the same church service, fellowship with your family,

Doc Laird

David Steeves

please be advised the location MAY change, we (Deacons) are having a meeting tonight to settle up on details.
I will pass on info as it becomes clear


Dave S from little Bethel community church

Glenn Toering Boyes

clark was a wonderful, loving, and caring person first, and a thoughtful theologian who inspired me to think outside the box.

Hal Cauthron

Thanks for letting us know about Clark’s passing.  I came to appreciate him while participating in a CCCU Faculty Development Workshop in June, 1986, in which he was one of the primary presenters/facilitators.

Dale Coulter

I loved Clark’s approach to theology, and the gentle and humble spirit behind the man. His vision is now deeper still. . .

David Di Sabatino

Thank you for writing this.

I had the privilege of being educated while Clark was in his prime. He had just finished The Openness of God book and was working on Flame of Love.

What a lovely and gracious man. He will sorely be missed. I loved him dearly for the contribution he had in shaping my mind and heart and I will always be grateful for having crossed paths with him. I am honored to have called him friend.


Tony Richie

I met Clark Pinnock only after having read several of his books previously. I’d always been impressed with his obvious intelligence and ability to articulate in writing complex ideas in bold, understandable terms. When I met him, then I became even more impressed with his personal piety, with his sincere and humble to devotion to his Lord and the Word. May we all have such epitaph!

Charles Cherry

I met Clark Pinnock at a Stone-Campbell Journal conference a few years ago. I had read some of his writings, which I thought were very profound, and which had great meaning for me, especially as I wrestled with the issue of God’s sovereignty and the open view of the future. I was greatly looking forward to hearing from him, as he was the scheduled keynote speaker.

As the conference got underway, I was sitting in a small room with about twenty other people, listening to a young scholar present a paper. During the Q&A, I was about to ask a question when a rather tall, lanky, elderly gentleman, sitting in the chair directly in front of me, spoke up and asked a question very similar to what I had wanted to ask.

As he exchanged dialog with the presenter, I thought to myself, “I like the way that old man thinks!”

I had assumed he was just another one of the attendees like myself; he had a very humble attitude and his back and forth with the presenter was very gracious. He had none of the “airs” that some of the professors and scholars put on at these conferences.

Imagine my shock when I got to the first main session, anxious to hear the keynote speaker, Mr. Clark Pinnock, and I saw it was the same man who was sitting in front of me just a few minutes earlier! I was amazed as he addressed the crowd with the very same humble and gracious attitude as I had heard from him earlier in the day.

Here was a man of towering intellect (the keynote speaker of the conference no less!) who was yet humble enough to sit in small crowded rooms and not only listen to others present their papers, but to interact with them on a scholar-to-scholar level, really intent on learning something new!

I will never forget that conference, and the man who made it so worthwhile for me. That weekend Mr. Clark Pinnock showed me what a true Christian scholar and gentleman looks like.

Denis O. Lamoureux

I’ll never forget a lecture Dr. Pinnock gave on his book _The Scripture Principle_ in 1988 at Wycliffe College, U of T. He changed my hermeneutical approach forever and for the better. Thank you Clark!


I met Dr Pinnock only once and I was really impressed with his demeanor and humility (it was during the major debate over Open Theism at the national ETS meeting several years ago). Though I do not agree with many of his views, I was impressed and found him to be a delightful individual.

My prayers go out to his family and close friends for his passing.

Scott Horrell

Clark’s honesty, genuine humility, personable literary finesse, and creativity of thought for our Lord have enriched us all. He is free at last.

Larry Shelton

So sorry to hear of Clark’s passing. He was a giant for evangelical theology. His depth and breadth of perception among various theologies…Calvinist, Arminian, open theism, and a progressive eschatology were vastly instructive to me until the present. I had the privilege of hosting him in my office in past years. His loss leaves us the poorer, but much wiser through his work.

John H. McNassor

Clark’s book on the Holy Spirit, “The Flame of Love” had a significant impact on my thinking.  Like many of P.T. Forsyth’s works, of which his style reminds me, this is a relatively short book which packs a big theological “whallop.”  One of the cutting edge issues this work deals with is the engagement between “Evangelical” and “Orthodox” (as in Eastern) theology.  May light perpetual shine on him. John McNassor

Dong-Sik Park

I’m sorry to hear this news. Without Dr. Pinnock, open theism would be impossible. Thanks for your reflection about him, Dr. Oord.

David Steeves

ok the location IS confirmed as being at Little Bethel at 7 pm
(see google map on website)
We can seat 100 inside and have ordered 150 extra chairs for outside overflow.
Basement to have audio/video feed, outside to have audio feed only. Parking lot will be closed for overflow. light refreshments behind the church.
Bless you
Dave S – Little Bethel Deacon

Paul D. Adams

My first ever apologetics book was Pinnock’s Set Forth Your Case and it won me over to the study of apologetics. I recall his sobering look and serious, humble reflective looks during the Open Theism debates at ETS in 2000. So sad to hear he’s gone. May God’s grace richly be his now and forever more.


I once met this humble theologian. He will be missed down here, but will have some interesting conversations with God, I am sure.

Barry Callen

Clark was a precious brother and mentor. It was my privilege to research and write his intellectual biography, “Journey Toward Renewal.” That process added to my own spiritual and intellectual journey. I have every confidence that the Lord loved so deeply by Clark is now caring for him in ways more wonderful than our mere words can describe.

Jeromey Martini

I will miss Clark as an inspirational mentor and an example of how evangelical theology could otherwise be. Deepest sympathies to Dorothy and Sarah.

Stephen Green

Thanks Tom. Clark was a creative and courageous thinker. I have benefited much from his work.

Skip Horton-Parker

Back in the day, I was deeply impressed with Clark’s “Wideness in God’s Mercy,” and gave away many copies to friends and relatives. I continue to use it today in my teaching. His views on world religions and hermeneutics helped me hold on to my identity as an Evangelical at a time when I felt I might have to let it slip away. In 2001, when I heard that he was going to be a professor in Regent’s fledgling PhD program, I was motivated enough to make inquiry about the program—and that is why I am there today. I met him twice and tried to express my gratitude to him, but his self-effacing humility made it difficult for me to get much past “thanks.” In a special way, he remains one of my spiritual fathers. Thanks, Tom, for telling us about his transition.

Peter Robinson

I’m currently writing my Ph.D. thesis about Pinnock’s spiritual experience. I sense in his books his burning desire for more of the Holy Spirit, in his life and in ours. Now, like Aquinas just before he died, he can say that all his glimpses through the veil, and his writings about them, are as straw compared to the “glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). We carry on the torch…

Phil Enarson

Yes, it is sad to hear of the passing of a friend, and Clark was a friend to me, especially in late 79, early 80.  I was struggling spiritually and intellectually.  He invited me to audit a class he was teaching at TST in Toronto. Over the six months we interacted I was graciously and yes, humbly led back from the wilderness into the community of believers. Intellectual giant that Clark was did not prevent him from exercising his gift of pastoral/spiritual direction.  When once again the light shone brightly in my life Clark said we should celebrate. And what was his idea of celebration? He bought me an ice cream cone!  You are and will be sorrily missed Clark. May light perpetual ever shine on you!  My prayers go out to Dorothy and the family during this time of great loss.

Greg Crofford

The study of prevenient grace has been my passion for these past several years. Not coincidentally, prevenient grace also was an important concept for Clark Pinnock. May the Lord give rest to his soul.

Roger E. Olson

As I sit in my office this Tuesday afternoon, just having heard of my friend Clark’s death, tears well up in my eyes over the loss of such a giant of influence on my own theological pilgrimage.  I read Clark long before I met him and knew all along I would like him.  We became friends and correspondents.  One of the greatest compliments (and richly undeserved) that I have ever received was when I asked Clark if he would ever write a systematic theology and he said “You’ve already done it for me.”  I know he was just being kind, but his kindness was a hallmark of his personality and of his way of handling criticisms.  Clark was sometimes called a “moving target” by some critics, but I saw him as a theological trailblazer.  He was to me the paradigm of a postconservative evangelical theologian.  He will be greatly missed.

Jean Culver

I read a book of Clark Pinnock’s, “Holy Spirit Theology” twice, it was a “borrowed” book.  I loved it, and it fed my mind marvelously.  It was a great blessing!

Ward Gasque

Clark Pinnock offered us an example of theology that is concerned with the heart as much as with the head.  Laurel and I have known Clark and Dorothy since 1965, when we arrived in Manchester shortly after they had left.  We managed to bump into one another regularly and then spent three years together as colleagues at the then-new-and-experimental Regent College in Vancouver.  We kept up with one another over the years by occasional face to face encounters and through the various communications we received from mutual friends.  I wish we could be at the memorial service, but we cannot.  I request that all of our mutual friends give both Dorothy and Sara a Ward Gasque-sized hug when you see them.  Laurel and Michelle join in sending our love.

Josh Nims

Wow.  I only discovered Clark Pinnock in the last few months.  But he has been influential I have been wrestling with the different views of theology for a few months now, and Pinnock’s work has raised some great questions.  I hope to meet him in heaven.

Ray Roennfeldt

In 1990 I completed my doctoral dissertation on Clark’s paradigm shift in his view of biblical authority and reliability.  During this time of research I had the rare opportunity to visit with Clark and Dorothy in their home where I plied Clark with a myriad of questions.  He was a true systematician who allowed his convictions regarding Scripture to seep down into every aspect of his theology.  Clark Pinnock was first a servant of Jesus Christ, and then a theological mentor who will be sorely missed by us all.  My prayers are with Dorothy, Sarah, and Clark’s other loved ones.

Ray Roennfeldt, Avondale College, Australia


I first heard of Clark when he did a theological conference on the openness of God about 11 years ago in the UK. His refreshing honesty, integrity and scholarly pursuit of truth had a mark impact on me. I read everything he wrote and then one day when he was lecturing in Manchester at the Didsbury Lectures I got to take him to the Pub. It was great to talk to him about his time in Manchester studying under FF Bruce, the church he went to and some of the ordinary things he liked to do.. Bless this man of humility and humanity.

Jeff Clarke

Thank-you Clark for your positive influence in my life and journey. It was a pleasure having you as a professor and working with you as well at MacDiv. You will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.

Edward Fudge

I join you in mourning the loss of our brother Clark, a man of courage, humility and uncommon grace.
  Whether all his ideas were right or wrong, his heart was right as seen consistently in his life and that is what finally counts most. He pointed us to Christ, relied on the Spirit and sought to glorify God. May God so gift us all!
  As a recipient of his kindness and encouragement for the past 40 years, I will miss Clark, and my prayers are with Dorothy and family today and in days to come.

John Sanders

Clark meant a great deal to me both as a friend and fellow theologian. His voracious reading from across the theological spectrum, his willingness to explore new ideas to see whether or not they were worthwhile, and his kind spirit are models for me. Clark loved to talk shop with friends at conferences and loved to laugh as we made fun of one another.

He was a key figure in the work of reforming evangelical theology and his voice will be missed.

My prayers are with his wonderful wife Dorothy whom Clark loved so much.


John Connell

It was my privilege to study under Clark Pinnock while at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and to later follow his explorations through his writings. I am a lover of Christ today because his life gave me permission to see God always greater than the current theoretical containers. Though a wonderfully brilliant and disciplined scholar he would not settle for just knowing about God, he lived and called us to live as participants with God in His kingdom. I grieve greatly but as one hope.

Gerald Fink

I just read this sad news. What a loss for all of us. I had the privilege to take courses with Clark at Regent College and Schloss Mittersill in Austria. I remember his graciousness and warm heart towards us students. I am thankful to have met Dorothy too at their home back in the 1990s. Clark has been a model to me as a theologian, who thought deeply but also lived what he believed. I will miss his inspiring thinking. My prayers are with Dorothy and all who have been close to him.

Edmund Bloedow

Clark and I were undergraduates together at the University of Toronto, and while he did his Phd at Manchester, I did mine i Germany.  From the first time I met him, it was clear that he would be an intellectual giant—which became confirmed over and over again in his prolific writing and penetrating thinking.
His brilliant career was immensely enhanced by his wonderful wife, Dorothy, and my deepest sympathies go out to her and Sarah and the other members of the family.  We remained friends over all the years, and the last time I was a recipient of his and Dorothy’s hospitality in their home in Hamilton, he was as humble and interesting as the first time I met him.

Phil Parshall

I had the privilege to be with Clark at Trinity Seminary in 1972.  He was a wonderful man of God who mesmerized the campus with his theological brilliance… and gracious, humble spirit.  What a unique combination!  Clark made it easier for Christians to probe and question without feeling condemned as heretics.

In the train of Clark is a powerful fragrance of LOVE.  Few do so well.

Phyllis Wiener

Dear Dorothy…On this quiet Saturday afternoon I thought of you (not for the first time in all these years)…This time i was prompted to Google your name to see if i could contact you…I was so saddened to learn that Clark had passed away…My heart is so with you…I can still hear Clark’s gentle voice and yours, as well, so clearly…I honestly don’t know what happened to create the disconnect but I do believe when you love someone, they stay in your heart forever…And you are in mine… still prefer the phone to e-mails and will try to contact you (though I don’t have your number)…Mine is 212-475-6425…So much has happened in both our lives over these many years.You can see a bit about what I’ve been up to for the past 7 years

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Remembering Clark Pinnock – dwight j. friesen

[…] Thomas Oord: Clark Pinnock passing onto glory […]

Remembering Clark Pinnock – dwight j. friesen

[…] Thomas Oord: Clark Pinnock passing onto glory […]

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