I just came back from the funeral of a dear friend and mentor of mine, Clark Pinnock, held this week in Hamilton, ON. I met him when I was a student at Regent College, wondering how I — a journalist, feminist, and former atheist — ended up in a Christian graduate school. I wasn’t sure I’d last very long in that environment where there were no female professors and many still believed in ‘the subordination of women.’ But only when I heard that one of the professors had a wife who was a feminist, did I think there was a chance for me there. I figured I’d have to ask for Clark as my advisor, because of his wife, Dorothy. They became friends and mentors right away and were unfailingly warm, supportive, and generous to all of us. Clark was only at that school a few years, but he made a profound mark on everyone he taught. Clark was a theologian and, when he became ill recently, had been retired for a few years from McMaster Divinity School. Clark was not ‘place-able,’ which is one reason I really respected him. For some, Clark was too conservative — one of my professors at Princeton called him a ‘fundamentalist.’ For others, he was so truth-seeking as to be called a ‘heretic’ – and many evangelicals did just that. Yet whoever met him could not deny that he was a vital, generous, brilliant, spiritual person who lived with integrity, dignity and joy in God. It’s funny how tricky the Spirit is sometimes, masquarading in individuals who puzzle and delight. The upshot is that those of us who feel we must only get our wisdom and knowledge from ‘approved’ people are missing out on so much. That goes for progressives, liberals, and free-thinkers, as much as it goes for conservative types. When I’ve been in conservative theological circles, the progressives are clearly portrayed as heinous, enemies, destroyers of truth. But, oddly, when I’m in progressive circles, I hear very similar things about conservatives. It gets very tiresome, like an endless loop from different vantage points. The Spirit can’t be bothered with such constraints. Yes, the Spirit is a very tricky character Herself! Clark is enjoying her company right now. Save a place at the table for us, Clark. Get the party started.Follow Dr. Mercadante!
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