Charles Grandison Finney

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by stilllearning, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. stilllearning

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    Some here have called Finney a false prophet.
    I wouldn’t go that far.

    Charles Grandison Finney's life began in 1792 in the town of Warren, Connecticut. When he was two years old, Finney's parents, like many New Englanders of their day, heeded the call of the frontier and moved to Oneida County in the wilderness of western New York. Although the community had a common school which Finney attended, he and his neighbors had little access to religious services or books. According to his memoirs, written while he was president of Oberlin College, Finney's domestic life did no more to promote religious feeling:

    "My parents were neither of them professors of religion, and, I believe, among our neighbors there were very few religious people. I seldom heard a sermon, unless it was an occasional one from some travelling minister, or some miserable holding forth of an ignorant preacher who would sometimes be found in that country. I recollect very well that the ignorance of the preachers that I heard was such, that the people would return from meeting and spend a considerable time in irrepressible laughter at the strange mistakes which had been made and the absurdities which had been advanced."

    All changed, however, in the autumn of 1821. At age twenty-nine, a student of the law in Adams, New York, Finney was saved. One Wednesday morning Charles Finney woke up a questioning and sometimes scornful observer of the religious life around him. The following day, when asked by a client if he were ready to try the case scheduled for that day, Finney was able to reply, "I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause, I cannot plead yours." (Memoirs, 24)

    The ministry which began that day would change the face of American evangelism. Before and after his conversion, Finney rejected the Calvinist doctrine of passive salvation available only to the elect. He believed that God offered Himself to everyone and, most importantly, that one could be saved only through an active acceptance of God's invitation to grace. The sinner chooses to sin just as the penitent chooses to repent.

    To reach as many souls as possible, Finney employed what came to be called "new measures", although many had been used by earlier preachers. These new measures triggered alarm among conservative clergy. Opponents such as Asahel Nettleton were able to list as many as twenty-nine objectionable practices, but the most controversial were: public praying of women in mixed-sex audiences, daily services over a series of days, use of colloquial language by the preacher, the "anxious bench", praying for people by name, and immediate church membership for converts.

    To a student of American culture, Finney is a crucial figure of the Jacksonian era. Finney's influence rose in tandem with that of Andrew Jackson; both addressed the issues of equality of men, and free will and self governance. In his Lectures on Revivals of Religion, delivered to his New York congregation in 1834 and published in book form the following year, Charles Finney takes pains to define a revival. Above all, it is not a miracle in the sense of a physical change brought on solely by God, but a change of mind which, though influences by the Holy Spirit, is ultimately a matter of the individual's free will.

    Ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1824, Finney was soon at odds with conservative clergy. The new measured used by Finney and his followers caused enough alarm among their more orthodox colleagues to be the subject of a convention held at New Lebanon, NY in July, 1827. Motions were made to restrict the New School revivalists, but no definitive anti-new measures resolution was effected. The victory for Finney and his fellows was in emerging relatively unscathed from a confrontation with powerful clergymen like Lyman Beecher.

    In the years following New Lebanon, Finney's ministry moved from small town to big city; he went on to preach in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. In 1835 he began work in Oberlin College and Theological Seminary. He was President of Oberlin College from 1851 to 1866 and although he retired in 1872, Finney kept up his involvement with Oberlin's students until his death in August of 1875.


    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/religion/finney.html


    He might have done some things that I would not have done, but he may have been following the Lord’s instructions!
     
  2. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I would suggest reading a variety of biographies to get a full spectrum of opinions.
     
  3. Ruiz

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  4. stilllearning

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    Hello C4K

    I have read several biographies of Finney: Some in support and some against and chose this particular one, because it seems to be the most evenhanded.
     
  5. stilllearning

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    Hi Ruiz

    I have already read what this site has to say, as is obvious by my profile picture:
    I copied this unflattering picture of Finney from this site, to get the attention of all those who have read from this site.

    The things said in this site, were written by Phillip R. Johnson, and are clearly slanted to paint a distorted & dishonest image of Finney.

    One big clue of the dishonesty of this particular site, is that the largest chuck of it, is under the heading, “Baggage from the Years of Unbelief”:
    Which one of us, don’t have “baggage”, from our years of unbelief?!?

    Another example of the how this site paints a slanted picture of Finney, is the section in it, that quotes someone(a 3rd party), quoting what an associate of Finney said.
    (This is not the way to get at the truth, of anyone.)

    Also, all the “paragraphs” of “quotes from Finney”, that are pasted together from several pages of his actual writings.
    (I can make ANYBODY sound like a false prophet, by doing this.)

    We can kind of get to the heart of Mr.Johnson’s problem with Finney, by this statement he made.....
    “But Finney was too much of a novice to distinguish between biblical, orthodox Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism.”

    Sure enough Finney was a big believer in “free will”, just as all the none Calvinists here are, but this is no reason to unfairly and dishonestly destroy his reputation.

    Here is a site, that further documents the inaccuracies of the site you posted.

    http://www.stopsinning.net/Johnson.htm
    --------------------------------------------------
    This site by Phillip Johnson, has been posted for a little over 10 years now, and should have been removed years ago, but continues to lie about who Finney really was.

    I am sorry to see, that you also have been duped by the lies propagated in this site.
     
  6. Rippon

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    Cory's article is a long one. I don't have the time to tackle it. But he/she is fighting a losing cause. Mr. Finney was a heretic -- one who wouldn't be welcome into the more biblically-sound Arminian churches of today.

    I'll make a guess that Cory is a man. First of all he calls the Westminster Confession of Faith --"the West Minister Confession" several times.That's a not a sign of intelligence regarding Calvinism.

    I only have time for a few items in this posting. CGF's Systematic Theology reads more like disjoined philosophical ramblings.

    Under the heading of Moral Depravity he reagrds the doctrine as "a monstrous and blasphemous dogma." (p.244)

    "This doctrine is a stumbling-block both to the church and the world,infinitely dishonorable to God, and an abobination alike to God and the human intellect,and should be banished from every pulpit, and from every formula of doctrine,and from the world. It is a relic of heathen philosophy, and was foisted in among the doctrines of Christianity..."(p.252)

    He goes on to say that because of the doctrine of moral depravity a "sad stumbling-block" has been laid to the Universalists. He says that Universalists believe that people are constitionally depraved and hence unable to repent. But since God is love God will not send folks to Hell because they don't deserve it. So CGF states:"Strike out the erroneous dogma of a sinful nature, and the whole edifice of Universalism comes to the ground in a moment." (p.252)

    So shall we strike out the biblical doctrine of human depravity for the sake of Universalists?!

    On page 256 he rants on:"The dogma of constitutional moral depravity...is a branch of a grossly false and heathenish philosophy.How infinitely absurd,dangerous,and unjust, then, to embody it in a standard of Christian doctrine..."

    Mr. Finney must have removed Romans five from his Bible altogether.
     
  7. Dr. Bob

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    Cannot imagine a thorough study of this man's life and non-Christian beliefs that would cause anyone to "commend" or even speak posiitively about him. Forgetting the evil that the man did seems like the Italians who after the War wistfully said "Mousolini made the trains run on time".

    In the past 200 years I cannot think of any one individual apart from Joseph Smith who has done more to harm true Christianity than Finney.
     
  8. stilllearning

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    Hi Rippon

    When you mentioned “Cory”, I didn’t know who you were talking about.
    (I hadn’t read the information on his site.)

    When I found that site, I read the first line of the first page, and stopped reading..........
    “It is not my aim in this article to thoroughly discuss or defend the views of Charles Finney. “

    All I took from that sentence, was that he was going to be fair in his assessment of the other link that has been sited about Finney.
    --------------------------------------------------
    You said.......
    Would you care to elaborate on that?
     
  9. stilllearning

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    Hello Dr. Bob

    As you can tell from this thread, I am still on the fence, when it comes to Finney.

    You said........
    Could you please explain to me, exactly how has he harmed Christianity?
    --------------------------------------------------
    I have a book on my shelf, called “The new dictionary of theology”(That I bought new back in 1990), that starts off by calling Finney “the father of modern revivalism”.

    While at the same time, some here call him a false prophet and you compare him to Joseph Smith.

    What’s going on here?
    ----------------------
    The site posted by Ruiz, at the top of this thread, is overwhelmingly dishonest, which seems to be the standard practice, when it comes to anyone talking about Charles Finney.
    --------------------------------------------------
    The purpose of this thread is not to defend Finney, but to speak out against dishonesty.

    If you don’t like Finney’s theology, that’s one thing, but to routinely call the man a heretic or a false prophet, is quite another.
     
  10. Tom Butler

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    Monte Wilson penned the following:

    ).
     
  11. stilllearning

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    Thanks Tom.
     
  12. Luke2427

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    Wow. I wish you would give us a succinct list of some of the things he did that harmed Christianity so.

    I am, obviously, opposed to much of his theology and do not care for some of his methods but I would like to know what things in particular you feel he has done to so harm the faith.
     
  13. Winman

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    Tom Butler posted this:

    I am not sure what this writer means by "instantly", but do people have the ability to receive Christ upon hearing the gospel? What do the scriptures show?

    Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

    Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

    Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

    On the day of Pentacost Jerusalem was filled with "devout" Jews. These people knew the OT scriptures, but it is likely that most did not know of Jesus Christ. We see when Peter preached to them of how Jesus fulfilled all the scriptures that they were greatly convicted and that same day three thousand people accepted Christ.

    The Philipian jailer believed the "same hour" he heard the gospel.

    Acts 16:32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
    33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
    34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.


    That sounds pretty instant to me.

    The Ethopian eunuch believed as soon as he heard the gospel.

    Acts 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
    36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
    37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.


    It didn't take long for the Ethopian eunuch to be convicted by the Word of God and believe on the Lord Jesus.

    Believeing on Jesus does not have to be some long drawn out process, many people believe as soon as they hear the gospel, the scriptures themselves show that.
     
    #13 Winman, Aug 31, 2010
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  14. stilllearning

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    Hello Winman

    When I read those words.......
    “Because he believed that everyone had the ability to instantly receive Christ upon hearing the gospel..........”

    I saw the mistake that Finney was making.
    ------------------------
    Although salvation is offered to everyone(for whosoever will), getting saved in not in our own power.
    None of us can choose the day that we get saved..........
    John 6:44
    “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    --------------------------------------------------
    Now I am no Calvinist(heaven forbid), but salvation is God’s work not ours.
    We can not trust Christ as our Savior, unless and until we are drawn to Him.

    Where the Bible disagrees with Calvinism, is the fact that every human being will be “drawn”, at one time or another.........
    John 12:32
    “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.”

    But the vast majority, will resist this drawing and go to hell.
     
  15. Winman

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    I understand what you are saying and agree with it. The natural man could never conceive of the gospel in his own abilities. The gospel must be revealed to man by God for the man to be saved. But once the gospel is revealed to man, man has the ability to believe it.

    If Finney was teaching that natural man has the ability to conceive of the gospel, then he was in serious error. But is that what he was teaching?

    It seems to me that Finney was teaching what many today call Easy Believeism, that a person can hear the gospel, understand it and accept Christ. If this is what he was teaching, then he is correct and this is what the scriptures show, I just showed several examples from scripture.

    Look carefully at what that writer said:

    This writer is not saying that Finney claimed the natural man could conceive the gospel on his own, he is saying that when the natural man is presented the gospel he can instantly believe it. That is absolutely scriptural as shown in the examples I posted. The Philipian jailer believed the gospel and was baptized in the same hour. The Ethiopian eunuch believed on Christ while riding with Philip. Over 3000 people accepted Christ in one day on the day of Pentacost.

    No natural man would ever think of the gospel in a million years. The natural man will always believe in salvation by one's own works. But once the gospel is revealed to a natural man by God, then the natural man can believe it if he so chooses and be saved.

    Matt 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
    16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
    17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.


    How did the Father reveal to Peter that Jesus was the Christ? Through the scriptures, the Word of God. Peter knew and believed that God would send the promised Christ through the scriptures, it was not an invention of his own imagination. And when he saw the works of Jesus he realized that Jesus was the promised Christ.

    It was the same with the Samaritan woman at the well.

    John 4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

    How did this Samaritan woman know about the Messiah, the promised Christ? Did she conceive of it in her own mind of her own power? No. She learned from the Word of God, the scriptures.

    John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

    Jesus said no man can come to him unless he were taught and learned from the Father. Jesus is speaking of the Word of God here, the scriptures.

    Finney was not saying the natural man has the ability to conceive of the gospel, he was saying that once a natural man hears it he can believe it. There is nothing wrong with this, it is scriptural. Of course, Calvinists will object and say the natural man has no ability to believe the gospel unless he is regenerated.

    But if you have to be regenerated to believe, then for a moment of time you must be a born again, spiritually alive sinner. You are not justified until you believe, and you cannot believe nothing, there must be an object of faith. You cannot believe the gospel until you hear it, so a person would be spiritually alive and still in their sins until they hear the gospel and believe it.

    In fact, many Calvinists teach a person can be regenerated for YEARS before they hear the gospel and believe it. That would be a person who is spiritually alive and yet a sinner for years. Impossible.
     
    #15 Winman, Aug 31, 2010
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  16. stilllearning

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    Hi Winman

    You said........
    I understand what you are saying, but...the Gospel is not received intellectually.......
    1 Corinthians 1:21
    “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

    It is received supernaturally.
    --------------------------------------------------
    No one can really understand the Gospel, until after they are saved........
    1 Corinthians 2:12
    “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

    The gospel isn’t revealed to man, it is told to him; And he must accept it by faith!

    Then after we are saved, God explains it all to us, as we study His Word.
     
  17. Winman

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    It does not say that. It says it pleased God by the foolishness of "preaching" to "save" them that "believe".

    Do you have the ability to hear, understand, and believe preaching? Yes.

    It is impossible that you have to be regenerated to believe. If so, you would be regenerated and still dead in all your trespasses and sins until you hear the gospel and believe it. Even Calvinists will admit we are justified by faith. Faith is not some physical thing, to express faith you must have an object to believe in. You cannot believe on nothing, and you cannot believe the gospel until you hear it.

    Try believeing on nothing.

    I have posted here before Calvinists who teach that an infant can be regenerated, and they teach that person can be regenerated for many years until they are old enough to understand the gospel and believe it.

    That is impossible. You cannot be regenerated (born again, spiritually alive) and be dead in your trespasses and sins at the same time. There is no way around this, it is impossible. You cannot be justified until you believe the gospel, and you cannot be dead in your sins and regenerated at the same time. Therefore you must first believe and be justified to be regenerated.

    The reason people attack Finney is because he rightly taught that the natural man has the ability to believe the gospel once it is presented to him. He denied Total Depravity. And Finney was correct.

    Now, if Finney ever taught that man has the ability within his own power to conceive of the gospel, then he would be in serious error. But I have never seen Finney teach that. Finney rightly taught that the gospel was a revelation from God.
     
    #17 Winman, Aug 31, 2010
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  18. stilllearning

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    We may not be that far away from each other.
    --------------------------------------------------
    Yes, some “understanding” is needed to get saved.......
    Matthew 13:19
    “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth [it] not, then cometh the wicked [one], and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.”

    But, all that needs to be understood, is that,
    (1)We are all sinners:
    (2)Our Sin will take us to hell:
    (3)Jesus died in our place to pay for our sins;
    (4)Salvation is as simple as, asking Jesus to save us.
    --------------------------------------------------
    Now a person can intellectually understand this, and still not get saved, by refusing to ask Jesus to save them.

    And ultimately the reason they refuse to ask for salvation, is because they don’t believe this message.
    --------------------------------------------------
    Now I do somewhat believe in Total Depravity, because there is NOTHING good in human beings.

    But, ANYONE who responds to God’s drawing, will be given the faith to believe the message of the Gospel, without really understanding how it all works.
    (They just accept it by faith and trust God!)
     
  19. Winman

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    Let me show you a passage that either proves the natural man can be enlighted by the gospel and refuse it, or else it proves that a person can lose their salvation. Either way it contradicts TULIP.

    Heb 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
    5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
    6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
    7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:
    8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
    9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.


    This passage speaks of a man who has been enlightened, they have tasted of the heavenly gift, were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come but have fallen away.

    You have only two possibilities here. It is either speaking of a natural man, or it is speaking of a saved regenerated man.

    If it is a natural man, then it proves that a natural man can be enlightened by the Holy Spirit and understand the gospel and some things of the world to come, but fall away in unbelief.

    If it is a saved person, then it is teaching that a saved person can lose their salvation.

    Oh, I've heard some say the writer was speaking of an impossibility, but that is not very credible. Why would the writer go to such pains to warn us of an impossibility? This argument doesn't make a bit of sense.

    The Arminians will argue this proves a person can lose their salvation. And, at a glance it could be seen to say that.

    The last alternative is that this is speaking of a natural man. He has the ability to a degree to understand the word of God and the gospel, but can turn away from it in unbelief. This is what I believe it is teaching, and so did Matthew Henry.

    Matthew Henry was a Calvinist, but he believed the natural man could understand a great deal of spiritual revelation and yet turn away in unbelief and be lost. I agree with Matthew Henry.

    But no matter how you view this passage, it contradicts TULIP. If a natural man can understand the gospel it contradicts Total Depravity, or if a saved person can lose their salvation it contradicts Perserverance of the Saints.

    Take your pick.
     
    #19 Winman, Aug 31, 2010
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  20. Winman

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    They know it is true, but they do not want to believe it because they would have to give up their sin.

    John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
    20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.


    Men do not come to the light (Jesus) because they love darkness (sin).

    And this is what the verse about the sower is showing.

    Matt 13:19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

    These are persons who hear the gospel, but do not give it serious thought. Their sin is the problem, the old devil comes and reminds them how much they enjoy their sin. "Jesus is going to tell you to quit drinking, Jesus is going to tell you to give up drugs and fornication, Jesus is going to tell you to be honest and quit stealing in your business transactions."

    This is how the devil steals the word out of their heart. And you have the testimonies of thousands of Christians themselves who said they heard the gospel but fought against it because they did not want to give up sin in their life. Many Christians have given this testimony.
     
    #20 Winman, Aug 31, 2010
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