Rev. Charles Finney

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Ray Berrian, Nov 18, 2004.

  1. Ray Berrian

    Ray Berrian
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    Charles Finney entered Hamilton Oneida Academy in Clinton, New York. He became proficient in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew pursuing a classical education and music. He played the violoncello and later became a lawyer.

    Rev. George Gale was his pastor who was a Princeton Calvinist. Finney, though under the authority of the presbytery hammered out the understanding of Scripture but found himself at odds with Calvinism and the Universalism which was strong in Boston.

    He preached in one room school-houses and later in the great churches in New York City, Boston, London and Scotland. He was known to have preached to over 3,000 people during various worship services. He was the first evangelist to popularize public invitations inviting men and women to receive Christ by either standing up in church or by coming to the front pews for counseling. While Finney could not bring revival, those years were times when great conviction fell on those who heard the Gospel.

    First, he became Professor of Theology at Oberlin Collegiate Institue and 1851 became President of the college with 1,020 students on campus.

    Rev. Finney became a mover of social change when the 'underground railroad' became a safe haven for southern fugitives. Many applied for the 'writ of habeas corpus' and Ohio law that protected the slaves from extradition back to the southern states. In 1858, a newly elected Democratic state legislature repealed the law leaving fugitives vulnerable to enforcement of the Federal Fugitive Slave Law.

    Many were brought into the Kingdom of God through the preaching of Charles Finney, causing whole communities to find the Lord while closing saloons and bringing those converts into the various Christian denominations nearest to their homes.
     
  2. scooter

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    Finney's teachings bordered on heresy. His brand of Arminianism was destructive, leading western New York to become known as the burned out district. If you read your church history a little closer, you'll learn that most of these professions of faith were short lived and there was no lasting change or fruit.
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    No, not really. He was only close to the border in a couple of areas. In most areas, he was way past the border. He was a full blown heretic.
     
  4. scooter

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    Pastor Larry,

    You are absolutely correct. I guess I was just sugarcoating the truth again!
     
  5. KenH

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  6. Ray Berrian

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    Reverend Charles Finney's legal training had given him expertise in logic,rhetoric,argumentation, ethics and the power of analysis. Many lawyers and judges turned out to hear this evangelist and he persuaded many from this profession to believe in Jesus Christ with the aid of the Spirit.

    He was not the kind of preacher to read his sermons, nevertheless, his preaching was deemed acceptable by the Elders, and was licensed to preach in the Presbyterian Church. If he was a heretic it was his Calvinist brothers who laid their hands on him by way of sending him into the ministry.

    It was in the nineteenth century at the Methodist camp meetings that the "mourners' bench" came into being. Finney did not use this means during his era of preaching.

    'Nearly all the Philadelphia pastors were "old school" men, (Calvinists) Patterson was concerned that if the ministers of these churches realized Charle's (Finney's) doctrinal position, they would reject his ministry. But that did not happen. The evangelist found himself accepted in every church except one, the old Arch Street Presbyterian Church.' ("Charles Finney," Barbour Publications, p. 133, author Bonnie C. Harvey. {Incidentally, I was a friend of Dr. Todd, the pastor of this famous church back in 1969; I am sure that Dr. Todd was a five point Calvinist. He was a great preacher with a broad understanding in other arenas of knowledge}

    'The Rochester, N.Y. revival played a part in the general Third Great Awakening that swept America during the decade of the 1830's. Even Lyman Beecher gave Charles credit for his role in the revival: "That was the greatest work of God, and the greatest revival of religion, that the world has ever seen in so short a time. One hundred thousand were reported as having connected themselves with churches as the result of that great revival.' p. 159.

    Revs. Beecher and Gale, the latter the pastor of Charles Finney who were once antagonists to him, 'jumped in with enthusiasm taking part in the revival meetings.' p. 163. Apparently, in those days there was a Christian unity in delivering the Gospel that might not be found in some pastors and laity in our 21st century.

    'In Merioneth, Wales-revival broke out in 1840 as a result of Finney's book, "Lectures on Revivals of Religion." William and Catherine Booth was influenced by him and later founded the Salvation Army. p.170.

    Oberlin Institute became the first co-educational college in the history of American higher education and was the first institution to accept students coming from various nationalities and color. p.174

    'Charles also gave a copy of his book, "Lectures On Systematic Theology" to Dr. George Redford, a well respected British theologian. After reviewing the book, neither of these men had any serious objections. Dr. Redford concluded, "I see no reason for regarding Mr. Finney, in any respect, as unsound. He has his own way of stating theological propositions; but I cannot see that he differs on any essential point, from us.' p.193

    At that time Americans considered London as the queen of all cities. Finney preached in the London Tabernacle and asked sinners to stand and to receive Christ. It was estimated that as many as 2,000 people arose in response to the call of God. Finney returned to Oberlin Institute but later returned to England in 1858.

    One contemporary said of Finney: 'Mr. Finney is one of the most remarkable preachers in America. His strong logical powers, and education as a lawyer makes him convincing in argument. He preaches more the love of God, and wins as well as alarms to repentance . . . . His preaching of religious truth in its completeness and clearness works irresistible conviction, and brings skeptic, infidel, and atheist alike into broken hearted submission to the power of God.' [end quote]

    'Charles Finney's evangelistic ministry provides a pivotal link between Jonathan Edwards First Great Awakening (in America) and Dwight L. Moody's world wide revivals in the mid-to-late 1800's.' p.201.

    Scotland's David Livingston was one of the international Christian leaders who benefitted from the evangelist's ministry. In 1839, while preparing to go to Africa, he sent his first pay he received to his younger brother, urging him to study under Charles Finney at Oberlin. Livingstone's brother heeded the advice and graduated from Oberlin in 1845.

    In every century the Lord always has a special messenger to bring His truth to the lost.

    Berrian, Th.D.
     
  7. padredurand

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    That was the burned OVER district. The phrase was complimentary not critical.

    Funny, they said the same thing about Moody and, in the current climate, Billy Graham.

    Moody was heckled by a drunk who shouted something to the effect of, "Look at me, a man saved by Mr. Moody. To which Moody replied, "He is right. Had he been saved by Jesus Christ he would be sober."

    I pastored 3 blocks away from the site of one of Finney's meetings in upstate New York. Finney pledged to stay and preach until a certain man came to Christ. As of last year, descendants of that man are still active in the church that hosted the revival.

    Nonetheless, there are some who would say anyone's brand of Arminianism is heresy Mr. Finney or not.
     
  8. Marcia

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    Was Finney a Pelagian?
     
  9. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    No, not really. He was only close to the border in a couple of areas. In most areas, he was way past the border. He was a full blown heretic. </font>[/QUOTE]Agreed
     
  10. Ben W

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    Finney was a legend in the history of the modern church. Anyone who ministers and sees large numbers accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is always cut down by others that have jelousy issues. We call it "Tall Poppy Syndrome" here.

    People might rip on an evangalist, yet often they have not even led anyone to Christ!
     
  11. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Just study his own writings for yourself.

    I was a huge Finney supporter until I read his own writings.

    This, from the link above, is what I discovered before I ready ANYTHING negative about him.

     
  12. Matt Black

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    The main thing with which I would take issue with Finney would be his doctrine of 'Subsequence' ie: that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is something that occurs to (some) believers at a point subsequent to conversion. This has in part fed through to the Pentecostal movement via the Wesleyan Holiness movement and has led to damaging divisions within Christendom as a result of this 'two-tier Christianity'. Ironic that someone who was officially a Presbyterian could spawn this kind of hyper-Arminianism...

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  13. Monergist

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    Ray,

    Where are you quoting this stuff from? Did you write it yourself? If so, its pretty good writing (a lot better than I can do, though I gotta disagree at several points...)
     
  14. scooter

    scooter
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    Perhaps, but we're not talking about Moody or Graham.
     
  15. Ray Berrian

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    Ben W,

    Blessings to a brother in far away Australia.

    You already know this--but for emphasis, the Calvinists are still waiting for God to do everything including the believing. This way the sinner never believes because he is still waiting on God to respond and initiate an allegedly, regenerate his soul; and so is the preacher or witness to the Gospel. This is the inverted view of men like Dr. R.C. Sproul and the late Dr. James M. Boice in their theology books that poison Christendom with their reckless human theologies coming from the Roman Catholic John Calvin/ St. Augustine. [Mark 16:15 & Acts 16:31]

    In the words of the late Charles Finney: 'If God undercuts human culpability it renders God's judgment pointless.'

    (Finney) 'Grace is wrought not wrenched.'

    (Finney) 'God foreknows human contingencies without determing them.'

    (Finney) 'Grace is not synonymous for decree, will, or sovereignty.'

    Here was a man of God who carefully and 'rightfully divided the word of truth.' [II Timothy 2:15]


    Blessings to all,
    Berrian, Th.D.
     
  16. Ray Berrian

    Ray Berrian
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    Matt Black,

    First, no one can stuff, if you will, God in a Calvinistic or Arminian box-theologically speaking. I agree with you that sinners are baptized into the Spirit of God when they are initially saved. The words, 'baptism of the Holy Spirit' used in Pentecostal and holiness churches is wrong; but often the Lord greatly blesses these people because they are taught to seek the deeper life in Christ. Remember God did say through the Apostle Peter, 'Be ye holy for I am holy.' [I Peter 1:15-16] This should be every Christian's goal in this life.

    You phrase a two-tier Christianity is ill advised. The Bible does, however, speak not only of our initial faith/trust in Jesus but also a deeper and maturing life of sanctification.
    Check this out in the Word.

    No one who studies the Bible honestly will end up a pure Arminian or Calvinist. If they are trying to protect their denominational beliefs, perhaps so they won't have to change denominations, will fight to the death to preserve, for example, their Westminster Confession of Faith book.

    Which is more important a denomination or God's holy infallible Word?
     
  17. scooter

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    and
    Setting up straw men is always an effective tactic when truth isn't on your side.
     
  18. Ray Berrian

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    Marcia,

    PELAGIANISM

    'Pelagius, a monk from Britian who preached in Rome around A.D. 400, believed that since God would not command anything that was not possible, and that since He has commanded men to be holy, everyone therefore can live a life that is free from sin. He taught that man was created neutral-neither sinful nor holy-and with the capacity and will to choose freely either to sin or to do good. Everyone is born in the same condition as Adam before the Fall; only now man has before him Adam's bad example. But Adam in no way transmitted a sin nature or the guilt of his sin to his posterity. Man has a will that is free, and sin comes from the separate acts of man's will. Man is also free to do good works, and all of his good deeds come from the unassisted capabilities of his human nature. Thus Pelagianism exaggerates the merit of works and their efficacy in salvation.'
    Dr. Ryrie, "Basic Theology" Moody Press, p.254.

    The above view is totally against Biblical theology.

    SEMI-PELAGIANISM

    'Semi-Pelagians teach that man retains a measure of freedom by which he can cooperate with the grace of God. Man's will has been weakened and his nature (has been) affected by the Fall, but he is not totally depraved. In regeneration man chooses God, Who then adds His grace. Semi-Pelagianism is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church (in the 21st century as well as some Protestant groups.' Dr. Ryrie, p. 255. {The Methodists, Wesleyan Church and independent/and Pentecostal Church believe that a sinner must receive Jesus personally in order to be saved eternally.}

    I believe the that the Bible demonstrates semi-Pelagianism plus the fact that Adam was created in a perfect holiness and state of innocency. Through human generation every person has Original Sin/the Adamic nature and is responsible to God both for this plus acts of willful sin against holy God. The sinner cannot attain to a holiness apart from receiving Christ. {Acts 16: 31} Human sinners are not totally depraved but their nature has been affected in such a way as to have a proclivity toward sinning. The human will as sinner and saint is totally free to either receive grace or in the case of the Christian to return to the old life of rebellion, though not without chastisement. [Hebrews 12:5-11]

    If a sinner had no mind, spirit, soul and will he or she would not have a venue by which to respond to God's conviction and convincing process. [John 16:8] God the Spirit reaches out to all lost souls who have heard of Jesus saving power. [Revelation 22:17f] No one is by-passed or overlooked. [Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11] If Almighty God could favor particular sinners, He would be contradicting His infinite love and Divine justice toward His created human beings. If you prefer the O.T. flavor turn to Deuteronomy chapter 10 which says:

    'For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty and terrible, Who regards not persons, nor does He take rewards.'

    God Himself declares that His influence is sufficient to counteract Original Sin and its alleged Total Depravity. This truth is found in St. John 1:9 and James 3:9.

    Grace is the gift of God [Ephesians 2:8-9] and salvation is all of God and not one scintilla of 'works' or 'good works' can be a part of His eternal plan to give us everlasting life.

    Faith in Christ is the only means by which this gift can be received, as clearly noted in Hebrews 11:6 which says:

    'But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.'

    Yes, God the Spirit draw sinners to Himself, but sinners must respond with a faith/trust in His redemptive benefits and covenant plan.

    In other words, God's convicting power in tandem with His convincing ability is infinitely more powerful than the inner stigmata of Original Sin and the sinner's deadness toward the Lord God. Any other view would only serve to sustain the erroneous view that the evil one is stronger than our Lord, and we know this is an impossibility.

    Brother Berrian, Th.D.
     
  19. Marcia

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    Ray, thank you for your in-depth explanation. I appreciate it very much.

    To anyone: Why do some consider Finney's teachings heretical? Can someone post an example of his teachings that shows this?
     

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