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tjservant
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Joined: 2006/8/25
Posts: 1658
Indiana USA

 Questions about Charles Finney.

Questions about Charles Finney.

I have read several differing accounts as to whether Finney’s revivals resulted in soundly saved believers or false converts that were nowhere to be found several years down the road. Many stats are quoted in apparent affirmation supporting both sides. Is it possible to find the truth in this matter?

It seems most of the issue revolves around his use and/or method of “alter call” and that these method(s) may have resulted from his beliefs/theology.

Does anyone know of any solid, perhaps primary, sources? Many articles claim to have just this…but several are conflicting.

Any and all info will be greatly appreciated.


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TJ

 2008/8/25 18:16Profile
roaringlamb
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 1519
Santa Cruz California

 Re: Questions about Charles Finney.

B. B. Warfield was a great theologian and critic of Finney, and had much to say about his "new measures".

I don't know if it is still in print, but Warfield wrote a book called "Studies in Perfectionism" in which he goes into his disagreements of Finney's methods and theology.

Of course the main point in this argument is the question of original sin, and the view one holds on if man is dead, or able to do what God commands.

The answer to that question ultimately shapes how you do what you do.

There is a 73 page Warfield document here-

[url=http://www.enterhisrest.org/ichabod/warfield_vol8.pdf]Oberlin Perfectionism[/url]

Have fun brother!


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patrick heaviside

 2008/8/25 18:49Profile
TaylorOtwell
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Joined: 2006/6/19
Posts: 927
Arkansas

 Re:

Read with horror Finney's own words as a primary source:

“But for sinners to be forensically pronounced just, is impossible and absurd… As we shall see, there are many conditions, while there is but one ground, of the justification of sinners … As has already been said, there can be no justification in a legal or forensic sense, but upon the ground of universal, perfect, and uninterrupted obedience to law. This is of course denied by those who hold that gospel justification, or the justification of penitent sinners, is of the nature of a forensic or judicial justification. They hold to the legal maxim that what a man does by another he does by himself, and therefore the law regards Christ’s obedience as ours, on the ground that he obeyed for us.”

“The doctrine of imputed righteousness, or that Christ’s obedience to the law was accounted as our obedience, is founded on a most false and nonsensical assumption.” After all, Christ’s righteousness “could do no more than justify himself. It can never be imputed to us … it was naturally impossible, then, for him to obey in our behalf “ This “representing of the atonement as the ground of the sinner’s justification has been a sad occasion of stumbling to many”

------------------------

Respect for Finney is based on pragmatic principles (surely since people were so stirred up in religion, Finney could not have been a false prophet).

[b]However, we must be honest with the Scripture. If Charles Finney believed what he claimed to believe, he was no Christian at all and falls under the curse of bringing a false gospel.[/b] We can walk into almost any American church today and see his remnants in the form of entertaining, flesh stirring measures and "altar calls".

Finney demonstrates by his own writing that he was fully Pelagian and seems to know not the first thing about the Gospel of Christ.

Our own hesitance to renounce him as a false prophet proves our own bondage to believing that those with good morals must surely be Christian.

[b]We renounce Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, etc.; however, why not Finney? What we fail to realize is that it is the exact same message.[/b] "Be good, and God will bless you." The only difference between the two is the tone of voice and demeanor of the delivery.

It is easily proved. Joel Osteen may say, "I believe God brings into heaven those who are good and upright" with a soft voice and a smile, while Finney declares the exact same thing with a roar and a frown.

The Gospel is much more radical. We are depraved in utter sin, and are only by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. We have rebelled against the sovereign King of the universe and His holy wrath hangs over the head of the lost ready to strike. Yet, in infinite mercy, He has sent His Son to make full atonement for those would trust in Him. May we follow Him all of our days.

[b][i]For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2nd Corinthians 5:21)[/i][/b]

[b][i]Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1)[/i][/b]

Contrary to what many may believe... Finney's view of sin was not too high, it was much too low.

Brothers and sisters, if you want to read books (outside of the Scripture) that talk about godliness and holiness of life. Look to the old Puritan-esque writers (Thomas Watson, Thomas Brooks, Jonathan Edwards, Spurgeon, Ryle, John Owen, John Bunyan, Jeremiah Burroughs, etc).

Also, I would recommend people to go all the way back to Martin Luther's commentary on Galatians. Crossway publishes a paperback edition in their classic commentaries series. It is about 300 pages.


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Taylor Otwell

 2008/8/25 22:09Profile
roaringlamb
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 1519
Santa Cruz California

 Re:

Thank you brother.

Couldn't have said it better myself.


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patrick heaviside

 2008/8/25 22:34Profile
crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: Finney

[url=http://www.gospeltruth.net/1849OE/490425_savior_frm_sinnin.htm]JESUS, A SAVIOR FROM SINNING[/url]


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Mike Balog

 2008/8/26 0:04Profile
hmmhmm
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Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991
Sweden

 Re: Questions about Charles Finney.

You should search and read, finney have some strange things going on, but no stranger then the ones that criticise him. Thinking of reformed and calvinistic followers. There has been a few threads before on SI, i dont have time right now to dig, but they are there.


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CHRISTIAN

 2008/8/26 0:23Profile
passerby
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Joined: 2008/8/13
Posts: 607


 Re: Questions about Charles Finney.

Finneys literary works and sermons are publish at:

gospeltruth.net

A main issue here is that your response to Finney will be affected depending whether you are a calvinist or not or if you believe the doctrine of 'Once saved, Always Saved' and really, they are very long and complicated issues to tackle.

 2008/8/26 0:55Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4499


 Re:

Hi Taylor...

First of all, I think that it is unwise to judge our brother based upon a few quotes that are supposedly his. I'm not sure where you gathered those quotes (you forgot to leave a citation), but Finney only authored one book in his life (his autobiography). The rest of "his" books are actually gathered by hearers from notes of his sermons. The complete accuracy of all of these books can be called into question.

Moreover, I think that the autobiography of Charles Finney, written at the end of his life, is quite telling of his doctrinal views. I'm not an avid fan of Finney -- but I have been extremely blessed by the simple story of his life and accounts of his ministry. From what is written by Finney (and from diaries of his contemporaries), the messages that he preached during the Second Great Awakening throughout New York was extremely simple.

During those crusades, he didn't appear to preach about doctrinal questions about Calvinism (at least, we don't read much about him preaching such sermons). From what we know, Finney preached a very simple message about the dangers of false conversion (or those who couldn't seem to remain "converted"). We know that this had a profound effect on churches throughout New England. Even secular historians record the impact that Finney had on American society -- which mirrored the effect of men like George Whitefield (and hence the "Second Great Awakening").

Regardless, it is difficult to judge a man who has been dead for over 200 years based upon such a small collection of his words. Men are prone to make mistakes with their mouths from time to time. Some of them actually say things that they later regret (believe it or not!). I imagine that a 70 year old David Wilkerson might "second guess" some of the things that he preached when he was 25. The same can probably be said of men of God like Leonard Ravenhill, A. W. Tozer, Paris Reidhead, and other men included in this ministry's sermon database. But thank God that He does not leave us as we are! Each of us are maturing as we walk in the faith!

Quote:
We renounce Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, etc.; however, why not Finney? What we fail to realize is that it is the exact same message.

Actually, I don't think that anyone renouces these men. Rather, we renounce the [i]things that they preach[/i] that fail the test of Scriptural purity. Their hearts, motives and spiritual condition should be off limits.

You know, I don't think any less of the work of a man of God who has made mistakes with his preaching (especially if he corrects himself as he matures). If I remember correctly, the apostle Peter made a pretty good blunder in both word and action. The apostle Paul even had to rebuke him to his face. Does this negate anything that Peter did or said? No.

Since none of us have ever met Brother Finney, it is safe to assume that we might be hasty in our judgment. I have visited websites that pretty much call the man a "heretic" (and one website even concludes that Finney was "demon possessed"). And the greatest irony? They claim such things as a matter of doctrinal difference. Most of these websites, if you search through them, are noticably quick to point the same "finger of heresy" at other preachers who do not wholeheartedly embrace their particular doctrinal views. Is this really what we are called to do? Can't we discuss the doctrine without laying an accusation into the man?

I have long noticed that those who are the fastest to cry out for "discernment" are often the ones with the most "loud" imagination and "gift of suspicion." I have met people who will offer love, kindness, fellowship and respect UNTIL you say something that is contrary to their own particular doctrinal views or beliefs. Suddenly, their "gift of discernment" kicks in and they quickly part company. They become fiesty and are willing to dismiss anything that you say.

I wonder if the same can be said about Charles Finney? By the claims of some of these websites, you would actually think that Charles Finney was a sinister heretic! Yet I can sympathize with Brother Finney because his conversion experience so closely mirrors my own. I wept when I was a teen while reading Finney's own account of coming to Christ. He articulated his conversion in a manner that immediately brought to mind my own feelings of the night that I was converted in a lonely field at a summer camp. If anything, it seems that this sort of thing is difficult to simply "make up."

Charles Finney was certainly far from perfect. However, I don't think that it is wise to pass judgment upon the man. Yes, his doctrine may (or may not) have been flawed. Yet this is a poor excuse to call into question the integrity of this man's heart or his work -- as so many websites and ministers appear willing to do. Besides, even if he embraced a faulty doctrine at one time, that doesn't necessarily mean that he embraced it throughout his life. If I remember correctly, there were some good brethren here at SermonIndex who at one time held onto some very questionable doctrinal views or spiritual beliefs. Do we discount them simply because they had not matured to the point of where they stand now? As members of the Body of Christ, we should certainly be made of more fraternal stuff than that.


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Christopher

 2008/8/26 1:25Profile
boG
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Joined: 2008/5/21
Posts: 349
Las Vegas, NV

 Re:

Since there are some excerpts on the "horror of Finney's own words" I thought it proper to get some context to those quotes. And, by the way I have yet to find these words in context to be heretical.

But I guess the problem is that Finney was against key aspects of the Westminster Confession (Calvinism) and they didn't like that so much, thus a smear campaign began.

So if you would like to see some of these things for yourselves, feel free.




[url=http://www.gospeltruth.net/1849OE/490425_savior_frm_sinnin.htm]JESUS, A SAVIOR FROM SINNING[/url]
Sermon by Prof. C.G. Finney

"Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save his people from their sins." --Matt. 1:21.

As compared to saving people IN their sins!
A nice link crssck, thank you sir.




[url=http://www.gospeltruth.net/1861OE/610424_kingdom_conscious.htm]THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN CONSCIOUSNESS[/url]
By PRES. FINNEY.

In this discourse Finney defines righteousness.

I. What is the kingdom of God?

Answer: 1. It is not an outward organization; it is not the visible church, or any ecclesiastical establishment whatever.

2. It is not any material or worldly good.

3. But it is the reign of Christ, the King, in the soul of man.

II. I notice the three particulars which are here said to constitute this kingdom of God, "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."


The following quote was taken from this sermon,

"It is Christ's righteousness imparted to the soul of man. It is Christ's law or will taking effect in the soul of man, and begetting his own righteousness in us; and thus we come to be partakers of the righteousness of God, not merely by imputation, but by actual experience, and active love and service. I pray you, let no one overlook the true end of righteousness. Do not forget that true righteousness is the very love in kind that is in Christ's own heart, and that led him to do all he had done for mankind."




[url=http://www.gospeltruth.net/1843OE/430705_fulness_in_Christ.htm]FULNESS THERE IS IN CHRIST[/url]
Lectures by Professor Finney.

I. WHAT IS NOT INTENDED BY THE DECLARATION THAT CHRISTIANS ARE COMPLETE IN CHRIST.

II. WHAT IS INTENDED.

III. TO POINT OUT SOME THINGS WHICH ARE DEMANDED BY OUR NATURE, CIRCUMSTANCES, AND CHARACTER, IN ORDER TO COMPLETE WELL-BEING.

IV. THE CONDITIONS ON WHICH THIS COMPLETENESS MAY BE REALIZED IN OUR OWN EXPERIENCE.




[url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=3761]JUSTIFICATION by Charles G. Finney[/url]

'There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.' Rom. 8:1.


In this discourse, I shall notice,

I. WHAT IT IS TO BE IN CHRIST JESUS.

II. WHAT IS INTENDED BY NO CONDEMNATION.

III. WHY THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION TO THEM WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS.

IV. WHAT IS INTENDED BY NOT WALKING AFTER THE FLESH, BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT.

V. NONE, EXCEPT THOSE WHO WALK AFTER THE SPIRIT, ARE IN A JUSTIFIED STATE.




[url=http://www.bibleteacher.org/finney4c.htm]LECTURE 36 JUSTIFICATION[/url]
by Prof. C.G. Finney

Christ is represented in the gospel as sustaining to men three classes of relations.

1. Those which are purely governmental.

2. Those which are purely spiritual.

3. Those which unite both these.

We shall at present consider Him as Christ our justification.

This Lecture 36 contains the context for quote, "But for sinners to be forensically pronounced just ..."

And, also the following paragraph, "The doctrine of imputed righteousness ..."

Both of these previous paragraphs are under the question: What is gospel justification?



I believe the "horror" of these quotations is in the defining terms, such as "forensically" and "imputed". In such, Finney is not saying "righteousness" in its entirety but attacking specific perspectives that he defends to be unscriptural. I would have to say that I was confused at first myself until I understood that point.

Being familiar with more and more of Finney's lectures and sermons, it appears to be consistent that Finney defines a great deal of "salvation" and everything contained in that word in the following way, by his own words, "This love, it should be understood, must necessarily express itself in the life, because the connection between this love and outward action is a connection of necessity. This love consists in the will's devotion to God and to the good of man. It is consecration; it is making common cause with God and man, and unifying ourselves with God's state of mind."

That is to say, God and man working together in Christ. Or, again, in my own words, we must do those things that are only possible because God is at work in us.


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Jordan

 2008/8/26 3:29Profile
TaylorOtwell
Member



Joined: 2006/6/19
Posts: 927
Arkansas

 Re:

The quotes I quoted are in his systematic theology, pages 320-322.

I will not be lovey and mushy on gross error that still leaves its remnants on much of the American church. It should be condemned and the true Gospel should be proclaimed faithfully.

It doesn't matter how holy we think Finney was, his view of the atonement was not Christian.

Finney's views are preached against from Baptists and Presbyterians alike, it is not solely because he didn't like the Westminster Confession. It is because he didn't like the Biblical fact that Christ's righteousness is imputed to those who believe which is the sole basis for our justification.

Read Galatians, Read Romans.


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Taylor Otwell

 2008/8/26 7:39Profile





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