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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Directions to Sinners who ask, What must I do to be saved?-Charles Finney

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 Re:

An important lesson from the original post.


"1. The first error is, in supposing that they must make themselves better, or prepare themselves, so as in some way to recommend themselves to the mercy of God. It is marvelous, that sinners will not understand, that all they have to do is to accept salvation from God, all prepared to their hands. But they all, learned or unlearned, at first, betake themselves to a legal course to get relief. This is one principal reason why they will not become Christians at once, just as soon as they begin to attend to the subject. They imagine that they must be, in some way or other, prepared to come. They must change their dress, and make themselves look a little better; they are not willing to come just as they are, in their rags and poverty. They must have something more on, before they can approach to God. They should be shown, at once, that it is impossible they should be any better, until they do what God requires. Every pulse that beats, every breath they draw, they are growing worse, because they are standing out in rebellion against God, so long as they do not do the very thing which God requires of them as the first thing to be done.

 2009/11/21 19:23









 Re:

Thanks for posting the sermon! I loved it! Not many preachers who would preach something like that today! The modern false preachers say that you can be saved while you continue in your sin. We need to get back to the Biblical Gospel that Finney preached, one that included an abandonment of all sin.

I heard Leonard Ravenhill in one of his sermons here on SI that 85% of Finney's converts stayed in the faith! Despite what Eli said about Finney doing damage to communities and most of his converts falling away, history says the opposite.

I highly recommend reading Finney's autobiography. I can't think of any preacher alive today that has been used as Finney was. I pray for the Lord to send us another Finney!

I know that both William and Catherine Booth were highly influenced by Finney and look at the fruit that they had!

 2009/11/21 19:37









 Re:

Arminian, please repent of division and humble yourself just a bit. Winning the argument is not as important as winning the soul.

I think u are doing more harm than good on this forum with your current hard stance from your other posts.

 2009/11/21 21:30
Eli_Barnabas
Member



Joined: 2005/2/16
Posts: 621
Cache Valley, Utah

 Re:

Quote:
I heard Leonard Ravenhill in one of his sermons here on SI that 85% of Finney's converts stayed in the faith! Despite what Eli said about Finney doing damage to communities and most of his converts falling away, history says the opposite.



I don't mean to be contentious, but the record must be set straight. This may be unimaginable to you, but Ravenhill was actually wrong in what he said about Charles Finney and his converts. You say "history" says the opposite. Could you source this "history" you speak so confidently about? If your information is coming from Ravenhill's sermon, that's not scholarship, because Ravenhill is not a historical source, nor did he site one.

History has spoken.

Jame Boyle, a co-worker with Finney, wrote to him not long after the revivals:

[i]"Let us look over the fields, where you and others and myself have labored as revival ministers, and what is now their moral state? What was their state within three months after we left them? I have visited and revisited many of these fields, and groaned in spirit to see the sad, frigid, carnal, contentious state into which the churches had fallen — and fallen very soon after our first departure from among them"[/i] (Literary and Theological Review, March, 1838, p. 66).

Read this horrifying retelling, from Asa Mahan's autobiography, of the results of Finney's methods:

[i]"No individual, I believe, ever disciplined Christians so severely and with such intense and tireless patience as my brother Finney. Appalled at the backsliding which followed his revivals of 1831-32, his most earnest efforts were put forth to induce among believers permanence in the divine life. In accomplishing this he knew of but one method: absolute and fixed renunciation of sin, consecration to God, and purpose of obedience.

During his pastorate at Chatham Street Chapel in New York City, for example, he held for weeks in succession special meetings in his church for perfecting his work, and never were a class of poor creatures carried through a severer process of discipline than were these.

Years afterward, as their pastor informed me, those believers affirmed that they have never recovered from the internal weakness and exhaustion which had resulted from the terrible discipline through which Mr. Finney had carried them, and this was all the good that had resulted from his efforts.

When he came to Oberlin, and entered upon the duties of his professorship, he felt that God had given him a blessed opportunity to realize in perfection his ideal of a ministry for the churches. He had before him a mass of talented and promising theological students, who had implicit confidence in the wisdom of their teacher, and with equal sincerity would follow his instructions and admonitions.

He accordingly, for months in succession, gathered together those students at stated seasons, instructed them most carefully in regard to the nature of the renunciation of sin, consecration to Christ, and purpose of obedience, required of them.

Then, under his teachings and admonitions, they would renew their renunciations, consecrations and purpose of obedience, with all the intensity and fixedness of resolve of which their natures were capable. The result, in every case, was one and the same: not the new life, and joy and peace, and power that was anticipated, but groaning bondage under the law of sin and death.

At the commencement, and during the process of each meeting, their confessions and renunciations, their solemn consecrations and vows of obedience, were renewed, if possible, with fuller determination than ever before.

Each meeting, however, was closed with the same dirge song: "Look, how we grovel here below," or, "Where is the blessedness I knew, when first I saw the Lord?" or, "Return, O Holy Dove, return." And as they went out, not their songs of joy and gladness were heard, but their groans became more and more terribly audible"[/i] (Autobiography, pp. 244,245).

It is not amazing to hear, from the authoritative biographers of Joseph Smith, that it was out of this "burned-out" district, and largely on account of Finney's and his co-worker's preaching, that the young prophet of Mormonism was born and emerged out of.

[i]"Palmyra[/i] [where the Book of Mormon was first published] [i]was the center of what the circuit riders later called the "burnt over" district. One revival after another was sweeping through the area, leaving behind a people scattered and peeled, for religious enthusiasm was literally being burnt out of them"[/i] (No Man Knows My History, Brodie; p. 14).

[i]"Revival conversions were notoriously short lived... The revivals by their very excesses deadened a normal antipathy toward religious eccentricity. And these pentecostal years, which coincided with Joseph Smith's adolescence and early manhood, were the most fertile in America's history for the sprouting of prophets"[/i] (ibid. p.14, 15).

As a Christian missionary who is reaching out to the Mormons in Utah, I can personally testify that the false doctrine of Mormonism is in the most remarkable way similar to the theology of Charles Finney, and I can see how Smith was influenced by the emotional preaching of sinless perfection and justification by works that sounded forth so terribly in those dark years in American history.

This is just a taste of the scholarship that can be mined on those years. There is so much more to write and site. The most basic study of the history of those times reveals beyond question the sad truth of those days. When will we acknowledge that the "gospel" that was preached by Finney in the 19th century was not the gospel of the apostles in the 1st century? False prophets and teachers come and go, but the timeless good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ will never lose it's relevancy and power!

[i]"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."[/i] (Romans 3:23-24)


_________________
Eli Brayley

 2009/11/21 23:10Profile









 Re:

Finney said that early on in his ministry he saw backsliders because he didn't preach that you could live free from sin. That was the problem. That is why he started preaching perfection he said. He said that this experience that occurred early on in his ministry is what helped him develope his holiness theology. He saw people going back to their sins because they were hearing from the Church that you cannot live free from sin. This antiholiness message created backsliders.

Charles Finney wrote in his systematic theology

"Young converts have not been allowed so much as to indulge the thought that they could live even for a day wholly without sin. They have as a general thing no more been taught to expect to live even for a day without sin, than they have been taught to expect immediate translation, soul and body, to heaven. Of course, they have not known that there was any other way than to go on in sin; and however shocking and distressing the necessity has appeared to them, in the ardour of their first love, still they have looked upon it as an unalterable fact, that to be in a great measure in bondage to sin is a thing of course while they live in this world. Now, with such an orthodoxy as this, with the conviction in the church and ministry so ripe, settled and universal, that the utmost that the grace of God can do for men in this world is to bring them to repentance, and to leave them to live and die in a state of sinning and repenting, is it at all wonderful that the state of religion should be as it really has been? In looking over the results to Christians, of preaching the doctrine in question, I feel compelled to say, that so far as all observation can go, I have the same evidence that it is truth, and as such is owned and blessed of God to the elevation of the holiness of Christians, as I have, that those are truths which I have so often preached to sinners, and which have been blessed of God to their conversion. This doctrine seems as naturally calculated to elevate the piety of Christians, and as actually to result in the elevation of their piety, under the blessing of God, as those truths that I have preached to sinners were to their conversion. Christ has been in a great measure lost sight of in some of his most important relations to mankind. He has been known and preached as a pardoning and justifying Saviour; but as an actually indwelling and reigning Saviour in the heart, he has been but little known."

This is even a quote from an antiFinney article regarding his preaching on perfection:

"Finney’s biographers indicate that Finney came to this teaching out of his disappointment that converts of his revivals had not made the progress he expected and that the church had not prevailed in the world as he hoped. For example, G. Frederick Wright, who wrote as a professor at Oberlin in 1891 (where Finney was previously a professor of theology), comments on Finney’s motives to write Lectures to Professing Christians, which express his views on perfection: "At the same time, his mind felt with increasing keenness the necessity of a higher state of consecration on the part of the church, if Christianity was ultimately to prevail in the world.”

"Over 500,000 people responded to his public invitations to receive Christ...Under his ministry more than 80 percent of his converts stayed true to God even after 20 years."
http://www.firesofrevival.com/charlesfinney/

 2009/11/22 0:29
ccchhhrrriiisss
Member



Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4496


 Re:

Hi Eli...

Quote:
I don't mean to be contentious, but the record must be set straight. This may be unimaginable to you, but Ravenhill was actually wrong in what he said about Charles Finney and his converts. You say "history" says the opposite. Could you source this "history" you speak so confidently about? If your information is coming from Ravenhill's sermon, that's not scholarship, because Ravenhill is not a historical source, nor did he site one.

History has spoken.

Jame Boyle, a co-worker with Finney, wrote to him not long after the revivals:

[i]"Let us look over the fields, where you and others and myself have labored as revival ministers, and what is now their moral state? What was their state within three months after we left them? I have visited and revisited many of these fields, and groaned in spirit to see the sad, frigid, carnal, contentious state into which the churches had fallen — and fallen very soon after our first departure from among them"[/i] (Literary and Theological Review, March, 1838, p. 66).


Speaking of "setting the record straight" and getting the "history" sources correct, I am interested in this quote. Did you actually read this yourself in the cited book and thereby verify this quotation? Was it a firsthand quotation in the book or journal, or was this quoted within this work from elsewhere? Was the article itself meant to be a prejudiced attack on Finney or what was supposedly his particular views regarding salvation? If you didn't get it from actually [i]reading[/i] the source that you cited, where did you obtain this quote?

I live just a few blocks from Stanford University (and I spend quite a bit of time in the various libraries). I would like to see if I can verify this quote for myself. Why? I have seen supposed "quotes" from sectarian sources and books in the past that simply couldn't be verified. Some of the quotes were actually taken out of context and/or rewritten in order to make the target look "bad." I don't know why a believer would do such a thing. I suppose that they are so easily persuaded that they actually look for (or even alter) evidence that would support their position or accusation. Of course, I am certainly not saying that you are guilty of this. However, I have seen plenty of books written by believers that were just less than honest.

I think that, given the gravity of this sort of accusation about a man who has been dead for 134 years, we owe it to him to get it right. Remember, Finney only authored one book (his autobiography). [i]Lectures on Revivals of Religion[/i] was written from notes penned by others during Finney's lectures that came when he was a professor at Oberlin College, over a decade following the revival campaigns that took place during the "2nd Great Awakening." In fact, the predominant record of the actual revivals is contained only in newspaper articles from New York during the 1920s and from Finney's own autobiography completed just a few years after he died. It would be difficult to say just what was actually preached during the "2nd Great Awakening" in New England during the 1820s. However, even secular historians note that Finney's messages had a undeniably profound impact on both the Church and American society.

As for the gist of the "letter" that was supposedly written to Finney from one of "coworkers," I don't see how it would diminish either the message or the work of God during those revivals. Jesus preached to thousands; yet, in the end, he only had 11 disciples (and only a few people waiting at the foot of the cross). In fact, Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one man came back to thank him (Luke 17:11-17). Jesus clearly indicated this understanding about people who do not remain in Christ when He told the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-23; Mark 4:2-20; Luke 8:4-15). John talked about this concept when warned believers about those who "run ahead" and do not continue in the teaching of Jesus Christ (II John 1:9). This concept is reiterated throughout the Epistles -- people who profess Christ but walk away from or leave the faith. Personally, I think that this was the condition of the "Church" to which Finney preached. They named the name, went through the typical "Church" routines of that day, yet the validity of their "faith" in Christ was still in question. The fact that, at times, entire congregations would "repent" of their lack of faith is testament to the fact that many churches were filled with people who did not have the assurance of their salvation.

Now, this may sound like an affront on Calvinism or a defense of Finney's teachings or techniques. Make no mistake: This is [u]neither[/u].

Now, I am certainly NOT a Calvinist (or an Arminianist for that matter). I absolutely believe that people are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Yet I also know that a man living in gross, continuous sin while still naming the Name of Jesus and singing glorious hymns about "grace" should not expect to enter the Kingdom of God. Paul instructed the Church to banish such a man and "deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh" (I Corinthians 5:1-5) because a "little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (I Corinthians 5:6). I have met terribly ungodly people -- living in grotesque sin -- who were told that they were "saved" by people in their Church because they "sincerely asked Jesus in their heart" years earlier. I know one guy from college who had slept with over 75 girls over four years -- but some deacons in the church kept assuring him that he was "still saved" because he had honestly walked with God for years before college. This is ridiculously FALSE assurance. This man wasn't even sure that God even existed anymore. When this young man realized that he was not actually saved, it led him back to the cross. I think that this might have been the type of "believers" that concerned men like George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney. Maybe they were astonished by the amount of "Christians" who were simply not serving or living for God?

Again, I certainly NOT an expert on Finney enough to either accuse or defend him from specific accusations that are often uttered against him. At the same time, I think that we need to be very careful about entertaining or repeating such specific accusations about Finney unless we know the certainty of them. To be honest, I have heard and read quite a bit of disgust for what was supposedly the views of Charles Finney. However, I haven't seen a clear and precise indication of just what specific "heresies" that Finney is accused of having that are accompanied by firsthand evidence to validate those claims. I have seen some particularly disturbing accusations that are supposedly deduced from specific statements within Finney's lectures. However, even many of these are somewhat contradicted by other statements in Finney's autobiography and in other statements within those same books that were penned from his notes.

Anyway, I am curious as to just where you first learned of that particular quote. Was this shown to you by someone else...another book...an article...a website? Or did you see this on your own? If you obtained it from a secondhand source, would you mind telling me which one? Now, I will probably stop by one of the Stanford libraries tonight or tomorrow and try to find this particular journal or book and see it for myself. I just want to know if this quote is accurate, is from "a co-worker with Finney," is from a more-or-less impartial article, or was truly written to Finney shortly after his revivals.

:-)


_________________
Christopher

 2009/11/22 1:01Profile
Eli_Barnabas
Member



Joined: 2005/2/16
Posts: 621
Cache Valley, Utah

 Re:

Dear friend,

This is not about whether a Christian living in blatant rebellion and sin should be considered a Christian. No one is saying that. The grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness (Titus 2:12). Any example sited of people who turn the grace of God into licentiousness is not an argument against the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. The answer is not to preach a false gospel of works to them, but to preach the true gospel of grace. People WILL be transformed by the love and grace of God - if they are not, it is because they haven't truly believed, which is obviously the case.

It's so important to see that just because a preacher preaches about Jesus, and uses all kinds of Biblical terms, and calls men to live holy lives, that does not make him a true preacher of the gospel. Scripture clearly warns us that many false teachers shall come in Christ's name, and they shall be under the guise of "ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11:15). Why do we always assume that if a preacher is preaching holiness they are approved? Don't we realize that it is [i]religious[/i] deception that runs rampant in our world today, and all under the pretense of godliness? I honestly believe a great many of us are ignorant of this reality. False teachers come in sheep's clothing! Don't we realize that?

Ultimately, the question must be as concerns Finney: Did Charles Finney preach the gospel as it is in the Holy Scriptures? Does he pass the test of Galatians 1:8-9? Is the gospel that Paul called his own the same gospel that Finney formulated in his Systematic Theology in 1851? That is the question... not how much success did he have (yes, I know that I brought it up!).

I sited my quotes in my post above. If those materials are not accessible to you, you can look in Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 78, Jan. 1921, a religious quarterly magazine right out of Oberlin, Ohio, itself.

Blessings to my dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Yours,
-Eli


_________________
Eli Brayley

 2009/11/22 16:34Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
Member



Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4496


 Re:

Hi Eli...

I certainly didn't enter into the conversation just to discuss the merits or vices of Calvinism. I have my personal views that I feel are deeply grounded in Scripture. In fact, I don't think that either the teachings of Calvinism or Arminianism are correct in their entirety. Rather, I feel more inclined to not try and "figure out" these silly philosophies in their entirety and simply remember the [i]bottom line[/i]. If a person is living in continual sin, then they should not expect to enter the Kingdom of God (no matter how "churchy" they may appear to be and regardless of whether or not their "conversion" was sincere).

Personally, I think that it is a flaw to preach either a works-centered "Gospel" or a "Gospel" that tells believers that that it is entirely impossible for them to walk away from the faith. We can argue that people who walk away were "never truly saved to begin with," but that doesn't line up with the warnings in Scripture from Peter, Paul, John and the writer of Hebrews about this possibility. I pointed out a few of these passages earlier. It also doesn't explain the constant war and temptation within the hearts and minds of believers to follow after the ways of the flesh. While I know that we must remember the grace of God, I can't help but wonder if people who truly came to Christ are somehow bound as slaves from ever choosing to return to the ways of the world for the remainder of their days. Now, I can't imagine ever walking away from God...but the temptation to follow after the ways of the flesh is ever present. I suspect that anyone who claims that it isn't is not telling the truth. I have known people (including my own sister) who have sincerely walked with the Lord for years, yet somehow chose to pursue the things of this world. It would be great to believe in a "irresistible grace" that would bring her back...but I have known similar people who died in their sins.

Yet, I still tend to stray from the theological arguments about this much-debated topic. I feel that much what is taught is reading too much into the Scriptures. I don't see the five points of Calvinism taught in Scriptures as decisively as they are taught today. Of course, I also know that we are saved by grace and NOT by works. However, I couldn't care less about the teachings of Calvinism or Arminianism. I feel that some people might make a "mountain out of a molehill" so to speak. This is probably my strongest disappointment with modern "theology" as it is taught today: Men pretend to know the absolute mind of God in regard to matters by sifting through Scriptures and piecing together a doctrine that they think is obvious (which is odd given the mass disagreement).

However, my point in entering the discussion was not to argue about the subject itself. Rather, I was concerned with the extent of specific accusations (and just where they may have originated). Even now, you haven't told me whether or not you found this particular quote on your own or if you uncovered it somewhere else (such as, say, an anti-Finney article, book or website). In addition, Charles Finney isn't here to defend himself. We don't have a record of critics confronting Charles Finney, nor do we have a record of Charles Finney answering his critics while he was still alive. However, I actually found the written work from which the passage came from. I digitized that particular passage and you can access this particular page by [url=http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/6545/finney66a.jpg]CLICKING HERE[/url].

I noticed that your statement might not be entirely accurate. First off, I read through the article from which this quote came (although it is merely an uncited footnote). The article itself is quite biased in its accusations against Finney (and is filled with claims of what Finney supposedly "believed" but with no effort made to actually verify this at all). In addition, this letter itself is not a "source" because it is neither part of the article itself (it is just a footnote) and is not even cited at all. We don't know where or how the author or editor of this article actually obtained the letter or the validity of the letter at all for that matter. Further, you wrote:

Quote:
Jame Boyle, a co-worker with Finney, wrote to him not long after the revivals:


This letter was supposedly signed by a "Mr. B" who possibly wanted to remain unnamed (so we cannot fully assume that it was written by this "Mr. James Boyle"). Secondly, we don't even know for certain whether Finney was truly the targeted recipient of this letter (because it doesn't say so in the letter itself). If he was the target of this letter, his response is not noted. In fact, we don't even know for certain that this "Mr. B" was actually a co-worker with Finney to begin with. Finally, it was not necessarily written shortly after the revivals. Those revivals took place approximately a decade before this letter was supposedly written.

I suppose that I am just urging individuals to verify the quotes that they read somewhere else and to not make assumptions that may or may not be true. There are quite a few people who dislike Charles Finney because of some supposed views that he may (or may not) have had. Yet, I feel that the story of his conversion -- as reported in his autobiography (the only book that he actually penned) -- mirrors my own conversion. I remember reading those words of Finney's testimony while I was a teenager in public high school (reading the autobiography for a book report). I remember weeping because the conversion was so much like my own.

To be clear: I really don't care too much to read any of Finney's supposed doctrinal views (regardless of how accurately they depict what he actually believed). However, this isn't limited to Charles Finney. I have never really enjoyed reading the doctrinal views of others. I am just as capable of understanding the Word of God as any man. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in me (and all believers)! The Spirit of God can lead me into all truth. After I came to Christ, I read the Word of God several times within the first week! I couldn't get enough of God's Word! Over the years that I have known the Lord, I can't count how many times that I have read the Word of God through and through. I've never felt that I needed a doctrinal textbook or series of "we believes" to tell me what the Word of God clearly says. Now, this is not to say that teachers don't have their place. Yet, I am glad that I relied on the Word of God to sift through the doctrinal views of teachers rather than the other way around.

When it comes down to the heart of the matter, I think that we just don't have Finney here to clarify his views. Further, I just don't think that Finney's doctrinal teachings (real or fictional) are really that far-reaching to begin with. Do we really need to spend so much time and effort telling people what Finney believed (right or wrong) and then spend even more time deconstructing those supposed beliefs? I love listening to messages by Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, Carter Conlon, Paul Washer and even Greg Gordon. However, I am not a disciple of ANY man. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ and His Word. When I met Leonard Ravenhill in his home as a young teenager, he told me to question everything. This isn't limited to those people who I might obviously disagree with. Ravenhill urged me to even question those teachings that are widespread and have been handed down for generations. He told me that we must have a Berean attitude when it comes to such matters. We should "test everything" and "hold on to the good." I think that this was good advice. I am unwilling to rhetorically condemn Charles Finney for views that I am not even totally convinced that he had. If I felt so inclined, I think that I would much rather prefer to warn believers about the teaching itself (rather than who may or may not have embraced such a view).

I hope this makes a little more sense. Thank you, brother.


_________________
Christopher

 2009/11/22 18:46Profile
alan4jc
Member



Joined: 2007/8/15
Posts: 190
Cache Valley, Utah

 Re:

I don't think it is at all necessary to have Finney here to defend his views. We have his systematic theology and many other transcripts that give us clear evidence that he did not teach the gospel that Paul taught.


_________________
Alan Taylor

 2009/11/22 20:01Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
Member



Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4496


 Re:

Hi alan...

Quote:

alan4jc wrote:
I don't think it is at all necessary to have Finney here to defend his views. We have his systematic theology and many other transcripts that give us clear evidence that he did not teach the gospel that Paul taught.


Yet there are plenty of arguments about whether or not Finney truly believed those things that he is accused of. If anything, it seems that there are conflicting ideas about such things within those writings that are attributed to him in this regard. Besides, why focus on Finney? Why not focus on the issue or teaching itself?


_________________
Christopher

 2009/11/22 20:08Profile





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