SermonIndex Audio Sermons
Image Map
Discussion Forum : General Topics : Questions about Charles Finney.

Print Thread (PDF)

Goto page ( Previous Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 Next Page )

Joined: 2006/6/19
Posts: 927


rbanks, Finney consistently preached against the imputed righteousness of Christ, and I think that is what he is conveying here (and in numerous other places). You also state that you do not believe that Christ's righteousness (fulfilling of the Law) was imputed to us.

However, I would suggest this verse:

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: -- 1st Corinthians 1:30

Christ is not only our innocence, but our righteousness.

Also, remember this:

In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness. - Jeremiah 23:6.

I think if I could bring brothers who know me in person to testify about me here today, they would testify, by God's grace, that I am an understanding person and accepting of those who differ in some matters.

However, I don't think people are fully comprehending the seriousness of the differences between the views of Finney/Pelagius and the views of Christians throughout the ages. It is not a mere wrangling over words and straining at gnats, it is the very gospel at stake.

Taylor Otwell

 2008/8/30 12:13Profile

Joined: 2007/1/30
Posts: 926


Romans 4,

"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And [b] therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. [/b]
23 Now [b]it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead[/b];
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."

By faith in Christ's power and redemptive work we lay hold of his substitutionary death. He died as a substitute, being delivered for the offenses of others. On the cross Jesus was made sin, as it were, on our behalf, and we receive the merit of his righteousness for justification by faith in his work.

Imputed righteousness received by faith is the gospel in plainest terms.

If this is denied, I am convinced the gospel is denied.

 2008/8/30 13:06Profile

Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4533


Hi Taylor…

Is it wise to take such a vicious manner in regard to this man (Finney)? I don’t totally agree with many brethren in respect to their doctrinal beliefs, yet it doesn’t cause me to spew fierce anger in regard to their views. I don’t believe in modern teaching of “once saved, always saved” in the least; however, I don’t think that those who do are preaching “soul-damning, pernicious statements.” Rather, they are simply sharing their views about the nature of salvation. Yes, they probably shouldn’t teach a matter that is not ultimately clear from the Scriptures.

When asked what I believe, I usually tell people that I agree with neither “side” on the issue. Rather, I understand that our justification is by faith…but that such faith is illustrated by our love for God – a love that is demonstrated by an ever-present desire to be holy. However, if a soul consciously lives in a constant state of sin, then what kind of “justification” remains? It is easy to claim that such a person was “never truly saved in the first place.” That may be true in the sense of the timeless of eternity, but are we so willing to dismiss the faith of men who once walked wholeheartedly in the faith but strayed away? The doctrine of “justification by faith” is one thing: The idea that is taught by which a person who once professed and demonstrated faith in Christ is now forever secure from ever “falling away” is another.

Having never met him (but being familiar with his autobiography and biographies of the man), I think that this may be what Finney was trying to say. You called Finney’s supposed teaching a “Catholic doctrine.” That doctrine teaches “safety” by fulfilling the rituals of that corrupt Church. However, I think that Finney was trying to expose the dangers of a Protestant Church that was becoming just as corrupt as the Catholic (but from a different reason). Many Protestants at the time held a false sense of security similar to what is present in the Catholic Church. However, whereas the Catholics obtained their false sense of security from fulfilling the requirements of the Church, the Protestants were attaining their false sense of security from the idea that they are justified entirely by their faith.

While I certainly believe in justification by faith – I don’t think that the Protestants of Finney’s day truly understood the concept of “faith.” The faith that justifies is not the result of simply believing in Christ (like believing in gravity…nor is it believing in the Christ that is taught by many preachers standing on podiums). The faith that justifies is not demonstrated by a public confession, baptism in water and a mandatory “Church” lifestyle. Rather, this “faith” is demonstrated by our hunger for the things of God and our distaste for the things of this world! However, Finney’s [i]Memoirs[/i] contain the shock he received before and after his conversion of men who just didn’t care. Many men and women of his day – who were faithful to the Church – simply didn’t care about the things of God. Yes, they went through the motions of worship, prayer, and works. But Finney seemed to equate such things with the same non-conversion “evidence” demonstrated by constituents of the Catholic Church!

Finney’s manner of “revival” was probably birthed by his own unique conversion experience. He was a fairly agnostic Law School student. One of his textbooks for Law School was the Old Testament (since it was the foundation for law in a “Christian” society like the United States). As such, he began to fear for the status of his soul. He began attending prayer meetings – but wouldn’t pray. After months of this, the prayerful Church-goers approached Finney and asked if he would like prayer. Finney said no. He told them, “[i] I suppose I need to be prayed for, for I am conscious that I am a sinner; but I do not see that it will do any good for you to pray for me; for you are continually asking, but you do not receive. You have been praying for a revival of religion ever since I have been in Adams, and yet you have it not. You have been praying for the Holy Spirit to descend upon yourselves, and yet complaining of your leanness. You have prayed enough since I have attended these meetings to have prayed the devil out of Adams, if there is any virtue in your prayers. But here you are praying on, and complaining still[/i].”

Finney became more and more miserable in regard to the condition of his soul. He had resolved that he would divert attention from everything in his life in order to make peace with God. Yet he was too prideful to publicly acknowledge the woeful condition of his soul. He knew that his heart was growing hard, yet he was completely miserable in his state. He eventually became so painfully aware of his wretched condition, that he decided that he was going to attempt to make peace with God. He knew of a lonely stretch of woods just north of town, and he decided to walk there and attempt to find salvation. He proceeded to cry out to God in prayer. Yet he was still full of pride. In his own words:


But still my pride must show itself. As I went over the hill, it occurred to me that someone might see me and suppose that I was going away to pray. Yet probably there was not a person on earth that would have suspected such a thing, had he seen me going. But so great was my pride, and so much was I possessed with the fear of man, that I recollect that I skulked along under the fence, till I got so far out of sight that no one from the village could see me. I then penetrated into the woods, I should think, a quarter of a mile, went over on the other side of the hill, and found a place where some large trees had fallen across each other, leaving an open place between. There I saw I could make a kind of closet. I crept into this place and knelt down for prayer. As I turned to go up into the woods, I recollect to have said, "I will give my heart to God, or I never will come down from there." I recollect repeating this as I went up: ;"I will give my heart to God before I ever come down again."

But when I attempted to pray I found that my heart would not pray. I had supposed that if I could only be where I could speak aloud, without being overheard, I could pray freely. But lo! when I came to try, I was dumb; that is, I had nothing to say to God; or at least I could say but a few words, and those without heart. In attempting to pray I would hear a rustling in the leaves, as I thought, and would stop and look up to see if somebody were not coming. This I did several times.

Finally I found myself verging fast to despair. I said to myself, "I cannot pray. My heart is dead to God, and will not pray." I then reproached myself for having promised to give my heart to God before I left the woods. When I came to try, I found I could not give my heart to God. My inward soul hung back, and there was no going out of my heart to God. I began to feel deeply that it was too late; that it must be that I was given up of God and was past hope.
The thought was pressing me of the rashness of my promise, that I would give my heart to God that day or die in the attempt. It seemed to me as if that was binding upon my soul; and yet I was going to break my vow. A great sinking and discouragement came over me, and I felt almost too weak to stand upon my knees.

Just at this moment I again thought I heard someone approach me, and I opened my eyes to see whether it were so. But right there the revelation of my pride of heart, as the great difficulty that stood in the way, was distinctly shown to me. An overwhelming sense of my wickedness in being ashamed to have a human being see me on my knees before God, took such powerful possession of me, that I cried at the top of my voice, and exclaimed that I would not leave that place if all the men on earth and all the devils in hell surrounded me. "What!" I said, "such a degraded sinner I am, on my knees confessing my sins to the great and holy God; and ashamed to have any human being, and a sinner like myself, find me on my knees endeavoring to make my peace with my offended God!" The sin appeared awful, infinite. It broke me down before the Lord.

Just at that point this passage of Scripture seemed to drop into my mind with a flood of light: "Then shall ye go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. Then shall ye seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." I instantly seized hold of this with my heart. I had intellectually believed the Bible before; but never had the truth been in my mind that faith was a voluntary trust instead of an intellectual state. I was as conscious as I was of my existence, of trusting at that moment in God's veracity. Somehow I knew that that was a passage of Scripture, though I do not think I had ever read it. I knew that it was God's word, and God's voice, as it were, that spoke to me. I cried to Him, "Lord, I take Thee at Thy word.

Now Thou knowest that I do search for Thee with all my heart, and that I have come here to pray to Thee; and Thou hast promised to hear me."
That seemed to settle the question that I could then, that day, perform my vow. The Spirit seemed to lay stress upon that idea in the text, "When you search for me with all your heart." The question of when, that is of the present time, seemed to fall heavily into my heart. I told the Lord that I should take Him at his word; that He could not lie; and that therefore I was sure that He heard my prayer, and that He would be found of me.

Such as is true with many of us, Finney’s salvation was sudden and dramatic! Christ had just become the center of his universe – the focal point of his heart and mind. Finney described just how his life became immediately and immeasurably consumed by his newfound relationship with God! Naturally, he was shocked with the nonchalant manner in which other “Christians” spoke about God. Finney had just had a powerful conversion and was consumed by the things of God – and he was shocked that others in Church did not share his same zeal. In fact, many of the Church didn’t even seem to have a relationship with God at all.

I believe that this revelation consumed Finney. His life had just been turned upside down by his conversion and newfound focus on Christ – yet so many other “believers” approached the things of God as though it was just another part of life. The revival that began in New York (that was considered the Second Great Awakening) was the result of Finney’s realization that the Church was filled with false converts. Sure, they were good people who believed in Jesus, were baptized in water, and regularly attended meetings. They were even highly moral. Yet Finney agonized over the realization that people assumed that this was “salvation.” There was no evidence of the agony over sin of separation from God for which Finney knew firsthand. Rather, people were settled in their own Protestant brand of Christianity that resembled Roman Catholicism much more than they were willing to admit. People thought that they were saved simply because they believed and fulfilled the non-ritualistic rituals of the Church. And Finney set out to destroy such a myth!

Brother Taylor, I imagine that Finney might have gone too far in his messages about some things (including justification). But it is helpful to understand the issues in which he faced. He saw the Church being infiltrated with accepted standards of false conversion. People were “joining” the Church rather than being “born again” or converted into it. Finney saw that the Church was “sitting in ease in Zion” (so to speak) with little care about the things of God other than the “Sunday Christianity” that was now the norm. Indeed, the Church of Finney’s day was in desperate need of a revival of true faith – and not a “faith” that was based upon the idea of it as accepted by the Church of the day. Faith, in Finney’s mind, only existed when evidenced by a hungry desire to please God. It is entirely different than a mere public decision or profession of faith. It is existent only when it is accompanied by deep, heartfelt repentance and then by focus on the things of God.

It is sometimes easy to pick and choose a short passage from a book that is attributed to Finney and then criticize it a “harlot doctrine that damns men.” It would be far more relevant if you would include the entire quote. For instance, it is common for anti-Christian men (such as abortions rights groups, atheists or homosexuals) to quote a single phrase from Scripture that almost appears to justify their behavior or beliefs. However, if we were to look at the passage as a whole, it would clarify the matter. In the same way, if we are going to pass judgment upon a man based upon a sentence that is taken from one of “his book” (actually compiled, edited and released by other men), then it would be helpful to mull over the entire section or chapter.

The passage that you quoted is from Chapter 16 of the book entitled “Lectures to Professing Christians.” The chapter deals with the concept of “Justification by Faith,” and is taken from section 3, “Show what justification is.” Here is that section in its entirety:

III. I am to show what Gospel Justification is.

First, Negatively.

1. Gospel Justification is not the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Under the gospel, sinners are not justified by having the obedience of Jesus Christ set down to their account, as if He had obeyed the law for them, or in their stead. It is not an uncommon mistake to suppose that when sinners are justified under the gospel they are accounted righteous in the eye of the law, by having the obedience or righteousness of Christ imputed to them. I have not time to go into an examination of this subject now. I can only say this idea is absurd and impossible, for this reason, that Jesus Christ was bound to obey the law for Himself, and could no more perform works of supererogation, or obey on our account, than anybody else. Was it not His duty to love the Lord his God, with all His heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love His neighbor as Himself? Certainly; and if he had not done so, it would have been sin. The only work of supererogation He could perform was to submit to sufferings that were not deserved. This is called his obedience unto death, and this is set down to our account. But if His obedience of the law is set down to our account, why are we called on to repent and obey the law ourselves? Does God exact double service, yes, triple service, first to have the law obeyed by the surety for us, then that He must suffer the penalty for us, and then that we must repent and obey ourselves? No such thing is demanded. It is not required that the obedience of another should be imputed to us. All we owe is perpetual obedience to the law of benevolence. And for this there can be no substitute. If we fail of this we must endure the penalty, or receive a free pardon.

2. Justification by faith does not mean that faith is accepted as a substitute for personal holiness, or that by an arbitrary constitution, faith is imputed to us instead of personal obedience to the law.

Some suppose that justification is this, that the necessity of personal holiness is set aside, and that God arbitrarily dispenses with the requirement of the law, and imputes faith as a substitute. But this is not the way. Faith is accounted for just what it is, and not for something else that it is not. Abraham's faith was imputed unto him for righteousness, because it was itself an act of righteousness, and because it worked by love, and thus produced holiness. Justifying faith is holiness, so far as it goes, and produces holiness of heart and life, and is imputed to the believer as holiness, not instead of holiness.
3. Nor does justification by faith imply that a sinner is justified by faith without good works, or personal holiness.

Some suppose that justification by faith only, is without any regard to good works, or holiness. They have understood this from what Paul has said, where he insists so largely on justification by faith. But it should be borne in mind that Paul was combating the error of the Jews, who expected to be justified by obeying the law. In opposition to this error, Paul insists on it that justification is by faith, without works of law. He does not mean that good works are unnecessary to justification, but that works of law are not good works, because they spring from legal considerations, from hope and fear, and not from faith that works by love. But inasmuch as a false theory had crept into the church on the other side, James took up the matter, and showed them that they had misunderstood Paul. And to show this, he takes the case of Abraham. "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?---And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

This epistle was supposed to contradict Paul, and some of the ancient churches rejected it on that account. But they overlooked the fact that Paul was speaking of one kind of works, and James of another. Paul was speaking of works performed from legal motives. But he has everywhere insisted on good works springing from faith, or the righteousness of faith, as indispensable to salvation. All that he denies is, that works of law, or works grounded on legal motives, have anything to do in the matter of justification. And James teaches the same thing, when he teaches that men are justified, not by works nor by faith alone, but by faith together with the works of faith; or as Paul expresses it, faith that works by love. You will bear in mind that I am speaking of gospel justification, which is very different from legal justification.

Secondly, Positively.

4. Gospel justification, or justification by faith, consists in pardon and acceptance with God.

When we say that men are justified by faith and holiness, we do not mean that they are accepted on the ground of law, but that they are treated as if they were righteous, on account of their faith and works of faith. This is the method which God takes, in justifying a sinner. Not that faith is the foundation of justification. The foundation is in Christ. But this is the manner in which sinners are pardoned, and accepted, and justified, that if they repent, believe, and become holy, their past sins shall be forgiven, for the sake of Christ.

Here it will be seen how justification under the gospel differs from justification under the law. Legal justification is a declaration of actual innocence and freedom from blame. Gospel justification is pardon and acceptance, as if he was righteous, but on other grounds than his own obedience. When the apostle says, "By deeds of law shall no flesh be justified", he uses justification as a lawyer, in a strictly legal sense. But when he speaks of justification by faith, he speaks not of legal justification, but of a person's being treated as if he were righteous.

The entire chapter is listed under this table of content:

Chapter 16


TEXT:-- "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."

This last sentiment is expressed in the same terms, in the 3rd chapter of Romans. The subject of the present lecture, as I announced last week, is Justification by Faith. The order which I propose to pursue in the discussion is this:

I. Show what justification by law, or legal justification, is.

II. Show that by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified.

III. Show what gospel justification is.

IV. Show what is the effect of gospel justification, or the state into which it brings a person that is justified.

V. Show that gospel justification is by faith.

VI. Answer some inquiries which arise in many minds on this subject.

You can read the text in its entirety [url=]here[/url].

As I said earlier, I am not a fan of books that deal primarily with doctrine. As a result, I don’t read many books that try to explain the author’s notion of doctrinal truth. I suppose that this is why I am not a fan of Watchman Nee or other such men. It isn’t that I don’t approve of some (or even all) of what they might say. I view such works as the written opinions of men. Rather, I prefer to learn my doctrinal views primarily from the Word of God – and then, afterward, to simply compare what I believe to be correct with what is found in books. However, even if I never agree, I would hesitate before dismissing the author as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” or as someone who conveys “soul damning, pernicious statements.” While I agree that some doctrines are exceedingly clear from the Scriptures – we can’t really allow for Finney to clarify his position since he is long dead, and if we initially base his position upon what we think he is saying from books that were compiled from someone’s notes taken from his lectures. We don’t know if this is something that Finney said once by error, eventually changed his mind or stood behind it but simply lacked clarity when expressing it. However, I think that we can afford some grace when considering such things.



 2008/8/30 13:23Profile

Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991



TaylorOtwell wrote:

However, I don't think people are fully comprehending the seriousness of the differences between the views of Finney/Pelagius and the views of Christians throughout the ages. It is not a mere wrangling over words and straining at gnats, it is the very gospel at stake.

Brother Taylor, you say strong things, maybe rightly so, but i have read you recomend people to read Luther, and in the same breath speak at Finney as a heretic and as someone who bring the entire Gospel to danger?

have you read some of Luthers less known writings? his writings about the jews? in my opinion you can not understand some things about the gospel rightly and the church and the mystery if you get this wrong. As Luther did.

have you read Luthers personal letters to Zwingli? the reformer in Schweitz?

how Luther recommend him how he should deal with those who have baptised twice? he says translated paraphrased "drive them out with a stick as one drives out a mad dog".

And about zwingli who murdered and persecuted men , women and children?

these mens reformed and Calvinistic doctrines which they held to more or less degrees lead to several thousands of murders of the anabaptists.

sure some of what they did God used for good, as he always do. But please dont warn people about Finney and in same breath recommend the reformers.

who was way more off then Finney.

many hold these reformers as heros, but under the surface there are some nasty things, much worse then any Finney ever wrote or did. So let us clean out our own petdoctrine heroes first, they are all mere men. Some off in doctrine, some off in their life, some even murderers. What Good is a correct doctrine about justification? when you dont have the life in reality to back it up?

its worth nothing, it does not matter how loud they yell their five points or justification by faith, the prof you have that faith is evident in the life we live.

I have read so many letters, and other things from the reformers translated to swedish. And it makes me sick when ever i hear people lift these people up. Yes they gave us the bible, praise God for that.

i know i am stepping on some toes here, but dear people, we need to really discern and know what we promote, i know it is fashion to be in the reformed bible believing camp, its like i am a "real" christian, i got the doctrines down, i know everything and i have the discernment and i do this and that.

its all rubbish without life!

we need to get down to this truth, it has burned in me for sometime, its so easy to get into this carousel round and round, oh God give us life!

i am sorry brethren, let us face the truth, the reality in men, may it be Finney, may it be the reformers, they are all men. The bible tells us about followers of men.

take heed, if any man thinks he stands....

Gods grace and peace in truth



 2008/8/30 16:10Profile

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


we need to really discern and know what we promote

I agree.

Would you have us believe the Anabaptists innocent?

"ALL" the reformers had their problems.The Anabaptist were reformers as well.

I could easily fill this forum with articles and info that color the Anabaptists far from appealing.

This is just one of hundreds of articles on the other side.



It is fairly common to hear the claims that the Reformers persecuted the Anabaptists just because they "were not willing to baptise babies." One correspondent wrote that rather than celebrate the Reformation "would it not be preferable to study the Scriptures…"

Of course, our highest priority is to "study the Scriptures daily to see if these things be true". In fact that is the heritage of the Reformation. The Reformation gave us back the Bible freely available, translated into our own languages, and the Reformers championed "Scripture alone is our final authority". The Reformation succeeded in bringing about greater freedoms than had ever been experienced before in human history.

Those who accuse the Reformers of persecuting the Anabaptists are being unfair and selective in not reporting the whole context. The Anabaptists were not so much opposed and convicted for not being willing to baptise babies, but because the Anabaptists in the 1520's and 1530's were radical, violent revolutionaries.

While the Anabaptists claimed to be the only true Christians, they denied many of the key elements of the Faith. They rejected Biblical Law, Christian ministry, worship and sacraments, and the Anabaptists proclaimed socialism, egalitarianism and revolution. They claimed "it is impossible to be Christian and wealthy at the same time"; "all authorities, secular and clerical, must be deprived of their offices once and for all or be killed by the sword…"

Igor Shafarevich in his book The Socialist Phenomenon, documents the teachings and activities of two important Anabaptist leaders, Thomas Muntzer and John of Leyden. Muntzer, an itinerant preacher and organiser of rebellions, established his revolutionary base in Muhlhausen from where he issued proclamations damning landowners, magistrates, and the Reformers. "I would like to smell your frying carcass" he wrote to Martin Luther.

In 1525, Muntzer was successful in rousing up many of the peasants of central Germany in the bloody, so called Peasants Revolt, which it should be noted attracted several nobles to his side. "Let your swords be ever-warm with blood!" Muntzer exhorted his faithful followers. Muntzer's army of Anabaptists struck terror throughout the countryside, robbing, burning and destroying the property of the faithful, killing many thousands.

Frederick Engels praised Muntzer's "robust vandalism" and explained "by the Kingdom of God Muntzer meant a society without class differences, private property and the state authority…. All the existing authorities…were to be overthrown, all work and property shared in common and complete equality introduced."

Engels praised Muntzer's doctrines in this way: "Under the cloak of Christianity he preached a kind of pantheism, which curiously resembled modern speculative contemplation and at times even approached atheism. He repudiated the Bible both as the only and as the infallible revelation. The real and living revelation, he said, was reason, a revelation which existed and always exists amongst all people at all times. To hold up the Bible against reason, he maintained, was to kill the spirit with the letter, …faith is nothing but reason come alive in man, and pagans could therefore also have faith…just as there is no heaven in the beyond, there is no hell and no damnation. Similarly, there is no devil…Christ was a man, as we are, a prophet and a teacher..."

In 1534, Anabaptist leader Jan Matthijs siezed the town of Munster. "Armed Anabaptists broke into houses and drove out everyone who was unwilling to accept second baptism. Winter was drawing to a close; it was a stormy day and wet snow was falling. An eyewitness account describes crowds of expelled citizens walking through the knee-deep snow. They had not been allowed even to take warm clothing with them. Women carrying children in their arms, old men leaning on staffs. At the city gate they were robbed once more." (The Socialist Phenomenon - Shafarevich)

Jan Matthijs and Johan Bokelson then instituted a reign of terror in Munster, ordering the socialisation of all property, and ordaining apostles of revolution to preach throughout Europe. The communist paradise of Munster attracted thousands of Anabaptists from throughout Germany and Holland. Matthijs was killed in one of the early battles with surrounding cities. Johan Bokelson took command and established a dictatorship in Munster. He then issued the order for holding everything in common, including wives.

As Frederick Engels observed: "It is a curious fact that in every large revolutionary movement the question of free-love comes to the foreground". No woman was allowed to be exempt - there was a law against being unmarried, which meant that every girl was forced to be passed around amongst the men. Every woman in Munster became fair game for the lusts of these Anabaptist men. Rapes, suicides, severe punishments and mass executions took place almost every day. On one notable occasion, Bokelson himself beheaded a virtuous woman who had refused his sexual advances. As he ceremoniously chopped her head off in the public square, a choir of his wives sang "Glory to God in the Highest"! (Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators by David Chilton).

This reign of terror continued for a year and a half until the city was freed by Protestant forces who put Bokelson and his lieutenants to death for their crimes - crimes committed in the name of love, equality and spirituality.

I have left out most of the sordid and horrifying details of the 1525 Peasants Revolt and the 1534 Anabaptist "Kingdom of God" established in Munster. But these few examples should be sufficient to explain why Anabaptists were opposed. It was not that they were being persecuted for taking the Scriptures seriously, but because they were violent revolutionaries subverting the entire social order and guilty of the deaths of many thousands of innocent people.

Those who would claim that the Anabaptists have changed dramatically since that time, should recognise that it is for that very reason therefore unfair to portray the Reformers as supporting the persecution of poor innocent Anabaptists, as that is plainly not the case. Yes, the Anabaptists have changed since. So we should not continue to propagate the false accusation that Reformers were persecuting pacifist Anabaptists who were seeking to mind their own business. The Anabaptists that were opposed by the Reformers in the 1520's and 1530's were violent revolutionaries guilty of abominable atrocities and abuses.

For further reading, I would encourage you to read - When All Men Speak Well of You and Why Is There So Much Hostility Against the Bible and Christianity? and obtain these outstanding books: What If Jesus Had Never Been Born by Dr. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, Under the Influence - How Christianity Transformed Civilisation by Alvin Schmidt, and The Great Christian Revolution by Otto Scott. We all owe a tremendous debt to the Reformation in so many different ways. The Reformation was the greatest movement for faith and freedom that the world has ever seen.

Dr. Peter Hammond


 2008/8/30 17:47Profile

Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri


However, I don't think people are fully comprehending the seriousness of the differences between the views of Finney/Pelagius and the views of Christians throughout the ages. It is not a mere wrangling over words and straining at gnats, it is the very gospel at stake

I personally understand the concern and that is why I would never promote Finneys views of original sin, imputed righteousness or the atonement. The thing we have to grasp is the [i]times[/i] in which Finney ministered. He had a specific focus that emphasized man's responsibility. So one cannot bring all of his preaching into our times without that consideration because our experience is different. If he preached today he no doubt had had a different emphasis. But certainly Finney's view of the atonement are no more alarming than unconditional election and reprobation or taken to extreme a view that makes God to have decreed the fall, sin and Satan. Not just is the Gospel at risk with Finney, but the very nature of God is in danger with unconditional reprobation.

So there are concerns everywhere, not just with Finney. We need to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. ;-)

Robert Wurtz II

 2008/8/30 18:43Profile


The thing we have to grasp is the times in which Finney ministered. He had a specific focus that emphasized man's responsibility. So one cannot bring all of his preaching into our times without that consideration because our experience is different


I hear what you are saying, but if that is true, then that is where Finney went wrong. As far as I can see, no where in scripture does it allow for us to change the Gospel to suit our times. If this was Finney's motivation, then he is no different than those that many criticise today.

For example...the emergent movememnt...and Brian Mclaren. His main focus is the church being missional, and being concerned with social justice. Why, because he says that we, the church, are too concerned about doctrine an our own personal salvation (deeds not creeds) But I don't think there are too many on this forum that would recommend him as a theologian. In fact, there are many that would comdemn his teaching altogether. Is he any different than Finney. He is changing the Gospel to fit the fit the culture.

We are not called to take the Word of God and try to motivate men. We are called to Preach The Gospel and be confident in the Word of God that it will produce Fruit. We are not called to change the story. There is only one Gospel...One Faith, One Baptism, and that Gospel only makes sense in the context of mankind being lost and dead in their sins.

We have no right to judge Finney's salvation because none of us knew him. But we do have an obligation to conmdemn any Theology that changes the only Gospel that has the power to save men.

 2008/8/31 9:58

Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri


Is he any different than Finney.

I think he is very different, from what I understand of him. More because of what I know about Charles Finney. I doubt the world knows of a Finney in our times. The emphasis is drifting towards compromise in our times. Finney would have withstood this compromise to the face. ;-)

We are not called to take the Word of God and try to motivate men. We are called to Preach The Gospel and be confident in the Word of God that it will produce Fruit.

Finney gets misrepresented a lot as if he believed that man could save himself. This is not true. I mentioned in an earlier posting that Finney believed there was a sense in which the word, the preacher, the Holy Spirit and the individual worked together in conversion. Not one to the exclusion of others, but all together.

Personally i don't like Finney's atonement or limited atonement. I don't like Finney's no-assurance view or eternal unconditional assurance. But I think that Finney was profitable to the ministry just as I believe Spurgeon was.

Robert Wurtz II

 2008/8/31 15:19Profile


Finney would have withstood this compromise to the face

What is compromise but denying the truth of the Word of God? Charles Finney denied the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. He denied that Christ was our substitute in His obedience, in His death and in His resurrection. He taught that Christ did not do those things for us, but that He did them for himself, because, as the Son of God, He had to fulfill all righteousness.

Finney gets misrepresented a lot as if he believed that man could save himself. This is not true. I mentioned in an earlier posting that Finney believed there was a sense in which the word, the preacher, the Holy Spirit and the individual worked together in conversion. Not one to the exclusion of others, but all together.

I don't think this is about Calvinism and Armenianism. I don't think there is one preacher on this website that would deny the substitutionary atonement of Christ, and there are many denominations represented here, both Calvinists and Armenians alike.


Personally, before I really started learning the doctrines of Grace, I read Charles Finney. In fact, being from the Philadelphia area, a friend of mine and I made a sort of pilgrimage to the Presbyterian museum to learn more about Finney. He was a sort of hero to us. I still have one his books today...True and False Repentance. I like many on this forum use to labor under the law. I labored to please God in my own strength and I did not know the Joy of my Salvation. Authors, preachers, like Finney led me along in that type of Christianity. But when God started to free me up and show me His love and His Grace, that is when I put books like Charles Finney's away. No one told me to. I did not know anything specific about doctrine. I did not really know anything about Calvinism and Armenianism. But I knew that there was freedom in Christ and I wanted it. I knew I wanted to walk with God in freedom. I wanted to love Him and know that He loved me. Charles Finney's writings did not help me in that endeavor.

It is only recently that I have learned why Finney did not help me in being free in Christ. It is only recently that I have learned and understood his Theology. As I said before, there is only one Gospel that has the power to save men, and none of us are called to change to change that story. No matter what the state of our culture and what are motive is.

 2008/8/31 18:17

Joined: 2006/6/19
Posts: 927


What is compromise but denying the truth of the Word of God? Charles Finney denied the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. He denied that Christ was our substitute in His obedience, in His death and in His resurrection. He taught that Christ did not do those things for us, but that He did them for himself, because, as the Son of God, He had to fulfill all righteousness.

Amen, brother.

Taylor Otwell

 2008/8/31 21:26Profile

Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
Affiliate Disclosure | Privacy Policy