Preface To The
Finney's Revivals of Religion
1: Self Deceivers
|Charles Grandison Finney is, without
a doubt, a truly fascinating man of God. During his lifetime he served as
a teacher, lawyer, evangelist, pastor, theology professor, and college president
(Oberlin College, Ohio). What is even more amazing is that, unlike many
of our theologians of today, Finney was self educated and
held no earned degrees. I often wonder if such a powerful
speaker would even be given a chance to preach in our Churches today as
he, like Peter the Apostle, was "unlettered".
Finney intended to enroll in Yale University in 1812, but a teacher persuaded him that he could learn more privately in two years than he would learn studying four years at Yale. He taught himself Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, then moved to Adams, New York to study Law under Judge Benjamin Wright. Finney was admitted to the bar in Adams and began his Law practice.
As Finney researched various Law cases he noticed how often the Bible was quoted so he began to read and study its holy text. In October 1821 Finney, while reading and praying, felt the call of the blessed Holy Spirit to salvation. Finney answered that call, lost interest in the Law, and began preaching in revivals with results that can only be called "blessed of God".
Though ministers encouraged Finney to attend Seminary he refused, and instead entered into private study with his Pastor, George W. Gale. Though he disagreed with Gale's Calvinistic viewpoint, he felt that the studies were useful for his growth. Finney was licensed to preach by the Presbyterian Church, Evans Mills, New York on December 30, 1823.
Though Finney experienced great success in revivals within the Presbyterian Church, he never felt at ease with the doctrines of John Calvin. Eventually he changed denominations and became a Congregationalist. His success in revivals was well noted, and as a result Oberlin College, Ohio, asked him to come and serve as Professor of Theology (1834). Finney, an outspoken abolitionist, agreed to come only if Oberlin open their enrollment equally to students of all races. Oberlin agreed, and Finney was installed as Professor of Systematic Theology. While in this position he wrote "Systematic Theology" and "Revivals of Religion" that you will find posted below.
Though you may not agree with all that you read in these texts, you will, I believe, find a great deal that will aid you in your growth as both Christians and Ministers of the Gospel. It is hard to ignore the writings of the man who was, many historians agree, instrumental in starting the Great Revival of 1858-59. During this outpouring of the Spirit an estimated 600,000 people accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour. Finney established many of the practices that we accept as normal in our Churches today. He used the "anxious bench", a front row pew where those concerned about their salvation could come and be counseled. He called for public decisions for Christ, an uncommon practice in his day, but one that is the norm in our own.
In Finney's Systematic Theology you will see the foundation of his faith: what he believed and why he believed it. In Revivals of Religion you will understand why his name became synonymous with "evangelism" as he explains how to win souls for Christ. In Lectures To Professing Christians Finney calls on all who believe the examine their faith, to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling".
All works are public domain materials supplied by theChristian Classics Ethereal Library, unless otherwise noted. Their copyright states: "All of the books on this server are believed to be in the public domain in the United States unless otherwise specified. Copy them freely for any purpose." Of Finney's Systematic Theology the CCEL makes the following statement: "The following text was copied from the 1878 edition of Finney's Systematic Theology. This volume was made available to us in April 1966 by: Dennis Carroll, Gospel Truth Ministries, P.O. Box 401, Tustin, CA 92681".
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