I grew up hearing good things about Charles Finney (AD 1792-1875), an evangelist from the early 1800s. I heard sermon illustrations about him. I saw books by and about him in my dad’s library and other preachers’ libraries. My heart was stirred hearing how he was part of a great revival in America and was instrumental in leading multitudes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Today I see Finney attacked time and again. Some Calvinists in particular seem to have a visceral distain for him. Finneyism is by them used almost as a curse word. They call him a Semi-Pelagian, another of their favorite pejorative terms. According to some Finney is the reason for virtually all problems, real and imagined, in the church today. Curiously, these same folks usually do not so criticize the great evangelist of our time, Billy Graham. Perhaps because it would not be so accepted?
It's refreshing to hear something good about Finney. Back in 1982 Evangelist Billy Graham had some very interesting comments. Hear them:
“Few men have had such a profound impact on their generation as Charles Grandison Finney. Through his Spirit-filled evangelistic ministry, uncounted thousands came to know Christ in the nineteenth century, resulting in one of the greatest periods of revival in the history of America. In addition, he became one of the most widely-read theologians of his time through his lectures and writings. His concern for education influenced whole generations of students.”
“But most of all, Charles G. Finney was a deeply-committed Christian. More than anything else he wanted to serve Christ and be used of Him.”
-Evangelist Billy Graham *
Graham goes on to call Finney a “remarkable man,” and “one of history’s greatest evangelists.”
So don’t be intimidated by the criticism. Get Finney’s books; get Drummond’s book on Finney. And next time you hear someone running down Charles Finney, you might share with them Billy Graham’s view of this great evangelist.
* From the Foreword in The Life and Ministry of Charles G. Finney by Dr. Lewis A. Drummond, Bethany House Publishers; 1983. Drummond was a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, May 7, AD 2012.
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