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.
Update: Additional endorsements of Charles G. Finney by Christian leaders.
“[Charles G.] Finney won multiplied thousands of souls. Although he preached in a smaller area, and though he was handicapped by some errors in theology, Finney probably had as powerful a manifestation of the power of God upon his ministry as did D. L. Moody or any other preacher since the days of Paul, and in the smaller area which he covered in his revival work a larger proportion of the population was saved than has been true, we suppose, in the ministry of any other great evangelist.”
-John R. Rice, “The Power of Pentecost;” 1949, 1979. Rice was founding editor of “The Sword of the Lord.”
Robert L. Sumner refers to the “noted and greatly used Charles G. Finney.”
Sumner was an evangelist, author, Associate Editor of “The Sword of the Lord,” editor of “The Biblical Evangelist.”
“While giving instruction it is wise to appeal to the understanding. True religion is as logical as if it were not emotional. I am not an admirer of the peculiar views of Mr. [Charles G.] Finney, but I have no doubt that he was useful to many; and his power lay in his use of clear arguments. Many who knew his fame were greatly disappointed at first hearing him, because he used few beauties of speech and was as calm and dry as a book of Euclid; but he was exactly adapted to a certain order of minds, and they were convinced and convicted by his forcible reasoning. Should not persons of an argumentative cast of mind be provided for? We are to be all things to all men, and to these men we must become argumentative and push them into a corner with plain deductions and necessary inferences. Of carnal reasoning we would have none, but of fair, honest pondering, considering, judging, and arguing the more the better.”
-Charles H. Spurgeon, “Lectures to My Students.”
“One of the tremendous affirmations of the great evangelist and preacher Charles G. Finney is this; that it is the truth of God that convicts and that saves.”
-W. A. Criswell, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX, author, SBC president.
For a positive treatment of Finney, see: “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.
Also see, Robert W. Caldwell III, “Theologies of the American Revivalists,” IVP Academic; 2017.
Dr. Caldwell is professor of church history, SWBTS.
Both Caldwell and Drummond explain some of Finney’s theological views, views criticized by some who do not understand them. They also explain some of the “out of context” Finney quotes that are often used against him.
I do not agree with all of Finney’s theology, but he was a great evangelist and greatly used of God. He is undeserving of much of the modern criticism against him.
-DRB; 1-7-AD 2018.
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