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07 December, 2009 / theexpositor

Charles Finney, Cooperation, and the GCR

from Timmy

Questions regarding the extent of the atonement, predestination, and the like I agree are tertiary, but there are some doctrines intricately related to the gospel that, should they be given up, would alter the gospel altogether.  Primary doctrines that address the questions of  “What is the gospel?” and “How does one become a Christian?” are essential and fundamental, “particulars” where disagreement we should all be able to recognize as unfortunately jeopardizing cooperation.

For instance, if Charles Finney were alive today and working as an itinerant revivalist in the Southern Baptist world, I (and I would imagine most Calvinists) could not cooperate with him.  His understanding of the gospel, conversion, work of the Holy Spirit in salvation, and the nature and state of man would all be particulars that are not secondary or tertiary but primary.  You might respond, “Well, of course.  Finney was semi-Pelagian.  That would be an extreme example.”  Okay. Now let me put it into contemporary vernacular because I believe that spirit and methodology (that flowed from his theology) is alive and prevalent today.  If the response to the gospel message is to “ask Jesus into your heart” or “pray this prayer after me” or “walk down this aisle” rather than repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus, then that is a primary difference in how one becomes a Christian.  If the gospel is truncated, watered down, or altered so as to not offend, then we have a real problem.