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17 September, 2010 / theexpositor

A History of C. G. Finney and Decisional Regeneration

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3 Comments

  1. The Seeking Disciple / Sep 18 2010 9 10

    Charles Finney was not and is not Arminian. Arminius and Finney differ over many issues including what this video expresses. Arminius believed salvation was a work of grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not of men. He believed that salvation was always a complete work of God. Finney would differ with Arminius in this case. The only area that Arminius and Finney agree is over the call of salvation to go forth to all. In this, they were both correct.

    • theexpositor / Sep 20 2010 8 34

      I agree with Douglas regarding Finney. I think labeling Finney as an Arminian is not going far enough and he would best be described as an outright Pelagian. Here are some direct quites from Charles Finney himself, available and more from an article by Michael Horton entitled The Legacy of Charles Finney at http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=625&var3=main&var4=Home:


      “Whenever he sins, he must, for the time being, cease to be holy. This is self-evident. Whenever he sins, he must be condemned; he must incur the penalty of the law of God…If it be said that the precept is still binding upon him, but that with respect to the Christian, the penalty is forever set aside, or abrogated, I reply, that to abrogate the penalty is to repeal the precept; for a precept without penalty is no law. It is only counsel or advice. The Christian, therefore, is justified no longer than he obeys, and must be condemned when he disobeys; or Antinomianism is true…In these respects, then, the sinning Christian and the unconverted sinner are upon precisely the same ground. (Finney’s Systematic Theology page 46, in answer to the question, “Does a Christian cease to be a Christian, whenever he commits a sin?).

      …full present obedience is a condition of justification. But again, to the question, can man be justified while sin remains in him? Surely he cannot, either upon legal or gospel principles, unless the law be repealed…But can he be pardoned and accepted, and justified, in the gospel sense, while sin, any degree of sin, remains in him? Certainly not (p. 57).

      “If he [Christ] had obeyed the Law as our substitute, then why should our own return to personal obedience be insisted upon as a sine qua non of our salvation?” (p. 206).

      “Original or constitutional sinfulness, physical regeneration, and all their kindred and resulting dogmas, are alike subversive of the gospel, and repulsive to the human intelligence” (p. 236).

      The doctrine of an imputed righteousness, or that Christ’s obedience to the law was accounted as our obedience, is founded on a most false and nonsensical assumption.” After all, Christ’s righteousness “could do no more than justify himself. It can never be imputed to us…It was naturally impossible, then, for him to obey in our behalf.” This “representing of the atonement as the ground of the sinner’s justification has been a sad occasion of stumbling to many” (pp. 320-322).

      “The relations of the old school view of justification to their view of depravity is obvious. They hold, as we have seen, that the constitution in every faculty and part is sinful. Of course, a return to personal, present holiness, in the sense of entire conformity to the law, cannot with them be a condition of justification. They must have a justification while yet at least in some degree of sin. This must be brought about by imputed righteousness. The intellect revolts at a justification in sin. So a scheme is devised to divert the eye of the law and of the lawgiver from the sinner to his substitute, who has perfectly obeyed the law” (p. 339).

      There many many more quotes out there by Finney. He wasnt bashful in proclaiming his error. My humble opinion is that Finney definitely promoted a Pelagianistic theology, which I believe is clearly unscriptural, and sadly is the foundation for the majority of the evangelical mess we see today, and since Finneys time for sure.

  2. Douglas / Sep 18 2010 17 25

    “Charles Finney was not and is not Arminian.”

    Charles Finney may not have even been a Christian, not born again. He probably wasn’t. How scary is that. I do not trust any of his teachings, they are tainted with the leaven of error through and through.

    “Modern Evangelicalism almost uniformly and universally teaches that in order for a person to be born again, he must first exercise faith. You have to choose to be born again. Isn’t that what you hear? In a George Barna poll, more than seventy percent of “professing evangelical Christians” in America expressed the belief that man is basically good. And more than eighty percent articulated the view that God helps those who help themselves. These positions — or let me say it negatively — neither of these positions is semi-Pelagian. They’re both Pelagian. To say that we’re basically good is the Pelagian view. I would be willing to assume that in at least thirty percent of the people who are reading this issue, and probably more, if we really examine their thinking in depth, we would find hearts that are beating Pelagianism. We’re overwhelmed with it. We’re surrounded by it. We’re immersed in it. We hear it every day. We hear it every day in the secular culture. And not only do we hear it every day in the secular culture, we hear it every day on Christian television and on Christian radio.

    In the nineteenth century, there was a preacher who became very popular in America, who wrote a book on theology, coming out of his own training in law, in which he made no bones about his Pelagianism. He rejected not only Augustinianism, but he also rejected semi-Pelagianism and stood clearly on the subject of unvarnished Pelagianism, saying in no uncertain terms, without any ambiguity, that there was no Fall and that there is no such thing as original sin. This man went on to attack viciously the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement of Christ, and in addition to that, to repudiate as clearly and as loudly as he could the doctrine of justification by faith alone by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. This man’s basic thesis was, we don’t need the imputation of the righteousness of Christ because we have the capacity in and of ourselves to become righteous. His name: Charles Finney, one of America’s most revered evangelists. Now, if Luther was correct in saying that sola fide is the article upon which the Church stands or falls, if what the reformers were saying is that justification by faith alone is an essential truth of Christianity, who also argued that the substitutionary atonement is an essential truth of Christianity; if they’re correct in their assessment that those doctrines are essential truths of Christianity, the only conclusion we can come to is that Charles Finney was not a Christian. I read his writings and I say, “I don’t see how any Christian person could write this.” And yet, he is in the Hall of Fame of Evangelical Christianity in America. He is the patron saint of twentieth-century Evangelicalism. And he is not semi-Pelagian; he is unvarnished in his Pelagianism.”- The Pelagian Captivity of the Church

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