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July 01, 2009


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I'm not an authority either, but did read much of his writings when studying revival, and Keith Green always published and promoted it (which I read,too). This stuff is patently an attack on those who are in the Pentecostal and Charismatic stream. I read through the main part of the Horton essay, and I think he mistakenly attributes Finney's moorings and theology. I certainly wouldn't peg Finney as a Pelagian heretic!

I think you are going to have to look elsewhere for the blame of what is wrong with the modern Church. If I have time to read all the info more carefully, and what it takes to craft a theological post.... I'll lay out my thoughts more in detail.

I think these new "reformationists" are doing great disservice to our present understanding of the call of Christ. Would they all have us go back to a Pietistic inclusion that holds us to emotional flagellation? That is what the social gospel of Finney's day reacted against... although now we know that a social gospel has it's own problems. If you want to see where the so called intellectual refromed scholars went ( in a watershed sort of way) just take a look at their pinnacle of Presbyterianism. Where did that stream of theology end up? Denying the very importance of Christ Himself.

No, I don't think Finney is at all "Pelagian" in his theology- that is just the bend of the filter that wants to negate the message of the revivalists and those who came after.

You need to remember that it was God who approved these men: Edwards, Finney, Moody, et al with lasting godly results that changed the moral tenor of nations. Do not forget that.


Hi again. Digging further I see a very similar post @spurgeon.org by Phil Johnson.

Here is the deal as I see it: Finney wasn't a heretic, and rightfully criticized the Calvinist theology. Calvin got some things wrong...every theologian it seems gets something out of whack, but the question is always do they have the basics there?

There are something that I hold to in Reformed theology and I don't think Finney was right in more than a few of his ideas... but like everything you have to take the writing in context. Without that context the premises (of Johnson and Horton... and Finney at times) go spiraling off into weirdness.

Ok...have to take off myself, to Curves;)



This is, I think, a complex issue, with complex causes and effects. While there may be attributed success (results) with the methodology of Finney, I've been, for a long time, perturbed with the whole "make a decision" mentality American evangelicals have towards salvation. Are we selling a product in that we have to entice decisions? Add to that some of Finney's (alleged) quirky notions (e.g., on original sin), and I tend to think that there is some substance to the claim that we've veered off a bit too far into the Arminian (albeit semi-Pelagian) part of town.


I haven't read in-depth about Finney but I have read accounts of the meeting and revivals that he used to hold. And while his theology might not fall into the Pelagian side of things it certainly seems his methods did. He himself admitted to trying to develop the right methods to lead people to making a decision at that moment. A lot of it seems like a manufactured emotional response.

That said, I've also read a few chapters out of Horton's book. I think he makes some good points about the Gospel being replaced by moralism. But he seems to count Arminianism as just as hairs-breadth from apostasy. That's just my opinion and I know he doesn't come out and say it but....

Brian (ex-Pelagian)



Thanks for the comment! I'm not well read on either Finney or Horton but, from what I do know, I tend to agree with your assessment of both.

arthur nz

I have read almost all of Finneys books and especially "Systematic Theology". All i can say is that unless you have read his writings and biography etc you should proceed with caution. Many have attributed things to Finney that he never intended and then built their straw arguements and oftimes revealed blatant predjudices having no bais on truth.
Finney recieved a baptism of the Holy Spirit upon conversion that was remarkable and suited for the great revivals that God would produce through this sensitive and obedient servant.Immediatley Finney was born again, others were convicted of their need of repentance and salvation and many converted in these early weeks. Finney soon after quit his very promising career as a lawyer saying he had a retainer from the Lord to preach the gospel. Everywhere Finney and his prayer warriors went revival broke out, even while on a health trip to the U.K, and years after his death the famous Welsh revival being attributed to 80,000 tracts of Finney being distributed.In an age with no microphones and technology over 1/2 million converts are attributed to the direct preaching of Finney,not to mention those converted by finney`s converts. Finney was a powerful cause in the abolution and womens rights, and wrote 3 letters to Abraham Linlcon urging him in the cause of antislavery and social injustice.
Know the facts firsthand or be found guilty of predjudice and rebuke of the Lord when we meet Him.


Thanks for your comments, Arthur.

As I stated in my post, I'm not authority on Finney. I would caution you, however, to validate someone's theology via apparent success, deeds, or achievements of the person.

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