Charles Finney

Romans 16:17-18 "Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.  For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting." (NASB, emphasis added.)

Gal 1:6-9 "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;  which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!" (NASB, emphasis added.)

Mat 7:22-23 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’" (NASB, emphasis added.)

The Scriptures mandate to us that we are to mark those who teach doctrine which is contrary to the Holy Word of God, and avoid them.

Below is a partial listing of Finney's teachings. Read for yourself and decide if this man did more harm than good for the cause of Christ.


Some of Finney's Teachings

Charles Finney (1792-1875) is thought by many to be one of the foremost evangelists of this period. Those who believe this, however, are likely not aware of his heretical theology and unsavory evangelical methods. For example (based on his own writings):

• His theology was based on natural theology, rationalism and human emotion. The phrases in his books are frequently, "It seems to me that..." "It is logical that ..." and "All reasonable men agree that ..." - rather than what Scripture says.

• Finney believed that liturgies were nothing but "popery" and "priestcraft." Finney denounced the Westminster Confession as a "paper pope." (Of course, in reality, the Westminster Confession was part of the Reformation movement away from the Pope.

• Finney did not want people to "think." Rather, he wanted them to "feel" because he was (a self-proclaimed) expert at controlling the emotions of others.

• He was condemned by almost every learned theologian of his day as a heretic. BB Warfield, for example described him as a "fountain of very harmful teaching."

• Jesus, His apostles, Augustine and the Reformers preached to the intellect. They answered the question, "Why." Finney used stories, crying and anecdotes as he preached to the feelings. He pushed for an emotional decision.

• Finney introduced the teaching that if you want to be saved, come down to the altar. He used crowd psychology and emotion to get them to walk to the altar.

• Finney introduced the "sinner’s prayer" - which is not found anywhere in the Bible.

• Finney taught that if you say the sinner’s prayer you will be saved. (His own form of "Repeat after me-ology"). This ‘fire insurance’ type of salvation has carried-on until this day in many churches around the world. Tragically, over the years, this has left tens of millions of people under the illusion they are saved Christians because they repeated a prayer - even though their lives remained the same as before because no regeneration of their hearts took place. (1 Jn 2:3-6, 15, and 19; 1 Jn 3:7-9, 22.)

• Finney was a Pelagian, a semi-Pelagian and an Arminian. (See article on Calvinism vs. Arminianism for background on these teachings.)

• Finney believed in sinless perfection, rather than the depravity of man.

• Because of this, Finney taught that a person could be saved any time they wanted to be.
  E.g. you choose God.

• Being an attorney, Finney reasoned (human rationalism) that it was not fair and just for all men to be punished for the sin of Adam. Ergo, he rejected the imputation of original sin from Adam to all of us!

• Finney went on to deny the justification taught by Scripture, where the Bible teaches that the death of Christ is imputed to His elect to justify them before God.

• Finney introduced the expression "the age of accountability" - which is not found in Scripture. He taught that children were not human until they reached that age of accountability. Before then they were just animals. (The pro-choice people of today would love that one!)

• In summary, when you have (so-called) Christians who have this type of "you choose" salvation (on the basis of a "repeat after me" sinner’s prayer), they usually end up as "carnal Christians." e.g. not Christians at all. More than anything, this is the reason that most Pentecostals and Arminians believe you can lose your salvation. (Reformed thinking would be that they never had their salvation in the first place.)

Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth; Crossway Books, 2004, pg.275.
Robert A. Morey, Charles Finney; Faith Defenders Audio; 2002



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