Who Was Charles G. Finney?

Charles Grandison Finney was a 19th century apprenticed attorney, revivalist, self-styled theologian, and university president. As a theologian, he was a lawyer. He is noted for his involvement in the Second Great Awakening, and his introduction of what he termed "New Measures" designed to evoke emotional responses to evangelism and to make the object of evangelism more amenable to a positive response. His contributions to American Revivalism is admired by many in American Evangelicalism, but his novel theologies are not quite as well known; if they were, perhaps he would not have quite so many admirers.

Notable among his theology:

  1. He denied Original Sin or Total Depravity, meaning he believed that men are capable in and of themselves of choosing to be corrupt or redeemed, ignoring Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21; Romans 3:9-12; Romans 5:12-19; Romans 11:32.
  2. He denied Christ's substitutionary atonement, asserting that "It was, therefore, impossible for him  to perform any works of  supererogation;"
  3. He denied the doctrine of imputation, noting "The doctrine of imputed righteousness, or that Christ’s obedience to the law was accounted as our obedience, is founded on a most false and nonsensical assumption."
  4. He denied that the regeneration of sinners is a work solely of the Holy Spirit, but "Regeneration is ascribed to man in the gospel, which it could not be, if the term were designed to express only the agency of the Holy Spirit."
  5. He denied that revival is a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, but merely "a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means..."
  6. There's much, much more. See his Systematic Theology here. The homepage for Excedrin is here; you'll need it.
Here are some links to some brief articles on Finney that you might find helpful:
Occasional posts tagged Finney Files will examine Finney's theology and influence.