Arminian Today

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Charles Finney on Original Sin (Introduction)

Many want to place Charles Finney among Arminians.  How often have I heard some Calvinists state that Finney was an Arminian and a poster board for Arminianism.  Finney was not an Arminian.  As far as I know, Finney never claimed Arminianism.  Even a short reading of the works of Arminius in comparison to the works of Finney will show that he is not an Arminian in the sense of the teachings of Arminius.  As I have pointed out before, Arminius affirms original sin.  He holds to the same form of original sin as Calvinists do.  Finney did not.  Finney denied original sin.

The question I have often heard is whether Finney was a heretic.  Many Calvinists believe he was and that he preached a false gospel.  One Calvinist even did a video series attacking Charles Finney as a very dangerous heretic and a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Phil Johnson from Pyromaniacs believes that Finney was a heretic and a false teacher.  I have read most of the works of Finney and if you have never read his book on the gospel, I would encourage you to read it and then ask yourself whether he was preaching another Jesus.  You can find Finney’s book on the gospel here.  I have read Finney’s books on prayer and on the Spirit and on the Lord Jesus and I fail to see how Finney is such an apostate.  I don’t agree with Finney on all issues but I don’t feel that he is an outright heretic worthy of damnation.

I think a couple of thoughts are in order about Finney.  First, Finney was converted while practicing law and this had a great effect upon his views of Scripture.  For Finney, the moral government of God was supreme and the duty of humanity was to obey the divine law of God.  Failure to obey God’s law brought about condemnation and required atonement for our sins.  Finney viewed the entire work of Christ as fulfilling the sinner’s need for salvation because of our violation of the law of God.  Finney believed that the free will was intact and that we are born free to either serve God or not serve God and he viewed 1 John 3:4 as true sinning.

Secondly, Finney was combating intellectual Calvinism that had taken root in New England during his time.  The dryness Finney encountered after his conversion to Jesus Christ led him to deny Calvinism because he saw it as defeating true passion in the heart of the saint.  Finney also witnessed the dry intellectual preaching of his day and he longed for passionate preaching of the Word of God.  Finney fulfilled that.  Thus Finney preached against the dry Calvinism of his day and the lack of conversions among the people living in New England who claimed to be Calvinists.  It seems from reading Finney that almost all of the Calvinists he knew were not passionately living for the glory of God and set out to preach against them and to see people converted to Christ.  In my estimation, Finney preached Jesus and salvation in Him through faith and apart from works (Romans 4:5).  I don’t see evidence that Finney preached another Jesus.

Over the next few days I will be posting articles by Charles Finney on original sin.  Again, Finney does not represent Arminianism but represents Moral Government Theology (MGT) as Winkie Pratney before him.  MGT has its roots from some of Arminius’ teachings but not entirely and differs with Arminius mainly here in original sin.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/01/2012 at 10:00 AM

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