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Revive Us Again

May 4, 2009

There are many preachers speaking about revival, and many evangelists hold revival meetings.  In this post, I’d like to look at one very well known passage on revival.  I am not right now addressing what revival is.  I may get to my thoughts about that or maybe Kent or Dave will.  Today, just some thoughts from the Old Testament psalm that gives us the title to the popular song.

In my limited study, I notice many parallels between salvation and revival.  First, both are miracles of God.  Man doesn’t save himself and neither does he revive himself.  Salvation gives life to the dead; revival gives life again to the dead.  In salvation we are born again; in revival, we have life again.  In salvation we are made sons; when the prodigal son returns, there is revival.

LORD, thou hast been favorable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah. Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease. Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations? Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation. (Psalm 85:1-7)

In this passage I see many helps to understanding revival.

  • The plea of revival – when the psalmist uses the word “wilt,” he is not doubting the Lord’s ability.  He is confident that God will do this thing.  God has been favorable.  He has forgiven their iniquity.  He has taken away all wrath, and He will revive us again.  It is a word that shows desire.  God pours blessings on those that are thirsty.
  • The person of revival – the pronouns “thou” and “thy” refer specifically to the LORD.  He is the one that gives revival.  Many preachers acknowledge this in their preaching and then go on to exhort us to think that we have some control over the “process.”  They preach like there are some “laws” of nature that if simply followed will give us revival.  They forget that God is the laws of nature, and all things work the way they do because He continuously maintains them.  There are no formulas for revival.  There is only God.
  • The people of revival – revival is not for unsaved people.  The plea is that God would revive “us.”  These are God’s people already.  They are saved people.  I’m reminded of the church in Revelation 3:1 which had a name, but was dead.  They needed revival.
  • The pattern of revival – this is found in the word “again.”  Some people have the idea that people get saved and then the get revived and then they go to heaven….that revival is a one time occurrence in a believer’s life.  But as it stands, the word revival means life again already.  So the psalmist is asking for life again again.  The pattern is that believers need life again and again and again.  It’s like the wisdom that we’re told to ask for over and over and over again (James 1:5).  It’s like springtime that brings life back to the ground.  This happens over and over and over again.
  • Finally, and most helpful, the purpose of revival – we want revival so that we can rejoice in God.  This is foundational and I believe missing from most Christians’ understanding.  Pastors want revival so that their congregations will live in harmony and so that they will bring more people into their services.  People want revival so that they can attain some mystical feeling of super spirituality and have the lost tremble in their presence at work.  But the purpose of revival is so that we can truly rejoice in God.  How simple.  Yet how difficult.  I don’t want to rejoice in God.  I want to rejoice in my own attainments even if (or especially because) they are spiritual or religious attainments.  I would rather be discouraged because God isn’t treating me like I think I deserve.  I’d rather be happy with myself than rejoice in my God.

We really do need revival.  There is so little rejoicing in God.  Who He is.  What He does.  We need a fresh realization of Who He is and what He does and then we need revival so that we can rejoice in that.

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  1. T. Pennock
    May 4, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Jeff,

    You gave a good outline and some excellent comments.

    I’m glad you didn’t use your revival talk as an opportunity to slander those who truly pray for revival among God’s people. Too often these days revival talk degenerates into Finney-bashing and the undermining of true evangelism.

    There are many good men out there who still seek and pray for genuine revival among God’s people and, of course, the salvation of the lost. And while they’re not all Finney worshippers, they nevertheless find value in Finney’s “new measures.”

    And what were those measures?

    1. That sinners shouldn’t hide behind the religious respectability of a high-toned Calvinism

    2. That sinners shouldn’t count on their church membership, baptism, or and their Christian parents to get them on the election roll

    3. That singing hymns should be included with the singing of psalms

    4. That meeting for evening services wasn’t a crime

    5. That having stoves and fireplaces in the church house didn’t offend God

    6. That extended evangelistic meetings were okay

    7. That churches could use evangelical preachers from the community and surrounding towns to preach at a local revival meetings

    8. That the inquiry room was helpful in privately addressing the concerns of people

    9. That preachers, after preaching the gospel, should publicly call upon all present to respond to it

    10. That preachers weeping in the pulpit as they preached wasn’t a disgrace

    11. That preachers should express fervor in preaching and should abandon the strangled style of a frozen piety

    12. That Christians should promote itinerant preachers and their circuits

    13. That laymen and established clerics could function as evangelists

    14. That is was okay to express a little noise during the preaching

    15. That camp meetings were worthwhile

    16. That the mourner’s bench could be used effectively with grieving and convicted people

    17. That women could pray publicly

    18. That advertising meetings was permissible

    19. That sinners should give public testimony to their salvation

    20. That preachers should demonstrate salvation in their own lives (according to some accounts I’ve seen, New England at this time was plagued with unsaved preachers, especially was this so among the Calvinists of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches; and that partially explains the hostility and opposition Finney encountered to his “know-so” salvation message)

    21. That praying for people by name from the pulpit or in public meetings was okay

    Not surprisingly, the Calvinists opposed everyone of these “new measures.” They attacked them as scandalous, inventions, and impious. They flipped out over the notion that men could be saved right where they stood, right now. And they flamed over the practice of Finney calling those already “born into election” to salvation.

    Again, I appreciated you words.

    tjp

    (P.S. As you can see, Finney was an evil man, a great enemy of the church.)

    • May 4, 2009 at 2:14 pm

      I do not know much about Finney. I’ve only read his work about Freemasonry, which I’m sure, was much different than his writings on revival.

      I am concerned that some or many that pray for revival don’t have any idea what it would look like if God gave it to them.

  2. May 4, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    tjp,

    That was an interesting list. Where did you get it? Or is it a summary of something you read of Finney’s? I would like to access it if I may.

  3. T. Pennock
    May 5, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Dave,

    You can find most of that list “new measures” in Basil Miller’s offical autobiography of Charles Finney. In addition, George F. Wright has written on Finney and gives a fascinating account of Finney’s meeting in New Lebanon, NY with Asahel Nettleton and Lyman Beecher. Also, you can find all of these “new measures” discussed on line in various religious periodicals. Just do a search under “Finney new measures” or the “New Lebanon Convention.”

    I’m not a big critic of Finney. I think he was an extraordinary man who preached powerfully and served fearlessly. If you think using hand jestures, voice inflections, and sermon illustrations in preaching constitutes spiritual abuse and demonic antics, then you can number yourself among his many Calvinian critics who thought the same thing.

    Have a good one!

  4. May 7, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Dear T. Pinnock,

    I would suggest that you do a little more historical research, as there are certain gross inaccuracies in your statements. I will give two illustrations. You stated that one of Finney’s “new measures” was “That singing hymns should be included with the singing of psalms.” The only problem is that Isaac Watts had published his hymnal which was being used in churches a long time before Finney was doing anything, and as I documented in my paper on Baptists, psalmody, and hymnody at http://thross7.googlepages.com, and, furthermore, Baptists never had a strong exclusive psalmody position, but were singing hymns along with psalms as far back as you can go. I doubt that the Anabaptists of the 1500s who were singing hymns were doing so because of Finney’s “new measures.”

    You stated that another one of Finney’s “new measures” was “That sinners should give public testimony to their salvation.” How you can affirm this when Baptist churches, and, for that matter, Congregational 5 point Calvinist churches required this from the time they were in America onward is a big problem. It is a gross historical error, similar to the one you made on hymnody.

    You stated that a “new measure” of Finney was “That sinners shouldn’t count on their church membership, baptism, or and their Christian parents to get them on the election roll.” Do you really think this was a new idea? If so, then the gospel was not preached before Finney. Furthermore, Finney preached this because he believed a sinner achieved a kind of instant perfection the moment he turned to Christ, and that at any moment when he sinned he would lose that perfection. Finney taught one should not depend upon baptism, etc. to be saved because at any moment one could lose his perfection by sin and fall away from salvation, a severe corruption of the gospel. Finney even taught that people in heaven could sin and fall away from salvation!

    Finney helped to destroy the second Great Awakening. His converts did not last like those of genuine men of God of the time such as Asahel Nettleton. I will give you a few quotes from Finney—if Finney’s gospel is the true gospel, then the gospel preached in fundamental Baptist churches, and professed in Baptist confessions, is entirely false. Finney was against Calvinism—yes—and so am I—but Finney was against it because he was a Pelagian. Here Finney’s own words (from my essay on Revival at the website listed above, http://thross7.googlepages.com–please see the essay there for original sources from Finney’s own works):

    He states that “moral depravity,” the only kind which is sin, “cannot consist… in a sinful constitution… [or] an attribute of human nature… [m]oral depravity is not then to be accounted for by ascribing it to a nature or constitution sinful in itself. To talk of a sinful nature, or sinful constitution, in the sense of physical sinfulness, is to ascribe sinfulness to the Creator, who is the author of nature.”

    He rejected the doctrine of original sin (Rom 5:12, 19), arguing against it employing a five-point hermeneutic which employed, along with four reasonable principles of literal interpretation, the principle that “Language is to be so interpreted, if it can be, as not to conflict with sound philosophy, matters of fact, the nature of things, or immutable justice.” Apparently Scripture does not govern philosophy, matters of fact, reality, or justice; these, discovered independently of the Word of the living God, sit in judgment upon it. Consequently, in commenting on Psalm 51:5, he states that “it would seem, if this text is to be understood literally, that the Psalmist intended to affirm the sinful state of his mother, at the time of his conception, and during gestation… [but to say this is to reject God’s definition of sin and] also affirms sheer nonsense. The substance of an unborn child sinful! It is impossible!” In his comment on God’s declaration that men are “by nature children of wrath,” (Eph 2:3), he affirms that “it cannot, consistently with natural justice, be understood to mean, that we are exposed to the wrath of God on account of our nature. It is a monstrous and blasphemous dogma…” He cavails, “What ground is there for the assertion that Adam’s nature became in itself sinful by the fall? This is a groundless, not to say ridiculous, assumption, and an absurdity… This doctrine is… an abomination alike to God and the human intellect…”

    Finney did not believe that Christ died for the sins of the world as a substitutionary sacrifice. He rejected the fact that the man’s sin was imputed to Christ, who suffered and died in his place, that he might be forensically declared righteous by God on the ground of His Son’s propitiation (Is 53:6, Mr 15:28, 2 Cor 5:21, Rom 3:23-28, Gal 3:10-13). Instead of penal substitution, Finney held to the heretical governmental theory of the atonement, that “Christ did not bear our punishment but suffered as a penal example whereby the law was honored while sinners were pardoned… Because God did not want sinners to die, He relaxed that rule and accepted the death of Christ instead. He could have simply forgiven mankind had He wanted to, but that would not have had any value for society. The death of Christ was a public example of the depth of sin and the lengths to which God would go to uphold the moral order of the universe.” To Finney, the Savior’s death only satisfied “public justice” and showed that God thought sin was serious; it was not the sole ground of the sinner’s confidence before God, the payment that fully satisfied His wrath, that he could be justified freely by Christ. He states that “the atonement… was not a commercial transaction… [not] the payment of a debt… [but] was intended as a satisfaction of public justice… [He] la[id] down His life for the support of the divine government…” Furthermore, “if the benevolence manifested in the atonement does not subdue the selfishness of sinners, their case is hopeless…” Men are to look at Christ’s death, learn that it means that God thinks sin is bad, and so reform themselves to become acceptable to Him. Finney perversely reasons, “If He 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?” The demonic doctrine of works salvation is a corollary of Finney’s governmental view of the atonement.

    Finney’s heresies on sin and the atonement were linked to a perversion of the Biblical doctrine of justification. He rejected eternal security by stating that “we shall see that perseverance in obedience to the end of life is also a condition of justification… present, full, and entire consecration of heart and life to God and His service, is an unalterable condition of present pardon of past sin, and of present acceptance with God. [] [T]he penitent soul remains justified no longer than this full-hearted consecration continues.” Finney clearly states that the Scriptural view of justification by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is another gospel from that which he preached:

    Those who hold that justification by imputed righteousness is a forensic proceeding, take a view of final or ultimate justification, according with their view of the transaction. With them, faith receives an imputed righteousness, and a judicial justification. The first act of faith, according to them, introduces the sinner into this relation, and obtains for him a perpetual justification. They maintain that after this first act of faith it is impossible for the sinner to come into condemnation; that, being once justified, he is always thereafter justified, whatever he may do; indeed that he is never justified by grace, as to sins that are past, upon condition that he ceases to sin; that Christ’s righteousness is the ground, and that his own present obedience is not even a condition of his justification, so that, in fact, his own present or future obedience to the law of God is, in no case, and in no sense, a sine qua non of his justification, present or ultimate.

    Now this is certainly another gospel from the one I am inculcating. It is not a difference merely upon some speculative or theoretic point. It is a point fundamental to the gospel and to salvation, if any one can be. Let us therefore see which of these is the true gospel. I object to this view of justification…

    To this, God through the apostle Paul declares, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:9).

    Naturally, Finney joined a false doctrine of regeneration to his other apostasies. His Pelagian view of sin led him to declare that “the sinner has all the faculties and natural attributes requisite to render perfect obedience to God. All he needs is to be induced to use these powers and attributes as he ought.” Finney defines regeneration as a change of preference, not as a work of God which makes a man a new creature (2 Cor 5:17); it is simply to choose to serve God, not Satan. He admits God requires a change of heart, but this “cannot consist in any [change in] constitutional taste, relish, or appetite…” Finney contrasts his ideas with the orthodox: “Those who hold to physical or constitutional moral depravity must hold, of course, to constitutional regeneration; and, of course, consistency compels them to maintain that there is but one agent in regeneration, and that is the Holy Spirit… the work is, according to them, an act of creative power [where] the very nature is changed[.]” He rejects the views of those who understand “the carnal mind to be not a voluntary state, not a minding of the flesh, but the very nature and constitution of the mind[.]” Consequently, his goal in preaching was simply to get men to reform themselves, choose to do good, and follow God. No new creation wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit was required. The practical methods he introduced, the man-made revivalism he substituted for revival, were simply the heteropraxy that flowed from his heterodoxy.

    So, Finney was an unconverted false teacher, unless you reject regeneration, justification, eternal security, the depravity of man, substitutionary atonement, and other extremely fundamental doctrines. His “new measures” have helped to condemn millions to hell through the weak replacement of decisionism for genuine repentance and faith. Since the widespread adoption of Finney’s new measures, there have been no nationwide revivals in America, for Finney’s theology and praxis destroy true revival. Indeed, the people who, unconverted, entered into churches as a result of his new measures were the precursor to the development of theological modernism.

    See the book “Today’s Apostasy: How Decisionism is Ruining our Churches,” by Hymers & Cagan, which is also linked to on my website, for an eye-opening and potentially life-changing analysis of how pseudo-evangelism of the sort propogated by Finney has led us to the sorry state modern Christianity finds itself in, and what must be done to bring about genuine revival.

  5. May 8, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Thomas,

    I don’t have any disagreement with your assessment. But in defense of TJP, I would point out that I don’t think that he was saying that these were new measures, as if these things didn’t happen before. I think that Finney called them “new measures” and that is what they are known as today… “Finney’s new measures.” TJP can speak for himself on that one, if he wants.

    If I am permitted the time, I intend to address the issue of Finney’s doctrine and its impact on his view of revival. I don’t believe that we can separate the two, as much as we might want to. His view of revival must be interpreted in light of his theology, and I thank you, Thomas, for giving us such a thorough summary of Finney’s Pelagianism.

  6. May 10, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Dear Pastor Mallinak,

    Thanks for the kind words. I just wanted to mention that I realized another great incongruity in the alleged inventions/ new ideas by T. Pinnock. He said that Finney got into people singing hymns instead of psalms–last night as we sang a hymn in our family devotions from a hymnal that was put together by Asahel Nettleton, one of those allegedly terrible people who were against Finney. It is interesting that the anti-Finney people are anti-hymnody, but they write hymnals.

    One thing that is a “new measure” that ultimately camem from Finney-type false doctrine is the exclusive hymnody that is the position of so many Baptists today. Singing both psalms and hymns is Scriptural. I have never even seen anyone make a serious attempt to make “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” mean “hymns, hymns, and spiritual songs.”

  7. T. Pennock
    May 10, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Bro. Ross,

    Thanks for the paper on Finney’s theology.

    I say it again, I’m not a big critic of Finney. I’ll leave that to the extreme Calvinists (Emmonites), Unitarians, dead orthodox preachers, and unsaved church members who savaged him mercilessly in the public press of his day. In the main, I think he was an extraordinary man who preached powerfully and served fearlessly.

    You cited several problems with the “new measures” I listed. Let me briefly address them. The first had to do with the “hymns-songs” item. I don’t discount your comments, but I don’t think they’re entirely relevant, either. Finney was charged with innovation and “new measures” for including the singing of hymns with the singing of psalms. Many of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches in which he ministered were in complete turmoil of over this issue.

    Unfortunately, the present day Calvinists, perhaps suffering from historical embarrassment, leave the impression that the issue of “new measures” was mainly over Finney’s theology. It wasn’t (although some of Finney’s beliefs were less than orthodox, as you’ve pointed out). It was over the practical matters of conducting evangelistic campaigns and the methods he employed.

    In His “Lectures on the Revival of Religion” Finney discusses some of the problems among the churches concerning music. He gives a fascinating account that’s well worth the read. In fact, here is a portion of what Finney said concerning “new measures” among the churches, especially as they pertain to music.

    Finney says:

    “(1.) Psalm Books. Formerly it was customary to sing David’s Psalms. By and by there was introduced a version of the 1 Psalms in rhyme. This was very bad, to be sure. When ministers tried to introduce them, the churches were distracted, people violently opposed, and great trouble was created by the innovation. But the new measure triumphed.

    “Afterwards another version was brought forward in a better style of poetry, and its introduction was opposed with much contention, as a new measure. And finally Watts’s version, which is still opposed in many churches. No longer ago than 1828, when I was in Philadelphia, I was told that a minister there was preaching a course of lectures on psalmody to his congregation, for the purpose of bringing them to use a better version of psalms and hymns than the one they were accustomed to. And even now, in a great many congregations, there are people who will go out of church, if a psalm or hymn is given out from a new book. And if Watts’s Psalms should be adopted, they would secede and form a new congregation, rather than tolerate such an innovation. The same sort of feeling has been excited by introducing the “Village Hymns” in prayer meetings. In one Presbyterian congregation in this city, within a few years, the minister’s wife wished to introduce the Village Hymns into the female prayer meetings, not daring to go any further. She thought she was going to succeed. But some of the careful souls found out that it was made in New England, and refused to admit it. “It is a Hopkinsian thing, I dare say.”

    “(2.) Lining the Hymns. Formerly, when there were but few books, it was the custom to line the hymns, as it was called. The deacon used to stand up before the pulpit, and read off the psalm or hymn, a line at a time, or two lines at a time, and then sing, and the rest would all fall in. By and by. they began to introduce books, and let every one sing from his book. And what an innovation! Alas, what confusion and disorder it made! How could the good people worship God in singing, without having the deacon to line off the hymn in his holy tone, for the holiness of it seemed to consist very much in the tone, which was such that you could hardly tell whether he was reading or singing.

    “(3.) Choirs. Afterwards another innovation was carried. It was thought best to have a select choir of singers sit by themselves and sing, so as to give an opportunity to improve the music. But this was bitterly opposed. O how many congregations were torn and rent in sunder, by the desire of ministers and some leading individuals to bring about an improvement in the cultivation of music, by forming choirs of singers. People talked about innovations and new measures, and thought great evils were coming to the churches, because the singers were seated by themselves, and cultivated music, and learned new tunes that the old people could not sing. It did not use to be so when they were young, and they wouldn’t tolerate such new lights and novelties in the church.

    “(4.) Pitchpipes. When music was cultivated, and choirs seated together, then the singers wanted a pitchpipe. Formerly, when the lines were given out by the deacon or clerk, he would strike off into the tune, and the rest would follow as well as they could. But when the leaders of choirs begun to use pitchpipes for the purpose of pitching all their voices on precisely the same key, what vast confusion it made! I heard a clergyman say that an elder in the town where he used to live, would get up and leave the house whenever he heard the chorister blow his pipe. “Away with your whistle,” said he. “What! whistle in the house of God!” He thought it a profanation.

    “(5.) Instrumental Music. By and by, in some congregations, various instruments were introduced for the purpose of aiding the singers, and improving the music. When the bass viol was first introduced, it made a great commotion. People insisted they might just as well have a fiddle in the house of God. “Why, it is a fiddle, it is made just like a fiddle, only a little larger, and who can worship where there is a fiddle? By and by you will want to dance in the meeting house.” Who has not heard these things talked of, as matters of the most vital importance to the cause of religion and the purity of the church? Ministers, in grave ecclesiastical assemblies, have spent days in discussing them. In a synod in the Presbyterian church, only a few years ago, it was seriously talked of by some, as a matter worthy of discipline in a certain church, that they had an organ in the house of God. This within a few years. And there are many churches now who would not tolerate an organ. They would not be half so much excited to be told that sinners are going to hell, as to be told that there is going to be an organ in the meeting house. O, in how many places can you get the church to do any thing else, easier than to come along in an easy and natural way to do what is needed, and wisest, and best, for promoting religion and saving souls! They act as if they had a “Thus saith the Lord,” for every custom and practice that has been handed down to them, or that they have long followed themselves, however absurd or injurious.”

    The second item you objected to in my list of “new measures” had to do with sinners giving public testimony concerning their faith. Again, perhaps in the context of church membership Congregational churches required a public confession of faith. But I’m not talking about a church-memebership context. I’m talking about an evangelistic meeting.

    I think the Baptist historian H.C. Vedder answers why many Calvinists–especially the extreme brand that had long dominated New England during this time period–objected to “converts” giving public testimony to their faith.

    Here’s Vedder:

    “It was in connection with these meetings that great opposition was developed to what were called Mr. Finney’s ” new measures.” In one of his early meetings, when he had been preaching about three hours, Mr. Finney attempted to bring people to a decision in the matter of their salvation, by requesting them to rise if they desired to accept Christ; and a few years later, in 1825, on a single occasion he asked those who desired to be saved to come forward to the front seat while the rest of the congregation prayed for and with them. It was not until his first series of meetings at Rochester, that he made much use of either device, but from this time onward the practice of inviting inquirers forward became usual with him. This was known as ” coming to the anxious seat,’ and Mr. Finney’s use of this method was severely criticised.

    “The objection to it really rested on a theological ground. The old-school, extreme Calvinists were not willing to allow that the human will had any self-determining power. In their belief conversion followed regeneration, a mysterious process wrought immediately by the Holy Spirit on the hearts of the elect. They were accustomed merely to urge their hearers to use the means of grace and wait on the Lord until it was his good pleasure to renew them. Mr. Finney, on the other hand, assumed that the sinner had sufficient power of self-determination to accept the divine promise of salvation at any time, and that nothing but his own wicked perversity stood in the way of his immediate salvation. Consequently, in all his preaching he attempted above all things to sweep away every excuse that men had for their inaction, and strove by every means in his power to bring them to an immediate decision for Christ. The ” anxious seat,” the rising for prayers, and the attendance at inquiry meetings were simply devices to make one whose conscience was roused and who felt a desire for salvation commit himself by taking some public stand. He rightly judged that this was more than half the battle, and that when people were induced to take this step, if they were really sincere, they were not far from the kingdom of God.

    “Other new measures of Mr. Finney that were severely criticised were the prolonging of meetings to unseasonable hours, sometimes throughout the night. It was also objected that he was occasionally harsh and rude in the pulpit, saying unkind and .censorious things; that he himself prayed for people by name in public assemblies, without their consent, and encouraged others to do the same; that he permitted, if he did not encourage, the practice of women speaking and praying in promiscuous assemblies. Some of these charges were not justified by facts. Others of them were true, however, and a difference of opinion regarding the advisability of such measures existed for years among the evangelical churches. It was generally thought, after due trial, that the methods in the main vindicated themselves. Nearly every evangelist has since adopted these or similar methods, and as the people have become wonted to them the criticisms have diminished and finally disappeared.”

    A third “new-measure” item you took issue with was Finney’s denunciation of covenant church-membership as a guarantee of election. In Finney’s day it was a wide spread belief among Calvinists that the children of covenant parents who were in good standing with the church were considered among the elect. Finney denounced this “confidence” and hence brought down the wrath of the hard-core covenant Calvinists.

    One can see why Finney was attacked for his manner of ministry. After all, he often preached without notes and rarely read his sermons, which were both huge taboos in Calvinist New England. In fact, it wasn’t considered good form to “preach from the cuff.”

    Not only was he chided by the New England “divines” for instituting the ungodly practice of sitting during prayer and standing during singing (the exact opposite form prevailed in New England during his time), but he was viciously attacked for reading prayer requests from the pulpit before the service, an unheard of innovation.

    Finney was an evil man.

    Just ask the Calvinists.

    Have a good one!

    tjp

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