- Twenty-four lectures on essential elements of the Gospel
- Finney was called the most influential Liturgical Reformer in American History
- From an Arminian perspective
These sermons were preached by Charles Grandison Finney at Oberlin College during the years 1845-1861…Few preachers in any age have surpassed Charles Finney in clear and well-defined views of conscience, and of man's moral convictions; few have been more fully at home in the domain of law and government; few have learned more of the spiritual life from experience and from observation; not many have discriminated the true from the false more closely, or have been more skillful in putting their points clearly and pungently. Hence, these sermons under God were full of spiritual power. They are given to the public in this form, in the hope that at least a measure of the same wholesome saving power may never fail to bless the reader.
About the Author
Born in 1792 in Warren, Connecticut, Charles Grandison Finney was the youngest of fifteen children. The son of farmers, Finney never attended college, but his six foot three inch stature, piercing eyes, musical skill, and leadership abilities gained him recognition in his community. He studied as an apprentice to become a lawyer, but after a dramatic conversion experience and baptism into the Holy Spirit in Adams, New York, he resigned from all of his duties at his law office to attend to the call of God on his life which was to preach the gospel. In December of 1823, he became a licensed minster by the Presbyterian Church, Evans Mills, New York.
He moved to New York City in 1832 where he pastored the Chatham Street Chapel, and later founded and pastored the Broadway Tabernacle, known today as Broadway United Church of Christ. Finney's presentation of the gospel message reached thousands and influenced many communities. In addition to becoming a popular Christian evangelist, Finney was involved with the abolitionist movement and frequently denounced slavery from the pulpit. In 1835, he moved to Ohio where he would become a professor and later president of Oberlin College from 1851 – 1866.
Finney was a primary influence on the "revival" style of theology which emerged in the 19th century. Finney's theology is difficult to classify, as can be observed in his masterwork, Religious Revivals. In this work, he also states that salvation depends on a person's will to repent and not forced by God on people against their will. However, Finney affirmed salvation by grace through faith alone, not by works or by obedience. Finney also affirmed that works were the evidence of faith.
Finney's understanding of the atonement was that it satisfied "public justice" and that it opened up the way for God to pardon people of their sin. This was the so-called New Divinity which was popular at that time period. In this view, Christ's death satisfied public justice rather than retributive justice. As Finney put it, it was not a "commercial transaction."
One of the most famous things Finney did was implement public professions of faith where people would come down the isle of the Church to proclaim their faith, and he also set up the opportunity for seekers to be counseled about their faith before making the profession. An uncommon practice at the time, which has been adopted as a standard for many Churches today. In August 1875, Finney died in Oberlin due to a heart ailment.