The Fruit of Charles Finney’s Pelgianism

…even Finney himself spoke of “a burnt district” [Memoirs, 78], and he lamented the absence of any lasting fruit from his evangelistic efforts. He wrote,

I was often instrumental in bringing Christians under great conviction, and into a state of temporary repentance and faith . . . . [But] falling short of urging them up to a point, where they would become so acquainted with Christ as to abide in Him, they would of course soon relapse into their former state [cited in B. B. Warfield, Studies in Perfectionism, 2 vols. (New York: Oxford, 1932), 2:24].

One of Finney’s contemporaries registered a similar assessment, but more bluntly:

During ten years, hundreds, and perhaps thousands, were annually reported to be converted on all hands; but now it is admitted, that real converts are comparatively few. It is declared, even by [Finney] himself, that “the great body of them are a disgrace to religion” [cited in Warfield, 2:23].

B. B. Warfield cited the testimony of Asa Mahan, one of Finney’s close associates,

. . . who tells us—to put it briefly—that everyone who was concerned in these revivals suffered a sad subsequent lapse: the people were left like a dead coal which could not be reignited; the pastors were shorn of all their spiritual power; and the evangelists—”among them all,” he says, “and I was personally acquainted with nearly every one of them—I cannot recall a single man, brother Finney and father Nash excepted, who did not after a few years lose his unction, and become equally disqualified for the office of evangelist and that of pastor.”
Thus the great “Western Revivals” ran out into disaster. . . . Over and over again, when he proposed to revisit one of the churches, delegations were sent him or other means used, to prevent what was thought of as an affliction. . . . Even after a generation had passed by, these burnt children had no liking for the fire [Warfield, 2:26-28].

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One Response to “The Fruit of Charles Finney’s Pelgianism”

  1. Zachariah Says:

    Fascinating. I’d always heard the opposite. Finney had a super high retention rate…

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