Archive for the ‘perfectionism’ Category

How bright a bulb are you?

August 25, 2014

Some of us are 60 watt, some 75, 150, or even 500 or 1000 watts.  When a thousand watt person looks at a 60-watt person he believes he is doing exceedingly well and begins to feel smug and proud. Unfortunately, God calls us to shine like the sun!  When you compare a 1000-watt bulb with the brightness of the sun . . .it is as if it were nothing.

Rev. Bruce Goettsche

Charles Finney’s Defective Theology

October 25, 2008

Denying original sin, Finney asserted that we are only guilty and corrupt when we choose to sin, Christ’s work on the cross couldn’t have paid our debt but could only serve as a moral example and influence to persuade us to repent and be obedient. “If he had 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?” So Finney goes on to write, “the atonement is simply an incentive to virtue,” rejecting the view that “the atonement is a literal payment of a debt” Finney can only concede it is “true that the atonement of itself does not secure the salvation of anyone.” Justification by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness Finney says, “is not only absurd, but undermines all motivation for personal holiness. The new birth is not a divine gift, but the result of a rational choice to turn from sin to obedience.” In fact, his most famous sermon was “Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts.” Christians can perfectly obey God in this life if they choose and only in this way are they justified. In fact, he adds, “Full present obedience is a condition of justification. No one can be justified while sin, any degree of sin, remains in him.”
Finney declared concerning the Reformation formula “simultaneously justified and sinful,” “this error has slain more souls I fear than all the Universalism that ever cursed the world. For whenever a Christian sins he comes under condemnation and must repent and do his first works or be lost. As I have already said,” he writes “there can be no justification in a legal or forensic sense but upon the ground of universal, perfect, and uninterrupted obedience to Law. The doctrine of an imputed righteousness or that Christ’s obedience to the Law was credited as our obedience is founded on a most false and nonsensical assumption. For Christ’s righteousness could do more than justify himself, it could never be imputed to us. It was naturally impossible, then, for him then to obey in our behalf. Representing the atonement as the ground of the sinner’s justification has been a sad occasion of stumbling for many.” Referring to the framers of the Westminster Confession of Faith and their view of an imputed righteousness Finney writes, “If this is not antinomianism then I don’t know what is.”
Folks, this is exactly the heresy that we have identified from the church councils of the fifth and sixth centuries. It is remarkable that the catholic church in fifth and sixth centuries recognized these very positions as outside the bounds of the Christian faith, while Billy Graham can say of Charles Finney that he was the greatest evangelist since the Apostle Paul. And this is a concern that is hardly limited to a few grumpy Calvinists and Lutherans. “Self salvation is the goal of much of our preaching,” complains United Methodist Bishop William Willimon and he says in this respect, “we are heirs of Charles G. Finney who thought that conversion was not a miracle, but a purely philosophical result of the right use of constituted means.

Michael Horton, White Horse Inn


October 13, 2008

Perfectionism was not the only error held to by the great John Wesley. John Cennick (one of the early Methodists with Whitefield and Wesley) bears witness that:

Mr Wesley and I disputed often, and chiefly it was because he said if we have no other righteousness than the righteousness imputed to us, we can’t be saved. Also that a soul justified by the blood of Christ, and having the assurance of forgiveness and the witness of God’s Spirit bearing witness with his spirit that he is a child of God, can finally and eternally perish. Also that a man can become so perfect in this world that he shall not only not commit sin, but he shall be without sin and be inherently as holy as God

Even great men, greatly used by the Lord, can hold to abberrant theology. This does not mean we should be indifferent to true doctrine, but to remember that we ourselves are mortal, sinful and that we are saved by grace, not by a perfect knowledge of the biblical system of theology.