The History of Presbyterianism in the United States. Part 2: A Centuries of Change C – Charles Finney. Master Timeline. United States. Europe. 1620 – Mayflower lands 1730s-1743 – 1 st Great Awakening 1776-1783 – American Rev. 1790-1840 – 2 nd Great Awakening 1830 – Book of Mormon
Part 2: A Centuries of Change
C – Charles Finney
& of Scottish Common Sense Philosophy
United States (cont.)
1937 – Death of J. Gresham Machen
- Bible Presbyterian Ch. (McIntyre)
1966 – RTS, Jackson, MI
1967 – Confession of ‘67, Book of Confessions
1973 – PCA
1983 – Union of UPCUSA & PCUS
from 543 to 1,140.
“Unexpectedly to myself they asked me if I received
the Confession of faith of the Presbyterian church.
I had not examined it; - that is, the large work, containing the Catechisms and Presbyterian Confession. This had made no part of my study. I replied that I received it for substance of doctrine, so far as I understood it. But I spoke in a way that plainly implied, I think, that I did not pretend to know much about it.”
The Memoirs of Charles Finney: The Complete Restored Text
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989, pg. 53-54
And in case any minister of this Synod, or any candidate for the ministry shall have any scruple with respect to any article or articles of said Confession or Catechisms, he shall, at the time of his making the said declaration, declare his sentiments to the Presbytery or Synod; who shall, notwithstanding, admit him to the exercise of the ministry within our bounds, and to ministerial communion, if the Synod or Presbytery shall judge his scruple or mistake to be only about articles not essential and necessary in doctrine, worship, or govt. …
“A person visiting Finney told him that he had no feeling regarding the condition of his soul. At this Finney picked up a fire poker and threatened to strike the man. The defensive reaction from the man caused Finney to remark that he was demonstrating feeling and should have feeling about his salvation as well.”
“His legal training had conditioned Finney to think logically, but it had also saddled him with a world of wrong presuppositions. Finney’s notions of justice, guilt, righteousness, transgression, forgiveness, sovereignty, and a host of other terms were drawn from his legal studies, not the Scriptures.”
Ashamed of the Gospel, pp. 229-230
“One need go no further than the table of contents in his Systematic Theology to learn that Finney’s entire theology revolved around human morality. … Not until the twenty-first chapter does one read anything that is especially Christian in its interest … ”
“[Arminians have] unconverted sinners who are dead in trespasses and sin bringing themselves to life by choosing to be born again. Christ made it clear that dead people cannot choose anything, that the flesh profits nothing and that a person must be born of the Spirit BEFORE he can even see the Kingdom of God, let alone enter it.”
The Holiness of God, p. 232
“Does reason affirm that we are deserving of the wrath and curse of God for ever, for inheriting from Adam a sinful nature?”
Lectures on Systematic Theology
“This [governmental atonement] view holds
that Christ by His death actually paid the penalty for no man’s sin. What His death did was to demonstrate what their sins deserved at the hand of the just Governor and Judge of the universe, and permits God justly to forgive men if on other grounds, such as their faith, their repentance, their works, and their perseverance, they meet His demand. But this is just to eviscerate the Savior’s work of all its intrinsic saving worth and replace the Christocentric vision of Scripture with the autosoteric vision of Pelagianism.”
A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith
“Some theologians have held that regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit alone … But I might just as lawfully insist that it is the work of man alone.”
Lectures on Systematic Theology, abridged
Perfection was the teaching that:
to refer to the area so heavily
evangelized as to have no “fuel” (unconverted) left to burn (convert).
“[I]ndividual conversions were insufficient to prevent the United States from apostasy and ruin. … Beecher believed that Sabbath observance was essential to the protection of American liberty. [T]he United States would soon retrogress ‘after the influence of her Sabbaths has passed away.’”
“Intemperance is the sin of our land … and if anything shall defeat the hopes of the world, which hang upon our experiment with civil liberty, it is that river of fire … .”
1830s – New School Presbyterians initiated an effort to have congregations switch from wine to grape juice in the observance of the Lord’s Supper.
Finney’s idea of moral ability “has not been adopted in the confession of any one denominational church in Christendom, but is expressly repudiated by them all.”
“voluntary enslaving of one part of the human race by another” was a gross violation of the most precious and sacred rights of human nature, … utterly inconsistent with the law of God, which requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves, … totally irreconcilable with the spirit and principles of the gospel of Christ.”
For the southern church, the hardening of political opinions meant a shift on slavery.
‘the institution of slavery is divinely recognized and sanctioned. … We are upholding and defending a sacred trust, committed to us by the providence of God.’
a North Carolina Presbyterian newspaper
At the same time, many southern ministers continued to oppose and seek reform.
In addition to seeking a reform of slaves’ domestic relations, [James A. Lyon of Mississippi] advocated that blacks and white gather together for worship, … that African-Americans be catechized, and that there be a repeal of laws prohibiting slaves from learning to read and write.
The Old and New Schools in the North reunited in 1869. But the division between North and South would be hardest for Presbyterians to overcome. The northern and southern Presbyterians could not accept each other until 1983.