Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Beware of Charles Finney

A reply to someone who asked me about Charles Finney's book "Power from on High".

Greetings T----,

Many people are unaware that Charles Finney was actually a very dangerous heretic. Today he remains a little popular in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles; I think because these circles are easily attracted to passionate individuals. But as Paul the apostle warned, there is a zeal without knowledge that is deadly (Romans 10:1-4).

Charles Finney did not understand and did not preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He created his own systematic theology that was based on the wisdom of man and was not based on the Scriptures. Finney knew nothing of the righteousness that is ours through faith in Jesus Christ apart from the works of law (Romans 1:17, 3:21-26). To Finney, a person could only be saved if he stopped sinning and obeyed the law of God. Righteousness was based upon works, not the death of Christ and faith alone in Him. Such is human, natural wisdom that seems to make sense but is actually death, because the Scriptures teach us that no one can be justified before God by their works (Rom. 3:19-20, Gal. 3:10), and our own experience shows us this is true. The law of God can only condemn us. While it seems to make sense that we should obey God's law in order to be right with Him, such a path leads to destruction. The wisdom of God is Christ crucified. As guilty sinners we look away from ourselves and from our works and put our trust completely in another for our righteousness and our salvation. Finney sadly did not understand this.

This book is filled with that human wisdom which says: if you want God's blessings you need to obey God's law. If you want power, you need to work for it. Finney lays down all sorts of rules which have an appearance of wisdom but will ultimately not help and will only harm a person who follows his advice. It reminds me exactly of Paul's saying in Colossians 2:23:

"These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh."

Everyone who has followed Finney's advice has experienced what Paul has said. Even in Finney's day, the young men who followed him got burned out and many eventually fell away from the faith. Please beware of this false teacher. Satan sends his ministers as "ministers of righteousness" but they are not true ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:15).

Let me strongly encourage you to read Horatius Bonar's book "God's Way of Peace." This is one of the greatest books on the gospel one can read. Reading it will be one of the best things in life you've ever done.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

You do not understand the gospel or Finneys preaching. You fall into the same trap as this generation that salvation is apart from a life of holiness. Any faith or gospel that fails to free you from sin and love of this world cannot save you. Finney was one of the greatest preachers since the Apostles and I pray God would give us thousands of them. I reject the false gospel that saves a man apart from works. Faith that works by love. If you faith leads you to hold onto sin while believing you are saved,you have a abomination.