A 29-year-old attorney, Charles Finney saw so many Scripture references in Blackstone’s Law Commentaries that he bought a Bible.
On October 10, 1821, he decided to head into the woods near his home, saying:
“I will give my heart to God, or I never will come down from there.”
After several hours, he returned to his office, later writing:
“The Holy Spirit…seemed to go through me, body and soul…Indeed it seemed to come in waves of liquid love, for I could not express it in any other way.”
The next morning, at his law office, a church deacon suing a fellow-church member asked Finney about his case. Finney replied:
“I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause, and cannot plead yours.”
Finney began preaching, presenting the Gospel with a convincing lawyer’s argument and praying in common, colloquial language.
He began the tradition of an ‘altar call’ in his 1830 revival in Rochester, New York:
“I had found, that with the higher classes especially, the greatest obstacle to be overcome was their fear of being known as anxious inquirers. They were too proud…
Something was needed, to make the impression on them that they were expected at once to give up their hearts;
something that would call them to act, and act as publicly before the world, as they had in their sins;
something that would commit them publicly to the service of Christ…
I had called them simply to stand up in the public congregations…to bring them out from among the mass of the ungodly, to a public renunciation of their sinful ways, and a public committal of themselves to God.”
Finney’s revival preaching paved the way for evangelists Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham.
Charles Finney’s 1835 Revival Lectures inspired George Williams to found the YMCA-Young Men’s Christian Association-in 1844.
He inspired William and Catherine Booth to found what would be called The Salvation Army in 1865.
Charles Finney formed the Benevolent Empire, a network of volunteer organizations to aid poor and aged with healthcare and social needs, which in 1834 had a budget rivaling the Federal Government.
Finney organized the Broadway Tabernacle in New York in 1831.
While Charles Finney was president of Oberlin College, 1851-1866, it was a station on the Underground Railroad smuggling slaves to freedom.
Under his leadership, Oberlin College granted the first college degree in the United States to a black woman, Mary Jane Patterson.
Charles Finney died AUGUST 16, 1875.
Concerning the Kingdom of God, he wrote
“Every member must work or quit. No honorary members.”
Charles Finney wrote:
“The time has come for Christians to vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them…
Politics are a part of a religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to their country as a part of their duty to God.”
Charles Finney concluded:
“God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.”
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.