I will not recount Finney’s history or his manipulation and lies to gain his ordination. I do want to point to several resources that give that history, and then some that discuss the results of such man centered attempts at evangelism.
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
How Charles Finney’s Theology Ravaged the Evangelical Movement
Charles Finney and American Revivalism (WHI) parts 1-4
In the end if you will honestly consider the damage Finney did to Christianity in America and see how the results of his heresy have influenced much of our form of worship in America today, then you should begin to question those practices. Judge them for yourself: are they Biblical? Or are they merely Man-made traditionalism?
Why do we have such a preoccupation with Revivals? Why do we call so many of our spring and fall meetings “Revivals?” Why do we call those meetings “revivals” before they have begun? What is being revived?
Personally I will no longer attend such meetings. In the past, the ones I have attended were not much more than exercises to stir up people’s emotions. It is much like giving a religious junkie an emotional fix. Everyone comes out of those meetings talking about how good the hard preaching was, how the evangelist stepped on their toes, and what a sweet spirit was there. Was the word of God taught? Was it? People have told me “Oh yes! He preached on sin. Or he preached on this or that.”
I am 46 years old and I have been in church since my mother was able to take me. I have sat through many, many “revivals” and “revival meetings” and I know from all those experiences that by far the vast majority of them were preacher-tainment sermons that were wrapped up with manipulative emotional appeals to get a visible result from the people. The most used vehicles for gauging the success of the meetings is how many you got saved for one and how many came down to the “Altar” at the end of the emotional ride for another.
Now if you have stayed with me this far I have a question to ask. Do you know that the “Altar” was not a device used in churches until after Finney made it fashionable? I do believe there are sincere godly men who truly believe they are doing God’s work that are involved with these Revivalist meetings… and I believe they are just as sincerely and truly wrong. Just as in Finney’s day these Emotional preacher-tainment venues do more harm to the Gospel of Christ than they do good, and leave the people with a false sense: of what the Gospel is, Who God is, and What Grace is; more than we will ever know this side of eternity.
Last questions: You do know that God does not love you any more for the number of “Revivals” you attend… don’t you? You also know God doesn’t love you more for going down to some imaginary “Altar” and praying don’t you? You do know that there is no such thing as the sinner’s prayer don’t you?
And finally: You do know that such a prayer will not save you… don’t you?