- Charles Finney (1792-1875) was an evangelist in the Second Great Awakening. He preached at revivals across the US and Britain, and claimed 500,000 conversions.
- Originally trained as a lawyer, his preaching followed the pattern of a law argument: carefully reasoned, and calling for a decision one way or the other at the end.
- He emphasized human responsibility to respond to God’s call, and, like many Christian leaders of his day, he believed that the growth of the church and the reformation of society would usher in the return of Christ (postmillennialism). But his greatest impact was not in his theology, but his practices of revival preaching. He preached often about hell, instituted the practice of ‘altar calls’ and ‘anxious seats,’ did away with pew rents, and encouraged lay witnessing and the greater involvement of women in public worship.
- Finney’s most famous book was his Lectures on Revivals of Religion, which is said to have inspired the great Welsh revivals of the 1840s.
- Finney’s theology contributed to the influential Holiness and Keswick movements, which emphasized the possibility of complete obedience to God.
- Finney ended his career at Oberlin College, which led the way in women’s rights and the abolition of slavery.
Quotes from Finney
“Revival comes from heaven when heroic souls enter the conflict determined to win or die—or if need be, to win and die!”
“A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.”
“When sinners are careless and stupid, and sinking into hell unconcerned, it is time the church should bestir themselves. It is as much the duty of the church to awake, as it is for the firemen to awake when a fire breaks out in the night in a great city.”
D. L. Moody: Basic Facts
- D. L. Moody (1837-1899) was an evangelist who spoke at revival meetings across the US and Europe. Though originally an impoverished shoe salesman with only an elementary-school-level education, he became an internationally-known speaker who presented the Gospel to 100 million people.
- His early work involved social outreach with the YMCA and a Sunday School program in Chicago, but when the great Chicago fire of 1871 burned down his ministry-buildings, he decided to become a traveling evangelist.
- Moody differed from Finney on several counts: he gave little emphasis to doctrinal theology (preferring to focus on the big picture), almost never preached about hell (preferring to focus on the love of God), and rarely used altar calls or pressed for immediate decisions (believing that it was the Spirit’s task, not his, to prompt a decision of faith).
- Moody, unlike Finney, was inspired by premillennialism—a new and more pessimistic view of the end-times that put greater stress on saving souls.
- Moody pioneered some new revival-meeting techniques: co-operation among local churches, and the featuring of a gospel soloist. (Moody’s own musical partner was Ira Sankey, whose hymns remain popular today.)
- Moody’s legacy includes several colleges, seminaries, and publishing houses. He was influential in launching the Student Volunteer mission movement of the early 20th century.
Quotes from Moody:
“The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”
“Faith makes all things possible...love makes all things easy.”
“It is the greatest pleasure of living to win souls to Christ.”
“God never made a promise that was too good to be true.”
“The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.”
“There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.”
“The monument I want after I am dead is a monument with two legs going around the world—a saved sinner telling about the salvation of Jesus Christ.”