Charles Grandison Finney was an American revivalist preacher, a leader in the Second Great Awakening in the United States, and the founder of Oberlin College. He has been called "The Father of Modern Revivalism."
Finney was born on August 29, 1792, in Warren, Connecticut, to a farming family. He was the fifth of nine children. His father, Charles Finney Sr., was an ardent Calvinist and a strict disciplinarian.
Growing up, Finney was deeply influenced by his father's religious beliefs. In 1821, at the age of 28, Finney experienced a powerful conversion to Christianity and was baptized a few months later.
After his conversion, he decided to pursue a career in the ministry and enrolled at the Presbyterian-affiliated Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. During his time in seminary, Finney developed his own unique approach to preaching. He believed that the power of the Holy Spirit was the source of revival, and he sought to preach with that power.
One of the hallmarks of Finney's preaching was his use of what he called "law and gospel" preaching. This approach focused on the law of God, highlighting its demands, and then on the gospel of Jesus Christ, which offers hope to sinners. He also engaged in what he called "altar calls," where he would ask the congregation to come to the front of the church and make a commitment to God.
Throughout his ministry, Finney had a strong focus on social reform. He actively opposed slavery and, in 1830, helped establish the Oberlin Collegiate Institute in Ohio, which later became Oberlin College.
He also believed strongly in the power of prayer and used prayer as part of his revival meetings. Finney's preaching style was highly influential in the spread of the Second Great Awakening. His sermons were widely circulated as pamphlets and books and were read by thousands of people.
He was one of the most influential preachers of the 19th century and continued to preach into the 1870s. Finney's preaching messages inspired and challenged people to seek the Lord. He emphasized God's holiness, grace, mercy, and justice. He taught that all people are sinners and that only through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ can they be forgiven and receive salvation.
He also taught that holiness must be pursued in the life of the believer, for without it, no one can be saved. Finney's ministry was one of the most influential in the history of American Christianity. His preaching style and message inspired thousands to pursue a deeper relationship with God and to seek to live a life of holiness and obedience to God's Word. His legacy continues to be felt today in the churches and ministries of the Second Great Awakening.
(c) Apostle Jonas Clark
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