I have appreciated Charles Finney’s writings, yet after a question was raised with regard to an article, I went checking further:
“The Christian, therefore, is justified no longer than he obeys, and must be condemned when he disobeys or Antinomianism is true … In these respects, then, the sinning Christian and the unconverted sinner are upon precisely the same ground.” (Charles Finney)
This is definitely disturbing, and not true. But on the same page he says:
“The sinning Christian differs widely from the unconverted sinner in his relations to God. A Christian is a child of God. A sinning Christian is a disobedient child of God. An unconverted sinner is a child of the devil. A Christian sustains a covenant relation to God; such a covenant relation as to secure to him that discipline which tends to reclaim and bring him back, if he wanders away from God.”
So with this addition, I think it becomes somewhat clearer what he is getting at, this is certainly closer to the truth.
“Whenever a Christian sins he comes under condemnation, and must repent and do his first works, or be lost”
This also I disagree with, and believe it is certainly incorrect. But from other comments in this chapter, he may be considered Ezekiel 33:12, and drawing an incorrect conclusion:
“Therefore, son of man, say to your countrymen, The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys.”
However, in the previous paragraph, Finney had written:
“Now, how great and ruinous must that error be, that teaches us to hope for heaven, while living in conscious sin; to look upon a sinless state, as not to be expected in this world.”
Which is a statement that I think is Biblical:
1JN 3:6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
“It is true, that the atonement, of itself, does not secure the salvation of any one”
Now this also I would disagree with (being a Calvinist) but again, in the same chapter, he writes:
“The Atonement was the exhibition of a merciful disposition. It was because God desired to pardon that he consented to give his own Son to die as the substitute of sinners.”
Thus what he seems to say in his first statement is not what he is actually saying, both statements must be taken together to get the idea of his teaching.
Thus it seems that some quotes need to be accompanied with other quotes, in order to have the clearest picture of Charles Finney’s teaching. He was certainly incorrect in some points, I expect my theology also needs some correction! But Finney did have a heart for the lost, which is part of what I find to be commendable in his writings, and I would like to have this heart as well:
“You will know what it is to sympathize with the Lord Jesus Christ, and be baptized with the baptism that He was baptized with. Oh, how He agonized in view of the state of sinners! How He travailed in soul for their salvation! The more you have of His spirit, the more clearly will you see the state of sinners, and the more deeply you will be distressed about them. Many times you will feel as if you could not live in view of their situation; your distress will be unutterable.”