This is the complete, unedited, unabridged, 1851 edition of Lectures on Systematic Theology by Charles G. Finney. The 1851 edition was originally printed in two separate volumes but we have compiled them together to make one single book. This is also a “Note Takers Edition” as the bottom of each page has a large empty area for the reader to write their own personal notes as they study this wonderful piece of Christian theology.
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HARRY CONN ON
CHARLES FINNEY & HIS SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY
“Students of revivals agree that the greatest evangelist since apostolic times was the tenderhearted and devoted Charles Grandison Finney, 1792-1875. His revivals were known for the presence of the Holy Spirit, great enlightenment of the human mind with the truth of God, deep conviction of sin and sinners having a saving subjective experience based upon objective truth.
“Mr. Finney aimed his preaching at man’s intellect, not his emotions, and believed that all virtue resides in the proper exercise of the will. He believed that the means that the Father uses to draw men to Christ is truth (John 6:44,45), which removes the idea of causation in salvation. Man’s will should be guided by an intellect which has been enlightened by the Holy Spirit through intelligent preaching to which He could lend credence.
“Finney preached so that man could see the ignorance, stupidity, and illogicalness of sin and the reasonableness, intelligence, wonderfulness and the philosophical rightness of God and the Gospel of His son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Finney thought preachers were to tear down all of the sinner’s hiding places and take sides with God against sin.
“It is a deficiency of the ministry that very few servants of our Lord in this day understand his theology when the results of preaching in our day are almost the opposite of Finney’s results. It is suggested that the serious student first read his autobiography before studying his theology. His lectures in systematic theology are not just to be read but diligently studied. It is a sad plight in our day of almost “revival-less Christianity” that many men who know a little bit about Finney’s theological positions would rather conform to tradition than have revival in the true sense of the word. Many servants of our Lord should be diligently searching for a gospel that “works,” and I am happy to state they can find it in this volume.
“Finney was a great teacher of the moral government of God, although he wasn’t better in this area in the last century than N. W. Taylor of Yale College, J. J. Butler, Ransom Dunn, Kaleb Burge, Albert Barnes or John Miley. God governs, rules or regulates over four distinct realms or areas. They are: the government of inanimate creation, the animate nonmoral (or animal) kingdom, providential government, and the government of free moral action. Mr. Finney sorted them out, defined them and was not guilty of confusing the government of free moral action with that of providential government.
“Finney thought and prayed his way through many traditional theological opinions with which he was confronted, and it behooves each one of us who has “named His name” to do the same. A very important conclusion was Finney’s wholesome and reverent view of the Moral Law as in Deut. 5:27; 6:24; 10:12-13; 30:10-14; Ps. 119:165; Prov. 19:18; 28:4-7; Luke 1:6; Rom. 8:4; 1 John 2:3,4; 5:3. Preaching Mr. Finney’s view of the Moral Law and with his attitude of heart toward the law, the Holy Spirit has the means to produce conviction of sin. A moral law without sanctions or consequences is not law but advice or a suggestion. The church today seems to act as if the moral laws are not laws. Mr. Finney’s position on the nature of man, the atonement, sovereignty, attributes of love, unity of moral action, and regeneration are areas that also need to be evaluated.
“Mr. Finney did not teach a shallow gospel that a thinking man can see through, but a gospel that can be accepted when thoughtfully and honestly considered. It will lead man to the renouncing of sin and a happy grateful submission to the King of Kings and Lord of All. This book is not for those who are looking for a gospel pill or formula to hand out…
“Many will admit to Mr. Finney’s amazing success as a revivalist and yet dismiss his theology as being wrong and inaccurate. This brings to mind the following analogy. At the Lockheed Aircraft Company is a select group of aircraft designers under the direction of Mr. Kelly Johnson. This group has been responsible for designing such reconnaissance aircraft as the U2 and the SR71, which in their time were unmatched in performance and technical superiority. If someone were to admit to Mr. Johnson’s amazing success as an aircraft designer, and yet suggest he new very little about aeronautics, we would look at him askance. Surely the same sort of criticism of Mr. Finney deserves the same reaction. We can no more expect successful revivals to come from the application of incorrect theology than we can expect successful aircraft designs to come from the application of inaccurate aeronautics.
“I have written these words because I have learned by experience that Mr. Finney’s views and positions work today when preached in a tenderhearted way.”