Finney: Truth in a Spirit of Love

Charles Finney AutobiographyEverywhere Charles Finney preached, conversions followed. God worked in a great way through the message he brought, which, of course, was nothing less than the genuine gospel. In Finney’s autobiography, after an account of one of the revivals that occurred, he summarized just exactly what he taught in these words:

The doctrines I preached in promoting that revival were those that I have preached everywhere. The total moral, voluntary depravity of unregenerate man; the necessity of a radical change of heart, through the truth, by the agency of the Holy Ghost; the divinity and humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ; his vicarious atonement, equal to the wants of all mankind; the gift, divinity, and agency of the Holy Ghost: repentance, faith, justification by faith, sanctification by faith; persistence in holiness as a condition of salvation; indeed all the distinctive doctrines of the Gospel were stated and set forth with as much clearness, and point, and power, as were possible to me under the circumstances.

A great spirit of prayer prevailed; and after the discussion on baptism [on which the various denominations differed], a spirit of most interesting unity, brotherly love, and Christian fellowship prevailed. . . . In my readings on the subject of baptism, the Lord enabled me to maintain such a spirit that no controversy was started, and no controversial spirit prevailed. The discussion produced no evil result, but great good, and, so far as I could see, only good.

This sounds like the perfect combination of devotion to truth and a willingness to work with those who have some differing views on the non-essentials. It’s a fine recipe for today as well.