Charles Finney can get into some pretty deep waters at times in his Systematic Theology. Yet if we understand the aim of his discussion, we see there is always a practical application of any theory he dissects. For instance, he takes on philosophers and/or theologians who say the foundation of our moral obligations is “will the right for the sake of the right.” Not so, says Finney:

Charles Finney 3The law of God does not, cannot require us to love right more than God and our neighbor. What! Right of greater value than the highest well-being of God and of the universe? Impossible! It is impossible that the moral law should require anything else than to will the highest good of universal being as an ultimate end, i.e., for its own sake. . . .

When we pray and preach and converse, must we aim at right, must the love of right, and not the love of God and of souls influence us? . . . Must I pray because it is right, and do all I do, and suffer all I suffer, not from good will to God and man, but because it is right? . . .

Did He give His Son to die for the right, for the sake of the right, or to die to render the salvation of souls possible, for the sake of the souls? . . .

To love God is right, but to suppose that God is loved because it is right, is absurd. It is to suppose that God is loved, not from any regard to God, but from a regard to right. This is an absurdity and a contradiction. To love or will the good of my neighbor is right. But to will the right, instead of the good of my neighbor, is not right. It is loving right instead of my neighbor. . . .

But enough of this cold and loveless philosophy. As it exalts right above all that is called God, and subverts all the teachings of the Bible, it cannot be a light thing to be deluded by it. But it is remarkable and interesting to see Christian rightarians, without being sensible of their inconsistency, so often confound this philosophy with . . . virtue. Numerous examples of it occur everywhere in their writings, which demonstrate that rightarianism is with them only a theory that “plays round the head but comes not near the heart.”

I find that an illuminating passage. We need to think clearly about “why” we obey God.