04 Apr Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875) Altering the Course of History
It is said of Charles G. Finney that when he opened his mouth he was aiming a gun. When he spoke, the bombardment began. The effects of his speaking were almost unparalleled in modern history. Over half a million people were converted through his ministry…in an age when there were no amplifiers or mass communications. He spearheaded a revival, which literally altered the course of history.
Finney was born the year after John Wesley died and became the link from the Great Awakening of one century to the Second Great Awakening of the next. Harvard professor Perry Miller wrote: “Charles Grandison Finney led America out of the eighteenth century.”
A tall, impressively blue-eyed young frontiersman from a non-Christian farming family, Finney was the seventh child of Sylvester and Rebecca Finney, and a musical, gently mocking pagan. Portraits made near the end of his life rarely catch his irrepressible sense of humor, his zest for life, or his impressive athleticism. Deeply attractive and personable his new wife did not mind waiting months as revivals repeatedly broke out on his way to take her home after the wedding! The story of God’s visitation to the heart of this young lawyer, his conversion, vision of Christ, and baptism of power detailed elsewhere is one of the most moving biographies in revival history. It launched a life of such influence that even to this day his work and words still generate both stirring and storm with those who study the wonder of God’s ways and works in revival.
Finney, who among the twenty-three million Americans and forty thousand ministers of his time, was described as “unquestionably the most impressive religious revolutionary that America has ever produced.” Even enemies and detractors admitted the awesome way God used him. Three things stand out in Finney’s astonishing life: his willingness to change; his deep devotional life of prayer; his radical message of practical and immediate holiness.
Finney’s life spanned two might periods of American and British Christian history, the First and Second Great Awakenings; he was radical to the last. On his tombstone is written, “The Lord be with us as He was with our fathers; let us not fail nor forsake Him.”
Resource: Winkie Pratney, The Revival Study Bible