To canonize is to ignore

Issues Etc. recently had Dr. Mike Horton on the show to talk about American Christianity’s favorite heretic hero, Charles Finney.  The audio can be found here.

From, Phil Johnson writes:

Charles Grandison Finney was a heretic. That language is not too strong. Though he excelled at cloaking his opinions in ambiguous language and biblical-sounding expressions, his views were almost pure Pelagianism. The arguments he employed to sustain those views were nearly always rationalistic and philosophical, not biblical. To canonize this man as an evangelical hero is to ignore the facts of what he stood for.
Don’t be duped by sanitized 20th-century editions of Finney’s works. Read the “Complete and Newly Expanded” 1878 edition of Finney’s Systematic Theology, recently published by Bethany house Publishers (the unabridged 1878 version with a couple of Finney’s later lectures added). This volume shows the real character of Finney’s doctrine. (The unabridged 1851 version is now online, and it also exposes Finney’s errors in language not toned down by later redactors.) By no stretch of the imagination does Finney deserve to be regarded as an evangelical. By corrupting the doctrine of justification by faith; by denying the doctrines of original sin and total depravity; by minimizing the sovereignty of God while enthroning the power of the human will; and above all, by undermining the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, Finney filled the bloodstream of American evangelicalism with poisons that have kept the movement maimed even to this day.


UPDATES (More links will be added as they come):

Thanks to White Horse Inn for bringing up this mention of Finney by John MacArthur:

But the origin really goes back to American revivalism and goes back to Charles Finney, 1792-1875.  It was Finney who decided that religion, to be valid, had to have some kind of high impact, high energy emotional element.  It was about methods, feelings, experiences, sentimentalism, and it all trumped sound doctrine and theology.  Gradual growth, by the normal ordinary means of grace, prayer, the study of the Word, fellowship was exchanged for a radical experience, the anxious bench, and there was introduced into the evangelical world a restlessness of those looking for something extreme.

Presbyterian Proverbs

Presbyterian Blues

aesops Greek Fables (close enough)

An advantage of being in the same church for a long time is that you have an opportunity to see things play out.  You can observe parenting and then watch the “parented” children grow up.  You can see folks go from young parents to empty nesters.  You can see all sorts of people just passing through. In short, you’re around long enough for time to tell its story.  And if it told proverbs about Presbyterian church life, they might sound like this.

  1. One who speaketh in his first Sunday School class will evaporate like the morning dew.   It’s uncanny – visitors who enter by sharing their brilliance in their first Sunday School class won’t be around for long.  And, really, you don’t want them around for very long.
  2. Better an early grave than the sneer of an alpha church lady.  Thinking of confronting her? Just…

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The logical consistency of Tim Lambesis

If only they all could be this consistent.  You can argue with someone who is consistent.

The publication noted that his wife, Meggan, had likewise divulged in divorce papers that Lambesis had become an atheist. Lambesis, in admitting his atheism, outlined that he turned away from Christianity as he majored in religious studies while attending college through a long distance program… 

…“The first time I cheated on my wife, my interpretation of morality was now convenient for me,” Lambesis explained. “I felt less guilty if I decided, “Well, marriage isn’t a real thing, because Christianity isn’t real. God isn’t real. Therefore, marriage is just a stupid piece of paper with the government.”

— Convicted Heavy Metal ‘Christian’ Singer Admits Being Atheist, Duped Fans to Sell Music

Tommy Ramone (1952-2014)

I think it was one of my first years of high school when I asked for and received “Leave Home” by the Ramones in my Christmas gifts that year.  Not a year has gone by since that I have not gone back to it.

You can continue to argue that the Beatles are the greatest rock band of all time, but you’d still be wrong.

British Soccer Fan, Jr.

Slacking in my efforts to bring you the best in soccer trolls during the World Cup, I give you my troll finale in light of USA’s elimination yesterday.  It’s not so much a troll as it is wisdom on which the United States should build the foundation of its future in the sport.

I had a “cage-stage” of soccer fandom once, with all the elitism that came with it.  Once that wore off, I got cyncial and the game became more enjoyable.  It will be a good thing when the rest of America shakes its own cage-stage, too. 

Gosh, number six is great advice.

Not authorized to burn incense

On the separation of church and state, post-Constantine.  Emphasis mine:

“For into your hands God has put the kingdom; the affairs of his Church he has committed to us.  If any man stole the Empire from you, he would be resisting the ordinance of God: in the same way you on your part should be afraid lest, in taking upon yourself the government of the Church, you incur the guilt of grave offense. ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.’ We are not permitted to exercise an earthly rule; and you Sire, are not authorized to burn incense.”

– A letter from Hosius, Bishop of Cordova to Constantius; Documents of the Christian Church

A Root-for-the-Home-Team Point

Dr. Hart invokes John 4 to describe his attendance of Mass while in Rome.  You needn’t worry about him swimming the Tiber any time soon, though.

I couldn’t help but think that U.S. Roman Catholics who worship in Rome must feel a tad underwhelmed when they return to their home parish. Rome simply has more stuff than Lansing, Michigan. In fact, place seems to matter for Roman Catholicism in ways that rival Judaism and Islam — certain locales are holy and function as the spiritual capital for the faith. 

In comparison, I can return to the States (in a week or so) after worshiping with Presbyterians in Dublin and Edinburgh and not think twice about missing the liturgical bling — and I can say that even while admitting Presbyterianism’s debt to the Scots, and to the charms of what might qualify as Presbyterianism’s capital city — Edinburgh. For Presbyterians, worship doesn’t depend on the tie between the minister and another church official, nor does it include relics or objects that point to holy persons who inhabited that space. The services in Dublin and Edinburgh were not any more special or meaningful because they were closer to Presbyterianism’s original space. 

That would seem to confirm Jesus’ point to the Samaritan woman at the well that Christian worship depends not on place or space but on word and Spirit. Sure, that’s a root-for-the-home-team point. But it does account for the lack of liturgical envy among New World Presbyterians. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Spirit and the word are just as much a part of worship as in the Presbyterian heartland.