February 2, 2008
Charles Finney And Adrian Rogers
FINNEY wrote: "In a revival, the Christian's heart is liable to get crusted over, and lose its relish for divine things; his unction and prevalence in prayer abate, and then he must be renewed again. It is impossible to keep him in such a state as not to do injury to the work, unless he passes through such a process every few days. I have never labored in revivals in company with any one who would keep in the work and be fit to manage revival continually, who did not pass through this process of breaking down as often as once in every two or three weeks" (E.E. Shelhamer, Finney On Revival, p. 63).
JAMES BOYLE -- As a co-worker with Finney, Boyle wrote on December 25th, 1834: "Dear brother Finney, let us look over the fields where you and others have labored as revival ministers, and what is now their moral state? What was their condition within three months after we left them? I have visited and revisited many of these fields, and groaned in spirit to see the sad, frigid, carnal, contentious state into which the churches have fallen--and fallen very soon after our first departure from them" (B.B. Warfield, Perfectionism, p. 26).
Adrian Rogers wrote in "Authentic Christianity" p. 3 "My heart is burdened today over a carefully hidden sin that is affecting our World, our nation, and our cities. It is called superficial Christianity. I hate to say it, but even our churches are plagued with this problem."
He adds: "I thank God For those who attend worship services, but the problem in america on sunday morning is that our churches are full of empty people - people without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior."
"Oh, they have religion. The Bible speaks of those who have a form of godliness, but deny its power. They have been infected with a mild form of Christianity and have never caught the real disease. It is not that they are not religious."
Rogers and Finney share a theological view called semi-pelagianism. Rogers copied many of the evangelistic styles of Finney and publically praised Finney. Finney's pelagianism was probaly more radical than Rogers. Rogers followed the evangelistic fervor of Finney, Moody and Billy Sunday. In one sermon I heard him extol the rich heritage these men left us for today.
Finney and Rogers were both fervent and eager. They had charismatic personalities and were destined to be successful at whatever they attempted. They were humble and had some degree of spiritual discernment. They worshipped Jesus as Lord and Savior. They were interested in spiritual things and their lives embodied holiness and purity.
Both left a rich legacy of sermons and models of evangelistic outreaches. However both left a dissappointed outlook of authentic Christianity. Finney eventually abandoned his evangelism for a pastorate in which he stroved to teach perfectionism. He realized his evangelism was shallow and in the long run not effective.
Rogers never came to that realization and died short of the understanding of the extent of his shallow ministry. Months after his death his legacy dissolved with the report of an associate who was a pedophile. His successor had to resolve the situation and the ensuing actions by Dr Rogers' followers displayed the shallowness of a once apparent respected church.
What is the theological problem of these ministries? Pages could and should be written addressing these issues. Rogers always makes the mistake in saying that one's view of the character of God is the foundational reason for understanding the gospel. The real reason is the embracing of pelagian variations of depravity. Man is totally depraved. His depravity is insurmountable.
Self-determination is a part of Finney and Rogers gospel and both have a mix of grace and human effort that obscures justification and sanctification. God's sovereignty is weaken in both presentations.