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Horton on Hannity.com

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Mike Horton made a surprise guest appearance on Hannity.com Sunday night. On the "forums" section of political commentator Sean Hannity's website, a discussion about "Reasonable" Christianity vs. Revivalism in America broke out and someone posted a link to Horton's Modern Reformation (Jan/Feb 1995) article, "The Legacy of Charles Finney."

In addition to reading the article, listen to this 2007 White Horse Inn episode on "Charles Finney and American Revivalism."

A former Presbyterian, Charles Finney is the godfather of American evangelicalism and his formative influence is felt today in churches across the denominational spectrum. Here's how Mike Horton put it:
Finney's one question for any given teaching was, "Is it fit to convert sinners with?" One result of Finney's revivalism was the division of Presbyterians in Philadelphia and New York into Arminian and Calvinistic factions. His "New Measures" included the "anxious bench" (precursor of today's altar call), emotional tactics that led to fainting and weeping, and other "excitements," as Finney and his followers called them. Finney became increasingly hostile toward Presbyterian doctrine, referring in his introduction to his Systematic Theology to the Westminster Confession and its drafters rather critically, as if they had created, as he put it, a "paper pope," and had "elevated their confession and catechism to the Papal throne and into the place of the Holy Ghost." Remarkably, Finney demonstrates how close Arminian revivalism, in its naturalistic sentiments, tends to be to a less refined theological liberalism, as both caved into the Enlightenment and it's enshrining of human reason and morality. Finney writes "that the instrument framed by that assembly (the Westminster Confession and Catechisms) should in the nineteenth century be regarded as the standard of the church, or of any intelligent branch of it, is not only amazing, but I must say that it is highly ridiculous. It is as absurd in theology as it would be in any other branch of science. It is better to have a living than a dead Pope."

You can read the rest of Mike Horton's opening commentary here.

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  • I am glad to see Dr. Horton's wisdom being spread across cyberspace. Thank you to the poster on Hannity.com!

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  • Before I make my statement let me simply say that I was once a dedicated disciple of Finney, taught his materials in Sunday school and honestly believed that his theology was like a sermon from the Holy Spirit. That attitude was part and parcel of Youth With A Mission when I was a staff worker with the organization from 1973-1979. However, I went through a period of serious study and was forced to come to the conclusion that Finney was in serious error.

    It was not until August 2013 that I discovered at least a part of the source for that error. As all informed persons know, Finney was a Master Mason, reaching the highest rank of his rite and being schooled in Masonic thought for 8 or 9 years. While reading "Morals and Dogma: Ancient & Accepted Rite of Freemasonry," I stumbled upon some statements that strongly imply, if not prove, that Finney's Systematic Theology was nothing more or less than taking the spirit and tenor of his Masonic beliefs and incorporating them into Scripture. Read the following and you will see what I mean if you are schooled in Finney’s teaching:

    "The laws of God are not obligatory on us, because they are the enactments of His power, or the expression of His will; but because they express His infinite wisdom. They are not right because they are His laws, but His laws because they are right. From the equilibrium of infinite wisdom and infinite force, results perfect harmony, in physics and in the moral universe. . . .

    "To reconcile the moral law, human responsibility, free will, with the absolute power of God; and the existence of evil with His absolute wisdom, and goodness, and mercy, -- these are the great enigmas of the Sphynx."

    These are not quotes from Finney's Systematic Theology (with the addition of Sphynx), but from " Morals and Dogma. Ancient & Accepted Rite of Freemasonry," Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by Albert Pike, (May 1920 printing), p. 8

    And in another place, it is said,

    "The Mason regards God as a Moral Governor, as well as an Original Creator; as a God at hand, and not merely one afar off in the distance of infinite space, and in the remoteness of Past or Future Eternity. He conceives of Him as taking a watchful and presiding interest in the affairs of the world, and as influencing the hearts and actions of men." Morals and Dogma, p. 224.

    According to the rhetoric of Mr. Jesse Morrell, who teaches passionately in Finney’s thought and rails against Reformation theology, claiming it can be traced back through Augustine to Manicheanism, this is because Morals and Dogma was written after Finney’s Systematic Theology and that he was so popular that his teaching was incorporated.

    Yea, right! . . . and I own a beautiful Indonesian island I will sell you for a good price!

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