President Finney’s System Of Theology In Its Relations To The So-Called New England Theology -- By: G. Frederick Wright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 034:136 (Oct 1877)
Article: President Finney’s System Of Theology In Its Relations To The So-Called New England Theology
Author: G. Frederick Wright


President Finney’s System Of Theology In Its Relations To The
So-Called New England Theology

Rev. G. Frederick Wright

If any excuse is required for an extended discussion of the system of theology1 elaborated by the late President of Oberlin College, it will be found, we trust, mainly in the merits of the system itself. His scheme of theology and ethics is also worthy of the attention of thoughtful men, because it is so great a present factor in the theological thought of this country.

President Finney had under his personal instruction in systematic theology four hundred and seventy-five young men, the most of whom are now in active pastoral labor, and many of whom are instructors in the numerous colleges at the West. In addition, more than a thousand members of the advanced classes in the college have been thoroughly instructed in his system of moral philosophy; and, to say nothing of his general labors as a revivalist, his regular preaching to the undergraduates for forty years (from 1835 to 1875) was so surcharged with philosophy and doctrine that the eighteen thousand of that class who felt its power cannot fail to have been more or less moulded thereby. Furthermore, two editions of his Systematic Theology — a book of a thousand pages octavo, and selling at a high price — have been ex-

hausted, and are in the hands of appreciative students. If this system of thought, already so thoroughly disseminated, is fundamentally erroneous, it is worth while for religious teachers to understand its principles, that they may know how to counteract its influence. In the writer’s own mind, subsidiary reasons for this paper are, to point out some minor errors in the system; to show wherein it is in special danger of being misapprehended by those accustomed to a different nomenclature from that of the author; and to illustrate the fact that great minds are likely to differ more in the words which express their ideas than in the ideas themselves.

I. On The Purposes Of God

In the outset, it should, and can easily, be made to appear that President Finney is distinctively Calvinistic. “The essential Calvinistic tenet is that of the divine purposes.”2 That is the shibboleth of Calvinism. It is in point to ask first, if our author pronounces this correctly, and without hesitation or timidity. The purposes of God have regard both to ends and means; his purposes are both ultimate and proximate. And

“If he [God] purpose to realize an end, lie must, of course, purpose the necessary means for its accomplishment.”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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