Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) often viewed as the father of modern revivalism, ministered in the wake of the "Second Awakening," as it has been called. A
Presbyterian lawyer, Finney one day experienced "a mighty baptism of the
Holy Ghost" which "like a wave of electricity going through and through me ... seemed to come in waves of liquid love." The next morning, he informed his first client of the day, "I have a retainer from the
Jesus Christ to plead his cause and I cannot plead yours." Refusing to attend Princeton Seminary (or any seminary, for that matter), Finney began conducting revivals in upstate New York. One of his most popular sermons
was "Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts."
"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
Calvinistic factions. His "New Measures" included the "anxious bench" (precursor to today’s altar call), emotional tactics that led to fainting and weeping, and other "excitements," as Finney
and his followers called them."
"In Finney’s theology,
God is not sovereign,
man is not a sinner by nature, the
atonement is not a true payment for sin,
imputation is insulting to reason and morality, the new birth is simply the effect of successful techniques, and revival is a natural result of clever campaigns."