Was Charles Finney a False Prophet? (Dr. Brown Interviews Jerry Johnson); and The Power of Conviction

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Dr. Brown invites Jerry Johnson, founder and president of the Calvinist organization The Nicene Council, for a civil exchange about his DVD “Beware of False Prophets: The Case Against Charles G. Finney” during the first hour, and discusses the power of the Holy Spirit’s transforming work through conviction of sin during the second hour.

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: Salvation is found in the blood of Jesus alone.  We are universally guilty before God, and have no possible hope of saving, redeeming, or improving ourselves; our only hope is to cast ourselves on God, plead for mercy, ask him to wash us clean by the blood of Jesus, and give us a new life, and a new life He will give us indeed!

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: My friends, warmly welcome the deep conviction of the Holy Spirit!  Welcome the searching work of the Holy Spirit!  Anything that He brings to light and calls us to turn from is only that which will destroy us.  Any change He makes in us is for our lasting good!  Do not resist, but welcome the convicting and transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Featured Resources:

A Time For Holy Fire by Dr. Brown: Are you fed up with Christianity as you know it? Does your heart long for something more? Have you had it with the same old religious cycle? Then this book is for you. Revival is our only hope—yet there is hope for revival!

The Revival Answer Book by Dr. Brown: In this clear-headed, biblical guide, Dr. Brown answers questions about true revival without a syllable of negativity or evasiveness, but with plenty of passion, using everyday language you can easily understand.

Meet Jerry Johnson:

Jerry Johnson is the Founder and President of NiceneCouncil.com and The Apologetics Group, Inc. (Apologetics Group Media). He has earned a Master of Arts in Christian Studies and a Master of Philosophy in Theology and Apologetics from Whitefield Theological Seminary. He is currently working on a doctorate from Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Jerry was the senior writer and researcher for the best selling documentaries Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of Calvinism and The Marks of a Cult: A Biblical Analysis. He also was the author of corresponding study guides for both films.

Jerry is a member of the Board of Regents for Whitefield Theological Seminary and serves as an adjunct professor at Knox Theological Seminary and Veritas Theological Seminary.

Other Resources:

Giants of the Faith [mp3 CD] with Dr. Brown:  Experience the ministry and message of men and women of God who shook their world! Charles Finney, George Whitfield, John (Praying) Hyde, Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake, Maria Woodworth-Etter, John Alexander Dowie, and Adoniram Judson.

Confronting the Critics of Revival with Dr. Brown

How Would You Define Revival? online article by Dr. Brown: “Revival is a season of unusual divine visitation resulting in deep repentance, supernatural renewal, and sweeping reformation in the Church, along with the radical conversion of sinners in the world, often producing moral, social, and even economic change in the local or national communities.” […]

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71 Comments
  1. And if it didn’t depend on man who exerts, why even give such commands or admonishments, such as…

    Rom 11:18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.
    Rom 11:19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
    Rom 11:20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.
    Rom 11:21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.
    Rom 11:22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

    … wouldn’t God do it, without his writing it?? Confusing, it is, sometimes, to read these things.

  2. “Can someone point out “the monsterous side” of Calvin for me, please?” – Dan1el

    I got the impression that Calvin never felt remorse for the pre-meditated murder of a man who was guilty only of disagreeing doctrinally. See post #31.

  3. Hmm… just looked at post #31… I wouldn’t doubt it — his doctrine is totally un-biblical; just like Luther’s, who IGNORED Romans 11 (that God was NOT done with the Jewish people, because he hated them).

  4. This post isn’t about Jerry Johnson, as I don’t know the man or his ministry, but his assertions about Finney have made me think again about labelling others false prophets and contemporary heresy hunting culture in general…

    Even IF Charles Finney were a false prophet – (I believe his teachings and his wonderful fruit demonstrate he clearly WASN’T, though I would disagree with the manner in which he expressed some theological ideas) – what is the purpose of believers spending time on pointing this out today, again? Isn’t there more important work to be done than the sifting through of material to condemn a long-dead revivalist, who, like any known man of God worth their salt, has already amassed a fair share of detractors?

    This idea is cliché now, but that doesn’t make it any less likely to be true…It is my conviction that the apostles, and even Jesus Christ Himself, would likewise by labelled as false and heretics if they were to preach today and demonstrate the power of God. Their statements would be combed later by theological experts in the hope of discovering something mistaken, and by misapprehension or by pedantry ‘mistakes’ would be found.

    People can be intellectually gifted and express sound doctrine, but that doesn’t mean their desire to correct everyone else is anything other than the same drive that compels non-Christians to judge, argue with and slander other sinners- and the root of all of that is pride. If these folk aren’t exposing ‘false teaching’ with tears and mercy, it’s just a case of gratifying the flesh. In my natural state, I am tempted to be quick to argue and am keen to correct a fellow Christian if he is stating something I consider theologically lacking. My flesh wants to jump at the opportunity. But the Holy Spirit and Scripture convicts me and tells me to be patient with that person, to accept his weakness in the faith, to avoid arguments and divisions, and to take the issue to prayer and to examine my motives. Then, perhaps, I will be able to gently lead the person back onto a straighter path with God’s help.

  5. Is there anyone who can answer my question? I didn’t post it for no reason — as if it was just thrown out at random. I’m really looking for a solid answer.

  6. I think regardless it be infants or elders, once one dies their soul has no “age.” It is a soul in eternity of heaven or hell and cannot be called a doomed “infant.” So, the soul of an 80 year old man would be the same…”age” as an infants soul before God. There is no problem to the “aspect of doomed infants,” even though I personally do not believe any child that dies in infancy is “doomed.” God is merciful.

  7. Dr. Brown, Your book “Queer thing happened to America,” is a really amazing and engaging book, although I have to stop and pray every so often while reading because I get angry and frustrated at what is happening to our society. Really eye opening. Thank you.

  8. After reading through some of the comments, I do wonder about something, were we all listening to the same show? No where did Jerry Johnson say that those who were converted under Finney’s preaching were not true converts. He quoted what Finney meant by atonement and what he thought of original sin. Brothers and sisters, those are biblical doctrines. Many of you here think that Mr. Johnson was promoting “right theology”=salvation. From one point that is correct. But to the extreme that you are presenting it, he was not doing. For example, why is a Mormon condemned to Hell? A Jehovah’s Witness? any other cult? Is it not due to doctrine? specifically about the person, life, and work of the Lord Jesus Christ? Well, if that is true, are any of you going to stand on the side of Finney when he claims, “”…FOR SINNERS TO BE FORENSICALLY PRONOUNCED JUST IS IMPOSSIBLE AND ABSURD… AS WE SHALL SEE, THERE ARE MANY CONDITIONS, WHILE THERE IS BUT ONE GROUND, OF THE JUSTIFICATION OF SINNERS … AS HAS ALREADY BEEN SAID, THERE CAN BE NO JUSTIFICATION IN A LEGAL OR FORENSIC SENSE, BUT UPON THE GROUND OF UNIVERSAL, PERFECT, AND UNINTERRUPTED OBEDIENCE TO LAW…..THIS IS OF COURSE DENIED BY THOSE WHO HOLD THAT GOSPEL JUSTIFICATION, OR THE JUSTIFICATION OF PENITENT SINNERS, IS OF THE NATURE OF A FORENSIC OR JUDICIAL JUSTIFICATION. THEY HOLD TO THE LEGAL MAXIM THAT WHAT A MAN DOES BY ANOTHER HE DOES BY HIMSELF, AND THEREFORE THE LAW REGARDS CHRIST’S OBEDIENCE AS OURS, ON THE GROUND THAT HE OBEYED FOR US.” — CHARLES G. FINNEY, LECTURES ON SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY,( WORCESTER: 1851), PP. 727-728″? or maybe stand with him on this, “THE DOCTRINE OF IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS, OR THAT CHRIST’S OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW WAS ACCOUNTED AS OUR OBEDIENCE, IS FOUNDED ON A MOST FALSE AND NONSENSICAL ASSUMPTION..” –CHARLES G. FINNEY, LECTURES ON SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY,( WORCESTER: 1851), PP. 320-322″? or speaking of Christ’s righteousness he says, “”COULD DO NO MORE THAN JUSTIFY HIMSELF. IT CAN NEVER BE IMPUTED TO US … IT WAS NATURALLY IMPOSSIBLE, THEN, FOR HIM TO OBEY IN OUR BEHALF. Ibid”?

    Honestly, Many of you have took jabs at Mr. Johnson about condemning Finney to Hell. Mr. Johnson pointed out that IF Finney held to these types of doctrines, then yes he would be and why? Because he is not believing in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture. We are not talking about a new believer who is learning. We are talking about a man who stands to preach, who will be judged to a higher standard. If we cannot speak to this issue here, then the apostle Paul was wrong to condemn the Judaizers in the book of Galatians, Peter was wrong to condemn Simon in the book of Acts for asking if he could purchase the ability to impart the Holy Spirit to people through laying on of hands. But they did and they were right.

    Also remember, Finney was one to call out people by name, condemning them to Hell for their sins. Was he right to condemn these people? How did he know or any of us whether those people were under the judgement of God or whether they were indeed His children? Why will we not apply the same standard across the board?

    Finally, I am curious, since Finney was clearly Pelagian in his view of man’s ability to regenerate himself as evidenced: “ SEVERAL THEOLOGIANS HAVE HELD THAT REGENERATION IS THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ALONE… BUT I MIGHT JUST AS LAWFULLY INSIST THAT IT IS THE WORK OF MAN ALONE.” — CHARLES G. FINNEY, LECTURES ONSYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, ABRIDGED ( MINNEAPOLIS, MN:, BETHANY FELLOWSHIP, INC., 1976), P. 224″. How many of you would also extend the right hand of Christian fellowship to Pelagius?

    I do not right this in a spirit of meanness, or arrogance. I simply ask that you evaluate the reasons you are so quick to defend Finney as a “great evangelist” when he so clearly did not believe that the death of Christ did anything for any man, which I would assume you all believe the death of Christ is the only atonement for the sins of men, whether you are Arminian or Calvinist.

  9. Hi Tim Brown,

    On the one hand, you stated, “No where did Jerry Johnson say that those who were converted under Finney’s preaching were not true converts Finney’s preaching gained genuine converts for Christ. Is that correct?

    And again, pratically comparing Finney’s teaching to Mormonism or the WatchTower Society, you say, “…IF Finney held to these types of doctrines, then yes he would be and why? Because he is not believing in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture.” Here, I assume you describe Finney as a false teacher and not a genuine Christian who taught, it canbe said, “doctrines of demons”. Would this be correct as another way to say what you mean?

    If such is the case on both counts, it seems you are suggesting that Finney, an unbiblical, heretical Pelagian on his way to eternal damnation (while noting the “if” in your statement)for preaching heresy, neverthelss, was effective in gaining genuine conversions by means of preaching such “false doctrines”.

    Either God is blessing the efforts of preaching heresies or the devil is winning souls for Christ.

    Please correct me where I may have misunderstood you. Thanks.

  10. Hi Tim, I just noticed my first paragraph omitted quotation marks. For clarity, it should have read like this:

    ******
    No where did Jerry Johnson say that those who were converted under Finney’s preaching were not true converts.” It seems you are implying that Finney’s preaching gained genuine converts for Christ. Is that correct?
    ******

    The rest of the post is okay.

  11. Charles G. Finney was not and could not be a Christian at all. You cannot deny the substitutionary blood atonement of Christ and be saved. You may not understand that fully when you are saved in the beginning but after a while the Holy Spirit will teach you all of that pretty quickly. Denial of it indicates a false prophet. No, the devil believes in the deity of Jesus Christ so just an assent to any doctrine doesn’t make one a Christian, that is “dead’ orthodoxy. One has to be “born again” “regenerated” or have a new heart or as it is called a “new creation”! It is not a mental, psychological experience as Mr. Finney taught at all. It surely does change one’s mind and all other faculties of a man. To use psychological tools like Finney did certainly goes along with his ideas of man controlling his own destiny by his own carnal efforts of mind over matter! I sometimes wonder also about John Wesley because he too did not have a clear understanding of the Blood Atonement and the Substitutionary work of Christ on the Cross. When you are minister and claim you are in the word and believe it all and preach it all and yet deny the cardinal truths of scripture I think e all have a right to question the person’s salvation based upon their denial of cardinal essential doctrines of the faith! One may not understand theology but to “deny” some of the basic cardinal truths after being shown those truth in the scripture one is not saved if they do so! Why? Because the Holy Spirit guides us into ALL truth! And if we get to the truth by guidance of mentors or other faithful saints or ministers and we keep denying those truths we are not filled or led by the Holy Spirit of Christ and thus not saved! He that has not the Spirit of Christ is none of His so I can’t understand how anyone could endorse a person if he is a fighter against truths that are commonly held by the Church since its inception!

  12. Tim Brown, excellent questions and I find it amazingly interesting that 1 1/2 years after you posted, your questions are still unacknowledged and unanswered. I would add that it is because there isn’t any defense. Arminianism is an age old heresy repackaged for today that is man centered and has post-modern rationalism as its reasoning.

  13. I think the real problem was that Jerry Johnson is using calvinist doctrine as his basis for condemning Charles Finney rather than what the scriptures actually do teach which is common among the more radical calvinists. Truthfully anyone who follows false teaching themselves (ie calvinism and cessationism) then condemn another as a so called ‘heretic’ is a hypocrite! Michael Brown you are to kind with these calvinists. Because the more radical calvinists have been causing division in the body of Christ for years now falsely calling true believers heretics because their doctrines were not in agreement with calvinism.

  14. Thank you Dr. Brown for speaking out against this man who seems to be an adherent of the hyper- Calvinism cult. I believe that the ones who go about slandering and misrepresenting preachers who have been used by God to bring many into the kingdom, are the ones who should wear the name ,’false prophet,’ rather then these men, now with the Lord.

    In Finney’s, “Systematic Theology,” after quoting much scripture etc, Finney says,” These, as every reader of the Bible must know, are only some of the passages that teach the doctrine of atonement and redemption by the death of Christ. It is truly wonderful in how many ways this doctrine is taught, assumed, and implied in the Bible. Indeed, it is emphatically the great theme of the Bible. It is expressed or implied upon nearly every page of Divine inspiration.”

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