Salim Ali Biography

Charles Grandison Finney was an American Presbyterian minister and the leader of the “Second Great Awakening” religious revival in the 19th century. Known as the “Father of Modern Revivalism,” Finney was a strong advocate for Christian perfectionism and opposed the Old School Presbyterian theology. He left his law practice to become an evangelist and later became the president of Oberlin College. Finney’s theological views emphasized common sense and the potential for humanity to reform itself. He was also an abolitionist and successfully converted many individuals. Despite his achievements, Finney faced criticism for his unconventional thoughts.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Charles Finney, Charles G. Finney
  • Died At Age: 82
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Lydia Root (m. 1824–1847)
    • Father: Sylvester Finney
    • Mother: Rebecca Finney
  • Born Country: United States
  • Preachers
  • Political Leaders
  • Died on: August 16, 1875
  • Place of Death: Oberlin, Ohio, United States
  • U.S. State: Connecticut

Childhood & Early Life

Charles Grandison Finney was born on August 29, 1792, in Warren, Connecticut. He was the youngest of nine children in his farmer parents’ family. In 1794, his family moved to Oneida County, New York. Despite not attending college, Finney developed leadership qualities and music skills that gained him recognition in his community. He grew up in a staunch Christian family and began attending the Baptist church in Henderson, New York, at a young age. He briefly taught in local public schools in New Jersey in 1814 but returned to Jefferson County due to his mother’s failing health. His family encouraged him to study law, and he pursued law studies privately. In 1821, he began working as an apprentice at a law office in Adams, New York, where he realized the influence of religious scriptures on legal judgments. This led him to start reading the Bible.

Religious Reformation & Career

Finney underwent a religious conversion on October 10, 1821, after having a mystical experience in which he believed he had seen Jesus. He joined the religious flock of Presbyterian clergyman George Washington Gale and became the director of the church choir. In 1824, he obtained a license as a Presbyterian minister from the St. Lawrence Presbytery. He started conducting revivals in small New York towns and expanded them to larger urban chapters like Philadelphia and Boston. He also became involved in the Anti-Masonic Movement and served as a revivalist from 1825 to 1835 in Jefferson County. Finney’s reformatory ways of addressing congregations gained popularity in upstate New York, and his methods were adopted by Congregational and Presbyterian churches in larger towns. Despite facing criticism, Finney became a commanding orator and gained acceptance from many orthodox clergymen.

Literary Works & Beliefs

Finney published his manual on conducting revivals, “Lectures on Revivals of Religion,” in December 1835. He devoted much of his time to teaching and writing, and his works included “Sermons on Important Subjects” and “Lectures to Professing Christians.” He believed in the value of charitable and philanthropic projects and focused on conversion in his preachings. Finney promoted the doctrine of perfectionism, believing that complete faith in Christ would bring about a higher level of sanctification and true Christian perfection. However, he did not believe in sinless perfection and acknowledged that even sanctified Christians were capable of committing sins. He was heavily involved in the abolitionist movement and regarded slavery as a great national sin. Finney’s teachings emphasized free will and the capabilities of preachers to conduct impactful revivals.

Personal Life & Legacy

Finney married Lydia Root Andrews in 1824, and they had six children together. After Lydia’s death in 1847, he remarried twice. Finney passed away on August 16, 1875, in Oberlin, Ohio. His legacy includes the establishment of “The Charles Finney School” in Rochester, New York, in 1992, which offers college preparatory programs.

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