Secret Places Where Grace Lurks

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The utterly safe place, with the most engagingly good people, uniting together in the most joyful, holy, and pure expressions of worship is by experience and theological principle Utopia in the present age—it doesn’t exist. There are no perfect people, no perfect places, no perfect systems, and no perfect churches. The world is fallen; it…



Transformed by the Renewing of Your Minds

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I am inserting a brief interlude in the discussion of the development of bad evangelicalism in America. This is not a complete departure from the theme which will be resumed in a subsequent post, but a reminder of the kind of self-critical, conscientious attention to biblical truth that framed the lives of Christians and churches…



Billy Sunday, Part 4: Spiraling Manward

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(See also Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series.) Sunday’s suspicion of theology led to a heightened emphasis on the effectuality of decision. He adopted Finney’s insistence on immediate conversion under the living voice of the preacher. While he was more theological than Sam Jones, he still focused on human gumption as the vital…



Billy Sunday, Part 3: Jack Rabbits and Creeds

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(See also Part 1 and Part 2, of this series.) Among the public impressions that gave Billy Sunday such popular appeal was his vigorous support of Woodrow Wilson’s war effort. The money, at least it was so reported, that came in from the ten-week New York campaign in 1917 all went to the war to end all wars….



Billy Sunday, Part 2 – By Any Means Whatever

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(Here’s part 1.) Billy Sunday obviously had read Charles Finney, considered him one of the great and courageous men of the Christian church, and expressed as his own conviction a paraphrase of Finney’s view of revival. To the query, “What is a revival?” Sunday would respond, “Revival is a purely philosophical, common-sense result of the…



Billy Sunday (1862-1935)

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Billy Sunday died on November 6, 1935, a week after preaching against his doctor’s advice. The text for his final sermon was, “What must I do to be saved?” Billy Sunday carried himself with consummate confidence, embracing the demeanor of a successful and well-dressed business man. When he got into the pulpit, however, none of the detachment,…



Zeal Without Knowledge

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Of all the 19th century evangelists, none has had more staying power in the affections of modern evangelical thought than D. L Moody (1837-1899). A friend of Spurgeon, a friend of J. P. Boyce, an opponent of ungodliness and the developing worldliness of the end of the nineteenth century, an honest, sincere, plain spoken layman,…



Finney’s Theology as Self-Worship in the Bud

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  In The Memoirs of Charles G. Finney he presents his theological differences with the confessionalist stream of Congregational and Presbyterian ministers as having begun early. His recollections from 1866-68 imposed on that time forty-five years earlier may have presented his doctrinal system more defined and clearly stated than it actually was. That his spirit…



Heart Faith and Deep Change

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Both in preparing to write these blogs and in preparing to teach a course on American revival, I have spent some time with the sermons, theology, and revival lectures of Charles Finney. He is a fascinating read. I find some things well said and edifying—truly and clearly put in the defense of truth. He had…



John Rooker and God’s Sovereign Purpose

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Recently I read this item in the 1806 Circular Letter of the Philadelphia Association on Christian Missions: “The Charleston Baptist Association of South Carolina, at their last session, received favorable accounts from their missionary, Brother John Rooker, relative to his ministration among the Catawba Indians. They have engaged him to continue with them, and are…