Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The past understood at last

I've come across Charles Finney before.

It was in the heyday of Last Days Ministry, run by the singer Keith Green.

Finney was the inspiration for many of the pamphlets that LDM distributed and for much of what KG sang and said.

The moral of that experience is don't go to singers for theology!

Except for an early period at a Presbyterian church (that seemed more Barthian than Knoxian, come to think of it), my younger years, up to about 26 or so, were spent in a denomination heavily influenced by Finney's crackpot rhetoric (it wasn't theology).

Thus the emotionalism, the shallow sermons on too many occasions, the hokey 'entertainment' that some 'praise' services descended into, and the intellectual emptiness that came my way. When I got to know some Anglicans, I found out about...theology! Proper!

No wonder my 'witnessing' attempts turned to porridge upon commencement. I had nothing to say because I was given nothing. It took years to undo that stifling of the Spirit.

Horton reveals all in this enlightening essay. It explains the shallow emotionalism, the playing the last verse of a hymn (often 'Just as I am') five or six times to pressure people to 'come forward' to signify their 'decision' to follow Christ. This stratagem was often a failure. More so when the preacher told us that he really felt the Spirit moving in the place calling people to him. Clearly, it was not the Spirit of God he sensed, but his own delusion, because no one 'accepted'.

So, he had nothing to say, I had nothing to say, the people I spoke to heard nothing. No wonder they were not compelled. Not even interested, because there was nothing interesting in Finneyism. None of the intellectual riches of the faith, none of the greatness of the knowledge of God came through.

As I've written before. I left high school having been exposed to some of the world's greatest minds. At the same time, my church life had equipped me with nothing but how to play mini-golf.

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