The Creation of a Tradition: American Church History 3
I.The Creation of a Tradition
A.The New Measures and B. The Legacy of Finney and the New Measures
- The Anxious Meeting and Anti-slavery. He appeals to the psychology of the mind. Human/Spiritual Affections. It first needs to be awakened and then convicted. The revival should produce excitement, then produce conviction of sin. Preaching should be exciting, theatrical with clarity of the gospel claims. The people should be warned and in no uncertain terms the revivalist must keep emotion in control. Fear of future judgment is the move of an awakened state to the convicted state and then to the conversion to Christ. Here we see the combo of moral reform and salvation. Finney starts alter calls with the anxious bench. He says to stay with it until resistance is worn down. Two styles: small town meetings would go all day long. Businesses shutdown. In large towns there was a week of nightly meetings.
The Anxious bench. You were invited to come and make a commitment. They had workers to pray with you. This is standardized. Prayer meetings. Three factors are involved in setting this up for success: advertising, prayer meeting (worship played a huge role), workers – especially women. When women began to preach he supported them emphatically. Overland college, President Finney is the first to have women go to college.
One of the more famous revivals is in Rochester, NY. 1830-31. Finney preached 3 times on Sunday and daily prayer meetings. There were inquiry meetings. A 5 day services in a city of about 10,000 come to a halt for the climax. IT transformed the city and outside towns.
On April 2nd Webb a friend of Finney feared that revivalism began to become a trade for Finney. Here we see that religion became a religious drain on Finney. Eventually he left to go work at Overland College. The important thing is that there measures have become part and parcel to the religious landscape and especially of religion today. Finney created modern revivalism. He created the enthusiasm of the frontier into the urban situation of American and Evangelical Christianity. The Presbyterian split (1837-1869) New School Revivalism and Abolitionism vs. Old School Confessionalism (Non-Abolitionists) was contributed by Finney but it also united evangelical religion. People knew what it meant to be saved. The denominational differences did not matter as much.
Summary: Tran-denominationalism could lead toward a platonic movement of shallowness of the soul but this is not the case with Finney. It is the post-civil war evangelicalism that divides social gospel from the gospel. Here it is an engine for social change. Success unfortunately was too focused on numbers.