Finney, Charles Grandison

Finney, Charles Grandison,

1792–1875, American evangelist, theologian, and educator, b. Warren, Conn. Licensed to the Presbyterian ministry in 1824, he had phenomenal success as a revivalist in the Eastern states, converting many who became noted abolitionistsabolitionists,
in U.S. history, particularly in the three decades before the Civil War, members of the movement that agitated for the compulsory emancipation of the slaves.
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. In 1834 the Broadway Tabernacle, New York City, was organized for him. Under his leadership this church withdrew from its presbytery and adopted the Congregational form of government. In 1837, Finney went to Oberlin College, where he was professor of theology until 1875 and president of the college from 1851 to 1865. At the same time he was pastor of the Oberlin Congregational Church and continued his evangelistic tours until his death, twice visiting England to conduct revivals. His theological writings, published chiefly in the Oberlin Evangelist, which he founded and edited, were of great influence and set the tone of "Oberlin theology," one of the forms of New School Calvinism. His Lectures on Revivals of Religion (1835) became the classic book for generations of revivalists.


See his memoirs (1876, repr. 1973); study by V. R. Edman (1951); W. G. McLoughlin, Modern Revivalism (1959).

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Finney, Charles Grandison

(1792–1875) Protestant religious leader, educator; born in Warren, Conn. Raised on the verge of the frontier in Oneida County, N.Y., he studied for the bar but turned to evangelism after an emotional religious conversion in 1821. He was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1824 and shortly afterwards launched an eight-year revival campaign that carried him through New York, New England, and the mid-Atlantic states. Named pastor of the Second Free Presbyterian Church in New York City in 1832, he resigned two years later to become pastor of Broadway Tabernacle, a Congregational church organized especially for him. In 1835 he became professor of theology at Oberlin College in Ohio, beginning an association that would continue for the rest of his life. Two years later he accepted the pastorship of the First Congregational Church in Oberlin. He was president of Oberlin College from 1851–66. His Memoirs, about his lifetime of teaching, preaching, and evangelism, appeared the year after his death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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