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The Fallacies of Moral Government Theology

(modern Finneyism)

Note: The following articles were not written by Calvinists, but from an Armenian perspective.

Rev. Charles G. Finney was a man used of God to do great things and we are thankful for his sermons and his work as a revivalist.  However, we have some sharp disagreements with his Systematic Theology.  Because Modern Finneyism / Moral Government Theology is a popular system of theology among open-air preachers, we  take a stand and therefore distance ourselves from this error.  We hope to spare some young aspiring open-air preachers from being distracted and hindered by the fallacies of this theology.

Some of the following eye-opening articles about Moral Government Theology were written by Pastor Leon Stump (co-author of the story of "Dick, Jane, and Sally"). We recommend that you read Bro. Stump's articles in order.

"Practical concerns and logic drive Finney’s theology, not Scripture. If Scripture seems to stand in the way of his logic and pragmatism, he has no scruples about changing Scripture by way of re-interpretation so as to fit his thinking. The end result, though through different means and from a different perspective and for different reasons, is the same as with liberal theologians who reject the authority of Scripture outright."  Pastor Leon Stump, Finney and the Atonement (below)

  1. Finney and The Ultimate Intention (by J. Duncan)

    The Moral Government way of saying that "The End Justifies the Means."
  2. Finney and Original Sin (by Leon Stump)

    Finney denied the Sinful Nature but authored "Physical Depravity," which carries the same concept.

    Many Moral Government proponents believe that certain individuals throughout history were able to live a sinless life from womb to tomb, such as Jeremiah (called from his mother's womb), and John the Baptist (filled with the Spirit from his mother's womb).  Since they did not have a sinful nature to start with, they were under some type of "remote control operation" where God Himself did not allow these individuals to sin (therefore depriving them of free will and the ability to sin).  By the way, why would these select individuals need a Savior?
  3. Finney and Justification by Faith (by Leon Stump)

    "Finney says that God can justify us only if we live lives obedient to the law of God... The fault is not with the doctrine of justification by faith, but with a lack of understanding of the connection between justification and sanctification. Justification certainly is the grounds of sanctification. Finney denies this and says just the opposite, that sanctification is the grounds of justification. The truth is we are to live holy lives because we have been justified, not that we are justified because we live holy lives. And holiness is not optional... "  (Pastor Leon Stump) 
  4. Finney and the Atonement (by Leon Stump) - LINKS BELOW

    Finney believed that Jesus died on the cross ONLY to provide us a Moral Influence to stop sinning.  This denies any supernatural or spiritual exchange and GREATLY strips Jesus' wondrous work at Calvary.  Many entire theological books have been written on this subject alone.  To take the Atonement exclusively as a Moral Influence is one of the most awful errors made by Moral Government Theology proponents.

    PART A

    PART B

    PART C

  5. Finney and Regeneration (by Leon Stump) - LINKS BELOW

    Finney denied in practice what he formulated in theory.  Though Finney himself was born again by an undeniable supernatural inward work of the Spirit of God, Finney denies the inward supernatural  born-again experience in his Systematic Theology.  Modern-day Moral Government Theology describes the born-again experience as a decision of simply changing your mind and believing the gospel.  The Moral Government fallacy is that nothing supernatural occurs in someone at the moment they are saved. 

    PART A

    PART B

  6. Moral Government Theology and Limited Foreknowledge (to be posted)

    While Finney himself believed in God's Unlimited Foreknowledge, modern-day Moral Government theology teaches that God does not know all the future.  In fact, in this fallacy, Moral Government proponents believe that God is often surprised at the turn of events and does not know for certain what will happen tomorrow - or in the next minute for that matter.  Moral Government proponents believe that God has the ability to make great educated guesses and that is how they view God's foreknowledge.