Christian people, are you figuring round and round to get a little property, yet neglecting souls? Beware lest you ruin souls that can never live again!
Charles Finney’s life spanned nearly the entire first century of U.S. presidents - from George Washington to Ulysses S. Grant - and no single individual had more influence in the United States’ coming to be considered “A Christian Nation.” Finney’s revivals sparked the Second Great Awakening and unified the country around the Bible and the power of prayer, while his moral stances for social justice laid the foundations for everything from abolition to temperance to the civil rights movement. His teachings on Christian perfectionism inspired the Holiness Movement of the latter half of the nineteenth century and the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements in the twentieth century. Finney’s evangelistic style and methods - include prayer meetings before and during the event, nightly meetings for weeks at a time, altar calls, and pushing for decisions before listeners leave the auditorium - influenced everyone from Dwight L. Moody to Billy Graham.
Sylvester, Sr. was a farmer who had fought in the Revolutionary War. In all the years Charles lived with his family, he had little religious education. Though Methodist circuit riders would speak in the local one-room schoolhouse from time to time, they were usually uneducated and rarely held their audience’s attention. Western New York at this time had become known as the “Burned-over District,” as it had seen so many preachers that the local population had grown immune to their preaching.