Nathaniel W. Taylor – (1786 – 1858)
Founder of the New Haven Theology, he contributed to the rise of evangelical theology by modifying Calvinism, rendering it compatible with revivalism in the opening decades of the nineteenth century. He was born in 1786 in New Milford, Connecticut, into a family rich in both material things and religious heritage. Taylor entered Yale in 1800, but an eye ailment deferred his graduation until 1807. In 1822 Taylor was appointed Dwight Professor of Didactic Theology at Yale, where he taught until his death in 1858. Taylor was prompted to revise Calvinism by the increasing charges from Unitarians that Calvinistic determinism actually promoted immorality by denying human freedom. In response to these attacks he altered the Reformed doctrines of revelation, human depravity, God's sovereignty, Christ's atonement, and regeneration in order to harmonize Calvinist theology with actual revival practices. He accepted the...teaching of commonsense realism that reason provides not only proof of God's existence but also the first principles of morality that make man a free, moral agent. He insisted that men are lost but denied that Adam's sin was imputed to all men and that everyone inherits a sinful nature which causes one to sin. Even though a person sins, he has power to do otherwise, thus remaining morally responsible. God made man with a proper self-love, a natural desire for happiness, which motivates all choices. Taylor also reinterpreted Calvin's teaching on God's sovereignty by calling God a moral governor who rules, not by determining the destiny of all men through election, but rather by establishing a moral universe and judging its inhabitants. God promotes moral action by a system of means and ends in which man can respond to ethical appeals for repentance. He opposed the legal view of the atonement that stressed Christ's substitutionary death on the cross in the place of sinners to satisfy God's justice. Instead, God as benevolent moral governor sent Christ to die so that his death could be preached as a means to urge sinners to turn freely from their sin out of self-love and be converted. (From EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY edited by Walter Elwell ©1984, by Baker Book HouseCompany.)
Charles G. Finney – (1792-1875)
Flamboyant evangelist of the Second Great Awakening, served as the second President of Oberlin College (1851-65). He was born in Warren, Connecticut on August 29, 1792 to Sylvester (1727?-1842) and Rebecca (Rice) Finney (1759-1836). When Finney was two years old, his family joined the westward migration and settled in the frontier town of Hanover in Oneida County, New York. Finney is believed to have attended Oneida Academy in Clinton, where he developed his gifts for music and for sports. From 1808 to 1812, Finney taught in the district school at Henderson. For two years, he studied independently while living in Warren, Connecticut, preparing to enter Yale College. In 1814, he moved to New Jersey where, on his schoolmaster's advice, he began working through Yale's college curriculum. After two years, he entered the law office of Judge Benjamin Wright in Adams, New York. He was admitted to the bar in 1818. He settled down as a lawyer in Adams, New York, in 1820 and, on October 10, 1821 in Adams, Finney underwent a dramatic religious conversion, which altered the course of his life. Abandoning the practice of law, he transferred his oratorical skills, powers of reason, and belief in human accountability to the preaching of the Christian gospel. In 1823, Finney put himself under the care of the St. Lawrence Presbytery as a candidate for the ministry; he was ordained in July 1824. He left the Presbytery in 1836 and from then on indentified himself as a Congregationalist. For nearly a decade, from 1824 to 1833, Finney conducted unusual revivals in the Middle and Eastern states, but especially in the towns of New York: Rome, Rochester, Utica, Clinton, Antwerp, Evans' Mills, Western, and Gouverneur. In 1832, he became pastor of the Second Free Presbyterian Church, New York City. His experiences during this time enabled Finney to establish the modern forms and methods of revivalism in America.
In 1835, the wealthy silk merchant and benefactor Arthur Tappan (1786-1865) offered financial backing to the newly founded Oberlin Collegiate Institute (as Oberlin was known before 1850), and he invited Finney, on the recommendation of abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld (1803-95), to establish its theological department. After much wrangling, Finney accepted, on the conditions that he be allowed to continue to preach in New York, that the school admit blacks, and that free speech be guaranteed at Oberlin. At Oberlin Theological Seminary, Finney held the posts of Professor of Systematic Theology (1835-58) and Professor of Pastoral Theology (1835-75), teaching courses in Didactic and Polemic Theology, Pastoral Theology, and Mental and Moral Philosophy. He served simultaneously as pastor of Oberlin's First Congregational Church (1837-72) and was a member of the Oberlin College Board of Trustees from 1846 until 1851 when he was elected president. For much of the academic year, he carried on his immensely successful evangelistic work, visiting Great Britain in 1849-50 and again in 1859-60. Through the Oberlin Evangelist, established in 1839, he expressed his views on doctrinal and practical matters, collectively referred to as "Oberlin Theology" or "Oberlin Perfectionism." Finney taught that the individual has a limitless capacity for repentance. He also taught that an exalted state of spirituality was attainable by leading a Christian life. These New School Calvinist views, opposed by conservative Calvinists, included prohibitions against tobacco, tea, coffee, and most popular amusements. Finney's brand of theological perfectionism placed Oberlin on the theological map for more than a century.
In 1869, Finney published The Character, Claims, and Practical Workings of Freemasonry, attacking the order of which he had once been a member. His Lectures on Systematic Theology were published in 1846 and 1847. Among his other works are: Sermons on Important Subjects (3rd ed., 1836); Lectures to Professing Christians (1837); and Skeletons of a Course of Theological Lectures (1840). In 1867, Finney began writing Memoirs of Rev. Charles G. Finney. Edited by James Harris Fairchild and published in 1876, the memoirs deal chiefly with his evangelistic activities; they do not constitute an autobiography. Finney taught up until his eighty-third year, submitting his resignation from the presidency in 1865. He died in Oberlin in August 1875 following a heart ailment. During his life, Finney had three wives. In 1824, he married Lydia Root Andrews (1804-47). They had six children: Helen C. Finney (b. 1828); Charles Grandison Finney (b. 1830); Frederick Norton Finney (b. 1832); Julia R. Finney (b. 1837); Sarah Sage Finney (1841-43), and Delia Andrews Finney (1844-52). Finney's second wife was Elizabeth Ford Atkinson (1799-1863, m. 1848) and his third wife Rebecca Allen Rayl (1824-1907, m.1865). All three women shared in Finney's revival work, accompanying him on his travels and even developing parallel ministries, as Elizabeth Ford Atkinson did during the two evangelistic trips in England. In Oberlin, they were active in various women's organizations, including the Maternal Association, the Infant School, and the Oberlin Female Moral Reform Society. Rebecca Rayl served as Assistant Principal of the Ladies Department at Oberlin College between 1856 and 1865, prior to her marriage. (From the biographical sketch at the Oberlin University Website and the EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY edited by Walter Elwell © 1984, by Baker Book HouseCompany.) For additional information concerning Charles G. Finney on the Web, please check out Oberlin's Images of Finney as well as Biographical Information.
Albert Barnes - (1798-1870)
One of the most influential American Presbyterian clergymen during the middle third of the nineteenth century and a central figure in the Old School-New School controversy that led to the 1837 denominational division. Born in Rome, New York, he graduated from Hamilton and Princeton. While serving his first charge in Morristown, New Jersey, he attracted attention because of an 1829 revival sermon entitled "The Way of Salvation," which denied the doctrine of original sin and insisted that man was a free moral agent who could choose for or against Christian salvation. (From EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY edited by Walter Elwell © 1984, by Baker Book HouseCompany.)
Hugo Grotius – (1583-1645)
Dutch jurist, statesman, theologian, and historian who was born at Delft and educated at the University of Leiden. After practicing law for a time and holding public office, in 1613 he was appointed pensionary of the city of Rotterdam, a post that carried with it a seat in the States General of Holland and later in the States General of the United Netherlands. This position brought him into Dutch politics at a time of intense struggle between the Calvinists and the Arminians. As a leader of the Arminians when the Calvinist side won, he was sentenced to life imprisonment (1618). In 1621 he escaped from prison in a book chest and made his way to France. He returned to Holland briefly in 1631, but most of the remainder of his life was spent in Paris, where he served for a time (1634-45) as Swedish ambassador. Grotius was an ardent student of religion who wrote on theology, scriptural interpretations, and church government. One of his most popular books, On the Truth of the Christian Religion (1627), was intended as a missionary manual for those who had contact with pagans and Muslims. It presented the evidences for the Christian faith based on natural revelation. Another work, De Satisfactione Christi (1617), espoused the governmental theory of the atonement. This view regarded God as the ruler of the world who could in a sense relax the law that death followed sin and allow Christ to suffer as a penal example so that sin could be forgiven and yet the fundamental law of the universe be upheld. (From EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY edited by Walter Elwell © 1984, by Baker Book HouseCompany.)
Gordon C. Olson – (1907 – 1989)
Moral Government teacher, author and theologian, he wrote several important works on subjects pertaining to Moral Government and Revival Theology. Although experiencing blessed salvation in his youth, in full commitment to the loving Savior at his church's altar of prayer, his theological training at a leading evangelical institution indoctrinated him with the common idea that one is saved by accepting Christ as savior, without necessarily becoming His dedicated disciple in the total Lordship of submission.
In 1932 an extended period of research on revival truth was undertaken, moving to a suburban home and living on savings intended for further theological training. After a time of a small pastorate was accepted. Soon an all out prayerful and Lordship preaching effort was made toward revival. Many were responding to the revival spirit by times of dedication in their homes. In this process, quite a few were brought under conviction that in their selfish unbroken lives they had never been saved. With new realization of the suffering Savior, they "sorrowed to repentance" and made a total commitment of their lives in saving faith, "with the joy of the Holy Spirit." This was a joyous surprise to the pastor's theological training and immediately demanded a restudy of the New Testament revelation of the doctrines of salvation (Acts 17:11). After four months of reading and tabulating passages and working through each column, it appeared obvious that our loving Creator and Savior, in unthinkable involvement of Divine love and humility, is not going to enter our personalities unless He is allowed to revolutionize our lives by His tender forgiveness and presence (Rev. 3:20; John 17:3) and will not remain as an unwelcome inhabitant if we make Him uncomfortable and embarrassed by our unresponsiveness and uncorrectableness. (Col 1:21-23; Heb. 9:27-28; Rev. 3:21)
These conclusions demanded much future biblical research. Early in 1936, he returned to tractor design engineering to enable the search for the simplest possible expressions of the God-man relationship and the whole process of man's reconciliation. This research went on for ten years without much public ministry. After a period of part-time ministry and a year pastoring, he left his engineering employment in 1950 for some seven years of full time effort, mostly on savings, in more extensive research on past revivals. Most of 1951 to 1953 were spent a seminary and historical collection libraries at Oberlin College researching Charles Finney and the glorious revivals of the past century. Much of Olson's research can be found in his writings on the subjects of Moral Government, the Atonement, the Nature and Character of God and much more, all of which are highly recommended.
In 1957 it was back into tractor design engineering for twelve years, continuing regular lectures on revival truths and ministries. After retirement in 1969, these activities continued full time with provided support. Mr. Olson went to be with His Lord in 1989.
John Calvin – (1509-1564)
Father of Reformed and Presbyterian doctrine and theology. Calvin was born in Noyon, Picardie. His father was a notary who served the bishop of Noyon, and as a result Calvin, while still a child, received a canonry in the cathedral which would pay for his education. Although he commenced training for the priesthood at the University of Paris, his father, because of a controversy with the bishop and clergy of the Noyon cathedral, now decided that his son should become a lawyer, and sent him to Orleans, where he studied under Pierre de l'Etoile. Later he studied at Bourges under the humanist lawyer Andrea Alciati. It was probably while in Bourges that he became a Protestant. Not only was Calvin's influence widespread in his own day through his writings, but his impact on the Christian church has continued down to the present day. His works have been translated into many different languages, one of the most recent being the translation of the Institutes into Japanese. The result has been that his theological teachings as well as his political and social views have wielded a strong influence on both Christians andnon-Christians since the Reformation. (From EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY edited by Walter Elwell © 1984, by Baker Book HouseCompany.) For additional historical perspective, see the article "His Ashes Cry Out..." by Dan Corner.
Jonathan Edwards – (1703-1758)
Massachusetts Congregational minister who produced one of the most thorough and compelling bodies of theological writing in the history of America. Edwards, the son of a Congregational minister, entered the ministry in 1726 after a bachelor's degree at Yale, further independent study, and brief service as a Yale tutor and in the Presbyterian church of New York City. His first charge was Northampton, Massachusetts, where he served until dismissed in 1750 after a controversy with his congregation over standards for church admission. He then labored in frontier Stockbridge, Massachusetts, as minister to congregations of Indians and whites. His death from inoculation for smallpox came on March 22, 1758, only a few weeks after he began his work as president of the College of New Jersey. Theology. Edwards is most often studied for his Augustinian description of human sinfulness and divine all-sufficiency. In such early sermons as "God Glorified in Man's Dependence" (1731), "A Divine and Supernatural Light" (1733), and "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (1741), he anticipated in a popular way the themes that would inform his later theological treatises. The root of human sinfulness was antagonism toward God; God was justified in condemning sinners who scorned the work of Christ on their behalf; conversion meant a radical change of the heart; true Christianity involved not just an understanding of God and the facts of Scripture but a new "sense" of divine beauty, holiness, and truth. (From EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY edited by Walter Elwell © 1984, by Baker Book HouseCompany.)
Jonathan Edwards, Jr. – (1745 - 1801)
Son of the great philosopher and theologian. Ordained in 1769, he served churches in New Haven and Colebrook, Conn. He became president of Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., in 1799. Much of his theology was formulated in controversy. he sought to retain in modified form the doctrines of atonement, imputation, and depravity. His writings were largely polemical. He edited some of his father's works and published a defense of the elder Edward's treatise on the freedom of the will. His most influential work was On the Necessity of the Atonement and its Consistency with Free Grace in Forgiveness (1785), which formed the basis for the Edwardsian theory of the atonement. (From The Westminster Dictionary of Church History , edited by Jerald C. Brauer, © 1971, by The Westminster Press.)
James (Jacobus) Arminus – (1560-1609)
Born at Oudewater, the Netherlands, Arminius was educated at the universities of Marburg (1575) and Leiden (1576-81), at the academy at Geneva (1582, 1584-86), and at Basel (1582-83). He was pastor of an Amsterdam congregation (1588-1603), and a professor at the University of Leiden from 1603 until his death. He did not write a full systematic theology, as John Calvin had done, but he wrote considerably both during his fifteen year pastorate and while he was a professor at Leiden. His treatise on Romans 7 interpreted vss. 7-25 as depicting an awakened (vss. 12,21), unregenerate (vss. 15, 18, 24) person. He wrote a treatise on Romans 9 in which he interpreted this passage, used by many Calvinists to teach unconditional predestination, to teach only conditional predestination. One of his most significant writings is his Examination of Perkins' Pamphlet, a "conditional predestination" answer to the view of Cambridge's William Perkins. His Declaration of Sentiments of 1608, which he presented to the governmental authorities at The Hague, gave his arguments against supralapsarianism (the view that each person's destiny was determined by God prior to Adam's fall). It also sought to secure favorable status in the United Netherlands for his own kind of conditional predestination teaching. In addition he wrote such treatises as an apology against thirty-one incorrect representations of his views that had circulated for some time; Public Disputations; and Seventy-nine Private Disputations (a posthumous publication of his theology class notes at Leiden). Arminius was the ablest exponent of what various others had already been teaching: that God's predestination of the destiny of individuals is based on his foreknowledge of the way in which they will freely (in the context of prevenient grace) accept or reject Christ. His teachings were promoted especially by John Wesley and the Methodists and, in our time, by the denominations which constitute the Christian Holiness Association. (From EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY edited by Walter Elwell © 1984, by Baker Book HouseCompany.)
Timothy Dwight – (1752-1817)
Grandson of Jonathan Edwards, Chaplain in the Revolutionary War, President of Yale 1795-1817. When Dwight became president of Yale, atheism and all forms of French skepticism had grown so popular that the students began to take on nicknames like Voltaire. Most popular of all among the students were the writings of Thomas Paine. It is arguable that there was not a Christian attending Yale at that time. Dwight commenced a series of lectures that dryly but very clearly articulated the doctrines of the Faith in a form that appealed to the intellect. He must have suspected that the arguments of skepticism were succeeding due to the students' ignorance of the philosophical soundness of Biblical theology. Not far into these lectures many students came under deep conviction followed by profound experiences of salvation. Soon a full blown revival broke out. Yale remained a significant center for revival during his presidency. Dwight was a prolific writer and many of his books are still in print. His most important theological writing is Theology Expanded and Defended, which is essentially his lecture notes. It is a statement of moderate Calvinism. In those lectures he presents the Governmental View of the Atonement, which would lead one to believe he was familiar with Hugo Grotius' work, "Defense of the Catholic Faith Concerning the Satisfaction of Christ, Against Faustus Socinus," in which Grotius presents the this view as an alternative to the satisfaction theory of Christ's Atonement. As president of Yale, Dwight was a powerful personal influence on any student that sought him out. One person that he led to a deep personal faith in Christ was his student Nathaniel William Taylor . After Dwight's death, a chair of theology was created in his name at Yale and Taylor became the first Dwight Professor of Theology. Written by Mark Sutton 
Joseph Butler – (1692-1752)
English Theologian; Church Of England Prelate; Bishop of Durham. Butler was born to parents with strong Presbyterian persuasion, but joined the Church of England in his youth. After attending Oxford he entered the ministry of the Church of England in 1718. Though he was not at all inclined to seek social position or status in the church, he became the personal teacher and religious advisor to Caroline, queen consort of George II. During this time he produced a valuable theological work, which among other things, expounded the Moral Government of God to combat the popular presence of Deism in the royal court. This book, which was essentially the instruction he gave to the Queen so that she might sustain her orthodox faith, was published in 1736 with the title, "The Analogy of Religion Natural and Revealed to the Constitution and Course of Nature." It has come to be known by the more palatable title, "Butler's Analogy." It is said by many that this one little book so completely dismantled the arguments supporting Deism that all thinking people of England forsook Deism after reading it. It was to play a vital part in stopping the advancement of Deism among intellectuals in America as well, though the Great Awakening is without question what checked it among the general public. The Analogy was considered necessary reading by orthodox Christians up to the first of this century and is listed in "Masterpieces of Christian Literature," Harper and Row, NY, 1963. Colin Brown ('Christianity and Western Thought', Intervarsity Press, 1990, pg 210) says of the Analogy ; "Today Butler's style and language sounds quaint, but his ideas are anything but quaint." Written by Mark Sutton 
McCabe, Lorenzo D. – (1817-1897)
Methodist theologian and Professor of Mathematics and mechanical Philosophy at Ohio Wesleyan University. In the nineteenth century, Methodist theologian Adam Clarke had considered the denial of absolute prescience (foreknowledge). Years later, Dr. McCabe was convinced that the long-standing attempt to reconcile absolute prescience with human free will had prevented Christian theology from developing an adequate concept of God, one rooted in the facts of scriptural testimony and religious experience. He concluded that the whole defense of divine changelessness and the "eternal now" had to be discarded for a more favorable, and biblical, view of God which would also allow for a more defensible theodicy. He wrote two influential books on the subject, Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies, A Necessity (1882) and The Foreknowledge of God and Cognate Themes in Theology and Philosophy (1878).
Harry Conn – (1914 – 2001)
Was the founder and president of Men for Missions and a frequent teacher and conference speaker on the subjects of Moral Government, The Atonement, Moral Law, Eschatology, Natural Law and Ethics. An active Christian layman of Chapelwood Community Church. He spoke in over 100 Protestant denominations and lectured on engineering and theology in over 80 colleges, universities and seminaries in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and the Orient.
Harry Conn, born in Lafayette, Indiana, studied mechanical engineering and related subjects at Lewis institute of Technology, Armour Institute of Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology and Chicago University. He received an Sc.D. in Applied Science from Colorado Polytechnic. After working for John Deere Harvester Company, International Harvester, Buick and Studebaker, he was employed as Chief Engineer by La Salle Engineering of Chicago and New York. He then became Chief Engineer of Scully-Jones of Chicago from 1948 until 1961. Mr. Conn was until he retired in December 1977 Group Executive of the Esterline Corporation, with responsibility for four firms reporting to him. He was also Board Chairman of the W. A. Whitney Corporation, an Esterline firm, in Rockford, Illinois. Mr. Conn wrote hundreds of technical articles for over 75 engineering and science journals and he contributed to the textbook "Fundamentals of Design." In 1975 Mr. Conn received the Society of Manufacturing Engineers International Gold Medal. Mr. Conn has received the Freedom Foundation's George Washington Medal twice and was also listed in "Who's Who of Engineering," "Who's Who in Business and Finance," "International Businessman's Who's Who" and Marquis' new "Who's Who in the World." In 1975 he also received THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS, Edwin F. Church gold medal which read, "Who contributed more than anyone else to extend mechanical engineering education in manufacturing, and who had for many years devoted his talents to serve and inspire his fellow men in enriching and furthering their careers and usefulness." He remained a Management - Technical Consultant and Ethics Mentor for Anderson Enterprises and was with them for 20 years.
Waldenstrom, P. P. – (1838-1917)
Swedish theologian, preacher, and writer who was a key leader in the organization of the pietist revivals into the permanent Swedish Mission Covenant. He was also a major figure in the establishment and early life of two American denominations with Swedish roots, the Evangelical Covenant Church and the Evangelical Free Church. The Covenant has retained significant continuity with Waldenstrom's pietism and modified Lutheranism. Born in Lulea, Waldenstrom studied theology and classical languages at Uppsala University. His ordination as a priest in the Lutheran state church took placein 1863. Later he resigned his clerical standing as theological and practical differences with the Lutheran hierarchy increased. From the beginning Waldenstrom opposed the liturgism of the state church, which too often replaced rather than enhanced a genuine, personal faith in Jesus Christ. In the pietist tradition of Spener, Francke, Zinzendorf, and Wesley, he approved the gathering of devout Christians and serious seekers into small conventicles for mutual prayer, Bible study, and conversation. From this starting point Waldenstrom's journey illustrates the worst fears of the orthodox critics of pietism. While retaining a fully Lutheran understanding of the sacraments, he approved, and occasionally presided at, celebrations of the Lord's Supper in these small gatherings of the devout. This meant celebrating the Eucharist outside the regular parish structure of the state church. This in turn led to the demand for a regenerate church in which only believers would be admitted, where one's status as a believer was determined by one's conversion to Jesus Christ and not by the affirmation of a creed or by participation in certain sacraments. In short, the mark of the true church, in Waldenstrom's opinion, was neither a proper creed nor the preaching of a doctrinally correct gospel nor the celebration of the sacraments; rather, living faith was the central mark of the church. Waldenstrom emphasized, in consistency with this position, the primacy of the local congregation, and he rejected the authority of the great Lutheran and ecumenical creeds on which the Swedish state church was based. In place of the creeds he substituted a simple biblicism. The status of any doctrine could be determined, according to him, by asking, "Where in the Bible is it written?" Any form of higher criticism would threaten such a biblicism, and Waldenstrom, even after his study in Germany, rejected it furiously. While Waldenstrom's theology annoyed the Swedish Lutheran hierarchy, it won approval in other places. In 1889 Yale University, responding apparently to his emphasis on congregational polity, awarded him a doctorate of divinity during the first of his three trips to the United States. True to the pietist impulses in his heritage, Waldenstrom strongly encouraged evangelism and missions and supported various social projects, serving from 1884 to 1905 in the Swedish House of Representatives. In 1913 his own university, Uppsala, bestowed upon him the Jubilee doctorate of philosophy. Waldenstrom is best remembered for his doctrine of the atonement, which foreshadowed many of the emphases of twentieth century Scandinavian work on this doctrine, especially Gustaf Aulen's Christus Victor. The specific form of Waldenstrom's restatement of the atonement, however, illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of his biblicism. The state church had been teaching that the atonement on the cross, among other effects, reconciled God to man. Waldenstrom at first continued to teach the doctrine of the state church; but when challenged, "Where is it written?" he discovered that it was nowhere stated in Scripture. This caused him to rethink the issue. The least controversial thesis in Waldenstrom's restatement of the atonement was that the incarnation, the cross, the resurrection, and Christ's atoning work proceeded fundamentally from God's love and not his wrath. Even theologians such as Luther (in most of his emphases) and Calvin (clearly and repeatedly) agreed that the foundation of Christ's atonement is the love of God. But Waldenstrom added the claim that in no sense did the cross reconcile God to man; rather, the atonement only reconciled man to God. This conflicted with the Lutheran confessions; but Waldenstrom rejected them, and he challenged anyone to find a biblical text that asserted that the cross reconciled God to man. (As a part of his argument, he denied that the term "propitiation" is anywhere found in the Greek text in reference to Christ's relation to the Father.) When asked what took place on the cross, Waldenstrom answered that Christ had won the victory over death, evil, and Satan. Waldenstrom's biblicism, however, prevented him from giving a clear picture of this victory. He was asked where in Scripture it is written that the world is already reconciled to God, and he could not find a text. He could not appeal to the creeds of the church, for he had rejected their authority. And appeals to philosophical, speculative, or conceptual considerations were inconsistent with his biblicism. In the end Waldenstrom concluded that the atonement (and not just the application of the atonement) is a continuing process and that as each person is newly converted, through faith, to Christ, the new convert is reconciled to God. It is quite unclear, however, what sort of victory Christ won on the cross if the atonement is a process which is not completed until the last convert is won for Christ. Throughout his life Waldenstrom wanted to say that Christ did win a decisive and completed victory on the cross; but he was never able to explicate that victory in the sense of showing its integral relation to the ongoing process of the atonement and reconciliation of man to God. In fact, Waldenstrom was not so isolated from the creeds and the history of theology as his biblicistic methodology might lead one to expect. Apart from the pietist emphases mentioned previously and his restatement of the atonement, he lived quite faithfully within the theological structure of classical Lutheranism. And his memory and contributions have been most cherished by those standing in a basically Lutheran tradition who appreciate his emphasis on renewal and new life within that context. (From EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY edited by Walter Elwell © 1984, by Baker Book HouseCompany.)
John Wesley – (1703-1791)
The primary figure in the eighteenth century Evangelical Revival and founder of Methodism. Wesley was born in Epworth, England, to Samuel and Susanna Wesley, one of nineteen children. Although both his grandfathers distinguished themselves as Puritan Nonconformists, his parents returned to the Church of England, where his father for most of his ministry held the livings of Epworth (1697– 1735) and Wroot (1725-35). Wesley spent his early years under the careful direction of his remarkable mother, who sought to instill in him a sense of vital piety leading to a wholehearted devotion to God. Wesley was educated at Charterhouse, a school for boys in London, and then Christ Church, Oxford, where he received the B.A. degree in 1724 and the M.A. degree in 1727. Although a serious student in both logic and religion, Wesley was not to experience his "religious" conversion until 1725. He was then confronted with what to do with the rest of his life. He decided (through the influence of his mother, a religious friend, and the reading of Jeremy Taylor and Thomas a Kempis) to make religion the "business of his life." He was ordained deacon (1725), elected to a fellowship at Lincoln College, Oxford (1726), and served as his father's curate at Wroot (1727-29). He then returned to Oxford and became the leader of a small band of students organized earlier by his younger brother, Charles. This band, dubbed the "Holy Club," would later be called "Methodist" for their prescribed method of studying the Bible and for their rigid self-denial which included many works of charity. During this period (1729-35) both John and Charles fell under the influence of the nonjuror and mystic William Law. Although Wesley confessed that he did not at that time understand justification by faith (seeking instead justification by his own works-righteousness), it was during this period that he formulated his views on Christian perfection, the hallmark of Methodism. In 1735 (Wesley's Journal begins at this point and continues until shortly before his death) Wesley went to Georgia as a missionary to the Indians. Although the Indians eluded him, he did serve as priest to the Georgia settlers under General James Oglethorpe. During a storm in crossing Wesley was deeply impressed with a group of Moravians on board ship. Their faith in the face of death (the fear of dying was constantly with Wesley since his youth) predisposed disastrous experience in Georgia, he returned to England (1738) and met the Moravian Peter Bohler, who exhorted him to trust Christ alone for salvation. What had earlier been merely a religious conversion now became an "evangelical" conversion. At a Moravian band meeting on Aldersgate Street (May 24, 1738), as he listened to a reading from Luther's preface to his commentary on Romans, Wesley felt his "heart strangely warmed." Although scholars disagree as to the exact nature of this experience, nothing in Wesley was left untouched by his newfound faith. After a short journey to Germany to visit the Moravian settlement of Herrnhut, he returned to England and with George Whitefield, a former member of the Holy Club, began preaching salvation by faith. Although Wesley was not a systematic theologian, his theology can be described with reasonable clarity from the study of his published sermons, tracts, treatises, and correspondence. In essence, Wesley's theology, so akin to the Reformation, affirms God's sovereign will to reverse our "sinful, devilish nature," by the work of his Holy Spirit, a process he called prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace (grace being nearly synonymous with the work of the Holy Spirit). Prevenient or preventing grace for Wesley describes the universal work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of people between conception and conversion. Original sin, according to Wesley, makes it necessary for the Holy Spirit to initiate the relationship between God and people. Bound by sin and death, people experience the gentle wooing of the Holy Spirit, which prevents them from moving so far from "the way" that when they finally understand the claims of the gospel upon their lives, he guarantees their freedom to say yes. This doctrine constitutes the heart of Wesley's Arminianism. (From EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY edited by Walter Elwell © 1984, by Baker Book HouseCompany.)
Leonard Ravenhill – (1907 – 1994)
Leonard Ravenhill was probably the greatest preacher I ever saw preach. Even now, some twenty years after the first messages I heard him preach, they can fill me with the awe and wonder of God's majesty and inspire me to aspire to greater heights for our God! Born in Leeds, in Yorkshire, England, he was educated at Cliff College in England and sat under the ministry of Samuel Chadwick. He was a student of Church History and an expert in the field of revival. A great friend of A. W. Tozer, he was a prolific writer in his own right and preached till he was well into his later years. Blessed with an exceedingly dry wit and the ability to turn a phrase, Ravenhill was one of the true unsung heroes of the Church in the latter half of the 20th Century. You may find more material by Brother Ravenhill at the Ravenhill Web Site.
Lyman Beecher – (1775 – 1863)
One of the most popular and well-known ministers of his day. Father of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, of Henry Ward Beecher, a very famous and influential anti-slavery minister before, during, and after the Civil War, of Catherine Beecher, an important educator, and of Edward Beecher, first president of Illinois State College.
Born and raised in Connecticut, Lyman Beecher was the son and grandson of a blacksmith. He studied theology at Yale under Timothy Dwight and was ordained a Presbyterian minister. Between 1799 and 1810, he ministered in E. Hampton, Long Island, NY. Long Island, opposite Long Island Sound from Connecticut, was at the time, an outpost of New England culture.
In 1806, he wrote a very celebrated sermon against dueling – largely in reaction to the death of Alexander Hamilton in a duel with Aaron Burr. The sermon was shortly published, and had a wide influence throughout the country. It was directed squarely against a concept of "honor" which made dueling a necessary recourse in certain situations. An excerpt from the sermon:
The honor of a dueling legislator does not restrain him in the least from innumerable crimes ... He may be ... in passion a whirlwind; in cruelty to tenants, to servants, and to his family, a tiger. He may be a gambler, a prodigal, a fornicator, an adulterer, a drunkard, a murderer, and not violate the laws of honor. Nay, honor not only tolerates crimes, but, in many instances, it is the direct and only temptation to crime.
From 1810 until 1826, he preached in Litchfield Connecticut. There he was close to New Haven and the Yale professors of the "New Haven Theology", which injected some optimism into the pessimistic Calvinist doctrines. Nathaniel Taylor in particular influenced him. He was appalled by, and fought against the disestablishment of the church in Connecticut, around 1820, but later came to view it as a benefit to the church to be separated from the government.
He helped found the American Bible Society and, in 1825, founded the American Temperance Society, and so greatly influenced the strong temperence movement that picked up steam in the 1830s and thereafter.
He was also appalled by the drift of Congregationist churches, especially around Boston, towards Unitarianism, and some time in the 1820s(???) started the magazine Spirit of the Pilgrims, which tried to bring these "sons of the pilgrims", among others, to the true light of his liberalized Calvinism. In 1826, eager to battle the Unitarians in urbane Boston, he answered the call to start a new Congregationalist church there.
He started out fighting the "New School" methods of Charles G. Finney and his fellow evangelists, but came to respect Finney and his methods, and later was accused of being a "New School" man himself.
In 1832, the wealthy reformers Arthur and Louis Tappan of New York City, former New Englanders themselves, wanted to establish a seminary in the west, and got Beecher to be the first president of Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnatti, the "Queen City of the West".
In 1835, Beecher was tried by the Presbytery due to his supposed "new school" theological heresies. In his Autobiography (actually consisting of Beecher's biographical notes and correspondence, tied together by much text written by Harriet Beecher Stowe and his other children), one of his children asserts that the trial "constituted the first shock of absolutistic theology thoroughly aroused and reacting against the theology of moral government". Perhaps this is a good statement of the confusing conflict between the "new school", or "new lights", interested in saving as many souls as possible, and turning the newly saved onto a path of good works, and the more traditional Presbyterians.
From 1850 until his death, he lived in retirement, in Brooklyn NY, with his son, the famous minister Henry Ward Beecher.
Beecher's Autobiography throws a strong light on many of the tendencies in human thought and action in his time, and many exciting events. It also gives a wonderful sense of the vitality, the plain down-to-earth communication style, the dedication and the lovability of Dr. Beecher.
Whitefield, George – (1714-1770)
best-known evangelist of the eighteenth century and one of the
greatest itinerant preachers in the history of Protestantism.
Whitefield, an ordained minister of the Church of England,
cooperated with John and Charles Wesley in establishing at Oxford
during the 1720s the "Holy Club," a group of young men dedicated to
seriousness in religion and a methodical approach to Christian
duties. Whitefield showed the way to the Wesleys in preaching out
of doors and in traveling wherever he could to air the message of
salvation. He visited Georgia briefly in 1738 to aid in the
founding of an orphanage. When he returned to the colonies in 1739,
his reputation as a dramatic preacher went before him. His visit
became a sensation, especially when it culminated in a preaching
tour of New England during the fall of 1740 when Whitefield
addressed crowds of up to eight thousand people nearly every day
for over a month. This tour, one of the most remarkable episodes in
the whole history of American Christianity, was the key event in
New England's Great Awakening. Whitefield returned often to the
American colonies, where in 1770 he died as he had wished, in the
midst of yet another preaching tour.
Whitefield was a decided, if unscholarly, Calvinist. In his one visit to Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1740 he moved Jonathan Edwards to tears by the emotional and evangelistic power of his Calvinistic message. Whitefield also moved Charles Wesley to tears, but to tears of frustration at a Calvinism that was too harsh for Wesley's more Arminian views. Whitefield and John Wesley broke with each other over Calvinistic-Arminian issues in 1741, but they soon mended their differences enough to establish a peaceful truce, and at a memorial service in England after Whitefield's death, John Wesley praised his colleague as a great man of God. Whitefield was not a skilled theologian. Although he preached on the bound will, the electing power of God, and the definite atonement, all themes of traditional Calvinism, he confessed in a letter to John Wesley early in his career that "I never read anything Calvin wrote; my doctrines I had from Christ and His apostles: I was taught them of God." Whitefield did acknowledge, however, that his views had been shaped by the Reformed theology of the English Puritans.
Whitefield's greatest significance may have resided in his innovative approach to pulpit speech. Unlike the Wesleys, he was not a good organizer, so those quickened through his preaching found their own ways to Anglican or Methodist congregations in England or to Congregational, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches in America. Whitefield did, however, know how to address plain people in plain language. And he did so in a much freer context than was customary. His appeal to the heart and to the emotional nature, though within a Calvinistic framework, and his casual approach to denominational traditions aided the move toward a more democratic and popular style of religion that would shape American Christianity after his death. Whitefield remained in his own estimation only a herald of the gospel. To the work of public preaching he devoted his entire adult life. The fifteen thousand times that he preached in a ministry of thirty-three years remain his most enduring monument. M. A. NOLL (From EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY edited by Walter Elwell © 1984, by Baker Book HouseCompany.)