Systematic Theology Volume 2: 1851

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  1. Lectures on Systematic Theology Volume 1: Charles Finney: -
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  3. The right of systematic theology
  4. Lectures on Systematic Theology Volume 1

I also hoped to benefit other studious and pious minds.

Lectures on Systematic Theology Volume 1: Charles Finney: -

I have written for those who are willing to take the trouble of thinking and of forming opinions of their own on theological questions. It has been no part of my aim to spare my pupils or any one else the trouble of intense thought. Had I desired to do so, the subjects discussed would have rendered such an attempt abortive. There are many questions of great practical importance, and questions in which multitudes are taking a deep interest at present, that cannot be intelligently settled without instituting fundamental inquiries involving the discussion of those questions that lie at the foundation of morality and religion.

I am too well acquainted with the prejudices of the great mass of professing Christians, and with their unwillingness to be at the pains of studying elementary truths and of judging for themselves, to expect that this book will soon find favour with the majority of them. Still I am aware, that a spirit of inquiry into the fundamental and elementary truths of religion, and of all science, is abroad, and is waking up more and more in the church. There is a deep and growing demand for explanation in regard to the subjects discussed in this work.

Especially is this true of ministers and leading laymen and women. This book is a humble attempt to meet this demand.

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My object has been to simplify and explain. The book has no literary merit, and claims none. The book is highly metaphysical. This however is owing to the nature of the subject. The subject is, "Mind in its relations to Moral Law. To avoid metaphysics in such a discussion were to waive my subject, and to write about something else. Most of the subjects of dispute among Christians at the present day are founded in misconceptions upon the subjects discussed in this volume.

If I have succeeded in settling the questions which I have discussed, we shall see, that in a future volume most of the subjects of disagreement among Christians at the present day can be satisfactorily adjusted with comparative ease. Whoever masters and understands these can readily understand all the rest.

Gerstner Hodge Systematic 1a

But he who will not possess himself of my meaning upon these subjects, will not understand the rest. Let no one despair in commencing the book, nor stumble at the definitions, thinking that he can never understand so abstruse a subject. Remember that what follows is an expansion and an explanation by way of application, of what you find so condensed in the first pages of the book. My brother, sister, friend--read, study, think, and read again. You were made to think. It will do you good to think; to develope your powers by study. God designed that religion should require thought, intense thought, and should thoroughly develope our powers of thought.

The Bible itself is written in a style so condensed as to require much intense study. Many know nothing of the Bible or of religion, because they will not think and study. I do not pretend to so explain theology as to dispense with the labour of thinking. I have no ability and no wish to do so. If any of my brethren think to convince me of error, they must first understand me, and show that they have read the book through, and that they understand it, and are candidly inquiring after truth and not "striving for masteries.

But to all honest inquirers after truth I would say, hail! Let us be thorough. Truth shall do us good. This work, as was expected, has been freely criticised and reviewed in the United States. Several periodicals have highly commended it, and others have condemned it. Of the commendations, I have said nothing in this edition. To the reviews condemnatory, I have replied, and my replies will be found either in the body of the work or in the Appendix. To these replies, I beg leave to call the reader's particular attention, and hope he will give them an attentive reading.

No answer has ever been made to any of them. The reader will see why. It will be seen that reference is had in the body of the work to Mahan's Moral Philosophy. That author objected only to my views of the ground of obligation. I have introduced a very brief critique upon his views, and given a laconic reply to his strictures on my own. After the most attentive consideration of all that has been written, I have seen no cause to change my views upon any point of doctrine contained in the American edition of this work.

This volume is therefore the same as to doctrine as were the two volumes of the former edition. I have, however, for the sake of perspicuity, omitted considerable of the discussions contained in those volumes, and have written and introduced several new lectures in this. In some places I have amplified, and explained, and in others abridged; so that considerable changes in the form of the work have been introduced.

It is my earnest hope, that reviewers in this country may not follow the example of those American reviewers to whom I have replied, and which replies will be found in this volume. Those reviewers did not take pains to understand the work they reviewed, as the reader will see.

The right of systematic theology

The Princeton reviewer stated in the outset the necessity of reading the work through, and omitting no part or sentence, as a condition of understanding it, and yet unfortunately he immediately betrayed his ignorance of the work. Duffield, as I was informed, read my reply to Princeton, and acknowledged its conclusiveness, but thought he could prove my book to be highly heretical. Of his attempt the reader will judge. I am not aware that any complaint has been made that I either misunderstood or unfairly represented my reviewers in any respect.

It will be seen that the present volume contains only a part of a course of Systematic Theology.

Lectures on Systematic Theology Volume 1

Should the entire course ever appear before the public, one volume will precede, and another succeed the present one. I published this volume first, because it contains all the points upon which I have been supposed to differ from the commonly received views. As a teacher of theology, I thought it due to the church and to the world, to give them my views upon those points upon which I had been accused of departing from the common opinions of Christians. It is not my intention to set myself before the British public as a teacher of my ministerial brethren; but since my orthodoxy has been extensively called in question in England, as well as in America, and since I have spent some months in propagating what I hold to be the gospel, in different parts of this country, it is no more than justice that this work should be put within your reach, that all may understand my views who will study for themselves.

I beg that no false issues may be made by any one. The question is not, what is English or American orthodoxy.

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It is not what have been the views of any uninspired man or set of men, but what is true in theology. The question is not, whether this volume accords with the past or present views of the church, but does it accord with the word of God. I have not yet been able to stereotype my theological views, and have ceased to expect ever to do so.

The idea is preposterous. None but an omniscient mind can continue to maintain a precise identity of views and opinions.

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  • Finite minds, unless they are asleep or stultified by prejudice, must advance in knowledge. The discovery of new truth will modify old views and opinions, and there is perhaps no end to this process with finite minds in any world. True Christian consistency does not consist in stereotyping our opinions and views, and in refusing to make any improvement lest we should be guilty of change, but it consists in holding our minds open to receive the rays of truth from every quarter and in changing our views and language and practice as often and as fast, as we can obtain further information.

    I call this Christian consistency, because this course alone accords with a Christian profession. A Christian profession implies the profession of candour and of a disposition to know and obey all truth. Click here Would you like to report this content as inappropriate? Click here Do you believe that this item violates a copyright?

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