The Pelagian Virus that Corrupted American Evangelism

Jeremiah 17:9; Jeremiah 13:23; John 6:65
       The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
       Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
       No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Plainly does this language give the lie to the popular theory of the day, that it lies within the power of man’s will to be saved any time he chooses to be…In twentieth century evangelism, there has been a woeful ignoring of the solemn truth of the total depravity of man. There has been a complete underrating of the desperate case and condition of the sinner.

CHARLES G. FINNEY (1792-1875): I have everywhere found that the peculiarities of hyper-Calvinism have been the stumbling block both of the church and of the world. A nature sinful in itself, a total inability to accept Christ and to obey God, condemnation to eternal death for the sin of Adam and for a sinful nature—and all the resultant dogmas of that peculiar school, have been the stumbling block of believers and the ruin of sinners.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Large numbers of people who when they use the term “hyper-Calvinist” generally mean Calvinist. In other words, they do not know what a “hyper” Calvinist is…A hyper Calvinist is one who says that the offer of salvation is only made to the redeemed, and that no preacher of the Gospel should preach Christ and offer salvation to all and sundry.

JOHN L. GIRARDEAU (1825-1898): The Calvinist contends that God gives the sinner power to believe.

JOHN LELAND (1754-1841): I have been preaching sixty years to convince men that human powers were too degenerate to effect a change of heart by self-exertion; and all the revivals of religion that I have seen have substantially accorded with that sentiment. But now a host of preachers and people have risen up, who ground salvation on the foundation that I have sought to demolish.

CHARLES G. FINNEY: A revival of religion is not a miracle―something above the powers of nature. There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: That is Pelagianism, pure and simple: no original sin, no original depravity!

PELAGIUS (354-418): As man has ability to sin, so has he also not only ability to discern what is good, but likewise the power to desire it and to perform it.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I must say—I am compelled to say—that the doctrine which leaves salvation to the creature, and tells him that it depends upon himself, is the exaltation of the flesh, and a dishonouring of God.

ANDREW MILLER (1810-1883): That there is something good in fallen human nature, and that man, as such, has power to choose what is good and reject what is evil, lies at the root of Pelagianism in its numerous forms.

WILLIAM KELLY (1820-1906): The fundamental error of the monk Pelagius was the denial of our total corruption by sin derived from Adam.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): But in the meantime, what must we do with our Bibles?—The Scripture avers, that “by one man’s disobedience all men were constituted sinners;” that “in Adam all died,” spiritually died, lost the life and image of God; that fallen, sinful Adam then “begat a son in his own likeness”—nor was it possible he should beget him in any other; for “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean thing?”—that consequently we, as well as other men, were by nature, “dead in trespasses and sins,” “without hope, and without God in the world, ” and, therefore, “children of wrath;” that every man may say, “I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin did my mother conceive me”―This is God’s account of man.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: John Wesley was an Arminian, but he believed in original sin and also that a man could do nothing about his salvation apart from grace―Charles Finney was not an Arminian, but a Pelagian. He did not believe in original sin, and he believed that the natural man, by a process of reason, was able to grasp the truth and to put it into operation. So he taught that you could have a “revival” whenever you liked―you have only to do certain things and you will have a revival.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): I think Finney’s books have done a great deal of harm…America gets the blame for this, and by participation we. I who have recommended American theology come in for a share.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): The American genius for getting things done quickly and easily with little concern for quality or permanence has bred a virus that has infected the whole evangelical church in the United States, and through our literature, our evangelists and missionaries, has spread it all over the world.

CHARLES G. FINNEY: I have observed, and multitudes of others also I find have observed, that revivals of religion have been gradually becoming more and more superficial…There is very much less deep conviction of sin and deep breaking up of the heart; much less depth of humility and much less strength in all the graces exhibited by converts…Also that fewer of the converts make stable and efficient Christians.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): Alas! many profess to be converted, and seem to go on for a season; but ere long they begin to grow cold…The work was not real. They were not really brought to God.

A. W. PINK: ‘Coming to Christ’ is a far, far different thing from raising your hand to be prayed for by some Protestant ‘priest,’ coming forward and taking some cheap-jack evangelist’s hand, signing some ‘decision’ card, uniting with some ‘church,’ or any of the “many inventions” of man. Before any one can or will ‘come to Christ’ the understanding must be supernaturally changed, the stubborn will must be broken.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Present-day preaching does not even annoy men, but leaves them precisely where they were, without a ruffle and without the slightest disturbance.

CHARLES G. FINNEY: A brother who has long laboured as an evangelist made the same remark—that for the last few years there has been little or no opposition made by impenitent sinners to revivals. Now it is not because the carnal mind is not still enmity against God, but I greatly fear it is for the want of thoroughly turning up to the light the deep foundations of this enmity in their hearts. The unutterable depravity of the human heart has not, I fear, been laid open to the very bottom as it formerly was.

A. W. PINK: The superficial work of many of the professional evangelists of the last fifty years is largely responsible for the erroneous views now current upon the bondage of the natural man…The average evangelical pulpit conveys the impression that it lies wholly in the power of the sinner whether or not he shall be saved.

CHARLES G. FINNEY: From my own experience and observation, as well as from the word of God, I am fully convinced that the character of revivals depends very much upon the stress that is laid upon the depravity of the heart. Its pride, enmity, windings, deceitfulness, and every thing else that is hateful to God should be exposed in the light of His perfect law…[Sufficient] stress has not been laid upon the necessity of Divine influence on the hearts of Christian and sinners. I am confident that I have sometimes erred in this respect myself. In order to rouse sinners and backsliders from their self-justifying pleas and refuges, I have laid―and I doubt not others have also laid―too much stress upon the natural ability of sinners, to the neglect of showing the nature and extent of their dependence upon the grace of God and the influence of His Spirit. This has grieved the Spirit of God [and] He has withdrawn or withheld His influence.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): How much it is to be regretted that Mr. Finney did not make this discovery earlier. Much mischief might have been avoided, and much more substantial good accomplished.


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