Revival preacher par excellence, Social Reformer, President and Professor of Theology at Oberlin College, Charles Grandison Finney was one of the most important revivalists in the Second Great Awakening of American history during the 1800s. An innovator in many ways, he is responsible for popularizing such things as "the anxious bench," altar calls, and extended revival
meetings. Controversial in his day, even as now. Finney was a fearless preacher of repentance, faith, and holiness as essential conditions of salvation. Finney's theology can be generally characterized as a sharp reaction to what he viewed as the fatalistic "hyper" old-school Calvinism that pervaded the churches of New England in his day. Finney was often criticized by Calvinists for actually demanding that sinners repent on the spot! His critics insisted that sinners could never repent until God granted them the ability to do so.
Finney labored against this and many other doctrines related to man's supposed moral inability for much of his life. As the Bible itself called all men to repent, Finney viewed it as a self-evident truth of reason that all men could in fact repent, if they simply would. Finney also strongly emphasized the absolute necessity for the baptism of the Holy Spirit in order for a believer to live an overcoming Christian life of effective service.