Original Sin (Quote 5)

Ok, one more quote: Alan Jacobs in his book, Original Sin (HarperCollins, 2008) puts Charles Finney in the same context with Joseph Smith.

Finney never realized the extent to which his theological views and interpretations of Scripture, far from being the product of pure and unbiased induction, were utterly characteristic of his time and place.  He had lived for much of his life and began his preaching career in that portion of western New York state that a later historian called the “burned-over district”: burned-over, because one wave after another of revivalistic fire had swept through it, producing some of the strangest and yet most characteristic religious movements of nineteenth-century America.  It was here that Joseph Smith claimed that, in 1827, he had discovered the gold plates of the Book of Mormon.  It was here that a pair of sisters held seances that gave birth to a powerful stream of American spiritualism.  The Shakers were powerful here.  The Oneida Community, with its idealistic political principles and commitment to group marriage, arose here, as did the Millerites, whose leader, William Miller, predicted that the world would come to an end on October 22, 1844.  These were widely divergent groups in some ways, but they all shared a mistrust of inherited faiths and institutional religions, a belief in human perfectibility, and an absolute denial that the past has the power to shackle us unless we allow it that power (195-196).

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