Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875) was the most prominent evangelical preacher of the Second Great Awakening. Born in Connecticut and trained as a lawyer, Finney turned to evangelical preaching after a soul-wrenching conversion in 1821. Although he never attended a seminary, Finney was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1824.
During the Second Great Awakening, Finney took the evangelical message and emotional styles of popular revivalists like Lorenzo Dow and Barton Stone to the more staid congregations of middle class churches. Finney's message that individuals controlled their own salvation—that God's saving grace was available to all those who genuinely sought it—brought American religion more in sync with the broader message of individual empowerment within American society. Finney's demand that "sanctification" follow salvation—that once saved, individuals had a holy responsibility to reform their behavior and improve their communities——provided a religious basis for philanthropy and good behavior.
Finney's doctrinal message still forms the basis of American evangelicalism.