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Today it is generally viewed as a mockery to Christianity. The excesses in Cane Ridge produced expectations for preachers and those seeking religious experience. A Second Great Awakening, inferior to the first, was beginning in America. Preachers were enamored with the idea that they could cause manipulate people into conversion. One who witnessed such nineteenth century hysteria was J. I can remember in my boyhood days seeing ten or twenty people laying unconscious upon the floor in the old country church.

People called that conversion. Science knows it is mesmeric influence, self-hypnotism … It is sad that Christianity is compelled to bear the folly of such movements. Coombs, Religious Delusions, 92ff. The Cane Ridge Meeting became the paradigm for revivalists for decades.

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Shortly after his own conversion he left his law practice and would become a minister, a lecturer, a professor, and a traveling revivalist. In the days of the apostles, baptism answered this purpose. The gospel was preached to the people, and then all those who were willing to be on the side of Christ, were called out to be baptized. The Anxious Seat practice was considered to be a psychological technique that manipulated people to make a premature profession of faith.


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Certainly it was a precursor to the techniques used by many twentieth century televangelists. He intended to protect the denominations from this novel deviation. The system that Finney admitted had replaced biblical baptism, is the vertebrae for the popular plan of salvation that was made normative in the twentieth century by the three Bills Billy Sunday, Billy Graham and Bill Bright. Dwight Moody and R.

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By the s Dwight Moody was the new apostle in American evangelicalism. Instead of calling for a public decision, which tended to be a response under pressure, he asked people to join him and his trained counselors in a room called the Inquiry Room. In the Inquiry Room the counselors asked the possible convert some questions, taught him from Scripture and then prayed with him. The idea that prayer was at the end of the process had been loosely associated with conversion in the s. This was where a systematic Sinner's Prayer began, but was not called as such until the time of Billy Sunday.

Torrey popularized the idea of instant salvation with no strings attached, even though he never intended as much. From that time on it became more common to think of salvation outside of church or a life of Lordship. Eventually, Sunday left baseball to preach. He had great public charm and was one of the first to mix ideas of entertainment with ministry. By the early s he had become a great well-known crusade leader. In his crusades he popularized the Finney-Moody method and included a bit of a circus touch. After fire and brimstone sermons, heavy moralistic messages with political overtones, and humorous if not outlandish behavior, salvation was offered.

Billy Sunday died in leaving behind hundreds of his imitators.

The life and death of John Chau, the man who tried to convert his killers

More than anything else, Billy Sunday helped crusades become acceptable to all denominations, which eventually led to a change in their theology. Large religious bodies sold out on their reservations toward these new conversion practices to reap the benefits of potential converts from the crusades because of the allure of success.

Both Dwight Moody and Billy Sunday admitted they were somewhat ignorant of church history by the time they had already latched on to their perspectives.


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  7. This is highly significant because the Anxious Seat phenomenon and offshoot practices were not rooted in Scripture nor in the early church. Billy Graham, Bill Bright Billy Graham and his crusades were the next step in the evolution of things.

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    Billy Graham was converted in at a Sunday-styled crusade. By the late s it was evident to many that Graham would be the champion of evangelicalism. His crusades summed up everything that had been done from the times of Charles Finney through Billy Sunday except that he added respectability that some of the others lacked. It began with a prayer from his Four Steps to Peace with God. Of course, this method ended with the Sinner's Prayer. Those who responded to crusades and sermons could have the crusade experience at home when they prayed, "Lord Jesus, I need You.

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