How Robert Wilkes Finley Relates to
Heresy of Decisional Regeneration
Robert Wilkes Finley (1750-1840) was one of the many Presbyterian preachers at the 1801 Cane Ridge, Kentucky Presbyterian Sacramental Meeting. Long Before Barton Stone was minister of the Cane Ridge congregation, Robert Wilkes Finley was its founding pastor.
He is mentioned scores of times in Lyle's 1801 Diary. Like all the Presbyterian ministers at the Cane Ridge meeting, Blythe was educated in Scottish Common Sense Realism, having learned it at the College of New Jersey from John Witherspoon.
In 1791 Robert Wilkes Finley built the Cane Ridge Meeting House that could seat 400 persaons. Finley also opened a Classical School known as the Log Cabin Seminary, and ten or twelve young men were educated here, who afterwards became ministers in the Presbyterian Church. It was the first school of the kind in the state of Kentucky and flourished for a number of years.(You can still see the Cane Ridge Meeting House today.)
Like many of the Presbyterians that ministered at the Cane Ridge Meeting, Robert Wilkes Finley left the Presbyterian church. It is my belief that Scottish Common Sense Realism does not "hold up" when tested in the field of evangelism. Either ministers take the "truth impression" theory too far and think (like the Restorationists) that it is the words of truth that regenerate hearts, or they realize that the "verbal restrictive" theory is deistic. In any case, Robert Wilkes Finley became a Methodist preacher in 1808.