How The Anxious Bench or
Relates to the
Heresy of Decisional Regeneration
Late 19th century Anxious or Mourners Bench
The Anxious or Mourner's Bench was not invented by Charles Finney. Finney did not use the Bench until 1830. If you want to read about the most obvious origins of the anxious or mourner's bench, please read about the American Presbyterian Sacramental Meetings held in the early 1800's.
The mourner's bench was placed at the front of the congregation where everyone could see penitents. There could be more than one bench. Later manifestations of the bench was a front row of seats. People went to the mourner's bench when they wanted to repent of sin or seek salvation. Whether the result of intense psychological coercion, as some suggest, or evidence of a real spiritual conversion, the drama elicited by the anxious or mourner's bench was an essential part of much of the nineteenth-century evangelism meetings.
The anxious or mourner's bench experience was not considered the moment of salvation. After the service, anxious inquirers went to an after-meeting to find out what it meant to be saved. Inquiry Room workers before the Civil War used the BEST system of examining inquirers. After the Civil War, the BIST system gradually replaced the BEST system. This was the result of Scottish Common Sense Realism being accepted by ministers as the new salvation paradigm.