Informative - Comparisons Of The First And Second Great Awakenings

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With the development of a civilized society in America during the 1700s and 1800s, the role religion played in an everyday person's life was becoming more and more diminished. To combat this, a series of religious revivals were set in motion: The Great Awakenings. These were a series of large, sweeping religious, social, and political changes that sought to use the basis of religion to revive faith in a neglected belief, bring about numerous social reforms, and use political factions to great effect upon society's mentality. Although most view the First Great Awakening as the ‘first' and ‘greatest' religious, social, and political influence to American society, the second Great Awakening can be considered far more influential in its religious, social, and political aspects of influence.

Even though the First and Second Great Awakenings focused its attention on other matters of life later on, religion was the theme upon which they were built. The First Great Awakening started among the American colonial Protestants during the early 1700s, mainly due to the weakening of the strict Puritan tradition of religious doctrine, and in part, the religious decline caused by negative publicity from the Salem witch trials and the Enlightenment ( The movement to correct these problems began with Jonathan Edwards, a strictly Puritan, orthodox theologian from Massachusetts who dedicated his time to bringing the people back to the strict Calvinist roots, and to ‘reawaken the fear of God' ( He was a powerful speaker, and preached to his large followings that it was to simply come to church was not enough to be saved, but they must also acknowledge their grievances in the heart, and feel God's love for them (Danzer, 38). He set off the wave of religious revival, as preachers traveled all across the colonies, attracted thousands of people to revival meetings of spiritual rebirth, gave impassioned sermons, and encouraged people to rededicate themselves to God (Danzer, 38). Although after the First Great Awakening America's religious zeal faded, its influence in religion was the beginning step ( The Second Great Awakening's religious cycle took a bigger step in trying to turn the religious tide. Starting in New York during the early 1800s, the movement spread north, south, and west before ending during the 1840s (Klepp, 2). The Second Great Awakening's religious portion came about through the replacement of the predestination doctrine with the belief that anyone, whether they be sinners or not, can achieve salvation through the internal and external struggle against sin.
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