Great Awakening Essay

Great Awakening Essay

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By the beginning of the 18th century, there was an unmistakable feeling in the American Colonies that its intemperate society had become too comfortable and assertive, and had forgotten its original intentions of religious prosperity. The result was a revitalization of religious piety that swept through the American colonies between the 1730s and the 1770s, a movement known as "The Great Awakening". This revival was part of an evangelical upsurge occurring simultaneously in England, Scotland, Germany, and other inhabitants on the other side of the Atlantic. In all these Protestant cultures, a new Age of Faith had arisen contrasting the currents of the Age of Enlightenment, advocating the belief that being truly religious meant relying on biblical revelation rather than human reason.
The earliest occurrence of the American phase of this movement appeared among Presbyterians in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Led by Reverend William Tennent, the Presbyterians not only commenced religious revivals in those colonies during the 1730s but also established a seminary to train clergymen whose exhilarating style of preaching would bring sinners to experience evangelical conversion. Originally known as "The Log College," it is better known today as Princeton University.
Religious enthusiasm quickly spread from the Presbyterians of the Middle Colonies, to the Puritans and Baptists of New England. To some Puritans, it appeared that New Englanders had taken many of their blessings for granted, and were unconcerned with the theological beliefs their ancestors had brought to Massachusetts in the 1620s. The most distinct example of this "loss of purpose" was the adoption of the Half-Way Covenant by Congregational churches in 1662, an attempt ...


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...h and life. It was a facilitating movement that helped colonial citizens recognize their own individuality, and undermined existing authority of the Church of England. Many differences in life, thought, and interests had developed between England and the growing colonies. The Awakening brought forth an attitude that went against the thinking that consumed English politics and religion. Rather than believing that God's will was necessarily interpreted by the monarch or his bishops, the colonists viewed themselves as more capable of performing the task. The children of revivalism later echoed this radicalism and popular self-righteousness in the American Revolution. It was through the revivalism of the first half of the Eighteenth Century that the colonists were finally able to break away from the powers of England, and establish control over their own nation's destiny.

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