Great Awakening vs Enlightenment Essay

Great Awakening vs Enlightenment Essay

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Both the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment had significant impacts on society in the 1700s and even had long-term effects that can be recognized today. The Great Awakening was a religious revival which emphasized every person’s potential to break away from their past and begin anew in their relationship with God. It was considered the first great American revival, and was the result of concerns about declining piety and growing secularism. The Enlightenment, conversely, focused on human rationality and science as methods of making decisions and coming to conclusions. It emphasized individualism rather than tradition. It celebrated reason and was the product of scientific and intellectual discoveries made in the seventeenth century. Additionally, contrary to popular belief, it can be attested that the Enlightenment’s influence on religion and the relationship between it and the Great Awakening were not entirely negative or conflicting. Both the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment helped to undermine the power of traditional authority.
The Great Awakening began in the 1730s, but did not reach its climax until the 1740s. It was spread by evangelists such as John and Charles Wesley (the founders of Methodism), William Tennent, Theodore Frelinghuysen, and George Whitefield. Jonathan Edwards was the most well-known and outstanding preacher of the Great Awakening, and he was a Congregationalist from New England. He had unique theological views and attacked the new doctrines of easy salvation for all, preaching the traditional Puritan ideas of an omnipotent God, predestination, and salvation by only God’s grace. This, and other elements of the Great Awakening, led to the division of existing congregations- dividing them between ...


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...but it also significantly altered the scientific community. People such as Francis Bacon, John Locke, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and many more, helped to spread ideals that would become a crucial turning point in the thought process of people during the seventeenth century. Without the important scientific and intellectual advances that occurred during the Enlightenment period, countless other important events and inventions that were sparked by them would also be nonexistent. There is no way of telling how history’s course would be different had the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment not occurred, but the fact is that they did. And what is known is that religion, science, government and politics, beliefs, relations between humans, society, and human perspective were all significantly altered by the wide-ranging metamorphoses inspired by these movements.

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