THE SECOND GREAT AWAKENING AND
SOCIAL REFORM MOVEMENTS
HIST101, American History to 1877
August 12, 2012
At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, there was a sharp decline of religion within America. America economy was starting to grow stronger and Americans were trying to capitalize, focusing more on personal gain rather than spiritual gain. However in the early 19th century Americans began to experience a renewed spiritual interest. This interest developed from a series of evangelic religious revivals known as the Second Great Awakening. This evangelical movement helped to shape the landscape of religion in America, by transitioning from old theological views, such as Calvinism, to new theological view such Evangelicalism. The Second Great Awakening also helped to fuel several reforms within society such as abolitionism.
Although the evangelicalism movement began around the 17th century in Europe, it didn’t become important in the United States until the 18th and 19th centuries with the first and second awakenings, and would rank as the largest, strongest, and most sustained religious movement in United States history. Evangelist spread the word of Jesus Christ, about his death and resurrection, and how it freed sinner from their sin and reunited them once again with God. Evangelist preachers such James McGready, Charles Finney, and Francis Asbury taught that grace was given freely by God, however the individual had the choice of accepting it or not. This was in great contrast to the theology of Calvinism, named after John Calvin a French theologian and pastor of the First Great Awakening. Calvinism focuses on total depravity, meaning people are unable to follow God or receive his redemption unless God will’s it. Calvinism also taught the doctrine of predestination, which was the idea that some people were 3
predestined for salvation prior to being born, while the rest were condemned to eternal damnation....