Essay Question: What were the causes of the Great Awakening and to what extent did this intense religious revival affect those who experienced ¡°conversion¡± as well as those who did not?
During Europe¡¯s period of Enlightment from 1687-1789, new scientific theories and ideas were proposed, changing the nature of how the world was looked at and questioned the very fundamentals of religion. The Great Awakening of the 1730s-1740s acted as a direct response to the Enlightment in order to revive the passion for religion, affecting greatly for those who experienced ¡°conversion¡± as well as those who did not.
The causes of the Great Awakening came directly from the new liberal Enlightment ideas that greatly challenged the old-time religion. Many of these ideas questioned the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, for example, some worshippers now proclaimed that human beings were not necessarily predestined to damnation, and individual free will determined a person¡¯s eternal fate (Bailey 96). Along with the explanation of the natural law theory by Isaac Newton in 1687, the idea about God and hell was changing. Religion was no longer as fervid in the colonies; people were gradually moving away from religion and becoming more secular. Witnessing these ¡°heresies¡±, the Awakeners decided to awaken the emotions in people that made them ¡°tick.¡±
The methods of preaching by the Awakeners affected those who experienced ¡°conversion¡± to a great extent. In 1741, Jonathan Edwards, a New England Congregational minister, witnessing these new Enlightment ideas challenging the fundamentals of religion, conjured an element of fear in his sermons (5B2). In his most famous sermon ¡°Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God¡±, he described people being hung by a slender thread, ready every moment to drop and burn asunder in hell, and also stated that there was reason to think there were many in the congregation to be the subjects of this misery (5B2). This caused major fear in not...
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