The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening.

Topics: First Great Awakening, Deism, Voltaire Pages: 5 (1550 words) Published: November 20, 2002
The Great Awakening and the Enlightenment were two historical events that shaped the thoughts of people and religion in America. The most important factor in both of these events is the common theme of reason behind the movements. The Great Awakening began about the 1930's and reached its climax ten years later in 1740. What exactly was the Great Awakening? It was a wave of religion revivals sweeping through New England that increased conversions and church membership. The beginnings of the Great Awakening were in Pennsylvania and New Jersey among Presbyterians and then spread to the Puritans and Baptists of New England. They were encouraged to confess sins done freely to the church in order to receive forgiveness. This whole movement was to learn a new way to capture God's truth through the own wits of man.

It was once believed that life was predestined by God and that the saved and the damned were already chosen. Those who believed in all that was happening in the Great Awakening did away with that idea. Supporters of the revival were called "New Lights", and those who were believed in moderation, intellect, predestination, and justification through works were called the "Old Lights." The Old Lights held the old way of thinking, while the New Lights abandoned the thought of predestination and such. The Old Lights, or also known as Old Sides downplayed emotion and emphasized on rationalism while the New

Lights emphasized on emotions and the justification by faith, itinerant evangelizing, enthusiasm, revival and


One of the New Light Preachers was a man named George Whitefield. Thousands traveled far distances just to see him. Whitefield was also called "The Great Itinerant." Whitefield traveled up and down from the eastern seaboard offering others with his "supposable" way on how to gain citizenship in Gods Kingdom. His choice of religion, being, Christianity, and his way of thinking was that even sinners had a chance if they loved God. Other religions not serving in the Christianity beliefs were talked upon and down

played by Whitefield. Whitefield who also beset established ministers for dominating their religious flocks into hell by not trying an experience salvation of people.

Another important figure during the Great Awakening was Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was a Puritan who was famous for his evoked vivid, terrifying images of the corruption of human nature and the horrors that would be waiting for him when his arrival onto hell came. The reason people flocked to hear Edwards preach was that he was speaking about things that the people were vitally interesting in. He talked about what happened to the sinners and that certainly struck interest in the people. Edwards had had people deeply concerned about their impact and their state of morals. Edwards did not stay popular long, his

downfall came when a group of young people got hold of an obstetrics book and they looked at the illustrations of the female anatomy. In result Edwards responded to this by preaching against it and condemning those involved in it. But it so happened the parents he alienated drove him from his position and he was exiled to Stockbridge to work with Indians where he eventually died.

The things that resulted in the Great Awakening was that most of the American population had a common understanding of Christian faith and life. So the North and the South shared a common evangelical view on life. Also religions such as the Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians and all of the other non-established groups took root and grew. Even though denomination lines remained, all of the religions shared a common evangelical voice.

Not only did it effect religions; it also sprung a great emphasis to be placed on education. George Whitefield ended up founding schools that were firstly made up of Presbyterian ministers. The focus of education came about for the concern of souls mostly. Also greater sense of responsibility for...
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