Through new thought in religion, the Great Awakening was provoked, resulting in colonies reacting to religious conditions, emotional revivals, and a change in practices with religious beliefs. In with this, Americans awakened to being super religious and became a revitalization of the religious thought motivated by revival meetings and the introduction of new beliefs. The Great Awakening was spread through the 13 colonies in 1700’s, and it began among the second generation Puritans who caused high emotional actions and the movement with the help of preachers. In the result, there was powerful preaching and it pulled away from usual, ceremonies and sacraments.
This made Christianity very personal, causing the beginning of not following to what the normal practices the churches had. The different impressions on all of the colonial religious beliefs and was a new concern with individual saving which defined religious beliefs for oneself rather than accepting them from people in power. Different responsibility for multiple congregations, a group of people assembled for religious worship, became more common among the smaller groups which resulted from the divisions in churches. Both the “Old” and “New” beliefs formed colonial and denominational strengths that helped to break isolation. As Baptists and Presbyterians spread into New England they had strongholds of established churches.
Although the revival faded out as people lost their emotional passion, the Great Awakening changed the colonies by giving them a sense of strength for the first time and is believed to help set the possibility for the American Revolution.There were many causes to the Great Awakening, as certain Christians began to un-associate themselves with the established way to worship which led to a new way of religion practice among believers. Instead, they created an approach which was showed by emotion in prayer. The renewal in religion began with people in England and moved over to the American Colonies during the beginning of the 18th Century. There was a low attendance at churches because people believed there was no need to you to church if they could earn their way to a better place themselves which led to small fighting between different religious groups. This was after people challenged the church and the thought of questioning the government, people were threatened by this because they knew the people could be successful and the churches became very competitive.This led to stability since everyone now practiced mostly the same religion and the people who practiced other religions such as Catholicism, Judaism, and Puritanism were spiritually lost.
Religion became more of something to do in their free time, rather than commitment. Due to the lack of religion, certain Christians began to disassociate themselves with the usual way to worship. Instead, they began an idea which was shaped by emotion in prayer and the key people that were involved in the start of the Great Awakening were Jonathan Edwards, John and Charles Wesley, and George Whitefield. Theologian Jonathan Edwards believed that sinners were in the hands of a fearful God, which is based on Puritan ideals. He told people to repentance for sins as he was an American revivalist preacher, philosopher, and Congregationalist Protestant Theologian, which “He stimulates a series of revivals in the Connecticut River valley in 1734.” (Allison 335) Like most of the Puritans, he believed in the reformed theology and his colonial followers later named themselves from other Congregationalists as “New Lights” who endorsed the Great Awakening, as opposed to “Old Lights” the non-revivalists. John Wesley was considered to be the father of Methodism, and his brother, Charles Wesley, became one of the most “prolific poets” and helped in the part of the large protestant denomination in America that was eventually established.
George Whitefield was one of the founders of Methodism and most popular preacher of the Great Awakening revival. He attended the University of Oxford in 1732, where he met John and Charles Wesley, who he would work within his later life. When George Whitefield instantly began preaching and became a strong preacher to his followers.”George Whitefield arrives in Pennsylvania and sparks the revivals that lead to the Great Awakening” (Allison 335). In 1740, when Whitefield traveled to North America, where he preached a series of revivals during the Great Awakening. His actions and methods helped bring people together along with leading to greater toleration of religious differences. During Whitefield’s revival meetings both in England and the American colonies, he became a “religious icon” who spread a message of more democratic Christianity. With largely Puritan spirituality of the early 1700s, the revivalism in the Awakening allowed people to express their emotions more due to the cause of religious conditions in the colonies.
During the Great Awakening, there were a series of emotional religious revivals that spread across the American colonies. More people became aware of these new religious ideas and of the tradition of the supporting churches like the Anglican Church that collected taxes from the colonists. Ultimately the Great Awakening would begin the process of decreasing the power of leaders while questioning the status of the Anglican and Congregational churches in the colonies. Among the groups that contributed to the revival, the English Puritans protested against ritualism of the Church of England in the 17th century, and many moved to America to continue their passion for experiential religion.
Great Awakening was America’s first great revival, under the leadership of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and the others who revitalized religion in the Colonies. They were a part of a larger religious revival that was influential and this was due to the colonists gathering at religious revivals because they believed that all people were born sinners. The beliefs of Great Awakening preachers were that everyone born sinners could be saved, including African Americans, white, poor, or rich people that could be only helped by God. Followers believed if they confessed their sins to God they would be accepted. The revival preachers emphasized the “terrors of the law” to sinners, the unmerited grace of God, and the “new birth” in Jesus. George Whitefield visited America in 1739 and preached to large crowds in the colonies. Although he convinced many people to convert, he was attacked for criticizing the religious practice of others and for starting disagreements.
Preachers like Whitefield became the main cause for the emotional religious revivals that spread across the colonies. Which due to this, it “lasts until 1743 in the middle and northern colonies and divides many denominations into Old and New factions.” (Allison 335). Through the series of emotional religious revivals, the options split into two groups, the Old light vs. New light it began controversy. The New light and Old light controversy brought on the final separation of the Puritan social system that had changed New England religious culture for over than a century. Both the New and Old lights claimed to be the correct way of puritanism, each belief in its own way was responsible for the reshaping of American Protestant thought and practices.
The New light believed the revivals to be the works of God that strengthened Christianity and specifically supported the Great Awakening. Contradictory, the Old Lights saw the revivalism as an unnecessary and disruptive part of the church practice and that believes should remain the same. Supporters all around affirmed rationalism, which started from the of the Enlightenment and conveyed common sense and self- control. New lights allowed people to express their emotions more openly in order to have a greater intimacy with God. Only after some decades of this kind of complacency in the American colonies that the spiritual revival of the Great Awakening came about.
The Great Awakening had resulted in the permanent impact on American Protestantism and believes. Throughout the Awakening the Colonists realized that religious power was in their own hands, rather than in the hands of the Church of England. The effects of this resulted in divided churches, increase in participation, communication, and the founding of educational institutions.
After having a shortened mindset, the colonists came to realize that political power did not exist in the hands of the English monarch, but in their own. By 1775 the Colonists did not all share the same theological beliefs and shared a common idea of freedom from religion and Britain. Through the beginning of the 17th century, most of the English colonists were Anglicans that were part of the Church of England, but by the time of the Great Awakening, there were also Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists. Even the Old Congregationalist churches were in conflict with New Light ministers who gave more of an emphasis on individual’s experience of salvation or being born again. Therefore religion became more emotional in the colonies, especially after the arrival of George Whitefield and his preaching tour which he stated that humans need to avoid the horrors of sins by being saved. This increase in religious feeling was not confined to America or even Christianity. One of the points in the American Revolution was a breakdown in respect for authority and this was caused partly the religious revivals that criticized church hierarchies and other aspects of colonial society.
People began criticizing their religious leaders and established religious morals, which shows that they would criticize the acts of Parliament. The Great Awakening did affect the colonies by changing many people’s attitudes towards religion. Its significance was that the revelation was the most important event in American religion during the eighteenth century. The Enlightenment was a big influence on the political ideas of the colonists which enforced for independence from Great Britain and began to damage the colonial power structure. Thinkers like John Locke concluded that there was no right reason why kings should rule rather than having authority in the people’s hands. This led to the thought on Great Awakening bringing about a change in beliefs which made the American Revolution a possible effect.The Great Awakening was a spiritual renewal that affected the American Colonies, including New England, during the first half of the 18th Century.
Through series of emotional religious revivals, colonies were motivated throughout the Great Awakening with leaders such as Jonathan Edwards, John and Charles Wesley, and George Whitefield. This is significant in the development of a common American status and at the same time, the Great Awakening produced a conception of revolution in many ways.