The Great Awakening

3rd period

The Great Awakening was a religious revival that swept through the English colonies in the 1730s and 1740s. It was characterized by emotional responses to sermons that appealed to the emotions rather than to the mind. As a result of the Great Awakening, many churches split into factions, it also changed the number of people joining the church, and the larger significance of the Great Awakening was that, because it called into question both religious and civil authority figures, it was by implication profoundly democratic and helped lay the groundwork for the American Revolution.

In New England, separate congregational churches were organized, and in the Middle Colonies, Presbyterians divided into rival bodies, called the New Side and the Old Side, which remained apart until 1758.The Great Awakening had varied and to some degree contradictory effects on American religion. In New England, Calvinism was reinvigorated, and Jonathan Edwards emerged as the leading orthodox theologian. Opponents of the revival, however, began preaching against the orthodox doctrines of predestination, election, and original sin. The congregational clergyman Charles Chauncy of Boston, for instance, attacked revivalist excesses and began to advocate a theological liberalism that eventually developed into Unitarianism In the Middle Colonies, on the other hand, many Scottish and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians reacted by reaffirming orthodox doctrine, which, they argued, was weakened by the revivalists\' emphasis on religious experience.

The number of Americans actually converted during the Awakening is hard to ascertain. Early estimates ranged from several thousand to half a million, although the latter figure is quite high given a total colonial population around one million in 1740. In New England the years of revival witnessed a small increase in the number of people joining the church. The Connecticut churches, for example, admitted on the average about eight people each per year in 1739 and 1740,but then about thirty-three per year in 1741 and 1742. similar gains took place in Massachusetts.

One of the major results of the Great Awakening was that it unified 4/5ths of Americans in a common understanding of the Christian faith and life. George Whitefield\'s preaching in all of the colonies helped fill a religious vacuum on the frontier and also helped unite the colonies. The movements also served to lessen the hold of the Anglican Church and, in the process, weaken royal authority.

The Great Awakening was a success beacuse it brought the American people a sense of unity and understand of life. Thanks to the preachings of Whitefield and Wesley, people were closer to each other and brought a common bond between the Americans also the Great Awakening brought a sense of of American nationality before the American revoltuion.