The Great Awakening was a period of profound religious reform that began in Europe. This period extended globally from the early part of the 17th century until the late 20th century.Continue Reading
Origin Religious leaders emerged in this era urging the masses to break away from religious norms and start finding God personally. The Great Awakening was also the foundation for the quest of political independence within the colonies. The Great Awakening started in the early 17th century in Europe. England and Scotland sparked this era of spiritual enlightenment notes Joseph Cummins. Churches at the time were viewed as dull and lacking the zeal to preach the true gospel of God. Congregants were complacent to the then-spiritual lectures conveyed by equally lethargic pastors.
This sparked the need for a spiritual wave that wiped away traditional religious ties. From 1730 to 1770, the Great Awakening began to take shape marked by thousands of congregants breaking off from their churches. The popularity once shared by Anglicans and Puritans rapidly diminished. A new form of the gospel began to take shape.
Importance of the Great Awakening Religion in the colonies began to disintegrate. Congregants were now urged to seek God personally and uphold morality through self-examination. The popular belief before the Great Awakening was that power or religious messages flow from God to religious leaders who then disseminate the message to the people. After the Great Awakening, people believed that God could inspire them directly.
The need to repent and know God became much stronger. This also led to the rise of charismatic religious leaders who adopted a fiery way of delivering the gospel to the congregants.
Rise of Charismatic Religious Leaders Europe was the first place to witness the rise of the Great Awakening. Notable crusaders of the gospel at the time were Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley and his brother, Charles Wesley. In America, the likes of William Tennent became the pioneers of the new gospel.
Jonathan Edwards was iconic with his fiery and condemning manner of preaching. He directly called out sinners demanding that they repent or face God’s wrath. One of his great sermons, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," compelled many to repent and seek God personally.
George Whitefield was gentler or diplomatic. He found his own unique and subtle way to persuade the masses to repent and turn their hearts toward God. The Wesleys were identical to Whitefield in their preaching style.
Nevertheless, all revival preachers were characterized by their descriptive preaching and fiery eloquence that drew the masses. More congregants broke from the traditional norms of church worship and began to follow the new evangelists who traveled through colonies preaching the love of God.
The Great Awakening and Political Independence By the time the new revival preaching was reaching North America, in Europe, a political awakening had already started. Many historic scholars attribute the wake of political independence directly to the emergence of religious awakening.
As the masses tore away from religious traditions and governed their own faith, the same mentality spread into the political scene. The idea of self-governance sprouted among the believers who were tired of colonial rule.Learn more about Exploration & Imperialism