The focused more on the protestant community as

The First and Second Great Awakenings were periods in the 17th-19th century that are remembered for being times of religious revival in the Christian community. The First Great Awakening, occurring relatively close to the 1730’s, was focused more on the protestant community as it swept through protestant Europe and British America. The Second Great Awakening, beginning just after the first in 1790, was also focused on the protestants, but hit areas such as the Baptist and Methodist community, as church membership sharply increased. The First Great Awakening began at a time just following the Enlightenment period which emphasized logic and reason and stressed that an individual should look at the world by means of scientific laws. This constituted to individuals growing to rely more on a personal approach to salvation than church and God. This left an effect of declined church membership and attendance, an evangelist named George Whitefield believed people weren’t going to church because, “… dead men preached to them.” Whitefield and others like him began preaching in a much more different style that was typically noted in the common church during this time. They started preaching with energy, and tried to get their listeners to have a more personal, or emotional response towards their sermons. The ultimate goal was for people to look into their own hearts and realize that they, like all Christians, are poor, miserable sinners and deserve nothing but eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell. Preachers held massive events known as revivals in tents where thousands of people attended. Within these tents, emotions poured out, drama flared unceasingly, and the unexpected happened. This was a distinct shift from what the Puritans were used to at their churches back home in England. Two of the preachers that are commonly remembered were George Whitefield, a British minster that moved to colonial America, and Jonathan Edwards, who is often credited with “starting” the First Great Awakening. Known to some as one of the most powerful sermons given to date, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” forced Christians to realize the generally accepted principles that the Enlightenment period taught were wrong and that they needed to trust God, rather than themselves. As previously mentioned, the Second Great Awakening was a religious revival that occured in most parts of the United States but focused mainly in the Northeast and Midwest, seeing as this is where a plethora of the Baptists and Methodists had settled. Similar to that of the First Great Awakening, the main reason for people not attending church as often was the belief that God did not play all that important of a role in their everyday lives. They saw it as God did not care how much they attended church, but rather the actions or deeds they did while they were on Earth. The Second Great Awakening was known mainly for the “camp meetings” which is were a majority of the religious revivals occured. These camp meetings were not nearly as emotional or crazy as the revivals in tents during the First Great Awakening, but they definitely got the point across. These camp meetings held incredible amounts of people, sometimes even stretching to 20,000 in the same place who were hearing the same powerful message. Ministers reached their listeners on an emotional level, constituting to a large and lasting effect on a big group of people. The effects of the First Great Awakening were immense in terms of a rebellion against typically conformed to ideas of the Enlightenment period. Furthermore, the effects could be confined into two main points. First, people saw religion as a much more important part of their lives. Before this revival, many families had put religion on the back burner and made the decision that they were too busy to get to church and because God only cared about their works rather than their attendance, being at services meant nothing more than a waste of time. This idea was quickly shot down during the events of the First Great Awakening, especially during the “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon. Second, some credit the First Great Awakening as an event that paved the way for the American Revolution. Capturing ideals that the rest of the community around them were, colonists began to develop democratic ideas, leading to being less deferential to authority and more inclined to believe in ideas that were coming from common people. This could very well have been the ways of thinking that made the rebellion against England more likely. The effects of the Second Great Awakening were not quite as profound as the first. We note a lot of the same principles that are accepted during the first, with an emphasis on an added religious element to individual self improvement, self-reliance, self-determination, and emotionalism. Colonists of this time used opportunities given by the Market Revolution to spread their message. In conclusion, the impacts of both the First and Second Great Awakenings were incredibly profound not just in the early Christian life, but still today as well. We still note an impact of Evangelicalism that is applied by political parties and workers unions. Afterall, had these Great Awakenings not occurred, would there even be such thing as a Christ-based School?


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