{19}     Revolution & revival

ERA 6 << Modern Church (2): Revival & Missions (AD 1700-1900) >> SESSION 2

Reference: Gonzalez, volume 2, chapters 24-27

        19.1.1  Religion in the American colonies

·         Religious diversity: When the English settlement of Virginia began [1607], the Puritans wanted to apply Puritan principles in the government. King James I, using a war with the Indians as an excuse [1622], put the colony under direct rule. While the aristocracy remained faithful to Anglicanism, the lower classes subscribed to other movements such as the Quakers, Baptists, and Methodists. Other southern colonies had similar trends.

·         Puritanism: In the north, Puritanism had greater impact. Plymouth Plantation, a community based on Puritan principles, was founded in Massachusetts. Because of persecutions in England, many Puritans (including the famous Mayflower [1620]) arrived in New England and settled at Plymouth. They chose the congregational government for churches.

·         Congregationalism: It became the state religion of Massachusetts [1631]. Roger Williams founded the colony of Providence [1636] on the principle of religious freedom, and founded probably the first Baptist Church in North America [1639]. Anne Hutchinson founded the community of Newport, Rhode Island [1637], where many of the colonists were Baptists and Quakers.

·         Baptists: Two groups of Baptists were formed: [1] Arminian General Baptists—those who held that Jesus had died for all mankind. [2] Calvinist Particular Baptists—those who held that Jesus died only for those who were predestined to be saved.

·         Catholicism: Maryland was the centre of Catholicism in the colonies [1632]. With the increasing immigration, many new Catholics arrived from Europe, including Irish, Spanish, French, Italians. The growth of Catholics provoked a strong reaction from some Protestants. Later, the Ku Klux Klan [founded in 1866] would unleash its xenophobic fanaticism, not only against blacks, but also against Catholics and Jews.

·         Mid-Atlantic region: Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, a Quaker who insisted on religious tolerance. Germantown near Philadelphia became a centre for Mennonites; Bethlehem became a centre for Moravians. Delaware and New Jersey were under a similar influence. New York was colonized by the Dutch and was influenced by the Reformed Church. They were conquered by the British [1664] and New Netherlands became New York. Religious motivations played an important role in the founding of many of these colonies. While religious toleration flourished in most places, there were also the practice of slavery, social inequality, and the exploitation of Indians and their land.

·         Native Indians: Around 1642, there were efforts to evangelize the Indians. An Indian chief called King Philip decided to end this effort [1675] and to stop the white men’s encroachment of their lands. The “King Philip’s War” was started and the Indians were eventually defeated.

        19.1.2  Education in the colonies

·         Universities: The Reformation had led to an emphasis in education because of the belief that the individual Christian could read and interpret his Bible. Many early American universities, including most of Ivy League Schools, were therefore founded by Protestants. They included Harvard College [1636]—to secure a literate ministry that could pass on the cultural and religious tradition, William and Mary College [1693] in Williamsburg—to breed good ministers, Yale College [1701]—by the Puritans to give youth a liberal and religious education in order to supply the church with leaders, College of New Jersey (later became Princeton) [1726]—to educate youth for ministry, King’s College (later became Columbia) [1754], Rhode Island College (later became Brown) [1764]—by the Baptists to teach religion and the sciences, Dartmouth College [1770].

        19.1.3  American Revolution

·         Background: There was a convergence of new political ideas based on rationalism and the economic power of the bourgeoisie. Riches were based on agriculture, trade, and industry. The interests of this new economic aristocracy conflicted with those of the old hereditary aristocracy. In the New World, the lower classes were allied with the new aristocracy as they saw the old aristocracy as foreigners exploiting them.

·         Conflict: Because of the relative independence of the American colonists, the British government found it more difficult to exercise authority overseas. So it began to seek more direct rule. Open conflict between the colonists and the British government was precipitated by 3 factors: [1] The British quartered 17 regiments in the colonies. These were seen as an instrument of repression. [2] The British government decreed a series of taxes without being approved by a representative assembly. [3] There were conflicts over Indian lands and the British government decreed that there would be no more white occupation of areas beyond the Appalachians.

·         Revolution: British troops fired on a crowd in Boston, killing 5 people [1770]. Subsequently, the colonial militia became more active and built up its arsenals. The British forces threatened to destroy one of those arsenals [1775]. The militia resisted and the War of Independence began.

·         Independence: On July 4, 1776, delegates of the 13 colonies gathered in Philadelphia to proclaim their independence from Britain. Six years later, the war stopped [1782] and the Treaty of Paris was signed [1783].

        19.1.4  Religion in the new nation

·         Against dogmatism: Many joined the struggle for independence to a rationalist ideology that spoke of providence as a principle of progress. The progress was to leave behind the dogmatic attitude of traditional Christianity, and espouse only “natural religion” or, at best, “essential Christianity”.

·         Pseudo-religion: Two pseudo-religious movements were institutionalized: [1] unitarianism, [2] universalism.

·         Unitarianism: Some people from the Anglican and Congregationalist circles were no longer willing to subscribe to traditional orthodoxy. They called the movement “Unitarian” because they rejected the doctrine of Trinity and subscribed to the unity of God and the humanity of Christ. They were rationalists, stressing human freedom, goodness of man, salvation by character culture, and intellectual capabilities, in contrast to the orthodox emphasis on divine mystery and human sin. They denied the divine inspiration of the Bible, and the eternal punishment of hell.

o        Socinianism: The forerunners of the Unitarians were the Socinians developed during the Reformation. Their leader was Italian Lelio Sozzini (Socinus, 1525–1562) who was an anti-Trinitarian (against Trinity). He believed that Christ is to be worshipped as a man who obtained divinity by his superior life. The group later moved to Poland [1579].

o        Establishment: Theophilus Lindsey submitted a petition [1772] signed by 250 clergymen asking the British Parliament to relieve them from subscribing to the Thirty-Nine Articles. When they were rejected, they established a Unitarian Church in London [1774]. The church was later established in New England [1785].

o        Growth: Unitarians grew during the Second Great Awakening. William Channing preached in Baltimore outlining the Unitarian doctrine [1819]. This became the source of faith for over 100 Unitarian churches appearing in New England, leading to the formation of the American Unitarian Association [1825].

·         Universalism: Some people believed that everyone will be saved in the end. They originally came from some British Methodists who argued that the doctrine of eternal damnation was a denial of God’s love.

o        John Murray (1741-1815), the father of organized Universalism, believed that Christ had made full payment for all men and that at the judgment all unbelief in God’s mercy would vanish and immediate blessedness would begin for all. Universalist churches were first organized in New England.

o        Elhanan Winchester (1751–1797) asserted that all would be saved by ultimate “free” submission to God. However, unrepentant men would be purified by protracted, not eternal, suffering.

o        Hosea Ballou (1771–1852) asserted that Christ’s atonement was moral; that is, it was not intended as a legal payment for sin but merely as a demonstration of God’s love to draw men unto Him. He believed men would be punished for sin, here or hereafter, until they turned from it.

o        Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) was the leader of transcendentalism which seeks an ideal spiritual state that transcends the physical and empirical and is only realized through the individual’s intuition, rather than through the doctrines of established religions. He stressed self-knowledge as a means to understand the universe and its purpose.

o        Eventually, Universalists merged with the Unitarians [1961].

·         Independent church: Because of the war, Anglicans in the United States wanted independence from the British church. They organized the Protestant Episcopal Church [1783], separating them from the Anglican Church. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists also reorganized themselves in view of the new situation.

·         Denominationalism: The word “denomination” describes one of the main characteristics of the Christianity resulting from the North American experience. Various churches are seen from the view of different names given to them. North American Protestants tended to think of the universal church as an invisible reality consisting of all true believers, and of the visible churches or “denominations” as voluntary organizations that believers create and join according to their conviction and preferences.

·         Disciples of Christ [1832]—This was founded as a response against denominationalism. It was also called the Restoration Movement, led by Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) and Barton Stone (1772-1844). Their purpose was to call all Protestants to unity through the proclamation of the gospel in its original purity. Yet, eventually, they formed a new denomination called the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

·         Immigrants: Immigration from Europe increased the number of Christians in various denominations, but most of all Catholics and Lutherans. Some immigrants began experiments in communal living, such as those by Mennonites and Moravians. One of these was the Shakers who emphasized the role of dance in worship.


        19.2.1  First Great Awakening [1730s–1740s]

·         Beginning: Under the influence of pietism, many early American colonists felt that a pious personal religious experience was of great important for Christian life. The Great Awakening was a revival with large number of conversions. It started with the preaching of Theodore Frelinghuysen to the Dutch Reformed Church in New Jersey [1726].

·         Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758)—He was a Calvinist pastor in Northampton, Massachusetts. He started preaching the importance of an experience of conviction of sin and of divine forgiveness [1734]. Edwards was wellknown for his sermon “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” [1741]. People responded to his sermons with emotional outbursts. The movement swept into Connecticut. It subsided after 3 years.

·         Whitefield’s preaching: George Whitefield visited New England [1739]. His preaching led to many conversions with outward expressions of repentance and joy. He was invited by Edwards to preach in his church. The movement gradually spread throughout the colonies. So the beginning of the movement was supported first by Congregationalists and Presbyterians, and later also by Methodists and Baptists. Whitefield unified the efforts of many revivalistic preachers as he travelled to all the colonies in 7 visits [1738–1769].

·         Revivals: In New England alone, over 30,000 converts and 150 new churches were added to a population of 300,000. Enemies of the Great Awakening criticized it for undermining the solemnity of worship and for substituting emotion for study and devotion. However, the sermons of Edwards and Whitefield were not emotive, but careful expositions of profound theological matters.

·         Danger of revivalism: Revivalism included the dangers of being misled by a superficial emotionalism. Edwards realized that not all of the conversions during the revival were genuine. Some of those who professed conversion soon lapsed into their old godless ways. That is why Edwards maintained that true religion lies not in the mind but in the affections (the heart, emotions, will). “There never was anything considerable brought to pass in the heart or life of any man living, by the things of religion, that had not his heard deeply affected by those things.”

·         Impact: This was the first movement that embraced the 13 colonies. It brought a sense of commonality. At the same time, new ideas were circulating regarding human rights and the nature of the government. This would contribute to the later revolution for independence.

        19.2.2  Second Great Awakening [1800s–1830s]

·         Background: At the end of 18th-c, the influence of the Great Awakening had been largely dissipated by deism. In universities, few students professed regeneration. Gambling, profanity, vice, and drunkenness were common among students who were proud of being unbelievers.

·         Beginning: There was an increase in Christian devotion and living, emphasized by theologians including Timothy Dwight (1752–1817), grandson of Jonathan Edwards and president of Yale, and evangelist Charles Finney (1792–1875). About one-third of the students professed conversion [1802]. Revival spread to other eastern colleges and to the western frontier.

o        Revival meetings: Finney’s new measures of revivalism included protracted meetings, colloquial language in preaching, unseasonable hours for services, naming individuals in public prayer and sermons, and the “anxious bench” to which inquirers could come. He later became the president of Oberlin College [1851–1866].

o        Belief in free will: Finney stressed the freedom and power of the human will—we are free to obey or disobey God. This stress on free will led Finney to deny the doctrine of the original sin. Instead, he believed that we are all born with physical depravity—with a bias towards self-gratification. But this doctrine, when combined with the certainty of sin with its voluntary character, is basically the same as Augustine’s doctrine of original sin.

·         Cane Ridge Revival [1801]—In Cane Ridge, Kentucky, a Presbyterian pastor called for a camp meeting, and thousands came. The response to the call to repentance was surprising and overwhelming. It was later expanded. Methodists and Baptists took up the idea of celebrating “camp meetings” leading to periodic “revivals”, particularly in the frontier.

·         New societies: There were the founding of several societies whose purpose was to evangelize. The most important were the American Bible Society [1816], the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions [1822], and the American Tract Society [1825].

        19.2.3  Third Great Awakening [1880s–1900s]

·         Revival: After the civil war, the old camp meetings were adapted to the urban environment, leading to revivals. Dwight Moody (1837–1899) and Ira Sankey (1840–1908) preached to the urban masses, calling people to repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ. Moody helped organize the Chicago Evangelization Society [1886] from which Moody Bible Institute was founded [1889].

·         Related activities: Societies formed and took up various social causes such as the war against alcohol. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union [1873] later became the foremost defender of women’s rights. Thus, some roots of American feminism can be traced to the Third Great Awakening. (Some historians regarded this as the continuation of the Second Great Awakening.)

·         Frontier: Westward migration brought some of those whose faith was kindled. However, since conditions on the frontier were different, the awakening became more emotional and less intellectual.


        19.3.1  Major events in the French Revolution

·         National Assembly: During the reign of Louis XVI [1774–1792], economic conditions in France grew steadily worse, particularly for the poor. The king called the Estates General (parliament) [1789] to collect more taxes. The bourgeoisie and the lower clergy controlled the institution and changed the name to National Assembly (which later changed names a few times).

·         Bastille: When the king wanted to dissolve the assembly, the people rioted and took the Bastille on July 14, 1789. The assembly issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen which the king refused to accept.

·         The church suppressed: The assembly issued the Civil Constitution of the Clergy to reform the church, placing it under French bishops and the French crown. All church land became public property. All monasteries were abolished by law [1790] and bishops were to be elected by voters. Later, the National Convention (the assembly) abolished monarchy and proclaimed the Republic [1792]. During the Reign of Terror [1793–1794], many clergies were executed for counter-revolutionary activities.

·         Cult of Reason: The leaders of the revolution were convinced that a new era of science and reason would overcome all superstition and religion. A new deist religion called the “Cult of Reason” (later called “Cult of the Supreme Being”) was proclaimed. Temples to Reason were built. Thousands of priests who refused to swear before the altar of Freedom were accused of counter-revolutionary activity and executed with the guillotine. The French invaded the papal states [1798] and captured Pope Pius VI whom they imprisoned in France.

·         Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821)—He became First Consul and master of France [1799]. He negotiated with the new pope Pius VII, signing a Concordat [1801]. Bishops were to be named by the state and consecrated by the pope. Napoleon took the title of “Emperor” [1804] in a coronation ceremony presided over by the pope. Later the pope was captured and imprisoned until Napoleon’s downfall [1815].

        19.3.2  Changes in Europe

·         Peaceful century: The Napoleonic wars had created chaos throughout Europe. Reigning houses were overthrown in Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Low Countries, and Scandinavia. After the war, most of the former monarchs were restored to their thrones. While there were few wars in 19th-c, except the Crimean War [1854–1856] and the Franco-Prussian War [1870–1871], and the battles towards the unification in Italy [1861] and in Germany [1871]. But the instability led to conspiracies, revolts, and upheavals.

·         End of Papal States: In 1848, there were widespread revolutions in Italy, Belgium, Britain, Switzerland, and France. A Roman Republic was created in the papal states and pope Pius IX had to appeal to the French emperor Napoleon III to restore him to the papal throne. King Victor Emmanuel II of the united Italy took Rome [1870]. The king granted the pope a guaranteed annual income and 3 palaces—the Vatican, the Lateran, and Castel Gandolfo. Pope Pius IX rejected the deal, but the papacy finally agreed to the same deal 6 decades later [1929].

·         Germany: The Iron Chancellor Otto von Bismarck believed that the RCC was a threat to the German unity. He expelled the Jesuits [1872]. He passed laws to secularize education, establish civil marriage, and force the clergy to be educated in state universities. Later, in order to fight socialism, Bismarck repealed some of the restrictions [1880].

·         England: The Anglican Church witnessed many of the evils characterized in the medieval church: absenteeism, pluralism (simultaneously holding many ecclesiastical offices), and personal ambitions. Different movements responded to this development.

o        Spiritual revival: During 19th-c, renewal was pushed by the “evangelical” wing of Anglicanism. John Newton (1725–1807), author of the famous hymn “Amazing Grace”, became their spiritual leader. Charles Simeon (1759–1836) was one of the scholars at Cambridge University which became the centre of evangelical forces.

o        Ritualistic renewal: In addition, the “Anglo-Catholics” started the “Oxford Movement” [1833–1845] which emphasized the authority of tradition, apostolic succession, and communion as the centre of Christian worship. They upheld the spiritual nature of the church and its freedom from control by the state. They stressed on the importance of colourful ritual in the liturgy. One of its leader John Henry Newman (1801–1890) eventually was converted to Catholicism [1845]. He was joined by over 600 important individuals in the next 20 years. The movement led also to the rebirth of monasticism within the Anglican Church, and restored the High Church party that emphasized ritualism in worship.

o        Modernistic invasion: The Broad Church movement [1830] represented the social and the liberal element. They were influenced by Kantian idealism and German Biblical criticism. They emphasized an intuitive consciousness of God and the immanence of Christ in man. They sought to bring the kingdom of God on earth by social legislation. They fostered a liberal theology and social gospel.

·         Nonconformist revivals: There were revivals in England outside the Anglican Church.

o        Plymouth Brethren [1831]: The church was organized by John Darby (1800–1882) in Dublin. They emphasized the priesthood of all believers and the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit. They earnestly studied the Bible and manifested practical piety in their lives. One famous member was George Müller (1813–1875), the founder of a large orphanage in Bristol.

o        Catholic Apostolic Church [1842]: It was organized by the followers of Edward Irving (1792–1834), who emphasized the gifts of the Holy Spirit similar to the apostolic era. The church stressed speaking in tongues and the imminent return of Christ.

o        Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892): He became England’s foremost preacher in 19th-c. His Reformed Baptist Church moved into the 4700-seat Metropolitan Tabernacle [1861] and opened the Pastor’s College [1857].

o        Keswick Movement [1875]: The Keswick Higher Life meetings were large scale revival meetings. The preaching emphasized the experience of instantaneous and progressive sanctification that would enable one to defeat sin and live victoriously. These meetings still continue today.


        19.4.1  US: slavery & the Civil War

·         Christian viewpoint: The issue of slavery had troubled the conscience of many Christians. Many denominations in the US opposed slavery, such as Quakers, Methodists, and Baptists. The American Colonization Society was founded [1817] with the purpose of buying slaves, freeing them, and returning them to Africa. That led to the founding of the Republic of Liberia.

·         North vs south: The abolition movement was stronger in the north. But the economic system in the south relied on slave labour. The American Anti-Slavery Society was formed [1833]. The split between the north and the south results in splits in the Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches (such as the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention).

·         Emancipation: Mexico abolished slavery in 1829. Emancipation of slaves in the US was finally accomplished in 1865.

·         Urbanization problems: After the war, many blacks moved into the cities to find work. Continuous immigration also brought increases in the urban population. They lived in overcrowded and difficult conditions and they also lacked contact with organized Christianity. Several organizations formed to serve the urban masses including the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and the Sunday Schools. In 1872, several large denominations began the practice of agreeing on the Scriptural texts to be used each Sunday, leading to greater understanding collaboration across denominational lines.

·         Caring for the poor: In New York, orphanages, missions, hospitals, homes for the aged, and other agencies were established by Christians to meet the needs of the poor, the homeless, and the sick. In Boston, the Goodwill Industries [1900] founded by a church provided employment for the poor and the aged by having them repair discarded articles that could be sold cheaply to the needy.

        19.4.2  Britain: social reforms

·         Industrialization: The industrial revolution benefitted the middle class and the capitalists, while undermining both the ancient aristocracy and the poor. With growing industries and increased trade, cities experienced rapid growth, giving rise to overcrowded slums, and the poor found themselves living and working in conditions of misery and exploitation. (Here, Karl Marx witnessed the conditions of the London proletariat and developed his economic theories and communism.) All these led many Protestants to take a leading role in combatting social ills.

·         Clapham Sect: It is a group of wealthy individuals under the leadership of John Venn, provided lay leaders in social reform from 1792 to 1813, including Wilberforce. Most of the social reforms between 1787 and 1850 were results of evangelical effort for the poor.

·         Caring for the poor: The rebirth of monasticism in the Anglican Church led many Anglican monks and nuns to work for the needs of the poor and the ill. The growth of the middle class brought an upsurge in the membership of Methodists, Baptists, and Congregationalists. They founded many societies to help the needy, to remedy the more blatant social ills, and to take the gospel to outside the church. Robert Raikes (1735–1811) established what became known as the Sunday School Movement [1780] to educate children of the poor.

·         Labour & prison reforms: The support and inspiration of Methodists, Quakers, and others were important factors in the birth of labour unions. Lord Shaftesbury (1801–1885) worked to secure child-labour laws [1840, 1842, 1845]. John Howard (1726–1790) and Elizabeth Fry (1780–1845) led the fight for prison reforms.

·         Helping urban masses: The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) [1844], founded by George Williams (1821–1905), the YWCA [1855], and the Salvation Army [1864], founded by William Booth (1829–1912) and Catherine Booth (1829–1890), aimed to reach the impoverished and unchurched urban masses.

·         Abolition of slavery: The most significant accomplishment of British Christians was the abolition of slavery. The effort of abolition was led by William Wilberforce (1759–1833) and other Christians. In 1806 and 1811, the British Parliament issued laws forbidding the slave trade. In 1815, the English delegates to the Congress of Vienna brought the outlawing of the slave trade by most European states. Freedom was decreed for slaves in the British Empire [1833]. The act provided 100 million dollars to compensate the owners who freed 700,000 slaves.

·         Impact: Historians often attribute to the absence of revolution in Britain (compared to many other European countries) to the social reforms pushed by Protestants. Some attribute it to the Methodist revival from the preaching of John Wesley.


19.5  Revolutions in Latin America

        19.5.1  Internal struggles

·         Conflicts: In the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Latin America, there had been long-term tension between those recently arrived from Europe—the peninsulares—and the native descendants of earlier immigrants—the criollos. While the criollos were the wealthy class, political power was in the hands of the peninsulares who were appointed in Europe. The criollos played in Latin America a role similar to that of the bourgeoisie in France.

·         Independence: Napoleon deposed the king of Spain [1808] and put his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the throne. The Spanish in Latin America resisted his rule by forming independent juntas, particularly by the criollos. The restored king of Spain wanted to resume control [1814], thus aggravating the criollos resentment. The juntas rebelled and declared independence in the next 15 years, including River Plate, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador. Mexico declared independence even earlier [1810]. Central America later broke up into smaller countries. Brazil proclaimed independence in 1821.

·         Dictatorships: Economic progress produced similar conditions as those in Europe. What was hoped and repeatedly promised was that the development of trade, industry, and education would eventually benefit all social classes. But economic progress required order, and thus dictatorships were often the result.

·         Insufficient clergy: In the church, the bishops were named by the governments of Spain and Portugal. After independence, most of them returned to Europe leaving many dioceses vacant. Fearing a loss of support from Spain, the popes did not appoint bishops to Latin America. The lack of bishops had huge impact because there could be no more ordinations without bishops; without sufficient ordained clergy, the sacramental life of the church was interrupted. It was only in the 1830s that Pope Gregory XVI started naming bishops for Latin America.

·         Comte’s theory: In the second half of 19th-c, liberals adopted the positivist philosophy of Comte and became more anti-Catholic. Auguste Comte (1798–1857), a French philosopher and one of the founders of modern sociology, was convinced that society should be reorganized following the dictates of reason. He believed that man has gone through 3 stages of development: [1] the theological, [2] the metaphysical, and [3] the scientific or “positive”. Therefore society must be radically reorganized on the basis of “scientific” or “positive” principles. The new society will make a clear distinction between spiritual authority and temporal power. Temporal power should be given to capitalists and merchants who best understand the needs of society. Spiritual authority should be given to a new “catholic church” without a supernatural God and devoted to the “religion of humanity”. This caused the renewed conflict between liberals and the church.

·         Growth of Protestantism: New immigrants from Europe and China came to Pacific coast. They supplied the labour for industry and commerce. Many of these were Protestants, so several countries granted religious freedom. At the same time, the increasing number of Catholics meant that some were not ministered or instructed by the church so that Catholicism became more superficial. Many Catholics were in name only. These areas became the fertile ground for Protestant evangelism.



[1] treasure our heritage

Denominationalism has its necessary and proper functions of accommodating people with different convictions and preferences.

[2] appreciate God’s providence

The American awakenings demonstrated the continuing work of the Holy Spirit.

[3] avoid past errors

Beware of 18th-c heresies of unitarianism and universalism.

[4] apply our knowledge

Social reforms can improve the society as Christians should, but they can act as witness bringing the good news to the lost.

[5] follow past saints

We should ask God to raise up people like Jonathan Edwards, Timothy Dwight, and Dwight Moody to bring revivals to the church. But we need to be open to God’s calling.



        Those who were against the Great Awakening accused it of undermining the solemnity of worship, and substituting emotions for study and devotion. Was there any truth in these criticisms? Was the movement really too superficial?

o        There was some truth in the criticisms. However, there were also many long lasting conversions. One cannot judge by appearance only.

o        There is a need to balance emotions with right doctrine and rational worship.

        Was the movement a deliberate and intended effort? What were the objectives of the movement?

o        No, it was an unplanned movement, showing the work of the Holy Spirit.

o        The movement aimed at greater devotion and conscientious study of the Bible.

        What impacts of the Great Awakening can be seen today?

o        revival meetings, massive crusades like those held by Billy Graham

o        Pentecostal worships

        Was the rise of different denominations God’s plan?

o        Denominations were organized according to differences in doctrinal convictions and administrative or practical preferences (such as worship and fellowship).

o        In contrast, the Roman Catholic Church stresses uniformity. However, some Catholics who do not subscribe to the official position in doctrines simply ignore the church. The results of this include: decline of church authority and respect because of open disobedience (such as the anti-life politicians publicly taking communion administered by Pope Benedict XVI who insisted that communion should not be given to pro-choice politicians, in April 2008), accusation of being hypocrites, deterioration of church discipline.

o        Therefore, the rise of denominations suited to this present age of freedom and independence in beliefs. As different Christians may have different beliefs in non-essential matters of faith, the existence of denominations allows every Christian to worship in a church that he fully obeys and agrees with.

        What events triggered the revival movement?

o        preaching of Edwards and Whitefield, 1730s

o        Cane Ridge Revival, Kentucky, 1801

o        camp meetings of Methodists and Baptists in the western frontier

o        Moody’s preaching, 1872

        What initiatives did the Protestant church get involved in during the time of social upheaval in the 19th-c?

o        reach and help the poor and ignorant

o        promote labour unions to protect workers

o        prison reform

o        legislation to reduce child labour

o        build schools, hospitals, homeless shelters

o        abolition of slavery

        Comte theorizes that humanity has gone through 3 stages of development: theological, metaphysical, and scientific. What does this theory imply about the church?

o        The implication is that religion is only for primitive man, not for modern man in an age of rapid progress in every cultural aspects. According to Comte’s theory, religion should be been totally abandoned. Yet, the increase in religiosity in today’s world contradicts the theory and proves it wrong.

        What were the effects of large immigration on the church in South America?

o        Many immigrants were Protestants, leading to the granting of religious freedom.

o        The Catholic church could not provide sufficient services and instruction for the large immigrant population.

o        The majority were nominal Catholics.