The First Great Awakening

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Time Period
1733  - 1770
The First Great Awakening transformed religious life and theology in the colonies during the mid-18th century. Proponents of the revivals worried that religion had become a cold, intellectual assent to truth rather than a vital relationship with the person of Christ.

The Great Awakening was not universally acclaimed, but Congregationalist pastor Jonathan Edwards defended the revivals as God's "own peculiar and immediate work." George Whitfield was the most prominent figure of the First Great Awakening. His preaching tours of the colonies drew massive open-air crowds.

Older Protestant denominations faced competition from newer evangelical denominations like Baptists and Methodists. The upstart groups remained a minority in most of the colonies, but their increasing size and influence presaged the Second Great Awakening and the advent of an evangelical religious majority.
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George Whitefield preaching in Philadelphia- Internet Archive- from Life of George Whitefield by A. S. Billingsley

George Whitefield preaching at a horse race- Internet Archive- from Life of George Whitefield by A. S. Billingsley

John Wesley preaching- Hathi Trust- from The Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century by Edwin Paxton Hood

Jonathan Edwards portrait- Internet Archive- from The History of Connecticut by G. H. Hollister
Book/Journal Source(s)
Ahlstrom, Sydney, 2004. A Religious History of the American People. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Web Page Contributor
Paul Matzko
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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