The great awakening essay

  • Skip to content
  • Skip to footer

Great-Awakening.com

Analysis and Information covering the First Great Awakening

01Basic Concepts of the First Great Awakening

Use this page to find some basic information on the Great Awakening: what it was, what caused it, and what it influenced.

What was the Great Awakening?

The Great Awakening was a spiritual renewal that swept the American Colonies, particularly New England, during the first half of the 18th Century. Certain Christians began to disassociate themselves with the established approach to worship at the time which had led to a general sense of complacency among believers, and instead they adopted an approach which was characterized by great fervor and emotion in prayer. This new spiritual renewal began with people like the Wesley brothers and George Whitefield in England and crossed over to the American Colonies during the first half of the 18th Century. Unlike the somber, largely Puritan spirituality of the early 1700s, the revivalism ushered in by the Awakening allowed people to express their emotions more overtly in order to feel a greater intimacy with God.

What caused the Great Awakening?

In late 17th Century England, fighting between religious and political groups came to a halt with the Glorious Revolution of 1688, an event which established the Church of England as the reigning church of the country. Other religions, such as Catholicism, Judaism, and Puritanism, were subsequently suppressed.

From a political perspective, this led to stability since everyone now practiced the same religion. But instead of being a positive driving force for religious belief in general, it created complacency and spiritual “dryness” among believers. Religion became something of a pastime in which people would “go through the motions” during religious services without deeply-felt convictions of the heart and soul. It was only after some decades of this kind of complacency in both England and the American colonies that the spiritual “revival” of the Great Awakening came about.

What were the effects of the Great Awakening?

The Awakening’s biggest significance was the way it prepared America for its War of Independence. In the decades before the war, revivalism taught people that they could be bold when confronting religious authority, and that when churches weren’t living up to the believers’ expectations, the people could break off and form new ones.

Through the Awakening, the Colonists realized that religious power resided in their own hands, rather than in the hands of the Church of England, or any other religious authority. After a generation or two passed with this kind of mindset, the Colonists came to realize that political power did not reside in the hands of the English monarch, but in their own will for self-governance (consider thewording of the Declaration of Independence). By 1775, even though the Colonists did not all share the same theological beliefs, they did share a common vision of freedom from British control. Thus, the Great Awakening brought about a climate which made the American Revolution possible.

Further Reading

The Great Awakening: A Brief History with Documents , by Thomas S. Kidd

Inventing the “Great Awakening” , by Frank Lambert

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Thanks! This might help me in my apush class

    Reply
    • whats apush class

      Reply
      • It stands for Advance Placement US History known as APUSH

        Reply
        • This stuff is advanced?!

          Reply
          • APUSH is college history for high school students. Not advanced but.. advanced compared to their peers.

      • Thank yoou! This helped me a lot!

        Reply
    • I am dying in APUSH but thanks you is the best

      Reply
      • thank you

        Reply
  2. Thanks! This Website is awesome

    Reply
  3. The Great Awakening is happening again Now!

    Reply
    • Justin you trippin’

      Reply
  4. Thanks, this really makes it easy to understand the Great Awakening, even for idiots like me who can’t understand it after rereading the textbook multiple times.

    Reply
  5. What is another event in history similar to the first Great Awakening? (not the second one though)

    Reply
    • When Lutheranism was created it was another example of people being able to break apart (in this case a papal supremacy) and form their own religious views and beliefs.

      Reply
    • the enlightenment

      Reply
  6. Catholicism is not a religion; it is a branch of Christianity, just as Protestantism is. Catholics and Protestants share the same religion, unlike people of the Jewish and Islamic faiths.

    Reply
    • Actually, Christianity has more in common with Judaism than it does with Catholicism. Catholicism IS a religion and Christianity is separate from Catholicism in so many ways.

      Reply
      • Martin Luther didn’t want to split the Catholic church, nor did he desire to start a new church; hence, his ’95 Theses’. His genuine desire was to see change within the Catholic church, not division. When this didn’t occur, the Protestant Reformation began and many denominations would begin through various reformers.

        The Catholic Church is a Protestant faith, but veered from Truth in scripture alone (implementing man’s practices) igniting the division between what is now Catholic and all other Protestant (non Catholic) churches. I would argue there are many Catholic Christians, it just depends upon whom they believe Jesus to be, if they’ve placed their faith in Him ALONE, and are not relying upon man’s practices, prayers, or deeds to save them.

        Reply
        • Leesa, Catholics would argue that Protestants are ones who veered from Truth in Scripture and are the ones who ignited the division. Catholics are Christian by nature, and this should not be a point of debate except by those who do not understand or wish to believe otherwise.

          Reply
    • Actually, although Catholicism and Protestantism are both branches of Christianity, they are also both religions

      Reply
  7. That was a really great summary. Everywhere else I have looked has had an unnecessarily long description, but this cut right to the point! Thanks for giving out direct information that is easy to understand.

    Reply
  8. Here’s the deal, this is the best there is. This website is first, certainly not last when it comes to the Great Awakening.

    Reply
  9. Thank God for inspiring you to clarify this important piece of knowledge, and for His Spirit that is stirred up as it is read by the reader!

    Reply
    • Thanks! This helped me so much. Is the Great Awakening similar to the Enlightenment? Or was it an outcome of it?

      Reply
      • During the Great Awakening, Americans begin to feel that religion had lost its vitality. Many believed that church had gotten boring. This was a mass movement and made religion more democratic. The enlightenment was similar but was a matter of religion versus science. Hope this helps!

        Reply
  10. Thanks it helped me a lot! 🙂

    Reply
  11. The church is most definitely in a new awakening. The best way I can describe it is ” The walls of the church have come down.”
    If you look at the life of Jesus, He spent most of his preaching years in the highways and byways, not in the temple.
    The church has opened our doors and are now out in the world helping the poor, needy, drug addicts, alcoholics, single moms and dads, etc. The church realized they got too spiritually fat sitting in the pews always learning never working. It was time to get off our rumps and put our doctrine unto practice. And this is where you will find us at our best helping out those in need. All in the name of Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    Reply
  12. There is one common characteristic that has identified the People of God through out our Judeo-Christian history, since Abraham till today…..with ignorant and stoney hearts, we either embrace or ignore false prophets . However, genuine prophets, sent by God, are rarely welcomed …..because the words of God spoken by the prophet slice through our faulty religious pretense to reveal the truth of our brokenness before God, we , who are the “good people of God “, most often , actively work to extinguish the source of the exposing light…….. by killing the prophet any way we can. It is our self-protection of our ignorant and stony hearts before God that drives our denominationalism!!!

    Reply
    • Mr. Allen Perrott, Sir, your post I found to be: direct, concise and well stated. Thank-you for your thoughts.
      David Buckwitz.

      Reply
  13. Thanks it was helpful for my question!

    Reply
  14. THE GREAT AWAKENING: this was the period of the experiences of the church as it grown. it began between 1730-1745.
    it moved through the following stages,
    -period of reformation
    -period of enlightement
    -spiritual renewal

    Reply
  15. it so good website because it give us so information.

    Reply
  16. This helped me for my class.

    Reply
  17. First Amendment Right Of Religious Beliefs

    Supreme Court Docket #17-1612

    Together Let’s Communicate

    Reply

Leave a Reply Cancel reply