The Accidental Revolutionary: George Whitefield and the Creation of America

The Accidental Revolutionary: George Whitefield and the Creation of America

by Jerome Dean Mahaffey
     
 

Patriots. Founding Fathers. Revolutionaries. For many Americans, the colonial heroes deserve special celebratory reverence. Yet while Washington's leadership, Franklin's writings, and Revere's ride captivate us, the inspiration and influence George Whitefield instilled within the revolutionary spirits of early Americans is regrettably unknown.

In this refreshing

Overview

Patriots. Founding Fathers. Revolutionaries. For many Americans, the colonial heroes deserve special celebratory reverence. Yet while Washington's leadership, Franklin's writings, and Revere's ride captivate us, the inspiration and influence George Whitefield instilled within the revolutionary spirits of early Americans is regrettably unknown.

In this refreshing biography, Jerome Dean Mahaffey deftly moves beyond Whitefield's colonial celebrity to show how his rhetoric and ministry worked for freedom, situating Whitefield alongside the most revolutionary founders. As this Anglican revivalist traveled among the colonies, he delivered exhilarating sermons deeply saturated with political implications—freedom from oppression, civil justice, communal cooperation. Whitefield helped to encourage in his listeners a longing for a new, uniquely American nationalism.

The Accidental Revolutionary tells the story of this forgotten founder, who may not have realized the repercussions of his words as he spoke them. Now, Mahaffey delicately shows that Whitefield converted colonists not just to Christianity but to a renewed sense of unification that ultimately made possible the American Revolution.

Baylor University Press

Editorial Reviews

The Baptist Standard

Mahaffey points out that Whitefield's preaching provided the template for a new way of viewing the world and for Americans to view themselves.... Students of American history and students of the preaching art will benefit from this book.

From the Publisher

"The revivalist George Whitefield was the best-known person in eighteenth-century America, yet he remains almost forgotten among Americans today. Mahaffey offers a readable and revealing introduction to the life of this brilliant preacher and friend of American liberty."

--Thomas S. Kidd, Associate Professor of History, Baylor University, and author of God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution

"Mahaffey points out that Whitefield's preaching provided the template for a new way of viewing the world and for Americans to view themselves. ... Students of American history and students of the preaching art will benefit from this book."

--The Baptist Standard

"Mahaffey has put all students and scholars of the 18th-century transatlantic revivals--events that so hugely shaped both the British and the emerging American cultures--in his debt with this incisive and compelling work. His research will help all who seek to better understand this critically important period by providing new insights into the seminal importance of the too often neglected figure of George Whitefield."

--Richard Land, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention

"Mahaffey shows how Whitefield's bold challenge to settled religious doctrines and hierarchies helped coax the colonies in the direction of independence."

--Christianity Today (Oct. 2011)

"In this sparkling biography of the famed 18th century revivalist George Whitefield, Mahaffey argues that his enduring importance in American history lies in politics as much as in religion. A masterful stylist, Mahaffey brings fresh perspectives to old arguments and makes them live again in remarkably arresting ways."

--Grant Wacker, Professor of Christian History, Duke Divinity School

"Mahaffey has written an insightful rhetorical genealogy showing how the interplay of religious and political themes of the Great Awakening fostered the birth of a distinctively American republican identity."

--John Angus Campbell, Professor Emeritus, Department of Communication, University of Memphis

Christianity Today

Mahaffey shows how Whitefield's bold challenge to settled religious doctrines and hierarchies helped coax the colonies in the direction of independence.

Books & Culture - Peter Choi

Mahaffey's book represents a mature reflection on the long-range implications of religious ideals and their unexpected consequences.

Anglican Theological Review - Angelica Alaimo O’Donnell

Well-grounded in scholarship and carefully executed, Gardner’s method is also highly energetic, associative, and digressive.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781602583917
Publisher:
Baylor University Press
Publication date:
09/01/2011
Pages:
214
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Richard Land

Mahaffey has put all students and scholars of the 18th-century transatlantic revivals—events that so hugely shaped both the British and the emerging American cultures—in his debt with this incisive and compelling work. His research will help all who seek to better understand this critically important period by providing new insights into the seminal importance of the too often neglected figure of George Whitefield.

Grant Wacker

In this sparkling biography of the famed 18th century revivalist George Whitefield, Mahaffey argues that his enduring importance in American history lies in politics as much as in religion. A masterful stylist, Mahaffey brings fresh perspectives to old arguments and makes them live again in remarkably arresting ways.

John Angus Campbell

Mahaffey has written an insightful rhetorical genealogy showing how the interplay of religious and political themes of the Great Awakening fostered the birth of a distinctively American republican identity.

Thomas S. Kidd

The revivalist George Whitefield was the best-known person in eighteenth-century America, yet he remains almost forgotten among Americans today. Mahaffey offers a readable and revealing introduction to the life of this brilliant preacher and friend of American liberty.

Meet the Author

Jerome Dean Mahaffey is the John and Corrine Graf Chair of Communication Studies, Indiana University East. He lives in New Paris, Ohio.

Baylor University Press

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