The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America

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In the mid-eighteenth century, Americans experienced an outbreak of religious revivals that shook colonial society. This book provides a definitive view of these revivals, now known as the First Great Awakening, and their dramatic effects on American culture. Historian Thomas S. Kidd tells the absorbing story of early American evangelical Christianity through the lives of seminal figures like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield as well as many previously unknown preachers, prophets, and penitents.

The Great Awakening helped create the evangelical movement, which heavily emphasized the individual’s experience of salvation and the Holy Spirit’s work in revivals. By giving many evangelicals radical notions of the spiritual equality of all people, the revivals helped breed the democratic style that would come to characterize the American republic. Kidd carefully separates the positions of moderate supporters of the revivals from those of radical supporters, and he delineates the objections of those who completely deplored the revivals and their wildly egalitarian consequences. The battles among these three camps, the author shows, transformed colonial America and ultimately defined the nature of the evangelical movement.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300158465
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 695,342
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas S. Kidd is associate professor of history, Baylor University, and author of The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism, published by Yale University Press. He lives in Woodway, TX.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xiii

1 "Prayer for a Saving Issue": From Puritans to Evangelicals 1

2 "A Shower of Divine Blessing": Jonathan Edwards and A Faithful Narrative 13

3 "Soul-Satisfying Sealings of God's Everlasting Love": Continental Pietism, Scots-Irish Presbyterianism, and Early Evangelicalism 24

4 "Plentiful Effusions of God's Spirit in These Parts": George Whitefield Comes to America 40

5 The Danger of an Unconverted Ministry: Fractious Revivalism in the Middle Colonies 55

6 "A Faithful Watchman on the Walls of Charlestown": Josiah Smith and Moderate Revivalism in South Carolina 68

7 "This is No Other Than the Gate of Heaven": George Whitefield in New England 83

8 "Blowing Up the Divine Fire": Mass Revivalism in New England, 1740-1741 94

9 "Minds Extraordinarily Transported": Testing the Limits of Revivalism, 1741-1742 117

10 "Under the Impressions of a Heated Imagination": James Davenport, Andrew Croswell, and the Fracturing of New England Evangelicalism 138

11 "Beyond Any Former Outpouring of the Spirit": Debating the Legitimacy of the Awakenings 156

12 "The Gospel Is Not Preached Here": The Crisis of New England Separatism 174

13 "Bringing Them to a Subjection to the Religion of Jesus": Native American Missions 189

14 "Ethiopia Shall Stretch Out Her Hands unto God": Slavery, African Americans, and Evangelicalism 213

15 "Do the Holy Scriptures Countenance Such Wild Disorder?": Evangelicalism in Virginia 234

16 "A Happy Revival of Religion in the Interior Parts": Evangelicalism in the Carolinas 253

17 "There Is Really a Great Awakening in Those Parts": The EvangelicalRevivals of the 1760s 267

18 "The God of Glory Is on Our Side": Evangelicals and the American Revolution 288

19 "Many Thought the Day of Judgment Was Come": The New Light Stir of 1776-1783 308

Epilogue 321

Notes 325

Index 379

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