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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.
THOMAS S. KIDD (Ph.D., University of Notre Dame) is associate professor of history at Baylor University. He has focused his research on American religion and has published several articles on the subject, especially on the colonial period. He has authored the books The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism and Awakenings: The First Generation of American Evangelical Christianity. Professor Kidd has led a Baylor conference on the global challenges facing Christianity, served on the university’s advisory presidential search committee, and works as a mentor to the university’s Crane Scholars Program.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents Foreword
List of Illustrations
PART ONE. INTRODUCTION: The Contest over the Great Awakening
The Revivals Begin
George Whitefield: A Media Sensation
The Awakenings Flourish, 1740–1743
Signs and Wonders
Debating the Awakenings
Revivals in the South
Separatists and Baptists
Historians, the Great Awakening, and the American Revolution
Evaluating the First Great Awakening and American Evangelicalism
PART TWO. THE DOCUMENTS
Jonathan Edwards and the 1735 Northampton Revival
1. Jonathan Edwards,A Faithful Narrative, 1737
2. Timothy Cutler,Critique of the Northampton Awakening, 1739
George Whitefield: The Grand Itinerant
3. George Whitefield,Journals, 1735–1740
4. Stephen Bordley,On George Whitefield, 1739
5. Josiah Smith,The Character, Preaching, &c. of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield, 1740
6. Benjamin Franklin,Advertisement of Whitefield Engravings, 1742
7. Yale College,The Declaration of the Rector and Tutors, 1745
Revivals, Conversions, and Spiritual Experiences
8. Gilbert Tennent,The Danger of an Unconverted Ministry, 1740