What exactly was the Great Awakening and how did Jonathan Edwards contribute to it?

Common churches of today have what are formally known as revivals. These revivals are held in hopes to uplift the church and spiritually get it back on its feet to where it needs to be. A very well known revival movement took place in the colonies in the early 1700s. This movement was called the Great Awakening. There were many authors and preachers who contributed to this movement including John and Charles Wesley, George Whitfield, and Jonathan Edwards.


During the late 1700s there were multiple fights and arguments going on between religious and political groups in England. With all these riots and hatred towards each other, the people were getting fed up with what was going on inside their church. Eventually all of this madness came to a halt when the Glorious Revolution occurred in 1688. This revolution began what came to be known as the Church of England that would basically be the head-church over the whole country. Other religions were still practiced, but they became extremely weak compared to the Church of England. Politically this change was rather helpful because everyone now practiced the same things, but from a different stand point this was not the case. Religions became very washed up in the colonies. People began claiming others were only “going through the motions,” and not taking a stand for what they believe. With everyone’s hearts not fully into their religion, the leaders of the church realized that something needed to be done. The solution they came up with is known as the Great Awakening.

This period of revival turned people away from the importance of church doctrine and instead reemphasized the importance of focusing on ones own spiritual relationship.
The Great Awakening was rather significant for the time period. New denominations and religions were established because people felt a sense of an individual relationship, making the religion more personal to them. Also the Great Awakening seemed to unify the colonies in a way that had never been done before. By everyone coming together, preachers from all around the country had the sense of urgency to tell the good news. In some ways this movement encouraged people to come back to their own religion, but it also might have turned them away for good.

In this video, the Great Awakening, and all of its importance, is explained in further detail.

As you noticed in the video, one of the major prolific preachers during the Great Awakening was a man named Jonathan Edwards. While reading his personal narrative, I realized Jonathan Edwards went through a great deal of his life wanting to be closer to God and then falling away from him again. This act was repeated several times as he grew up, until eventually he KNEW where he needed to be. http://mith.umd.edu/eada/html/display.php?docs=edwards_personalnarrative.xml&action=show

After having this personal change in his life, all he wanted to do was tell others about it. Known as one of the most intense sermons of all time, Edward’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” oddly enough, had no effect on his own church when he preached it. As he took it to other places though, people either absolutely loved it, or hated it. A great deal of people did not like what they were hearing from Edwards. They felt as if he himself was condemning them with every word that he said. Edwards did not let those people’s opinions hinder him. He continued to preach the sermon everywhere he went. When enough people grew tired of his truthful but harsh words, he was asked to leave the church. All he was trained to do was preach. This created a major conflict in his families life. He had to find a job preaching and once he finally did, he contracted smallpox and died before it even began. Although his efforts seemed to have been for nothing, he became a very prominent role in the greatest revival movement in all of history.



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