The Great Awakening, Essay Example

Document 4.6 “George Whitfield, Marks of a True Conversion 1739” is indicative of the religious beliefs of the “common people” during this time period. The Great Awakening as a whole challenged the authority of legally established churches and preachers. In this speech, George Whitfield is acting as a “New Light” preacher, who clearly believes in god and religion but is more supportive of the idea that god created the world but does not actively participate in directing the lives on the humans that live in his world. In his speech, he explains that the way that the biblical text has been explain to us in the past may not necessarily be true. For example, when Christ says “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven”, Whitfield proposes that Christ is talking to the disciples rather than all people of the Christian faith. This appeals to American colonists because this reinterpretation of scripture allows them to follow their religion more easily and independently from the nobles who were leading the religion beforehand. This legacy has remained long after this movement because this gave rise to movements like Reformed Christianity who recognize Jesus as their savior but believe many religious ceremonies are unnecessary to show their devotion.

Document 4.7 “Gilbert Tennant, the Danger of an Unconverted Ministry, 1739” was an attempt by Tennant to convince colonists who belonged to ministries of the Old Light to leave. In brief, the sermon claimed that the ministers in the synod of Philadelphia were unconverted and that they should support the revivalists with prayer and money. Tennant’s ideas reinforced the movement of the New Light and any colonist who already believed these ideas would be likely to join him. The idea of supporting congregations with money and prayers still lingers from this speech today.

Document 4.8 “Newspaper Report on James Davenport, 1743” discusses the erroneous behavior of New Light minister James Davenport who promoted activities such as burning unholy books and was known to get so carried away that he would also light his pants on fire in protest. This newspaper article discusses his behavior in a critical matter. Although this was a humorous and overzealous way to pronounce one’s faith, Davenport drew much attention to himself, although it’s difficult to determine whether the colonists saw this as a positive in the long run and agreed to join Davenport or whether they were frightened away from the Great Awakening as a result. Nonetheless, this has not stopped book burning (or other item burning for that matter) in attempt to show religious opinions. Hilter carried out a mass burning of Jewish literature during World War II and a Christian Church carried out a Quran burning last year in Gainesville, Florida.

Document 4.9 “Charles Chauncey, Letter to Scottish Minister George Wishart, 1742” is a letter from an Old Light minister protesting the new movement calling it irrational and unintellectual. In spite of this, the colonists favored the New Light because the way these preachers spoke to them made them feel like they were involved in something special. The engaging ways that these preachers spoke are used in many congregations in the country today.

Document 4.10 “Dr. Squintum’s Exaltation or the Reformation, 1763” is another example of Old Light ministers mocking the New Light. The disease that left Whitfield cross-eyes is their way of saying that New Light ministers are misguided and are unable to see the truth. The prostitute and the other theft going on in the image shows that the followers are unable to think for themselves and will make terrible decisions because of it. Many colonists would disagree with this because they believe the New Light was made for them and they prefer to be a part of a movement that unites common people against the upper class. Cultural movements of this kind continued to occur after this time period. For example, Marxism was popular among middle class citizens because this philosophy contradicted the beliefs of the bourgeois.