6.2: Enlightenment and the Great Awakening (2023)

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    To understand the Enlightenment and fully appreciate its importance, we must examine the state of the Western world before the scientific revolution. Today, most people believe that the earth is a round planet that orbits a star known as the sun in a solar system. We tend to accept this point of view without question. In the 14th century, the world view of the people was different from ours. For most of this century, many Europeans believed that the earth could be flat and that all the planets and stars, and even the sun, revolved around it. The centrality of the earth in the universe has been both a religious and a scientific concept for many, while the concept of a flat earth has been around since ancient times.

    The geocentric theory of the ancient astronomer Ptolemy that the earth was the center of the universe remained accepted as fact more than 1,200 years after his death. Nicolaus Copernicus, whose varied interests in theology, medicine, law, language, mathematics, and especially astronomy marked him out as a true Renaissance man, observed the heavens and studied the theories of Ptolemy. Copernicus believed that Ptolemy was wrong, took what he knew as fact, and developed a heliocentric theory in which the sun, not the earth, was the center of the universe. Copernicus seems to have conceived the basic model of his before 1514 and spent the rest of his life developing his theory, which was published shortly before his death in 1543. his work On Revolutions caused the revolution science that lasted until the 17th century. .

    Of all the great figures of the Scientific Revolution, Sir Isaac Newton distilled the theories and discoveries of Copernicus' Scientific Revolution. His greatest work, Philophia Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, presented a reasonable, understandable, and demonstrable model of how the universe worked, based on science and excluded from theology. Newton's concepts, such as his law of gravitation, provided a predictable and understandable framework for viewing the world and beyond.

    Turning on

    The ideas of the Scientific Revolution inspired people in many fields beyond science. When Newton demonstrated rational explanations for the workings of the universe, philosophers were inspired to reconsider humanity and its place in the universe. So the scientific revolution was at the root of the Enlightenment.

    With the Enlightenment came a new spirit of intellectual thought and inquiry. Old ideas and theories could be challenged and new ones proposed on virtually every topic. Acceptance of whatever was no longer sufficient support for faith; Rather, it was necessary to understand with explanations and reasoned arguments. Of the many great Enlightenment thinkers, including Rousseau, Voltaire, and Hume, the one whose works on politics and philosophy had the most direct influence on the revolutionary spirit of the colonies was the Englishman John Locke.

    Two of Locke's best works were published in 1690. First,An essay on the human mind., Locke explained that people only learn through experience. We experience things through sensation, where our senses give us information, and through reflection, by thinking about what we experience through sensation. Experience then leads to simple ideas, which in turn lead to complex ideas. Locke rejected the common notion that humans are born with innate knowledge. His revolutionary point of view was that we are born knowing absolutely nothing. For Locke, humans had no innate concepts, ideas, or morals. At birth, our mind is totally empty, a blank slate that, because it is totally empty, can be filled with what we know from experience to be true.

    (Video) History of The Enlightment and The Great Awakening | Intermediate Discipleship #91 | Dr Gene Kim

    His other big job this year wasTwo government contracts. In the first treatise, Locke rejected the theory of the divine right of kings; in the second, he expounded his beliefs about government, democracy and the rights of men. Locke believed that the government should be for the good of the people, and if the government or the leader of the government failed in their duty to the people, then the people did well to remove or overthrow this government. He believed that to guard against corruption and a lack of service to the people, a government should have multiple branches, each serving to control the other. His ideas would resonate long after his death in 1704, profoundly influencing our Founding Fathers, who used Locke's ideas to formulate their reasons for the American Revolution and thus justify his cause. Locke's ideas later formed the basis of the United States Constitution. Locke devised the concept that all human beings have the right to life, liberty, and property.

    Enlightenment in America

    The Enlightenment, with its ideas and ideals of human rights and the relationship between citizens and government expressed by writers like Locke, formed the basis of American revolutionary thought. Influenced by the Enlightenment, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and other founding fathers took these ideals of a government's duty to the people and used them as a lens to look at the relationship between the American colonies and the British government. . of King George III. With the concept of duty to the people in mind, the failure of the British government to respond to the needs of the colony became more than just a point of contention and, instead, the cause of the revolution. Thomas Paine, in his critical workCommon sense, argued in plain language that appealed to the average settler that equality was a natural condition for humans and having a king was not. Paine championed the idea that while a king might be useful, there was no justification for a hereditary monarchy, and that subjects ultimately had no reason to have a king unless the king looked after the interests of his subjects. The British government, according to Paine, put its own interests before those of the colonies, thus failing in its duty to the colonists. While in their infancy the colonies needed British guidance and protection, now they could fend for themselves. In fact, the British government went from encouraging the growth of the colonies to prohibiting that growth and becoming an obstacle to their economic development, inhibiting trade between the colonies and other nations of the world. Dealing with both economic realities and the higher principles of natural rights, Paine's pamphlet appealed to both the practical businessman and the principled philosopher. His writing was a success and helped struggling colonists under British rule understand exactly why continuing as colonies was not the solution to their situation.

    The Enlightenment provided a moral justification for revolution and the end of British rule in the colonies, at least according to revolutionary thinkers like Franklin and Jefferson. The natural rights of humanity cannot be denied to any rational mind. Colonists had the right to choose where their allegiance lay and what form their government would take. They had the right to be heard, to have their concerns addressed in a way that the British could not at sea. However, the break was not easy. Many in the colonies, even if they felt their rights had been violated, remained loyal to England and hoped for a reconciliation. The relationship has often been described in terms of father and son. For the leaders of the revolution, the boy had grown up and was ready for independence from him with a new government without precedent and inspired by the principles of the Enlightenment.

    great awakening

    The Great Awakening was a religious revival in the American colonies, fueled by Calvinists' belief that the colonists' spiritual lives were in danger. With a focus on the material rather than the spiritual, on the pursuit of wealth rather than the pursuit of a good Christian life, the lifestyle choices of the colonists alarmed and then reinvigorated evangelical ministers, sparking the Great Wake up. Ultimately, ministers on both sides of the Atlantic would inspire each other and participate in this spiritual renaissance.

    Church of England - The Anglican Church

    Like much of Europe, England was a Catholic country until the Protestant Reformation. Henry VIII initially defended the Catholic Church against the criticism of Martin Luther, but later broke with the Catholic Church, divorced Anne Boleyn, and declared himself head of the Church of England in 1534. Unlike other Protestant movements in which While churches were founded on the ideas of their founders, such as Luther or Calvin, the Anglican Church made a conceptual transition from Catholicism to Protestantism based on the religious views of the current monarch and his advisers. , as church and state were connected at the time. The result was a church caught in the middle, mixing Catholicism and Protestantism. The Anglican Church remained Catholic in its administrative structure and the ritualized nature of its worship, with Protestantism influencing its architecture, theology, and worship conduct. Because Anglicans had a detailed liturgical structure, all Anglicans, whether in England or in the colonies, knew what scriptures would be read and what prayers would be offered on any given Sunday, as all Anglican churches followed a common guide. For many, this formal and predictable mode of worship did not meet their spiritual needs. In fact, some considered England almost a spiritual desert.

    (Video) Openstax U.S. History - 4.4 Great Awakening and Enlightenment

    The Wesley brothers and their conversion

    The Wesleys studied at Oxford and in 1729 Charles founded the Holy Club, a group of students dedicated to their religious practices. In fact, they were downright methodical in the way they conducted their religious worship and other activities, a practice that led to their nickname Methodist. The name eventually served to identify the Protestant denomination they founded. The Wesleys, who practiced what they preached, believed in public service and missionary work, went to the colonies as missionaries in the 1730s. Upon their return to England, John and Charles encountered Moravian passengers, the Moravians were a Protestant group with German roots dating back to Jan Huss. This encounter prompted the brothers to ally with the Moravians in England and to read the writings of Martin Luther, particularly hisjustification by faith. In 1738, just a few days apart, the two brothers experienced a deep religious conversion that led them to preach a personal and affective relationship with God; this sermon would be broadcast to the colonies.

    6.2: Enlightenment and the Great Awakening (2)

    George Whitefield, a powerful voice in New England and the colonies

    George Whitefield, who was studying at Oxford, also joined the Holy Club and was influenced by the Wesleys. However, for Whitefield it was not Luther but Calvin who was the key to his conversion. Another great influence on Whitefield was Jonathan Edwards. Whitefield read Edward's bookloyal oneNarrative, and found it inspiring. The Wesleys and Whitefield were no longer satisfied with the old Anglican Sunday services, so they began preaching revivals and open airs. They preached to people who didn't normally go to church and to anyone who would listen. They believed that the Holy Spirit could work in their hearts; converts also felt this very personal and emotional religious experience. Unsurprisingly, these services were not the calm and quiet services of the traditional Church of England, but rather emotional services, with the congregation openly weeping, especially listening to Whitefield. Whitefield became famous on both sides of the Atlantic for his sermons, which he preferred to give in the open air. Whitefield's sermon was considered remarkable for several reasons: his voice carried an enormous distance, allowing thousands to hear him clearly; his style impressed even those, like Benjamin Franklin, who disagreed with his theology; and he could evoke a storm of emotions in his audience, so they often cried.

    He preached daily, often several times a day, for the rest of his life, inspiring many to have a religious awakening and inspiring many who, if not to become Methodists, at least experienced the Great Awakening. Unfortunately, while many welcomed this new form of evangelical worship, others did not. In the colonies, those who preferred to maintain their old religious practices were called Old Lights, while those who preferred the new were called New Lights. The division between the Old Light and the New Light cut across denominational lines because, while Methodists were at the forefront of the awakening, it was a spiritual rather than a doctrinal issue. People could stay in their own church and still experience the same deeply personal, inward conversion as the Wesleys. Nonetheless, new denominations, including Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists, prevailed in the colonies, even where prohibited by law. All of these denominations originated in the Old World and thrived in the colonies, fueled by the zeal for awakening, thus changing the face of colonial religion.

    The great awakening begins in the middle colonies

    In the 1730s, the Great Awakening began with the Tennents, a Presbyterian family of preachers seeking out Presbyterians in their native Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The Tenents and others were so successful in their revival that it led to the founding of Princeton and the inspiration of Jonathan Edwards. His revivals spread north from Pennsylvania to New England, establishing a connection there with Congregationalists or Puritans and Baptists, leading to New England clergy having their own revivals in the 1740s.

    jonathan edwards

    Jonathan Edwards, a Connecticut preacher well educated in theology and philosophy who read Locke and Newton, became one of the leading theologians of his day. Inspired by Gilbert Tennent, Edwards was preaching successful revivals in 1735 when, tragically, his uncle committed suicide in despair of salvation. This turned out to be a temporary setback for Edward's revival. With Edwards temporarily silenced, George Whitefield arrived from England in a spirit of revival in 1739. Just as Edward's writing inspired Whitefield, Whitefield's emotional preaching inspired Edwards. Edwards greatly admired Whitefield, who unsurprisingly moved him emotionally and brought him to tears. Edwards's own style was much more restrained than Whitefield's. Edwards reached his audience through reason rather than through sermons, which were suffused with overt emotions, though the effect of his sermons on his audience could be highly emotional. Edwards is best known for his sermon titledSinners in the hands of an angry God. When he preached this sermon at a meeting in Enfield, Connecticut, in 1741, the response was overwhelming and the people cried out for salvation. Weeping, screaming, and swooning broke out at these gatherings in a surge of passion never before seen in colonial churches. The Great Awakening in the Colonies was felt everywhere, but New England stands out, thanks in no small part to Edwards. Conversions soared as church attendance exploded, and very few, if any, did not know someone who had recently converted during this time of religious fever.

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    The scientific revolution led to the Enlightenment. In both, the emphasis on reason was fundamental. Enlightenment ideas about human nature and government put forth by philosophers such as John Locke helped inspire the American Revolution and shaped the United States. The Great Awakening, a spiritual awakening felt in both Britain and the colonies, focused on an individual's personal relationship with God. The Tennents, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield were key figures in the Great Awakening in the Colonies that led to the spread of new evangelical Protestant denominations.

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    What three rights does Locke have for each person?


    life, liberty and property

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{2}\)

    The first Methodists were so called because they were very methodical.

    (Video) Openstax U.S. History - 4.4 Great Awakening and Enlightenment

    1. TRUE


    Exercise \(\PageIndex{3}\)

    The Wesleys started out as Anglicans, but whose writings inspired their conversion?


    Martin Luther

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{4}\)

    Unlike the Wesleys, who was instrumental in Whitefield's conversion?


    john calvin


    What was the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening? ›

    The eighteenth century saw a host of social, religious, and intellectual changes across the British Empire. While the Great Awakening emphasized vigorously emotional religiosity, the Enlightenment promoted the power of reason and scientific observation. Both movements had lasting impacts on the colonies.

    Did the Enlightenment cause the Great Awakening? ›

    Although the Great Awakening was a reaction against the Enlightenment, it was also a long term cause of the Revolution. Before, ministers represented an upper class of sorts. Awakening ministers were not always ordained, breaking down respect for betters.

    What is the main point of the Great Awakening? ›

    Basic Themes of the Great Awakening

    Sin without salvation will send a person to hell. All people can be saved if they confess their sins to God, seek forgiveness and accept God's grace. All people can have a direct and emotional connection with God.

    What is the similarity between the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening? ›

    The Enlightenment and Great Awakening period were different from each other but in similarities they both challenged the way society thoughts of situations in life. They both had a big impact leading towards the American Revolution and how the colonist were thinking differently from before.

    What is the Great Awakening and why is it important? ›

    The First Great Awakening was a period when spirituality and religious devotion were revived. This feeling swept through the American colonies between the 1730s and 1770s. The revival of Protestant beliefs was part of a much broader movement that was taking place in England, Scotland, and Germany at that time.

    What were the 3 key points of the Enlightenment? ›

    The Enlightenment was a period in European history that took place during the 18th century. During this era, philosophers stressed the values of skepticism, reason, and individualism, as well as liberty and secularism.

    What events led to the Great Awakening? ›

    The Glorious Revolution, also known as the “Bloodless Revolution,” was also one of the events that led to the Great Awakening. It replaced Catholic King James with his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William. It was the beginning of the constitutional monarchy of England as well.

    How did the Enlightenment and Great Awakening influence the American Revolution *? ›

    Summary: Enlightenment ideals of rationalism and intellectual and religious freedom pervaded the American colonial religious landscape, and these values were instrumental in the American Revolution and the creation of a nation without an established religion.

    What are three effects of the Great Awakening? ›

    Each of these "Great Awakenings" was characterized by widespread revivals led by evangelical Protestant ministers, a sharp increase of interest in religion, a profound sense of conviction and redemption on the part of those affected, an increase in evangelical church membership, and the formation of new religious ...

    What are three facts about the Great Awakening? ›

    First Great Awakening Facts: Unification of the Colonies

    At the time of the Great Awakening, the colonists identified their colonies as separate countries. Circuit preachers changed that perception. George Whitefield became the most notable evangelist of the Great Awakening.

    Why did America need a great awakening? ›

    Why did America need a "Great Awakening"? It needed a Great Awakening because the churches were becoming lifeless and going farther away from God's will. How did the requirement of church membership for political participation in New England lead to spiritual decline?

    What was one common theme between the Enlightenment and Great Awakening? ›

    Similarities Between Enlightenment and the Great Awakening

    They both changed how people thought or perceived “old” ideas, cultures, and beliefs. They both took place around the 1700s. Both movements also championed for more freedoms and independent mindsets. Both revolutions also rebelled against the authorities.

    What was the Great Awakening short answer? ›

    The Great Awakening was an outburst of Protestant Revivalism in the eighteenth century. The beliefs of the New Lights of the First Great Awakening competed with the more conservative religion of the first colonists, who were known as Old Lights.

    What were 5 beliefs of the Enlightenment? ›

    The five core values of the Enlightenment were: happiness, reason, nature, progress, and liberty. Using logical thinking and reasoning the philosophers analyzed truth in the world.

    What are the 5 Enlightenment beliefs? ›

    At least six ideas came to punctuate American Enlightenment thinking: deism, liberalism, republicanism, conservatism, toleration and scientific progress.

    What is the main purpose of Enlightenment? ›

    The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was an intellectual and cultural movement in the eighteenth century that emphasized reason over superstition and science over blind faith.

    What was the Great Awakening for dummies? ›

    The Great Awakening was a religious movement that swept across parts of the British colonies in North America in the mid-1700s. Protestant Christian preachers taught that good behavior and individual faith were more important than book learning and Bible reading.

    How did the Enlightenment and Great Awakening challenge the government? ›

    The movement encouraged colonists to chal- lenge authority and question traditional religious practices. Once this had happened, it was easier to challenge other social and political traditions. In this way, the movement laid the groundwork for revolt against British authority.

    What effects did Enlightenment and the Great Awakening have on society? ›

    Both the Enlightenment and the Great awakening caused the colonists to alter their views about government, the role of government, as well as society at large which ultimately and collectively helped to motivate the colonists to revolt against England.

    What were the impacts of the Enlightenment? ›

    The Enlightenment produced numerous books, essays, inventions, scientific discoveries, laws, wars and revolutions. The American and French Revolutions were directly inspired by Enlightenment ideals and respectively marked the peak of its influence and the beginning of its decline.

    What was the Enlightenment and what did it do? ›

    The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was an intellectual and cultural movement in the eighteenth century that emphasized reason over superstition and science over blind faith.

    When was the Enlightenment and Great Awakening? ›

    Similarities Between Enlightenment and the Great Awakening

    They both took place around the 1700s. Both movements also championed for more freedoms and independent mindsets. Both revolutions also rebelled against the authorities.

    What was the Enlightenment and what caused it? ›

    The Enlightenment began when more individuals started to seek ways to understand the world through science and reason. Influential enlightenment thinkers who published their works are often attributed with sparking the Englightenment.

    How did the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening influence the American Revolution? ›

    Summary: Enlightenment ideals of rationalism and intellectual and religious freedom pervaded the American colonial religious landscape, and these values were instrumental in the American Revolution and the creation of a nation without an established religion.

    Why is the Enlightenment important? ›

    “The Enlightenment” has been regarded as a turning point in the intellectual history of the West. The principles of religious tolerance, optimism about human progress and a demand for rational debate are often thought to be a powerful legacy of the ideas of Locke, Newton, Voltaire and Diderot.

    What were the main beliefs of the Enlightenment? ›

    The central doctrines of the Enlightenment were individual liberty and religious tolerance, in opposition to an absolute monarchy and the fixed dogmas of the Church.

    What is the Enlightenment most known for? ›

    The Enlightenment is most identified with its political accomplishments. The era is marked by three political revolutions, which together lay the basis for modern, republican, constitutional democracies: The English Revolution (1688), the American Revolution (1775–83), and the French Revolution (1789–99).

    What caused the Great Awakening? ›

    We have already mentioned the most important causes for the beginning of the Great Awakening; there were significantly fewer church attendances throughout the country, many people were also bored and unsatisfied with the way the sermons were conducted, and they criticized the lack of enthusiasm from their preachers.

    What was the impact of the Great Awakening? ›

    Effects of the Great Awakening

    The Great Awakening notably altered the religious climate in the American colonies. Ordinary people were encouraged to make a personal connection with God, instead of relying on a minister. Newer denominations, such as Methodists and Baptists, grew quickly.


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