The Enlightenment And The Great Awakening Essay, The Enlightenment And The Great Awakening The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening are two primary European movements that drifted across the Atlantic into America between the 1730 s and the 1760 s. They caused many changes in the lives of humans. The Enlightenment emphasized the power of human reason to shape the world. It caused many people to be less honorable towards God than they had been before. They felt that they could think, analyze, and do for themselves and not everything was done through God.
This also created the religion of Pietism, which appealed to the hearts, not the minds of the followers. The Great Awakening was an updating religious rebirth in the 1740 s, which attempted to bring the importance of God together with what the people had learned through the Enlightenment. Both are very important markings in our world s history and have helped to shape the society in which we live today. Science was created as a result of the Enlightenment.
Many people began to study the world in which they lived. In the early 18 th century, many Christians believed that the earth was the center of the universe and that God interceded directly concerning human affairs. When science proved different, it changed the views of many educated persons. John Locke did not believe that all infants were born with God-given thoughts.
He stated that the mind was gradually filled with information through the senses and through experiences that you encounter. Ben Franklin was another Enlightenment thinker in America. He was more influenced by Enlightenment literature than the Bible. He invented bifocal glasses, the Franklin stove, and the lighting rod through his knowledge of sciences. Franklin s Philadelphia evolved into the showplace for the Enlightenment having a library filled with the most recent discoveries concerning the world. A medical school was built there in 1765.
Also, philanthropists created a hospital for the Sick Poor hoping to improve the economy by reducing taxes that they paid for the relief of the poor. These being built also were a contribution from the Enlightenment showing that purposeful human thinking could improve the social status of their environment. Pietism emerged from the Enlightenment too. This religion did not pay much attention to the theological beliefs, instead focusing on moral behavior, emotional church services, and a mystical union with God. It was an emotional, apostolic movement, although it stressed many people s dependency on God. The pietistic movement eventually moved into Puritan New England because many Puritan congregations had lost their intensity.
Jonathan Edwards desired to restore spiritual commitment to the Congregational churches in the Connecticut River Valley urging people to commit themselves to piety and prayer. He believed that all men and women were helpless creatures that were totally dependent on God. After reading John Locke s idea that our ideas are not innate from birth but are the result of experiences and the senses, Edwards was accepting. It was Locke s theories on God, man, love, angel, and salvation that were denying towards Edwards. The Great Awakening was another significant movement from Europe to America. It was lead by George Whitefield, who had read of German pietistic tracts and was inspired by German Moravian Pietists during a stay in Georgia.
After building an orphanage in Georgia in 1738, he preached to huge crowds of enthusiasts throughout the colonies from 1739 to 1741. Benjamin Franklin was so impressed by Whitefield s preaching that when the preacher asked for contributions, Franklin emptied his pockets wholly into the collector s dish, gold and all. By the time Whitefield got to Boston, the Reverend Benjamin Colman reported that the people were ready to receive him as an angel of God. The Old Lights, as they were called by the awaken ers, were afraid that revivalism would destroy what has already been established in the churches.
Many farmers, women, and artisans adventured on the countryside declaring that the Old Lights were unconverted sinners. This caused the Old Lights to win over the legislative assembly to forbid traveling preachers to be able to speak to the congregation without the minister s permission. Whitefield then returned to Connecticut and found himself to be closed out by many. Thus, the New Lights appealed and defeated the Old Lights law.
The Awakening caused many questions concerning ministry. Gilbert Tennent stated that anyone under the grace of God who was saved could speak with ministerial authority. This meant that the respect demanded from preachers highly educated in theology with great knowledge of the Bible was unjustified. This caused an increase in pietist congregations, such as the Baptists, that marked on emotions rather than dogma, and piety rather than theology. The pietists created a more democratic religious environment. Much education was brought about from the Awakening also, especially religious teaching.
Many church congregations founded colleges to educate the youth and train ministers. Without these two movements in history, the world in which we live would be very different today. I believe that after these movements, humans realized that they really could think and do things for themselves and others, but that they must always keep a covenant with God, which they were reminded by with the Awakening. If they do well unto others while God has placed them here, why, they should have a rewarding after-life. 35 a.