Logo Homeschool World ® Official Web Site of Practical Homeschooling Magazine Practical Homeschooling Magazine
Practical Homeschooling® :

Forgotten American History - The Great Awakening

By Sam Blumenfeld
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #56, 2004.

Blumenfeld summarizes the events involved in the Great Awakening.
   Pin It
Sam Blumenfeld

Paul Johnson, the author of A History of the American People, writes: "[T]here was a spiritual event in the first half of the 18th century in America, and it proved to be of vast significance, both in religion and in politics." He is writing about the Great Awakening, a religious revival started by impassioned preachers determined to bring as many souls as possible to the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.

By the early 18th century, through hard work, a prosperous seagoing trade, and practical inventiveness, the colonies had grown rich and the churches in the cities had become respectable and stale. And that is why the revival started away from the cities in the country among the German immigrants. In 1719, Theodore Frelinghuysen, a pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church, led a series of revival meetings in the Raritan Valley in which he stressed the need for Bible study among the people.

In Neshaminy, Pennsylvania, William Tennent (1673-1745) built his Log College, a primitive rural academy that taught basic academics as well as religion. Frontier religion consisted of rhetorical fireworks and enthusiastic hymn-singing, quite unlike the staid services in the respectable churches of Boston and Philadelphia.

In Massachusetts, it was the intellectual Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) who spurred the revival in New England where religious liberalism was dampening the old Calvinist spirit. His sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," was read throughout the colonies and memorized by many lesser evangelists who wanted to melt hardened hearts. In his discourse, "God Glorified in the Work of Redemption," he asserted that the happiness human beings find in the "Glorious Excellences and Beauty of God" is the greatest earthly pleasures as well as a spiritual transformation.

But perhaps the greatest and most effective of the Awakening preachers was George Whitefield (1714-70), who came to America from England "to blow up the Divine Fire lately kindled." He preached to huge crowds in the open air and converted thousands of souls.

The Awakening also spurred the founding of such great institutions of learning as Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, King's College in New York, which later became Columbia, and the College of New Jersey, which became Princeton. Thus the religious revival also emphasized the need for learning and inspired a vision of the future in which, Edwards said, "God shall take the kingdom." Paul Johnson writes:

The Great Awakening was thus the proto-revolutionary event, the formative moment in American history, preceding the political drive for independence and making it possible....It was the marriage between the rationalism of the American elites touched by the Enlightenment with the spirit of the Great Awakening among the masses which enabled the popular enthusiasm thus aroused to be channeled into the political aims of the revolution....Neither force could have succeeded without the other.

And that is why the Christian religion has been such an integral part of the American psyche, from colonial times to the present. Without that spiritual component, America would not be America. And that is why the humanists and atheists will never succeed in separating America from its religion. Christianity is the bedrock of our basic culture no matter what Hollywood and the liberal media may do to negate that fact.

Thus, the Great Awakening is a subject that homeschoolers should study in depth because it will teach them the significance of Christianity in our past and its continued significance in our future. Read the sermons of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield and discover the power that galvanized the thirteen colonies into a single union that permitted them to wage a most difficult War of Independence against the mightiest military power on earth.

In back of the Declaration of Independence was the Word of God inscribed in the hearts of the colonists who would be free. As Paul Johnson said, neither force could have succeeded without the other.

Free Email Newsletter!
Sign up to receive our free email newsletter, and up to three special offers from homeschool providers every week.

Popular Articles

Can Homeschoolers Participate In Public School Programs?

A Reason for Reading

Laptop Homeschool

Who Needs the Prom?

Give Yourself a "CLEP Scholarship"

Joyce Swann's Homeschool Tips

The Benefits of Cursive Writing

Teach Your Children to Work

Montessori Language Arts at Home, Part 1

How to "Bee" a Spelling Success

Shakespeare Camp

The Equal Sign - Symbol, Name, Meaning

University Model Schools

Top Tips for Teaching Toddlers

A Homeschooler Wins the Heisman

The History of Public Education

Teaching Blends

Character Matters for Kids

How to Win the Geography Bee

Phonics the Montessori Way

What We Can Learn from the Homeschooled 2002 National Geography Bee Winners

Art Appreciation the Charlotte Mason Way

The Charlotte Mason Approach to Poetry

Discover Your Child's Learning Style

I Was an Accelerated Child

Getting Organized Part 1 - Tips & Tricks

AP Courses At Home

Why the Internet will Never Replace Books

Start a Nature Notebook

Whole-Language Boondoggle

Getting Organized Part 3

Bears in the House

Interview with John Taylor Gatto

The Gift of a Mentor

What Does My Preschooler Need to Know?

Classical Education

Saxon Math: Facts vs. Rumors

Patriarchy, Meet Matriarchy

Advanced Math: Trig, PreCalc, and more!

Myth of the Teenager

Montessori Math

Columbus and the Flat Earth...

Narration Beats Tests

Combining Work and Homeschool

Don't Give Up on Your Late Bloomers

Critical Thinking and Logic

Top Jobs for the College Graduate

The Charlotte Mason Method

Getting Started in Homeschooling: The First Ten Steps

The Benefits of Debate

Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
Copyright ©1993-2024 Home Life, Inc.