One Nation Under God: The Lasting Effects of the Second Great Awakening

1803 Words8 Pages
There exists a long held belief that the United States of America was founded on the principles and doctrinal views of Protestantism. Modern age Christians have scoured historical documents in an effort to provide evidence for a Judeo-Christian foundation in the nation’s republican framework. Likewise, their opponents have written lengthy dissertations and argued over various media outlets that Christian conclusions are unfounded. Yet despite their endless debate, religion, especially Christianity, has and continues to play a fundamental element of America’s cultural, societal, and political makeup. The Second Great Awakening, the religious revivalist movement of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, ignited not only a…show more content…
The overall objective of the revival movement, which was to win souls for Christ’s Kingdom, was very clear to Charles Grandison Finney. Perhaps the most famous revivalist of the period, Finney struck a chord with the people through his “charismatic personality and intuitive sense of his audience...always [preaching] extemporaneously, never from a prepared script.” More importantly, he deviated from Reformationist thought by insisting that “’a revival of religion is not a miracle’, but a human work, a ‘result of the right use of the constituted means.’” What emerged was a structured system of religion that outlined how to obtain the desired outcome of revivalism through “techniques of persuasion.” This included appealing to the emotions of his audience by asking potential converts to sit on the “anxious bench,” a seat at the front of the meeting hall designed to encourage conversion . Finney formally laid out these measures in his influential work Lectures on Revivals of Religion. His work meticulously details the methodology of how to conduct a revival, provides the framework for reaching sinners, and suggests rightful steps for spiritual growth. Perhaps the most important theme found within his lectures was his focus on the individual. To Finney, an individual, not God, was solely responsible for bringing about salvation; “There are many passages [in Scripture] which represent the conversion of

More about One Nation Under God: The Lasting Effects of the Second Great Awakening

Open Document