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Revival – 12 – America embraces Babylon 1870-1900

America succumbs to mammon

J. M. Roberts in his definitive The New History of the World stated that the magnitude of societal change produced by industrialization was the “most striking in European history since the barbarian invasions”…and perhaps the “…biggest change in human history since the coming of agriculture, iron, or the wheel.” By 1850 Great Britain was the only country in the world that had established a mature industrial society. Yet, most industrial workers in England were found at businesses employing fewer than fifty people and those that worked in larger factories were concentrated at the large Lancashire cotton mills with their distinctive urban appearance and character. However, a significant increase in the number of large factories would soon occur because of the trend toward greater centralization, specialization of function, economies of scale and transport, and regimentation of labor. By 1870, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, and the United States had joined Britain in the race for self-sustained economic growth through industrialization.[1]

In “Shame of the Cities,” American historians Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen gave a vivid description of American life in the cities during the late 1800s.

…immigrants flooded into the seaport cities in search of a new life. […] Continue Reading…

Revival – 11 – The Third Great Awakening in America 1857-1858

Revival begins at a Canadian farm 1853

The first stirrings of revival in what became the Third Great Awakening in America began on a Canadian farm in the province of Ontario. Dr. Walter Palmer was a wealthy physician who had turned evangelist. Both Palmer and his wife Phoebe held evangelistic meetings mostly in the United States but occasionally traveled to Canada. In August 1853, the Palmers preached at a camp meeting on a farm in an eastern township near Nappanee where over five hundred people were converted. They returned to Nappanee in 1854 and saw another great harvest of souls in which hundreds were converted. They came again in 1855 to Barrie and once again saw hundreds converted.[1]

Hamilton was a bustling Ontario community of 23,000 in October 1857. The Palmers were merely passing through Hamilton on their way back to Albany, New York, from Georgetown, Ontario, where three thousand were in attendance. The Palmers had planned to stay only one night but were forced to stay longer with friends because of the loss of their luggage. Two ministers soon discovered the couple’s presence in Hamilton and invited them to tea at which they were encouraged to […] Continue Reading…

Revival – 10 – The Second Great Awakening in America – The Later Years – 1822-1842

The ripening fruit of the Second Great Awakening

During the first half of the Second Great Awakening from 1794 to the beginning of the second half in 1822, the expansion of Christianity rested on two pillars: revival and the evangelical organizations growing out of them, especially in the United States and Great Britain. It was in the first half of the Second Awakening that these Christian organizations were birthed and nurtured, but it was in the second half that they matured and spread Christianity’s evangelical mandate to a waiting world. Here we note but just a few of these Christian organizations brought about by the Second Great Awakening.

Baptist Missionary Society was founded in England by William Carey in May 1792 and is generally regarded as the beginning of modern Protestant missionary endeavors.

Wesleyan Missionary Society formed in 1817-1818 arose from the work of Thomas Coke’s Methodist mission to the West Indies during the 1780s-1790s.

Anglican evangelical Thomas Haweis led in founding the interdenominational London Missionary Society in 1795.

Church Missionary Society founded in 1799 based on an idea conceived by Charles Simeon and sponsored by the Church of England.

The Scottish and Glasgow Missionary Societies were formed in 1796 but did not […] Continue Reading…

Revival – 9 – The Second Great Awakening in America – The Early Years – 1794-1812

Revival historian J. Edwin Orr marks the Second Great Awakening in America as beginning with Isaac Backus’ call to the churches for prayer for revival in 1794.[1] Thereafter, a period of almost continuous revival existed in the United States until 1842 except for the decade beginning with the War of 1812. The early years of revival occurred in the colleges and churches in the east and in the churches and camp meetings of the west. The early years of revival produced many young leaders, but there was no dominant personality that led the revivals. Orr dated the later years of the Second Great Awakening as beginning in 1822 and lasting until 1842. Unlike the early years, this era produced one dominant figure in evangelicalism during the middle third of the nineteenth century—Charles Grandison Finney.[2] This second period will be discussed in the next chapter.

Changes in the American Protestant landscape

Before we proceed further in our discussion, it is important to step back and once again summarize the forces that preceded and later shaped the Second Great Awakening in the nineteenth century. Thomas Kidd identified several key factors that defined the flourishing American evangelicalism during the last half of The […] Continue Reading…

Revival – 8 – Spiritual Conditions in America 1760-1790

Religious Revivals amid political turmoil and war

To properly understand revivals that occurred during the later years of The Great Awakening, it is important to have knowledge of the contemporary events that impacted those revivals and religious life in general from the 1760s through the end of the Revolutionary War. During the 1750s the British had awakened to the importance to the British Empire of the few American colonies that clung to the eastern edge of a vast wilderness thousands of miles across the Atlantic. This new found interest was kindled by the French and Indian War being fought on the American continent (1754-1763). Britain’s interest and involvement in the affairs of the American colonists significantly increased following the war and ended decades of salutary neglect the colonists had come to expect and enjoy. The war left the British with massive debt, high taxes at home, and a permanent army of paid soldiers in the colonies that was costly to maintain. Accordingly, the British Parliament passed a series of revenue-generating measures which unilaterally imposed on the colonies many very burdensome taxes, duties, and tariffs, the most troublesome of which was the Stamp Act of 1765.[1]

Colonial unrest aggravated by British […] Continue Reading…