Changing Values
The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening

  1. The Enlightenment

    1. 17th and 18th century movement that emphasized rationalism

    2. Inspired optimism, belief in human perfectibility, intellectual and scientific exploration

      1. Reason and science could create a better society

      2. Universe governed by natural laws, which included natural rights of human beings

    3. Benjamin Franklin

      1. Foremost American Enlightenment thinker and scientist

      2. Through clubs and publications, he and others spread Enlightenment ideas among the elite

  2. The (First) Great Awakening (1720-1760)

    1. By early 1700s, religious apathy was growing

      1. Most people did not belong to a church

      2. Religious persecution had largely faded

    2. "Awakeners" responded to this apathy and greater optimism of the Enlightenment

    3. Origins in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, spread to New England

    4. Prominent pastors included Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield

    5. Key features

      1. Emotional, fiery preaching as opposed to more intellectual style of traditional pastors

      2. Importance of personal, born again experience

      3. Frequent preaching on sin

      4. Large outdoor meetings - churches were often closed to Awakening preachers

      5. Lay exhorting

        1. individuals witnessing to each other, speaking out in church

        2. more democratic than the traditional model where only the pastor spoke

    6. Elites generally horrified by this more democratic, less controlled approach to religion

    7. The Southern Awakening

      1. Revivalism faded in the North by 1740s, shifted southward

      2. New Light traveling preachers conducted outdoor revivals

      3. Baptists appeared

        1. poor, often uneducated preachers appealed to the lower class

        2. emphasized conversion experience

        3. rejected hierarchy and wealthy display

        4. began to reach the slave population

    8. Legacy of the Awakening

      1. Greatly increased religious diversity in colonies

      2. With diversity came increased toleration and more separation of church and state

      3. Changed lower classes self-image

        1. a greater sense of self worth

        2. less respect for authority, more experience challenging authority

        3. experience organizing themselves as they created new churches