Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
The foremost revivalist of the nineteenth century, Charles Grandison Finney was born in Connecticut and reared in upstate New York. While studying law, he underwent a religious conversion and began to study for the ministry. Ordained a Presbyterian, he conducted numerous revivals in upstate New York and in New England before becoming a Congregationalist and president of Oberlin College in Ohio, the first coeducational college. His New Measures revivalism revolutionized American religion during the Second Great Awakening.
Jonathan Edwards described the beginning of the First Great Awakening in a book titled A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton (1737). For Edwards, a revival was a surprise, a miracle. The Puritans believed that conversion came only to the elect; all that one could do was wait to see if one would be a recipient of God’s grace.
Finney saw things differently. “Religion is something to do, not something to wait for,” he says. He himself had a sudden conversion on October 10, 1821, and he approached the ministry as he had the study of law. He approached a congregation as he would a jury; he laid out the facts and told them the choice of whether to accept God was theirs, now. He advises a minister to “preach just as he would talk, if he wishes to be fully understood. . . . The minister ought to do as the lawyer does when he wants to...
(The entire section is 1348 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Lectures on Revivals of Religion Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!