What was the historical significance of the Great Awakening?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Great Awakening was significant in American history for at least two main reasons.  One of these reasons was religious and the other was more political.

In terms of religion, the Great Awakening changed American religion, making it more charismatic and emotional.  The American religious scene had previously been dominated by “high churches.”  These were churches that tended to be somewhat hierarchical and which relied on ritual.  The Great Awakening changed both of these things.  It brought about churches that had less hierarchy.  It also brought about the idea that religious experience should be mainly emotional.  It brought about the idea of a personal connection or relationship with God.

In political terms, the Great Awakening helped to make the American colonies more democratic.  The Great Awakening reduced the emphasis on the idea that religion and society should be dominated by learned elites.  Instead, it introduced the idea that anyone could be a religious leader.  This idea helped to bring about the idea that anyone could be a political leader as well.

In these ways, the Great Awakening had major political and religious impacts on the American colonies.

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