Was the Great Awakening compatible with other changes occurring in the society, or did it contradict most other trend?
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There was a natural reliance on God and His provision in the early days of this country, as colonists struggled and toiled to carve out an existence from this wild land. Once things got easier and more productive, when they began to experience of the fruits of their own labors, the people didn't need God's provision as they once did. The Great Awakening brought God back into the forefront as the country headed toward its next crisis of identity--the Revolutionary War.
I think the Great Awakening simply addressed a religious need on the part of American colonists at that time. There was a vacuum after the death of the Puritan Church, and while the vast majority of Americans were religious, they did not always have a uniquely American religious philosophy or leadership after the initial settlement. The Great Awakening filled the vacuum for these people.
I think that the Great Awakening was consistent with the age of reform that gripped America at the time. It was a part of the belief that America could be transformed into something better. The notion of revivalists such as Charles Finney being able to articulate the idea that humans could redeem themselves and that they could be saved is compatible with other reform movements of the time. The Doctrine of Free Will was very much compatible with the expansion of democracy in that individuals could do great things such as redeeming their own souls or their own government. It seemed that while there was an overt religious emphasis, the overall function of seeking to make people better and make society better is very much connected with the Age of Reform in American History.
Part of the signifcance of the Great Awakening was that it pulled from so many different demoninations and faiths uniting a people. This is so cool because unity is an American ideal. Americans are band-wagon people, but only for good causes (at least in their eyes). Near the Great Awakening in terms of time, folks were encouraging independence from Britian. Not everyone wanted to be so rebellious, but it is ironic that the Church did. That would be the only contradiction I see. Otherwise, the Great Awakening was completely compatible with societal change. For those loyal to the crown, it was a big deal to rebel.
I think it is also important to point out that awakening refers to emerging from a great slumber and being ready to act. The Great Awakening being a religious movement seriously mirrored the political emergence of rebellion from Great Britian.
To me, the Great Awakening was generally compatible with the other changes occurring in the society of its time. These changes, generally speaking, all pointed in the direction of a democratic revolution.
The Great Awakening can be seen as a democratic movement. It said, among other things, that people are responsible for their own relationship with God. They do not need to be told how to believe or worship by church leaders. This is a fundamentally democratic idea.
At the same time, people were coming to believe more in political and social democracy. Therefore, the Great Awakening's ideas were in perfect synch with the other changes of the time.
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