Modern evangelicalism emerged three centuries ago out of spiritual movements such as the Great Awakening of Protestant churches.
The second great awakening was a spiritual movement of protestant churches, which began in the central Europe, quickly spreading to the British Isles and Britain’s North and helped to shape the new nation. The movement then spread to Britain’s North American colonies, embracing the West with the movement’s power. The Protestants had a great rift in their worshipping perceptions having been divided in both worship and witness on matters concerning the biblical interpretations and church control because of the existence of ethnic and cultural boundaries. After much disagreements and fights, numerous numbers of protestant leaders joined hands and collaborated in the work of gospel ministries through cosponsoring revivals, prayer concerts, and holding common fasts. All these accomplishment came through new communication networks linking evangelicals who lived and worshipped in Europe and North America.
One revivalist who spearheaded the protestation is Charles Grandison Finney, a trained evangelical preacher. Finney was a great believer in Christ and upheld the principle of conversion as a way of religious living. His involvement in the great awakening brought a sense of gospel urgency and renewed spirit of cooperation. This resulted in the formation of a religion based on reason and promoted by figures, i.e.
deism. The revolution affected American Christianity, mostly negatively because there was destruction of church property (Sweeney, 2005, p.27).
Charles Grandison Finney
Charles Grandison Finney, the youngest of seven children was born in Connecticut.
He studied law for four years, but later gave up legal practice to preach the word of God. He became a powerful evangelical preacher due to his inclination and strong belief about the word of God and the changes that he anticipated to bring through revivalism. He acquired a preaching license from the Presbyterian denomination and after some time came up with techniques that brought about regeneration of Presbyterianism, known as new measures, which pioneered revivalism. This revivalism faced criticism from the Christian society.
Charles believed in having faith in God, that faith was the heart, the mind, and the will. Faith was the belief of the heart in certain declarations of God, a belief in his wisdom and goodness. He believed that human nature was not intrinsically sinful; the human beings had the ability to choose righteously if the truth was presented to them in an understandable language. He believed that Christ died for the entire salvation of all the people who had faith in him and accepted him, and those who rejected his words were prone to damnation and eternal separation from God.
Charles believed that all human problems had solutions, and for the creation of a better society was the human determination and moral vision. He also believed that non-evangelical preaching (preaching that was not aimed at immediate conversion), was not regarded as preaching, because he himself believed in conversion preaching. He believed that conversion was instantaneous, and that it virtually came out of nowhere, he believed that certain measures and methods could raise the chances of revival, because the events were supernatural. Charles also believed in total relying on God’s spirit that supplied him entirely with words, which he later confirmed to be the best method.
He believed that every person had the power and liberty of choice, because all the people had in them the power to respond to the call from God (Hankins, 2004, p.44). Charles believed that true freedom resulted from becoming a slave to Christ and his commands.
Charles was a revivalist who had his motivation to work hard and preach by increasingly utilizing the modified version of orthodox Calvinism, which taught that revivals were the surprising works of God.
He preached to many of the individuals within and outside the visible boundaries by using conferences and revival campaigns. His preaching using the defined new measures resulted into a great impact on the community and conversion of multitudes of individuals who followed and adhered to the new measures, which they put into practice in their lives. Such new measures led to the great victory of Charles’s revivalism compared to other preachers who criticized his works. He established himself as an urban revivalist, this enabled him to move and serve freely in major downtown churches. He used notes and sermons in his preaching in many places, and he used both his knowledge about law and religion to the best outcome. He preached to both the low and middle class income earners in America. This resulted into more converts consisting of artisans, shopkeepers, lawyers, and businessmen.
During his preaching, he targeted the lower classes, and reached for the lower strata of the society. He emphasized urban revivalism, which was promoted by wealthy philanthropic Christian businessmen who inspired and became his model describing how those with means were to live out their Christian commitment. In 1820s, Charles took the revival fires from small towns in upstate New York into the burgeoning new city of Rochester, then on to Philadelphia and Boston (Hankins, 2004, p.
41). He encouraged wealthy individuals to share their resources with other individual’s interests. Through revivalism, he empowered the masses rather than controlling common people.
The second great awakening defined a religious and spiritual movement of protestant churches that took place because of the revivalism of Christianity by the legend Charles Grandison Finney, whom through his constant preaching and use of revival campaigns, brought about religious changes in the denominational inclination of a variety of individuals and churches.
Charles Grandison Finney was a revivalist who brought renewed strength in the spirituality and beliefs of individuals in the American society and influenced the entire world on issues concerning religion and how religious practices were supposed to be carried out.
Hankins, Barry. The Second Great Awakening and the Transcendentalists. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group. 2004. 30 May 2011. http://books.
google.com/books?id=YiizPosnwzcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=second+great+awakening&hl=en&ei=GITjTYigL4m6hAfZpanzBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false. Sweeney, Douglas. The American evangelical story: a history of the movement. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. 2005.
30 May 2011. http://books.google.com/books?id=R_-Ic_tFoTIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+American+evangelical+story&hl=en&ei=MJzkTYq0K8LjrAfC-eyXBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false.