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Religious Movements of 18th Century America - Essay Example

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Religious Movements of 18th Century America

The Awakening was the first major religious movement to sweep through the colonies. By 1720, church membership had declined and in many areas in the backcountry preachers and churches were not available (Nash et al., 149). The Awakening was a non-denominational movement that derived its popularity from the belief that anyone could preach the word of God simply by being 'born again' into their faith in Christ. This attracted nomadic preachers and a revival environment that spread throughout the countryside. Because many of its followers were non-traditional and poor, the movement often became a lightening rod for social movements. The movement was able to draw distinctions between the elite and the poor and in doing so became an instrument of political and social reform.
The Enlightenment had begun in the middle 17th century in Europe and spread to the colonies by the early 18th century. It was also a religious movement, but believed that man and science could reason the universe and come to an understanding with God. This belief, known as deism, promoted a natural order in the world (Henretta, Brody, and Dumenil, 113). ...Show more

Summary

By the 18th century, the people of Europe and the Americas had entered the Age of Reason that had been ushered in by the Scientific Revolution. New thinking by people such as John Locke and Benjamin Franklin shunned the Calvinistic viewpoint of man as inherently evil and were more optimistic about man's ability to understand the world from a scientific point of view…
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