How Did the Great Awakening Affect Social and Political Life in Colonial America?

ABSTRACT:   The crusade evangelism of Jonathan Edwards was the prime mover in the 1st Great Awakening.  His preaching focused on an emotional, personal relationship with God via salvation of the soul but virtually no effect on cultural institutions.   In fact, his open-air meetings outside city limits tended to break down respect for local institutions and church authorities, and erase the idea of citizenship in a united Christendom.  The standard of biblical law for both individual and political life was ignored, which caused many to fall away after a short time. 

Thus, the Great Commission of Christ to disciple nations or cultures was short circuited.  Instead, the Awakening and its cultural influence was typically limited to a moral crusade against a variety of evils, including slave trading, prohibition, reclamation of prostitutes, land speculation, and even abortion.  All of this left the door open for Enlightenment philosophers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to lay the foundations of American democracy in a secular, civil religion. This was based on the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  Their stress was on individual human rights and social contract as opposed to an oathbound Bible covenant.   As C. Gregg Singer noted, “Edwards was tremendously impressed with the empirical philosophy of John Locke and tried to work it into his theology – without too much success.”

I. Introduction

A. Overview of the First Great Awakening

The First Great Awakening, spanning the 1730s and 1740s, was a religious revival that swept through the American colonies. It marked a significant departure from traditional religious practices, igniting fervent spiritual experiences and reshaping the landscape of colonial society.  Congregations experienced a surge in emotional and enthusiastic worship, with crusade evangelism drawing large crowds. This transformative movement not only impacted religious practices but also laid the groundwork for subsequent societal changes, not necessarily on a biblical foundation.

B. Jonathan Edwards and Crusade Evangelism

Jonathan Edwards, a central figure in the First Great Awakening, captivated audiences with his powerful sermons and fiery rhetoric. His crusade evangelism focused on stirring emotional and personal connections with God, leading to intense religious experiences. Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” vividly portrayed the urgency of repentance to salvation and terrified listeners with its graphic imagery. This was the sermon that sparked the 1st Great Awakening.  His open-air meetings, held outside city limits, challenged established norms and disrupted the traditional authority of churches and institutions.

C. Cultural Implications of Crusade Evangelism

In this article, we seek to examine the impact of the First Great Awakening on social and political life in Colonial America. This points to the need for a thoroughgoing Bible Law reformation in every arena of life and culture to avoid a strictly personal revival in the future.  This kind of exclusively personal revival can be avoided by emphasizing a thoroughgoing reformation of the entire culture beyond just personal salvation.  Public as well as personal idols must be torn down. If not, the temptation to return to the public idols is very often overwhelming.

II. Jonathan Edwards and Crusade Evangelism

A. Edwards’ Crusade Evangelism Focuses On Individual

Jonathan Edwards crafted sermons that sought to evoke intense emotional responses and establish a personal connection between individuals and God. In his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Edwards vividly depicted the horrors of eternal damnation, aiming to elicit fear and repentance. His approach emphasized the emotional aspect of religious experience, urging listeners to get serious with God. There was an assumption that by leading the individual to Christ by crusade evangelism and reforming his life, society will automatically be fixed in the process.

The crusade evangelism fostered emotional and personal response to God. But, it fell short of reforming lasting cultural and political institutions. In other words, it fell short of preaching “the whole counsel of God.” This thesis contends that a comprehensive Bible Law reformation is essential to steer future revivals toward enduring cultural transformations. Paul commanded the Thessalonians to “turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” A revival that downplays or neglects “turning to God from idols” will short circuit the convert’s ability to “serve the living and true God.”  

B. Focus On Land Speculation Without Institutional Reform

1. Structural Reform Ignored in Crusade Evangelism

Despite Edwards’ impassioned messages against societal issues like greed related to land speculation and banking abuse during the First Great Awakening, there was a notable absence of institutional reform. Instead, Edwards crusade evangelism targeted moral evils. But it neglected to reform the underlying systemic source of those problems that are addressed in Scripture.  The movement’s impact on reshaping cultural institutions remained limited, ultimately failing to instigate significant societal transformations.  In fact, the exact opposite occurred when the founding framers sent the nation careening down the twisted and anarchical path toward political pluralism a generation later.

For instance, while condemning land covetousness, Edwards did not advocate for structural changes such as were called for by the Prophet Amos in the Old Testament.  This might have included such things as promoting joint ventures or limiting mortgage debt to seven years. Despite raising moral concerns, the crusade evangelism movement failed to instigate institutional reforms. This allowed societal issues to fester without comprehensive change.  This is like exposing a wound, but failing to clean it, medicate it, and dress it.  The infection remains to spread and infect the entire body.

2. Socialist Substitutes

Conditions among the Massachusetts’ Puritans had deteriorated almost from their arrival in 1620. Confronted with a host of problems as they embarked on the challenge of constructing “the shining city on a hill,” they had an unfortunate tendency to resort to socialist solutions. These ranged from public education, to economic price fixing, to public ownership of private property, sumptuary laws, and more.

By the early 1700s the children of the original Massachusetts Puritans had migrated southwest to Connecticut.  They had further devolved into a tribe of squabbling malcontents. All were trying to get hold of the best land available before the truly greedy people got there. They were eager to experiment with the latest techniques of fractional reserve banking and solicit favors from the state legislature to that end. Similar to their parents, but just more sophisticated. These were the consciences ripe for the tormenting by Jonathan Edwards’ piercing sermons. These social dynamics are documented in Richard L. Bushman’s “From Puritan to Yankee – Character and the Social Order in Connecticut, 1690-1765”

C. Crusade Evangelism Lacks Impact on Cultural Institutions

While the emotional and personal revival inspired by Jonathan Edwards reached the hearts of individuals, its influence failed to extend significantly to every other arena of life. The fervor experienced during the Awakening did not translate into lasting changes in cultural norms, traditions, or established practices. Thus, it left the broader cultural landscape largely untouched.  It was apparently another repetition of the Montanist error, which stems from the earliest years of the church.  The Montanists focused on continuous spiritual revelation that left the natural order of the world unchanged. 

Rather than taking the time to work with local pastors for community reform, Edwards set up outside of town and ignored local Congregational pastors altogether.  Moreover, in some cases he condemned them.  However, because of his own office as a Congregational pastor, Edwards was more moderate in his criticism than some of the more ardent New Light evangelists.

D. Disregard For Biblical Law In Crusade Evangelism

1. Bible Law Ignored in Crusade Evangelism

Despite Edwards’ theological background, his focus on emotional revival often led to a disregard for the practical application of biblical law in both individual and political spheres. The emphasis on personal salvation overshadowed the comprehensive guidance that biblical principles could provide for daily life and governance.

Unfortunately, societal reform does not happen by osmosis.  There are specific commands of Biblical law that need to be understood and obeyed.  For example, the rigidly imposed punishments of arbitrary prison terms need to be replaced with the just requirement of double restitution to the victim by the law of God.  

The intricacies of God’s law are not overly difficult. However, they do require careful thought on an individual and group basis.  The great law of history that Christians tend to neglect is that obedience brings blessing and disobedience brings cursing. This is true on both a national as well as a person level.  Unfortunately, like most crusade evangelism, Edwards preaching did not always lead to lasting personal reform, let alone political reform.

2. Natural Law Substitute

It was in effect a return to the Anabaptist excesses that had plagued Luther and Calvin during the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s.  Unfortunately, Calvin and Luther themselves did not return to a forthright application of Biblical law as an antidote to the ills of society.  Calvin’s Commentaries on the Old Testament are for the most part an excellent application of the law of God to the culture. But Calvin limited that application to the now defunct nation of Israel. Calvin overlooked the exhortation that obedience to God’s law would be imitated by the nations around Israel (Dt. 4: 6-8).

In the place of God’s law Calvin substituted natural law or the law of nations.   For example, in Chapter XX of Calvin’s Institutes, he makes this shocking statement, “For the statement of some, that the law of God given through Moses is dishonored when it is abrogated and new laws preferred to it, is utterly vain.” This was an egregious  error, but it was probably better than the “law-averse” preaching of Edwards.  But Edwards, had obviously received mixed messages from the Reformers in the previous century.

3. Civil Religion in Crusade Evangelism

As noted above, Jonathan Edwards’ crusade evangelism stressed an individual relationship with God. There was not much attention to the cultural and institutional applications of the Mosaic law. This fostered a spirit of American individualism that moored itself to a patriotic, civil religion, only vaguely Christian.

Rather than a rational religion we end up with a religion grounded on reason that may seek to confirm revelation. In such cases the authority of reason is elevated above revelation. Moreover, why should men pray if God is bound by mechanistic laws of nature.

This is why Jesus refused all requests to give a sign that would verify His authority. Morality is more and more based on human standards and societal rules. Thus, Edwards fell into a natural law trap in his desire to extinguish the flame of the left-wing Enlightenment.

On the personal level, The Great Awakening actually took an unexpected twist.   For example, it has been argued on the basis of scientific evidence that the enthusiastic tendencies of the Great Awakening led to deterioration not only in theology, but in personal morals as well. According to an article in the January 1968 William and Mary Quarterly, “…the percentage of babies born less than eight months after marriage, skyrocketed to 49 percent in one Rhode Island district during the revival era.” Perhaps this is one reason why they nick-named it Rogue Island. But the tendency was observed up and down the Atlantic seaboard.

E. Breakdown of Respect For Local Institutions

To reiterate, Edwards’ open-air meetings were usually held outside established city limits. This contributed to a breakdown in respect for local institutions and church authorities. This fostered a sense of independence among the followers of the Awakening. This erosion of respect for existing institutions weakened the social fabric. Thus, it set the stage for future challenges to established authority in colonial America.

Jonathan Edwards’ crusade evangelism sermons, like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” aimed to evoke intense emotional responses. In one instance, as Edwards preached about the horrors of damnation, an account tells of listeners so moved that they clung to the church pillars, fearing they were slipping into the abyss. Edwards emphasized this emotional intensity to forge a profound, personal connection between individuals and God.

This independent spirit extended beyond ecclesiastical confines to nurture a spirit of Yankee exclusivity and autonomy.  The spiritually-minded Puritan was being transformed into the secular-minded, but excitable and patriotic Yankee. Edwards emphasis on a direct relation with God tended to weaken the social fabric and paved the way for future challenges to established authority in colonial America.                                                                                                                                                    

III. Shortcomings of the First Great Awakening

A. Limited Cultural Influence Beyond Moral Crusades

Despite the fervor it generated, the First Great Awakening struggled to extend its influence beyond moral crusades. For instance, there was a strong push against social issues like slavery and alcohol. But, the movement did not provide a comprehensive framework for addressing deeper cultural nuances. The focus remained predominantly on moral reforms and single-issue social crusades, leaving other cultural dimensions largely untouched.

B. Short-Lived Commitment of Crusade Evangelism

The enthusiasm sparked by the First Great Awakening often resulted in short-lived commitments among followers. In a notable example, after emotionally charged revivals, individuals experienced a temporary surge in religious fervor. But, when emotions subsided, they tended to revert to their previous behaviors over time. The lack of lasting transformation indicated a gap between the emotional intensity of the movement and the sustained commitment needed for societal change.  This level of intense conviction can only come from direct applications of the law of God, which Edwards did not emphasize.

C. Christ’s Great Commission to Disciple Cultures

Jonathan Edwards and other crusade evangelism leaders fell short in fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission to disciple nations or cultures. For instance, crusade evangelism naturally inclines toward an emphasis on personal salvation. This overshadows the broader call of the Great Commission to transform societies according to biblical principles. Due to its failure to disciple nations, the cultural impact of the First Great Awakening was confined to moral crusades rather than comprehensive societal transformation

D. Influence of Crusade Evangelism On Secular Philosophers

1. Enlightenment Principles in Crusade Evangelism

The First Great Awakening had significant impact on religious fervor. Nonetheless, it, had limited influence on secular philosophers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Unlike religious leaders, these thinkers laid the foundations of American democracy by emphasizing autonomous reason, human rights and social contract theory. In particular, Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence and Madison’s Constitution reflected Enlightenment ideals. Edwards had failed to extend the Biblical principles of national covenant into the broader cultural arena dominated by these two men and others. This highlights a missed opportunity for the revival to shape the intellectual foundations of American government.

Likewise, John Witherspoon had a reformed theological background. However, he neglected the practical application of biblical law to the individual and political spheres. Although Withersppoon did not compromise the gospel, he did not apply Bible law to civil government.  In his classroom instruction of Madison and others of the founding generation he substituted Enlightenment principles of inalienable human rights and social contract theory.  This neglect contributed to the gap between religious fervor of the Awakening and a holistic, biblically informed approach to societal structures.

2. Philosophical Vacuum in Crusade Evangelism

As a consequence the founding fathers turned away from the Puritan’s covenantal commitment to govern by God’s law. They turned instead to the alleged restraints of neutral, secular constitutionalism taught by the British Commonwealth Men. For example, although Franklin attended the revivals in Philadelphia and was favorably impressed, he was not converted.

“A group was eventually formed in 1769, which was known as the American Philosophical Society, and allowed for leading colonial thinkers like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to analyze their ideas to improve society, eventually leading to the need of the American Revolution” (The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening Influence on the American Revolution). The philosophical vacuum created by Edwards in the 1740s was finally filled by the Enlightenment philosophes of the 1760s.

IV. Foundations of American Democracy

A. Influence of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison played pivotal roles in shaping the foundations of American democracy. For instance, Jefferson’s eloquent articulation of individual rights and equality in the Declaration of Independence became a cornerstone of democratic ideals. Similarly, Madison is often hailed as the “Father of the Constitution.” But his articles in the Federalist Papers failed to address Biblical principles of civil government. Instead, he focused on the importance of a balanced government and the protection of individual liberties with no reference to Scripture. Their influence laid the groundwork for a secular republic. But, their rationale did not flow from any Biblical roots in the First Great Awakening.

B. Individual Human Rights and Social Contract Via Locke

1. Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

Jefferson and Madison drew inspiration from the Enlightenment, particularly John Locke, The Father of The Enlightenment. Locke’s emphasis on individual rights and the social contract theory profoundly influenced the framers of the American political system. For example, Locke’s idea that governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed found a home in the Declaration of Independence. This asserted the people’s right to alter or abolish oppressive governments, but apart from Biblical authority. This Enlightenment philosophy underpinned the democratic principles that shaped the United States.  At some points it appeared that Jefferson had copied directly from Locke’s Second Treatise on Government.

Although Jefferson was in France during the Constitutional Convention, his influence on Madison was palpable.  In fact, Jefferson and Madison had collaborated a year prior to the Convention in drafting The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786.  In this document they argued against any religious qualifications for holding public office in the new nation with these words among others:

2. No Religious Test

Regarding qualifications for public office, “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief. . .”  They went on to say that a man’s religious opinions have no more to do with his qualifications for public office than his opinions about geometry or any other science.

This commitment to Pluralism or Political Polytheism was enshrined in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. It reads, “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”   This is typically excused on the grounds that a religious test ensures religious persecution by the government.  However, this is a red herring. That’s because God holds a Christian government personally accountable for any abuses of this type in (Exodus 22:21-24). “…I will kill you with the sword…” is His stern warning.

C. Contrast With the Oath-Bound Bible Covenant

1. The 2nd Great Awakening

In contrast to the oath-bound Bible covenant stressed in religious Reformation, the foundations of American democracy focused on secular principles. The framers deliberately separated religious and political realms, ensuring that governance was not bound by religious oaths but founded on secular, constitutional laws. This intentional separation reflected Enlightenment ideals, emphasizing reason and human agency and patriotic emotion over religious doctrine.

These problems in the First Great Awakening created worse problems in the “burned over district” of the Second Great Awakening.  This was focused in New York state and emanated out to the rest of the nation in the early 1800s.  The issues left unresolved in the First Great Awakening exacerbated problems in the “burned over district” during the Second Great Awakening.

Lack of institutional reform, short-lived commitments, and a focus on emotional experiences characterized Edwards’ crusade evangelism. This culminated in the Burned-Over District experiencing heightened religious fervor but, it also gave rise to extreme sects and movements. America failed to learn from the shortcomings of the First Great Awakening.

2. Ecstatic Prophesy in Crusade Evangelism

Charles Finney was back with even more pronounced religious fervor in the Second Great Awakening’s epicenter in New York state. From there, the issues were amplified in subsequent 20th Century revival movements of Billy Sunday and Billy Graham. This historical sequence underscores the importance of taking stock to address the root causes.

According to Eusebius, “The Anonymous accuses Montanus of ‘prophesying contrary to the manner which the church had received from generation to generation by tradition from the beginning.’ ‘He fell into a state of possession, as it were, and abnormal ecstasy, insomuch that he became frenzied and began to babble and utter strange sounds.’

This is not to say that Edwards himself was guilty of such ecstatic prophesy. Rather, his listeners often succumbed to them.  These were the charges brought against Edwards in an informal convocation at Princeton University in the Fall of 1841.  These manifestations were similar to those of the so-called “left-wing of the Reformation in the 1500s. The AnaBaptists not only rejected infant baptism, but tended toward inner-light prophesies, chiliasm, community of goods, and pacifism.

D. Counterfeit Social Contract of John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister and president of Princeton, emphasized Enlightenment ideals of the social contract in his Moral Philosophy classroom. He would refer to Scripture on occasion, which made it seem palatable to a generally religious audience. All of the graduating seniors attended this class, and some 50 went on to become America’s Founding Fathers. Witherspoon’s influence highlighted how easy it is to confuse flowery Enlightenment language and secular philosophies with sturdy Bible doctrine regarding the national covenant with God. 

This lopsided emphasis is evident in Witherspoon’s senior class notes. Likewise, there is virtually no discussion of Bible principles of government in Madison’s Notes from the Constitutional convention.  Madison was convinced that religious neutrality in government was essential. He thought this was necessary to avoid the religious wars that had plagued Europe in the previous century.

Witherspoon had imbibed the rational, common sense, right-wing enlightenment thinking of Thomas Reid in Scotland. He had absorbed this during the first 20 years of his Scottish ministry and brought it to Princeton.  The right-wing of the Enlightenment had arisen in Scotland. George Buchanan led the way against the excesses of the Left-wing Enlightenment. As noted, Witherspoon taught all of Princeton’s graduating seniors, some 50 of whom became America’s founding fathers.

V. Avoiding a Strictly Personal Revival

A. Crusade Evangelism vs. Bible Law Reformation

To avoid a purely personal revival, a comprehensive Bible Law reformation is imperative. For instance, cleaving to historical examples like Puritan Massachusetts can provide a spiritual anchor.  Where biblical principles were woven into the fabric of legal and social structures, we have a model for integrating religious values into societal frameworks.  Thinking in terms of a Bible Law reformation would bridge the gap between personal salvation and comprehensive cultural transformation.

B. Cultural Reform Beyond Personal Salvation

Future crusade evangelism must transcend individual spiritual experiences to instigate comprehensive cultural transformations. Take the example of the 18th-century Welsh Revival, where the emphasis on personal piety translated into societal changes, impacting education, politics, and justice. By learning from such instances, contemporary revivals can adopt strategies that influence not only personal beliefs but also broader cultural norms and institutions.  It is clear that Edwards had given little thought to the Biblical standards by which a political leader must rule.

According to Edwards, a great political leader has “uncommon strength of reason and largeness of understanding,” who possess a profound insight into the great “mysteries of government.” Given this rationalistic definition devoid of Biblical law, Historian Henry Barnford Parks even accuses Edwards of encouraging “Progressive Era-evangelicals to seek moral reform through the coercive power of the state.”  Henry Barnford Parks: 2017/08/jonathan-edwards- founding-father-political-thought-gordon-arnold.html.  We’ve got to do better.

C. Biblical Principles In Individual and Political Life

1. Edwards Accusation of Crusade Evangelism

Ensuring that biblical principles guide both individual conduct and political decisions is vital. For example, the Covenanters in Scotland during the 17th century adhered to biblical principles in their resistance to tyranny, establishing a connection between personal faith and political activism. Emphasizing the application of biblical principles in both spheres guards against the pitfalls of a narrowly focused, emotionally driven revival.

The Great Awakening reached its zenith in 1741. On September 9 of that year Edwards defended the Great Awakening to the Board of Trustees, faculty and students of Yale University at the beginning of the school year. It is clear from this defense that the Awakening as he saw it was exclusively a personal revival of religion. It was not however a reformation that advanced the Kingdom of Christ into the public arena beyond the individual soul. It’s not that he spoke against Christianity in the public square, it’s just that he didn’t speak for it. That may be an argument from silence, but it does have bearing on his understanding of the doctrine the kingdom of God and Christendom as the civilization of God on earth, or lack thereof.

2. Edwards Defense of Crusade Evangelism

Edwards addressed nine accusations that had been leveled against the Awakening in the first half of his presentation. These included emotional manipulation, imprudent conduct of some in the audience, apparent Satanic influences, and more.

Edwards addressed each of these from the Bible and concluded that we should not reject the authenticity of a revival simply by the presence of abnormal occurrences that may accompany it. This kind of Satanic presence and activity would be expected in opposition of any true work of God. Sounds reasonable. Of course, you could almost as reasonably argue the opposite – and many did when an argument broke out among the Board of Trustees (the previous day).

He went on to present 5 evidences that the revivals were a work of God based on I John 4:1-5. This included things like the confession of Jesus Christ come in the flesh and rejections of the things of this world on the part of converts. None of these things can be criticized in and of themselves. But by way of contrast with the Geneva Reformation for example, Edwards focus was limited to the internal life of the individual and did not extend to the covenant life of the broader culture and government. In terms of the very last verse of the Book of Acts his defense was an exclusive focus on “teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ” and neglect of “preaching the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:31).

D. Shortcomings of the First Great Awakening

Analyzing the failures of the First Great Awakening provides valuable lessons. For instance, understanding how the narrow focus of crusade evangelism on emotional experiences led to short-lived commitments can inform future revivals. Recognizing limitations of not addressing deeper cultural issues will guide efforts to create lasting societal changes through subsequent crusade evangelism. If the environment of the new convert is not changed, they are prone to to revert to their old ways due to social pressure.

E. Personal Revival in the First Great Awakening

One vivid example of personal revival during the First Great Awakening is the testimony of George Whitefield, whose powerful preaching stirred emotions and sparked religious fervor. Individuals would undergo intense emotional experiences, like weeping and trembling, as they confronted their sinfulness. However, the personal nature of these revivals often resulted in temporary transformations without broader cultural impact or even lasting personal devotion to Christ.

Some of the criticisms that Edwards addressed in his defense of the Awakening were related to emotional response of the audience. These had to do with excessive emotional disturbances, tears, flailing loss of control, failing strength of the body, and even accusations of demonic activity.

The also criticized the volume of emotional response. These are not unlike some of the criticisms directed toward charismatic or pentecostal churches today or of Charles Finney in the Second Great Awakening. Finney was Edwards on steroids, albeit Arminian steroids. Edwards responded that when people have the terrors of Hell and the beauties of Heaven opened before them we naturally expect an emotional response of this magnitude.

F. Cultural Revival in Calvin’s Reformation

Conversely, Calvin’s Reformation in Geneva serves as an example of a cultural revival deeply rooted in biblical principles. The establishment of a theocratic state, with laws derived from biblical teachings, showcased how a comprehensive transformation could occur when religious values permeate all aspects of society. This historical example emphasizes the importance of cultural revival beyond individual experiences.  Calvin’s Reformation in Geneva brought about significant changes that shaped the city both religiously and socially. Two specific changes include:

1. Ecclesiastical Structure

Calvin implemented a Presbyterian system of church governance in Geneva. This system involved a hierarchical structure of elected elders and ministers. These were responsible for overseeing the spiritual life of the community. This ecclesiastical structure emphasized shared leadership and accountability. Thus, it marked a departure from the hierarchical Catholic Church model prevalent at the time.  It is our belief that no denomination should be established at the national level. Rather both church and state should covenant together in a simple oath to obey God’s law. Exodus 24, II Kings 23:2, and Nehemiah 10 are Biblical examples.

2. Moral Discipline and Legal Code

Calvin’s influence extended beyond the church to the legal and moral fabric of Geneva. The city adopted a rigorous moral code based on biblical principles, influencing laws regarding personal conduct, entertainment, and social activities. The Consistory, a body of ministers and lay elders, was established to enforce moral discipline and ensure adherence to Biblical teachings. This integration of religious principles into the legal system shaped the daily lives of Genevans and reflected the comprehensive impact of Calvin’s Reformation on the cultural and social landscape.

VI. Conclusion

A. Crusade Evangelism in First Great Awakening

The First Great Awakening, marked by emotional fervor and personal revival, left an indelible mark on colonial America. The movement stirred hearts, led to intense religious experiences, and challenged traditional norms.

However, its impact was largely limited to moral crusades. Cultural institutions and societal structures experienced only transient effect.

B. Bible Law Reform in Crusade Evangelism

To prevent future revivals from succumbing to the pitfalls of personal fervor, a comprehensive Bible Law reformation is crucial. Drawing inspiration from historical examples like the Puritan colonies, where biblical principles were interwoven into legal and social structures, can guide future movements. Establishing a thoroughgoing Bible Law reformation ensures a more lasting and transformative impact beyond individual experiences of crusade evangelism.

C. Holistic Approach to Biblical Cultural Transformation

Future revivals should extend beyond personal salvation, embracing a holistic approach to cultural transformation. Learning from instances like the Welsh Revival, where personal piety translated into societal changes, emphasizes the need for broader cultural impact. By emphasizing biblical principles in both individual and political life, crusade evangelism can shape not only personal beliefs but also societal norms and institutions.  This is not a “social gospel” approach in which salvation is based on social good works often under force of law.

D. The Philosophical problem of “the one and the many”

Addressing the philosophical problem of “the one and the many” is essential for effective personal and political salvation. By establishing a coherent framework that integrates unity and diversity based on the Trinity of God, future revivals can avoid the shortcomings of the First Great Awakening.  Calvin’s Reformation in Geneva, where a unified theocratic state emerged from biblical principles, provides a blueprint for resolving this philosophical tension.


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