Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Great Awakening, the Puritans and their Roots in the Reformation

Check out our video on The Great Awakening

Maybe you had a chance to hear our recent program on Thanksgiving talking about America’s Christian roots that were born out of the Reformation in Germany, an event that spawned the Puritan movement out of England and which in turn was brought to the American Colonies and became the young country’s spiritual foundation (if you missed that one you can still hear it by clicking here).

As a follow-up to our Thanksgiving program, we wanted to touch on and share the video on one of the most radical revivals in American history and history in general: The Great Awakening.

This Revival spread Holy Ghost fire throughout the early American colonies with radical manifestations: people being slain in the Spirit, profuse weeping, and much holy laughter and mass conversions.

It changed the spiritual atmosphere and furthered America’s Christian heritage and foundations in a great way.

This incredible revival however, was born earlier on through the Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther and then sown spiritually by the Puritans and their longing for revival that later saw its fulfillment in The Great Awakening.

Interesting facts on the Puritans

The term Puritan was derived from their desire to purify the church from Roman Catholic errors and go back to New Testament standards and not a quest for personal purity, popular misunderstanding of their name notwithstanding. They sowed in tears and prayer hoping to see revival, which was later fulfilled through the Great Awakening. In fact one of the main preachers of the Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards, was a direct descendant of Puritans.

They valued and longed to see these realities become widespread:

Conversion: They wanted to see people come into a real relationship with Christ and not just become religious, but be converted into a vital and living relationship with the Living Savior Jesus Christ.

Encounter: They were adamant that mere Bible knowledge and knowledge about God alone was not sufficient and by itself could lead to dangerous spiritual pride and arrogance. Though they held the former as of utmost importance, they were strong believers in the biblical example of the need for a real encounter with the living supernatural God and experiencing his real and living presence in one's life, Christ must fill the heart with His Spirit!! They were known as some of the first Protestant-Mystics.

Revival: They wanted to see a revival of true and living faith spread across the different lands they inhabited both in England and the American Colonies

They sowed in suffering, prayer, and tears many years, hoping to see these things become widespread realities in their old and new worlds of England and America's colonies. Their sowing in tears and suffering saw fulfillment in the later radical revival known as the Great Awakening that swept the American colonies with intense revival fire.

For more information on one of its main preachers you can watch this video on George Whitfield and the 18th Century Revivals:

Other little-known facts:

Contrary to popular misconception the Puritans were not negative about sex. In fact they were one of the first known groups to depart from the traditional Catholic view that sex was merely for procreation alone and really shouldn't be enjoyed but rather just endured for the sake of producing children. The Puritans declared that sex between a married husband and wife is a gift from God that should be enjoyed and indulged in regularly. Puritan families thus usually had hordes of children. They were however, adamantly against adultery and fornication.

The United States and the Americas (Latin America) might have had more of a French influence and flavor if not for what happened... French Huguenot Protestants fleeing persecution in France, much like the Protestant Puritans in the North from England, set up a colony in the southern area of what would be now known as Florida. It did not endure due to the fact that Spanish Catholics who saw them as heretics and were inspired by the ways of the Inquisition hunted them down and massacred every last man, woman, and child, wiping out the colony. The same exact thing happened to missionaries sent out by Protestant leader John Calvin (originially of France) to South America.