|SERMONS, ESSAYS AND OPINIONS||
Revival in a Christian context refers to a specific period of intense spiritual renewal in the life of the church - the believers in Christ. While elements such as mass conversions may be involved, the key factor in revival is the restoration of the Church to a vital and fervent relationship with God after a period of decline. Since the Reformation, some writers identify six waves of special revival or "Awakenings" in the church worldwide (1727, 1792, 1830, 1857, 1882 and 1904).
Revivals in History
The Calvinist and Wesleyan revival, called the Great Awakening, resulted in growth in the Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and new Methodist churches in North America. However, as that great "revival of religion" began to wane, a new era of secularism began to overwhelm the social gains that had been experienced by Evangelical churches.
The First Great Awakening was a wave of religious enthusiasm among Protestants that swept the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s, leaving a permanent impact on American religion. It resulted from powerful preaching that deeply affected listeners (already church members). Pulling away from ritual and ceremony, the Great Awakening made religion intensely personal to the average person by creating a deep sense of spiritual guilt and redemption. Historian Sydney E. Ahlstrom sees it as part of a "great international Protestant upheaval" that also created Pietism in Germany, the Evangelical Revival and Methodism in England. It brought Christianity to the slaves and was an apocalyptic event in New England that challenged established authority. It incited rancor and division between the old traditionalists who insisted on ritual and doctrine and the new revivalists. It had a major impact in reshaping the Congregational, Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed, and German Reformed denominations, and strengthened the small Baptist and Methodist denominations. It had little impact on Anglicans and Quakers. Unlike the Second Great Awakening that began about 1800 and which reached out to the unchurched, the First Great Awakening focused on people who were already church members. It changed their rituals, their piety, and their self awareness.
The new style of sermons and the way people practiced their faith breathed new life into religion in America. People became passionately and emotionally involved in their religion, rather than passively listening to intellectual discourse in a detached manner. Ministers who used this new style of preaching were generally called "new lights", while the preachers of old were called "old lights". People began to study the Bible at home, which effectively decentralized the means of informing the public on religious manners and was akin to the individualistic trends present in Europe during the Protestant Reformation.
The Second Great Awakening (1800–1830s) was the second great religious revival in United States history and consisted of renewed personal salvation experienced in revival meetings. Major leaders included Charles Grandison Finney, Lyman Beecher, Barton Stone, Peter Cartwright and James B. Finley.
In New England, the renewed interest in religion inspired a wave of social activism.
Third Great Awakening
The next Great Awakening (sometimes called the Third Great Awakening) began from 1857 onwards in Canada and spread throughout the world including America and Australia. Significant names include Dwight L. Moody, Ira D. Sankey, William Booth, Charles Spurgeon and James Caughey. Hudson Taylor began the China Inland Mission and Thomas John Barnardo founded his famous orphanages. The Keswick Convention movement began out of the British Holiness movement, encouraging a lifestyle of holiness, unity and prayer.
Welsh Revival and Pentecostalism
The final Great Awakening (1904 onwards) had its roots in the Holiness movement which had developed in the late 19th century.
Torrey and Alexander were involved in the beginnings of the great Welsh revival (1904).
In 1906 the modern Pentecostal Movement was born in Azusa Street, in Los Angeles.