Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Gary B. Nash: Christ's Militia

Gary B. Nash's "Christ's Militia" explains "how evangelical Protestantism came to dominate American religion."
[T]he first Great Awakening—the widespread religious revival of the 1740s—had fostered a sense of self-worth among common people, and led indirectly to their willingness to unite against the world’s mightiest nation several decades later. After the revolution, an outpouring of evangelical religion erupted, in which, as the historian Nathan Hatch has written, “the right to think for oneself became . . . the hallmark of popular Christianity.”

“The right to think for oneself.” That proposition may sound unremarkable today, but it was a radical notion 200 years ago. Traveling ministers in the early 19th century carried that message to working people throughout the country. The movement they represented—deeply democratic and, in its focus on personal revelation, at odds with Church hierarchy—would do more than anything else to spread Evangelical Protestantism and eventually make it the dominant religion in the nation.
He offers three examples. A good read.

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