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The Enlightenment and Great Awakening

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The Enlightenment actually began in Europe and eventually made its way to colonial America by way of books, travelers, and educated migrants.1 The Enlightenment was responsible for inspiring interests in education, science and literature. One major contributor to the Enlightenment, John Locke, advanced the revolutionary theory that political authority was not given by God to monarchs, as King James II had insisted; instead, it derived from social compacts that people made to preserve their "natural rights" to life, liberty and property.2 In Locke's view, the people should have the power to change government policies, or even their form of government.3 Some clergymen responded to these ideas by devising a rational form of Christianity. This belief was that God gave salvation to everyone and not just a chosen group (monarchs).4 The movement ended up taking a scientific approach to the world and human nature.

The Great Awakening was a religious movement in colonial America. This movement led to the spiritual and religious revivals being shared by the North and South and faith was preached to all races. The Great Awakening also led to churches founding new colleges to educate their young men and train ministers.5 The movement led to the creation of different denominations. In southern colonies, the Church of England was legally established, religious enthusiasm triggered social conflict because the Anglican ministers generally ignored the spiritual needs of African Americans.6 Baptist ministers reached out to all races, and color didn't matter. Spiritual democracy was celebrated throughout all regions; this was a belief that common people claim as good a right to judge and act in matters of religion as civil rulers or the learned clergy. Because people could challenge the clergy, and the clergy was appointed by the King, it was much easier to challenge the authority of the King.

In conclusion, the Enlightenment showed people they had the power to form their own government, and the Great Awakening allowed people to practice their own religion and therefore challenge the authority of the King.



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