Abstract

The Christian History was a pro-revivalist magazine printed in Boston from 1743-1745 during what is known as the Great Awakening. It contained accounts of revivalism written by pro-revivalist ministers from throughout the American colonies, England and Scotland. These ministers believed that the Holy Spirit was being poured out upon the land in a shower of grace, causing unprecedented numbers of people to convert to Christ. In The Christian History, pro-revivalist ministers expressed their support for the revivals and shared their experiences. Thus the magazine has typically been viewed as religious propaganda advocating a single, polemical viewpoint. However, in spite of its pro-revival stance, The Christian History contains a spectrum of ideas pertaining to theology, religious history and the controversial issues that surfaced during the Awakening. For instance, although revival supporters sought to defend the Awakening as an authentic outpouring of God's grace, they did not all agree on how to handle the revivals. When it came to the "errors of doctrine" and "disorders of practice" that surfaced during the Awakening -- things like Antinomianism, bodily manifestations and itinerancy -- Christian History ministers responded differently. Though they sought to form a more uniform policy regarding these issues and others in a pro-revival ministerial meeting, in the end their opinions and reactions were shaped by their personal experiences with the revivals. In spite of their differing views regarding errors and disorders, Christian History ministers evaluated and contextualized the revivals similarly. In their revival narratives they frequently drew upon the Bible to explain and support their pro-revival stance. Some also used historical precedents as tropes for demonstrating that aspects of revivalism were perhaps unusual, but not thoroughly new. Most, however, sought to legitimize the revivals by describing their positive social qualities. For example, they wrote how tavern-going and neighborly contentions decreased, whereas occasions for religious worship multiplied. These "good fruits" of revivalism, asserted Christian History contributors, showed that the Awakening had changed the "face" of society for the better and was therefore an authentic outpouring of God's grace.

Degree

MA

College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History

Rights

http://lib.byu.edu/about/copyright/

Date Submitted

2004-03-12

Document Type

Thesis

Handle

http://hdl.lib.byu.edu/1877/etd360

Keywords

Christian History, magazine, Great Awakening, American colonies, England, Scotland, revivalism, pro-revivalism, pro-revivalist, ministers, Antinomianism, itinerancy, bodily manifestations, grace, fruits, Bible, revival narratives, errors, disorders

Included in

History Commons

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