What is the Catholic view of the Great Awakening?

I don’t actually think the Great Awakening ever advocated an “it’s a private thing” point of view. It did do a lot to undermine colonial state churches, but the revivalists were still very much based in the idea that those who were converted had to become rooted in a believing community.

Look at Methodism. It was based around the small group or class meetings and the larger society meetings. Members were held accountable by their class leaders.

I think it was good because it encouraged the worship of God and helped combine Christianity with liberty.

My perspective on this is that protestantism obviously needs to be kick-started after ever few generations. Grab the paddles “CLEAR”. There it goes an “awakening”, and it is “great” because it exceeded expectations.

Protestantism grows only by three means.

  1. Revivals. My generation is currently nearing the end of the 60s revivals of our parents so it is probably about time for another one relevant to my children. Though lately this has become predominantly prosperity based preaching.

  2. Having a common enemy. In this case it was/is the Catholic Church and anything Catholic (as is obvious from youtube where an anti-Catholic diatribe of false witness gets millions of hits and a Catholic apologist from eg the CHNetwork only gets 8000).

  3. The end of the age preaching. Hal Lindsay Late Great and the Left Behind bandwagon mega-selling books on revelation prophecy.

Maybe the only lesson to learn is that people are just plain fickle.

To which I would like to add on top of my previous post, it is manifestly obvious that there is something fundamentally lacking from the protestant service that requires its continuous reinvention of itself. The altar call, which is no altar anyway has of itself always truly existed in the Catholic Church in a true real altar call - coming forward to receive the Holy Eucharist. That is what is missing from the protestant practice, but not realizing that the void becomes filled with other things.

There is no official view or stand from the Roman Catholic Church on the Great Awakening and following similar events that occurred in the United States among the Protestant groups.

The First Great Awakening occurred between the 1730s-1750s among the already “churched” Protestant members and was sort of a revitalization or “revival” of several of their movements. It reshaped the Presbyterian Church and subsequently invigorated minor Baptist movements, but altogether had little effect on the major groups like the Lutherans and Episcopalians. The main issues surrounded debate on the value of time-honored tradition and ritual in Protestant practice.

While some have created hypothetical models suggesting a “third” and maybe even “fourth” Great Awakening in the United States, there was really only an historical Second, and this is the one that changed the American religious/social landscape and, for what it’s worth, has caused the most “threat” to the churches, Catholic and Protestant included.

The Second Great Awakening began around 1790 and lasted till around 1840. Unlike the First that occurred among the “churched,” this Awakening occurred mostly among the “unchurched” as well as among those with comparatively less formal education. It had the greater impact, with the NRMs or New Religious Movements arising from this period.

The Second Great Awakening involved discussions,debates, revivals, and new movement developments among those who believed in:

*]Millennialism, or a literal 1000-year Reign of Christ upon the earth.
*]The imminent Second Coming of Christ.
*]Restorationism or the belief that all other churches were wrong and God was restoring true religion here and now.
*]Holy Writ as the ultimate and most authoritative form of Divine Revelation.

Adventism was a major influence, but the lack of religious and general formal education on the part of major players was a great weakness and attributed to its flawed theology. While there was some important Christian revival that occurred at the time countering a secular and apathetic view that was starting to grip the nation, especially in the New England area, the birth of the NRMs introduced spectacularly unorthodox followers with a zeal that could not be reasoned with.

The three most influential groups from the Second Great Awakening are:

*]The Seventh-Day Adventists
*]The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
*]Jehovah’s Witnesses
While the Seventh-Day Adventists have since grown into more of a mainstream organization over the years, the other two groups still remain filled with unheard of unorthodox views adhered to with sometimes irrational zeal. For instance, despite the fact that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have repeatedly predicted the end of the world no less than four times over a period of 100 years and even promised followers the world could not exist past the dawn of the 21st century, they are still in existence today (though their growth has stopped in most Western countries and money issues have hit them greatly as of late).

The LDS or Mormon movement took the view that Holy Writ was the ultimate form of Divine Revelation so seriously that it introduced new religious texts that demanded adherence. Today the LDS leadership has begun to introduce a bit of critical thinking into their teaching and has recently, for the first time in all their history, begun to admit that the origin of their new religious texts was not as spectacular as once described.

The NRMs also produced the World Wide Church of God under Herbert W. Armstrong who held views that encompassed all three of these NRMs. But upon his death in 1986 (an event that was not supposed to happen until after Jesus’ Return), the religion adopted mainstream Protestant theology in exchange for Armstrongism, losing upwards of three-quarters of its membership and almost all its funding as a result.

Although German in origin, and a bit later than 1840, I consider the New Apostolic Church also to be one of the NRM of this era (Zeitgeist?). Although it came later than the Mormons, its membership numbers seem to outrun the Mormons’. It’s harder to tell how those memberships compare with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, since Witnesses do not consider as [active] members those who attend and believe but do not participate as “publishers.”

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