Since the 1700's there have been a number of so-called "Great Awakenings".

What are in fact the most prominent religions to come from the Awakenings and what are they most known to have introduced?

More on the Question

But wisdom is proved right by all her children. - Luke 7:35

While the times since Christ have seen quite a few splinter groups and factions forming, the last 200 years could be likened to an explosion in comparison.

Why is this question important?

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. - Matthew 5:13-16

At this time we are somewhere between the traditional and the new age -- the purists becoming smaller in number and the interfaith movement is well along. At this point of saturation I was curious if it is possible to summarize the spiritual heritage that led to modern world developments as influenced by these denominations rising from the "Great Awakening".

  • 2
    Your question is a good one; it's also pretty broad. There are answers galore out there on the world wide web. In about 30 seconds, I found a pretty good summary of the effects of the Second Great Awakening here: u-s-history.com/pages/h1091.html. It's a good place to start. There may, however, be one or two (or more) experts out there who may be willing--and are able--to answer your question in summary fashion. Let's wait and see. Jun 25, 2015 at 13:21
  • I can't give this as an answer because standing alone it is too incomplete for this broad question, but such an Awakening had great influence on young Joseph Smith and eventually lead to the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can read more here: lds.org/scriptures/pgp/js-h/1?lang=eng
    – kutschkem
    Jun 28, 2015 at 17:43
  • This is an opportunity to set people like me straight, because the only major religions that I am aware of (dare we say denominations) to come out of the "awakening" are things like 'lds' and 'jw', which are considered restorationist groups. Whether or not they represent 'awakening' or 'restoration' is really open to debate -- thus I'm curious what major christian (or claiming to be christian) groups emerged during this time, and what their major influence was.
    – user9485
    Jun 28, 2015 at 20:16

1 Answer 1


In short, the "mainline" Christian denominations/religions existed before the "Great Awakenings," although smaller denominations/religions such as the LDS, the Seventh Day Adventists, the JW emerged through these periods of revival. The "Evangelical" denominations emerged out of a separate revivalist tradition centered on the West Coast around the turn of the 20th Century (for more info read Hayford, Jack W.; Moore, S. David (2006). The Charismatic Century: The Enduring Impact of the Azusa Street Revival).

A longer answer really begins to question whether the historical theory of the "Great Awakenings" is even correct. Jon Butler most famously attacked the theory of the "First Great Awakening" in his book Awash in a Sea of Faith. Butler argues that the traditional theory of Christian Revival spurring on Revolutionary fervor in the years leading up to the American Revolution is invalid and that there is no evidence for a wide-spread revival like traditional textbooks teach. No other historian has been able to completely refute his claims in these regards. However, there is no way to ignore the major revivals in the 1740s and 50s in New England. These revivals though, led to more schism within the Congregationalist tradition than positive change.

The "Second Great Awakening" is the movement which produced smaller denominations/religions such as the LDS, the Seventh Day Adventists, and the JW. The "Second Great Awakening" occurred in the aftermath of the American Revolution, although it was more of a reaction to the departure of the Church of England and its missionary societies. When Church of England clergy and money left the colonies, there was a void to be filled in American religious life. This second "Awakening" is what made the Mainline denominations mainline. In many colonies they took over former Church of England buildings and congregations. It took many years from the departure of the Church of England for the Mainline denominations to completely organize themselves[edit: in the modern legal sense]; and within this time, doctrine within the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist movements were fairly fluid. In her book Southern Cross, Christine Heyrman writes how a Methodist revivalist could found a Baptist congregation because of doctrinal confusion and petty squabbling amongst congregants. This doctrinal confusion led to the creation of more denominations.

Getting back to your question, the "Great Awakenings" led to the creation of new denominations/religions because of confusion over doctrine and squabbling. I am personally more of a historian than a theologian, so I leave it up to others whether this was an issue of true doctrinal disputes or an issue of schism. This is also a very broad summary of very complex movements, and I am sure I have failed to do them justice in some regards, but this is generally how current research perceives the "Great Awakening"s.

The most significant influence that the "Great Awakenings" have had that is generally upheld by scholars is making religion more individualistic. The theology of Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans/Episcopalians is generally collective (e.g. the Church and her sacraments being important in an individual's salvation) while the "revival theology" of most Protestant denominations is much more individual (e.g. the emphasis on personally receiving Christ and even hymns such as "O What a Friend We Have in Jesus"). A lot of this "revival theology" comes out of the "Great Awakenings"

I know this was quite long, but I hope this helps you.

  • Thank you for that in-depth answer. There are perhaps quite a few ways to approach it (following the trunk of the tree to the branches) but this is a great summary and introduces more than I formerly knew for sure.
    – user9485
    Jul 20, 2015 at 1:20

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