Jim’s #5: The Great Awakening by Thomas S. Kidd


To be honest, when I first received this book in the mail I was a little disappointed because it was pretty darn short and I was supposed to be using it for a research paper.   Short books typically don’t give the details you need for a research paper unless you plan on simply plagiarising the entire book (since this is a seminary course, I figured that might fall outside the “spirit” of the degree I’m trying to get). 

The book is broken down into two basic sections, a general overview of the Great Awakening of the 1700s and a collection of primary sources from that time period that covers all of the main views of the time.  The general overview is pretty good but probably doesn’t contain anything you couldn’t find on Wikipedia.  The documents, however, are what make this book worthwhile.  Thomas Kidd does a great job of sifting through the main focuses of the time and providing selections from periodicals, sermons, letters, etc that cover both sides of the various views.  For instance, for the Old Lights vs. New Lights (Charles Chauncey vs. Jonathan Edwards) he provides writings of Jonathan Edwards and a rebuttal of the anti-revivalist Charles Chancey.  He does the same thing for the preaching of George Whitefield, providing personal accounts of his preaching influence and those that saw him as nothing more than a showman.  Finally, he touches on the radicals like Isaac Backus and some of their responses to all that was happening.

All in all, it was an ok book.  Nothing life changing and if you just want a basic understanding of the Great Awakening, I would probably go with a regular church history book.

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