Spiritual Awakenings in North America: From the Publisher

“I am profoundly convinced that the greatest need in the world today is revival in the Church of God. Yet Alas! the whole idea of revival seems to have become strange to so many good Christian people. There are some who even seem to resent the very idea, and actually speak and write against it. Such an attitude is due to both a serious misunderstanding of the Scriptures, and to a woeful ignorance of the history of the Church. Anything therefore that can instruct God’s people in this matter is very welcome.”

We wholeheartedly agree with this quote by the Rev. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the eminent preacher who died a few years ago. We produced this issue on spiritual awakenings in America in the desire that it might serve as a quiet stimulus for awakening. We have been motivated by the hope that as God’s people ponder their tradition of spiritual awakenings, they will earnestly yearn to pray and seek God for a new time of refreshing, such as those times that have come when Christians have felt the urgency to humble themselves, abandon their sins, and call upon God for renewal.

Most of the material for this issue was written by Dr. Keith Hardman, a devoted minister, historian, and believer in awakenings. Mr. Hardman is chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and is the author of the books The Great Awakeners: Revivalists from Solomon Stoddard to Dwight L. Moody (Moody Press, 1983) and Charles Grandison Finney 1792–1875, Revivalist and Reformer (Syracuse University Press, 1987). His book on Finney is the first major biography of the great evangelist in over 100 years, and has received excellent reviews. Our deepest thanks to him for his hard work, enthusiasm, and painstaking care in helping us produce the issue.

The inspiration for this issue came from David R. Mains, speaker on the Chapel of the Air radio program, and Randy Petersen, a frequent contributor to Christian History. We hope, along with Mr. Mains and Mr. Petersen, that Christians across North America (and everywhere) will boldly pray for renewal. Many have questioned: Can awakening ever happen again in North America? For many reasons we might say “probably not.” Yet, how can we conclude that God cannot, and will not do again what he has done before—is the Holy Spirit bound by our limits of probability? Are social, ethnic, regional, economic, sexual, and spiritual barriers too great for the God who created us? Is the One who made us all different hindered by the complex nature of our pluralistic society? Does awakening come from below . . . or from above?

It is of major importance to remember that awakenings are not simply times of enhanced personal religious experience. Awakenings have social impact. In the wake of spiritual awakenings comes social restoration. Corrupt, immoral, unjust, and ungodly people and societies can return to honesty, purity, justice, and holiness. Culture can be transformed; but first must come transformed people.

We hope you will read this issue with the same careful analysis that we have come to expect from our readers. But we also hope you will read it leisurely, with an open heart and a hungry spirit. And pray. Who knows what might happen?

By the Editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #23 in 1989]

Next articles

Spiritual Awakenings in North America: Did You Know?

Fascinating facts about revivals in North America.

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Sleepers Awake

Has the West grown so hardened through humanism and our adoration of material things that we can resist the moving of the Holy Spirit?

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Patterns of Spiritual Renewal

Spiritual awakenings show similar patterns.

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A Dawning in the New World

Origins of American Awakenings in New England & the Middle Colonies.

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