George Whitefield Essay, Research Paper
English preacher George Whitefield was a leader of the Evangelical Revival on both sides of the Atlantic. He participated in the Great Awakening in the colonies and the Wesleyan movement in Great Britain. He was educated at Oxford and was a member of the Wesley brothers’ Holy Club. After his ordination, in 1736, as an Anglican deacon he made the first of seven voyages to American in 1738. He took orders as a priest, but he was excluded from the Anglican pulpits because of his evangelistic passion. As a result he began preaching in religious societies and the open air; his field preaching was a major contribution to the Evangelican Revival and the growth on Methodism.
Whitefield was a great religious leader in his time. His magnificent voice boomed over thousands of enthralled listeners in an open field. One of England’s greatest actors of the day commented that Whitefield could make audiences weep merely by pronouncing the word Mesopotamia and that he would “give a hundred guineas if I could only say ‘O!’ like Mr. Whitefield.”
Triumphally touring the colonies, Whitefield sent his message of human helplessness and divine power. During roaring revival meetings, countless sinners professed conversion, while hundreds of the “saved” groaned, shrieked, or rolled in the snow from religious excitement. Whitefield inspired many imitators whom took up his style of preaching.
Orthodox clergymen, known as “old lights,” were deeply skeptical of the emotionalism and antics of the revivalists. “New light” ministers defended the Awakening for its role in the revitalizing American religion.
Whitefield had a large effect on the people in his time era. His emphasis on direct spirituality undermined the old way of religious thinking. He was a leader of a new style of religion, which brought about many changes in the American peoples’ life style. The Great Awakening was the first spontaneous mass movement of American people. It tended to break down sectional boundaries as well as racial lines and added to the idea that Americans had of themselves as a single people, united by a common history and shared experiences. George Whitefield was a major cause of that.