Revival & Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858 (The Banner of Truth Truth, 1994)

Want a book that combines rich theology, historical diligence, and practical teaching? Then Iain Murray’s book is for you. This is a volume that I soaked into my mind and heart. As I turned the final page, my wonder for the sovereign Lord was greatly increased.

Throughout the book Murray contrasts the words ‘revival’ and ‘revivalism’. Revival is defined as the work that originates and is carried out by God himself. Revival is the giving of life to the church and to sinners by the hand of God.

On the other hand revivalism is presented as the methods or system employed by men to work up a revival. While one depends on God, the other depends on man. Consequently the first brings glory to God while the latter glory to the revivalists.

Revival has genuine and lasting effect. While the effects of revivalism may later be found lacking. The effect of the revival known as the First Great Awakening in America was that American history was shaped by the Spirit of God in revivals of the same kind as launched the early church into a pagan world (p. xx).

The dates chosen for examination by Murray are important. The beginning point is 1750. This places it after the First Great Awakening. To have included this revival would have made this a lengthy volume. It is also true that during this time of awakening, little to no knowledge existed of the system of revivalism.

The end date is just prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War. As one preacher indicated, this may have been the mercy of God in ushering in many souls into the kingdom prior to the high number of deaths during the war.

I highly recommend this work. If you delight in reading of the work of God through the ages, you will want to get a copy of this. Even the footnotes are worth reading.

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