The Third Great Awakening was a period in history marked by extreme religious activism in the United States. It is estimated that it lasted from 1855 to 1930. This period had a lasting impact on the Protestant denominations in religion and was also marked by social activism. This may seem strange today when social activism is usually separated from religion.
This period was largely influenced by the belief that once mankind managed to reform the entire planet, the Second Coming of Christ would occur. The movement was closely affiliated with the Social Gospel Movement. This explains why social activism played a part during this period. The Social Gospel movement was known for applying Christianity to important social issues. Many movements emerged during this period, such as the Jehovahs’ Witnesses, Christian Science, Spiritualism, and Theosophy.
The Impact Of The Awakening
Throughout this period, many important moral causes were accepted. This includes prohibition and the abolition of slavery. An important thing to note is that many scholars actually do not believe that the Third Awakening ever happened in the United States. This is likely due to the fact that it is hard to exactly pinpoint these types of movements. They appear organically, and can’t be tied to specific single events.
Some of the parts of this period could likely be attributed to some other movements, and the entire Third Great Awakening is only loosely explained. However, there is no denying that these events occurred.
Awakenings similar to this one, happened in Korea and Britain, during the same period. Similarly to the one in the United States, these periods were marked by church growth, social action, and missions overseas. The Protestant churches in the United States were growing at extreme speeds during this period. Their wealth was constantly increasing, as well as their levels of education. What started off as churches based around frontiers were now highly influential centers based in cities and towns across the country.
The Worldwide Promotion Of Christianity And Social Change
Many intellectuals of that era took part in the movement and were strong advocates of Christianity. They tried to systematically reach the parts of the country where there were no churches and spread the religion. Some of these intellectuals and scholars started building schools and universities that were closely tied to Christianity. The majority of people included in the movement were strong supporters of the Republican party and were advocating social change and prohibition.
The American Civil War actually interrupted the awakenings in many cities, but it managed to stimulate revivals, especially in the south of the country. This was prevalent in the Confederate States Army. Once the war was over, the awakening continued in the same vein as before. All across the nation, people were organizing to promote Christianity as the driving force behind social change.
Religion was used as a tool to promote the prohibition of alcohol. Not only that but many women that were included in the awakening movement organized to fight against pornography and prostitution. Throughout this time, all of the big church denominations were supportive of all missionary activities. These activities took place inside the United States, but also all over the world, and were constantly promoting Christianity.