As some of you know, I occasionally hold forth over at the Religion and American History blog where I am a contributing editor. Today I posted some thoughts about what historian Jon Butler has called “Born-Again History.”
Some of my thoughts here, which I hope to develop a bit more later at “Religion and American History,” deal with the idea, popular among many historians, that the First Great Awakening, the great evangelical religious revival of the 1740s, had something to do with the coming of the American Revolution. I do not address this question directly in The Way of Improvement Leads Home, but I do imply that the enthusiasm and revival evangelicalism of the Great Awakening had little effect on the way Presbyterians such as Philip Vickers Fithian understood the Revolution. In fact, I suggest in the book that it was actually the reaction against the Great Awakening that had the most profound influence on the Presbyterian response to the American Revolution. (And this Presbyterian response was significant. Remember that George III called the American Revolution a “Presbyterian rebellion.”).
For those of you interested in American religious history, I encourage you to bookmark and read “Religion and American History.” Paul Harvey, the creator of the blog, has assembled an impressive group of bloggers and I am honored to work with them in this common endeavor.