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Heaven in the American Imagination$
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Gary Scott Smith

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738953

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738953.001.0001

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The Early National Era and the Second Great Awakening

The Early National Era and the Second Great Awakening

(p.47) 3 The Early National Era and the Second Great Awakening
Heaven in the American Imagination

Gary Scott Smith

Oxford University Press

Led by James McGready, Timothy Dwight, Asahel Nettleton, and Charles Finney, the Second Great Awakening (1800–40) had a significant impact on American society. Both prominent revivalists and ordinary pastors painted vivid pictures of heavenly life, especially stressing the saints’ relationship with God, celestial worship, and progress in knowledge, love, and power. Much more than did subsequent generations, they warned their readers and listeners of the suffering that awaited them in hell if they refused to repent of their sins and accept Jesus as their savior and Lord. During the revolutionary, early national, and antebellum periods, numerous deists, free thinkers, and Unitarians attacked conventional Christian understandings of God, the Bible, the means of salvation, and the nature of heaven. Meanwhile, Universalists repudiated the orthodox view that individuals had to receive Jesus as their redeemer to gain entry to heaven.

Keywords:   James McGready, Timothy Dwight, Charles Finney, Second Great Awakening, heaven, hell, salvation, Unitarians, Universalists

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