Thursday, February 17, 2011

Niebuhr on the Dangers of Revivalism

“Protestant against the established order attracts into the camp of reformers and awakeners individuals and groups with motivations very diverse from their own save at the point of antagonism against the prevailing institutions….For such men, the time of revival is not one of hope’s renewal but of its realization; not of faith’s resurrection but of its transformation into sight; not of revived hunger for integrity but of hunger’s satisfaction. To such impatient souls the reformers always seem to be dragging their feet and to be compromising with an evil old world. Every revival and protest has given opportunity for the rise of such groups that assumed the reformers’ real cause and their own to be identical.” H. Richard Niebuhr, “The Protestant Movement and Democracy in the United States,” in The Shaping of American Religion.

Further Reading

Finney and the New Measures

“To the dogs with the Head”: The Anti-inellectualism of Charles Finney

8 Gnostic Myths You May Have Imbibed

The Problem of Mediation in the First Great Awakening

Religion of the People, by the People, for the People

Recovering the Protestant Affirmation of Life

Joseph Smith: Profile of a False Prophet

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