Judgment Is God’s Strange Work

August 22, 2016

Part 3

The moral and social conditions during our nation’s founding were not as wholesome as we’d like to think. According to the late revival scholar, Dr. J. Edwin Orr, “Drunkenness became epidemic. Out of a population of 5 million, 300,000 were confirmed drunkards. Profanity was of the most shocking kind. For the first time in the history of the American settlement, women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault.

“The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia that the Church ‘was too far gone ever to be redeemed.’ And Thomas Paine echoed, ‘Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.’”[1]

Colleges were bastions of infidelity. In fact, Christians were so few on college campuses in the 1790s that those who did claim allegiance to Christ met in secret and kept their minutes in code so no one would know to whom they belonged.[2] Church historian Kenneth Scott Latourette wrote, “It seemed as if Christianity was about to be ushered out of the affairs of men.”[3]

What happened to change things? The Second Great Awakening began. It broke out first in Connecticut and then in Massachusetts and all the seaboard states before spreading to the frontier. James McGready, a pastor in Logan County, Kentucky, wrote that the winter of 1799 was a time of “weeping and mourning with the people of God,” while lawlessness prevailed throughout the region. The Great Kentucky Revival began in the summer of 1800, during which 11,000 people came to a communion service.[4]

Christianity’s influence upon our national life is not due primarily to our Founding Fathers (although many of them were committed Christians), but to mighty outpourings of God’s Spirit.

Although our world looks bleak, and even though it appears Christianity could be ushered out of the affairs of men, I believe God might work in a special way, pouring out His Spirit, and bringing revival to the Church and an awakening to the nations. Both history and the character of God ought to give us hope for such things.

[1] J. Edwin Orr. “The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakenings.” Oxford Assoc. for Research in Revival, Los Angeles, CA, 1976.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.