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Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism, 1750-1858 (Murray)

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Marrying careful historical research to popular and relevant presentation, Revival and Revivalism traces the spiritually epoch-making events of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through the eyes of those who lived at their centre.

Fundamental to the book’s thesis is a rejection of the frequent identification of ‘revival’ with ‘revivalism’. The author demonstrates that a common understanding of the New Testament idea of revival was prevalent in most denominations throughout the period 1750-1858. Revivalism, on the other hand, is different both in its origin and in its tendencies. Its ethos is mancentred and its methods too close to the manipulative to require a supernatural explanation.

Iain Murray argues that an inability to recognize this distinction has led many to ignore the new and different teaching on evangelism and revival which began to be popularized in the 1820s. While the case against that teaching was argued almost universally by the leaders of the Second Great Awakening their testimony was submerged beneath propaganda which promised a ‘new era’ if only the churches would abandon the older ways.

Today, when that propaganda is largely discredited, there is a great need to rediscover the earlier understanding of revival possessed by those who most intimately experienced it. Revival and Revivalism will do much to aid this rediscovery. Powerfully presented, it contains a message of major importance for contemporary Christians.

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Table of Contents:

1. Samuel Davies and the Meaning of ‘Revival’

2. Princeton and the First Fruits of ‘A Glorious Plan’

3. Glory in Virginia

4. When Theology Took Fire

5. The Age of the Second Great Awakening

6. Kentucky: 1800

7. The Emergence of Revivalism

8. Five Leaders in the Northeast

9. ‘New Measures’ and Old Revivals?

10. Origins of a Great Division

11. ’The Illusion of a New Era’

12. The Baptists in Transition

13. James Waddel Alexander and the New York Awakening of 1857-58

14. Old and New, Past and Future


1: Revivalism in Britain

2: Revivals in the South


"Iain H. Murray has produced yet another historical study of outstanding quality. This is not merely a record of the church's past. Rather, those who read it will soon realise that it provides a key to understanding contemporary evangelicalism and its deep needs. It may not be too much to claim that this volume is essential reading for Christians who desire true revival in the churches of our own day." - Professor Garth M. Rosen, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"Anyone interested in revivals of religion, whether that interest grows primarily out of the academy or the church, will find Revival and Revivalism a valuable new resource." - Sinclair Ferguson.


Iain Hamish Murray, born in Lancashire, England, in 1931, was educated at Wallasey Grammar School and King William’s College in the Isle of Man (1945-49). From 1956 he was for three years assistant to Dr Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel and there, with the late Jack Cullum, founded the Banner of Truth Trust in 1957. He left Westminster in 1961 for a nine-year pastorate at Grove Chapel, Camberwell. With the world-wide expansion of the Trust, Iain Murray became engaged full-time in its ministry from 1969 until 1981 when he responded to a call from St Giles Presbyterian Church, Sydney, Australia. Now based again in the UK, he and Jean live in Edinburgh.