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George WhitefieldLife, Context, and Legacy$
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Geordan Hammond and David Ceri Jones

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747079

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747079.001.0001

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Whitefield and the Enlightenment

Whitefield and the Enlightenment

Chapter:
(p.64) 4 Whitefield and the Enlightenment
Source:
George Whitefield
Author(s):

Frank Lambert

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747079.003.0005

This chapter discusses George Whitefield’s appropriation of Enlightenment themes to explain his central message of the necessity of a spiritual new birth. While he thought that Enlightenment thinkers sometimes emphasized the head over the heart, he nonetheless embraced such ideas as the reasoning self, human experience as a means to knowledge, and the dead hand of the past. At the same time, he attacked Protestant thinkers, whom he called reasoners, who, in his opinion, distorted the gospel through emphasizing reason over revelation and the natural over the supernatural. Whitefield made John Tillotson his favourite whipping boy by assailing the archbishop’s application of Enlightenment teachings that, Whitefield thought, reduced the gospel to moral behaviour and dismissed such Protestant doctrines as original sin and eternal punishment. However, Whitefield too came under attack when opponents charged him with enthusiasm.

Keywords:   Enlightenment, new birth, John Tillotson, evangelical revivals, reason, enthusiasm, heart religion

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