Concept

Fourth Great Awakening

Summary
The Fourth Great Awakening was a Christian awakening that some scholars – most notably economic historian Robert Fogel – say took place in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s, while others look at the era following World War II. The terminology is controversial, with some historians believing the religious changes that took place in the US during these years were not equivalent to those of the first three great awakenings. Thus, the idea of a Fourth Great Awakening itself has not been generally accepted. Whether or not they constitute an awakening, many changes did take place. The "mainline" Protestant churches weakened sharply in both membership and influence while the most conservative religious denominations (such as the Southern Baptists and Missouri Synod Lutherans) grew rapidly in numbers, spread across the United States, had grave internal theological battles and schisms, and became politically powerful. Other evangelical and fundamentalist denominations also expanded rapidly. At the same time, secularism grew dramatically, and the more conservative churches saw themselves battling secularism in terms of issues such as LGBT rights, abortion, and creationism. Many new religious movements emerged such as the People's Temple and Heaven's Gate, and the corresponding rise of the anti-cult movement. Concomitant to the power shift was a change in evangelicalism itself, with new groups arising and extant ones switching their focus. There was a new emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus from newly styled "non-denominational" churches and "community faith centers". This period also saw the rise of non-traditional churches and megachurches with conservative theologies and a growth in parachurch organizations while mainline Protestantism lost many members. The Jesus Movement is considered by some to be part of the Fourth Great Awakening. Vinson Synan (1997) argues that a charismatic awakening occurred between 1961 and 1982.
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