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Cane Ridge: America’s Pentecost is a documentation of the largest and most famous camp meetings of the Second Great Awakening. It took place during August 1801 at Cane Ridge, Kentucky and was led by Barton Stone. Over 20,000 people attended these religious services that were organized by Presbyterian ministers and Methodist preachers. There had never previously been such large religious meetings, which caused preaching to be difficult.
The preachers at these religious meetings stood on large logs and tree stumps, in order to be heard and seen while telling their stories and conveying their messages.
The meetings were also large communion services that went hand-in-hand with the traditions of Presbyterian. These services also included church exercises. Never before had so many people in one area of America been involved in physical exercises which included falling, jerking, barking, running, laughing, dancing and singing. The exercise that Conkin describes as “the jerks” could happen to anyone.
These jerks were usually characterized a person’s head or body that began to shake violently.
Barton Stone described the jerks as feeling the glory of God-regardless if the people experiencing the jerks were believers or skeptics. When these jerks occurred the individuals experiencing the jerks believed that they had been converted from sin by the power of God.
These religious meetings led to a lot of publicity at a national level, which in turn, triggered controversy within the church in America.
Paul Conkin, the author of Cane Ridge: America’s Pentecost presents the thesis that Cane Ridge is “the most important religious gathering in all of American history.
” This statement is supported, as thousands of people in America were converted to follow Christ during the Cane Ridge Revival. At the time of the Cane Ridge Revival in 1801, Barton Stone was a Presbyterian minister. However, by 1804 Stone left Presbyterianism to be part of the body of Christ proving that this was a substantial movement towards the following of Christ. Conkin uses detailed descriptions of the events at Cane Ridge—such as diaries, autobiographies and pictures of the meetinghouse and its surrounding area. This allows the reader to get a glimpse of what it must have been like to be present at Cane Ridge in 1801. This book fits into the Stone-Campbell Movement as it describes how Christianity was restored through unity and the return to the principals of the early churches. This was restored through two groups. The first group, led by Stone, began in 1801 during the great revival at the Cane Ridge and the second group began in Western Pennsylvania and Virginia and was led by Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander.
The second group called themselves “Disciples of Christ,” reflecting their emphasis on submitting to and following Christ. Both of these groups had the same beliefs. These beliefs were that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God, Christians should have communion each Sunday, and the baptism of adult believers by immersion in water is necessary for salvation.
Through the depictions within Conkin’s Cane Ridge: America’s Pentecost, along with the movements led by Thomas and Alexander Campbell, it is shown how impactful the movement towards the following of Christ was during the Second Great Awakening. Conkin’s work depicts the evolution and restoration of the Christian religion. It can be argued that without these movements, Christianity wouldn’t be what it is today.
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