Urgency of Spiritual Revolution: Josiah Strong's Call to the Next Great Awakening

Josiah Strong (1847-1916) was an American Protestant pastor, social reformer, and author. Born in Ohio, Strong graduated from Wesleyan University and became a pastor in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was a strong advocate for social and economic reforms, particularly within the Christian community.

Strong is best known for his book The Next Great Awakening, which became a bestseller in 1889 and had a significant impact on the Progressive movement. He was also involved in various social reform movements, including the abolition of slavery and the promotion of education and literacy for all. Strong's message of Christian unity and the need for a spiritual awakening continues to inspire and influence many to this day. Let's take a look at his best selling book, The Next Great Awakening, 1902

The Next Great Awakening, written by American Protestant pastor and social reformer Josiah Strong in 1889, is a powerful call to action for Christians living in a time of great social and economic change. In his book, Strong argues that the modern world is in desperate need of a spiritual awakening, a time when individuals and society as a whole can be revitalized and transformed through the teachings and practices of Christianity.

The book is divided into three main parts, each examining a different aspect of the need for a great awakening. In the first part, Strong explores the current state of the world, highlighting the advancements in science and technology that have led to great prosperity and comfort but have also brought about new challenges and moral dilemmas.

He also points to the rise of materialism and individualism as key factors in the decline of religion and the deterioration of ethical values. Despite these challenges, Strong maintains that there is still a deep longing for something more, for a spiritual connection and purpose beyond material success.

In the second part of the book, Strong delves into the history of previous great awakenings, starting with the Protestant Reformation and moving through the Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and America. He argues that these awakenings were instrumental in shaping Western civilization and bringing about positive social and cultural change. However, Strong notes that history has shown that these awakenings were not permanent and that there have been periods of decline and moral decay in between. He asserts that the time is ripe for a new awakening, one that can address the unique challenges of the modern world.

The third part of the book is where Strong presents his vision for the next great awakening. He begins by emphasizing the need for personal and social transformation through a return to the fundamental principles of Christianity, which include love, justice, and charity. He also stresses the importance of evangelism in spreading the Gospel and bringing about spiritual revival. However, Strong does not limit the scope of the awakening to these traditional religious activities. He recognizes the need for structural and institutional changes in order to address the social and economic inequalities that exist in society. Strong advocates for the establishment of Christian social and economic principles, such as fair wages and the protection of workers' rights, as well as the elimination of poverty and the promotion of education.

One of the key arguments in Strong's book is the power of Christianity to bring about lasting societal change. He points to the historical examples of Christianity's role in abolishing slavery and promoting literacy and education for all, and argues that these same principles can be applied today to address issues such as poverty, inequality, and social injustice. Strong also highlights the importance of the church in providing guidance and moral leadership in a world that is becoming increasingly secular. Another important aspect of Strong's message is the idea of unity among Christians. He calls for an end to denominational divisions and the establishment of a universal Christian brotherhood. He believes that this unity and collaboration among Christians is essential for the success of the next great awakening and for addressing the complex problems of the modern world. Strong's book was met with great enthusiasm and became a bestseller, sparking discussions and debates among Christians and social reformers alike. It had a significant impact on the Progressive movement at the turn of the 20th century and inspired many Christians to become more actively involved in social issues and reforms.

In conclusion, The Next Great Awakening is a powerful and influential call to action for Christians to recognize and address the challenges of the modern world through a return to the foundational principles of Christianity. It emphasizes the importance of personal and social transformation, evangelism, and unity among Christians in order to bring about lasting positive change in society. Strong's message remains relevant today, as Christians continue to grapple with issues of materialism, secularism, and social inequality. The book serves as a reminder that in times of great change and uncertainty, the teachings and values of Christianity can provide a much-needed moral compass and a path towards a better future. 


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