New Lights

views updated


NEW LIGHTS. George Whitefield, an English evangelist who appeared in New England in 1740, gave impetus to a religious movement, led by Jonathan Edwards, that

propounded the doctrine of sanctification by faith alone. The New Lights, as they came to be known, split the Congregational establishment in New England, swelled the numbers of Baptists in the South, and drained parishioners away from the Anglican and Presbyterian Churches everywhere. Charismatic preachers such as Whitefield and Gilbert Tennent staged massive revivals across New England. Though denounced by Old Lights like Charles Chauncey as madmen and apostates, New Lights gained ground until the 1770s. They founded several of the Ivy League universities, and their continuing influence set the stage for the evangelical revivals, led by the Baptists and Methodists, of the next century.


Gaustad, Edwin S. The Great Awakening in New England. New York: Harper, 1957.

Lambert, Frank. "'Pedlar in Divinity': George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, 1737–1745," The Journal of American History 77 (1990): 812–837.

Alvin F.Harlow/a. r.

See alsoCongregationalism ; Evangelicalism and Revivalism ; Princeton University ; Protestantism ; Religious Thought and Writings .

About this article

New Lights

Updated About content Print Article


New Lights