As many of you are aware, Joseph Smithâ€™s desire to seek salvation for his soul and unite himself with Christâ€™s true church was fueled by the religious revival that swept the United States in the early 1800â€™s known as the â€śSecond Great Awakeningâ€ť. History has had a tendency to portray this time period in America in a very negative light focusing more on the bizarre elements and the fiery sermons. Odd behavior attracts more attention, especially from critics. So it is no wonder that many historical accounts from the present looking backward note behaviors such as fainting, yelling, barking, etc. Now, even though this sort of stuff happened at the same time Joseph Smith, we donâ€™t read about it in his account Joseph Smith History. The reason is apparent, as many other accounts of the day attest: the weird things of the Second Great Awakening were not as widespread as history sometimes presents it.
More recently, there has been a shift in the portrayal of the Second Great Awakening. While there no doubt was a lot of confusion and contention as Joseph Smith explains in his account, I believe there was divine influence present that directed many to adopt more Christian lifestyles and to ponder about the important things in life. After all amidst all the differences in opinion, Joseph Smith came across the scripture in James 1:5 that led him to ask God which led to what is now known as Joseph Smithâ€™s first vision.
But it would also be a mistake to consider Mormons just another sect that sprung out of the Second Great Awakening. There are a couple of key differences that set Mormons apart from ever other sect of the time. First, the Second Great Awakening focused almost exclusively on Jesus Christ and the New Testament, whereas Mormons used both the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon in addition to the New Testament, and Mormons emphasize God the Fatherâ€™s role as much as Jesus Christâ€™s. On top of that, Joseph Smith did not construct the church using the New Testament as a kind of blueprint. The Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints) is a restored church with a prophet and apostles that are lead by revelation from Christ himself. These two key points distinguish Mormons from being just another sect of the Second Great Awakening.
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