Ten Reasons You Need to Read “Revival and Revivalism”



Murray, Iain H. Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism, 1750-1858. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994.

Who should read this?

  • If you are a member of Grace Baptist Church and value the truth of independent, fundamental Christianity, then you should read this book.
  • If you are not afraid of the truth, then you should read this book.
  • If all you have grown up knowing is revivals that involve camp meetings, altar calls, and emotional stirrings, then you should read this book.

Murray does a phenomenal job presenting a clear difference between revival and revivalism. Though the details in the early part of his book are a bit tedious, the narratives become increasingly engaging. By the conclusion, readers are left wondering how they could have missed all of this truth.

Rather than presenting a full-length book review, here are my ten reasons why you should consider reading Revival and Revivalism:


Though the details are a bit tedious, Murray does present narratives which support his assertion–that revivalism has marred American Evangelicalism. Read this because of the discipline that tedious details can help you develop. The details matter.


Most people I know have an incomplete understanding of Christian history. They know a “Trail of Blood” history, but they do not know a complete history–especially about Christianity in America.


Murray cites an extensive number of credible sources, including letters, journals and much more. When an author writes and cites an abundant number of sources, some sympathetic to his cause and others not so sympathetic, this adds credibility to his argument.

Old & New

It confirms that #OldTime religion has nothing to do with hollering, shouting, or rip and snort preaching. #OldTime religion that we now know in the current camp meeting scene is actually new, and there were Christians sounding the alarm in the 1800s about what we now see in the style of camp meetings held today.

Altar Calls

It confirms that the Charles Finney movement was characterized by manipulative tactics such as altar calls and loud noises for scare tactics. What people consider as part of historical Christianity (i.e., altar calls) had their beginnings 1700+ years after Christianity began, and these tactics were largely viewed as manipulative.


It gives a history of when anti-intellectualism became popular and how this led to the honorary doctorate era (my words). By anti-intellectualism, I mean that doctrinally rich studies were viewed as unnecessary. This view led to preaching that was largely unsound in doctrine.


It shows the unity that existed until the Finney-ite movement. The Charles Finney movement was largely responsible for much of the division within established churches of the era. In addition, there was unity cross-denominationally before Finney’s preaching ministry.

Salvation Theology

The study of salvation is called Soteriology, and it is fundamental theologically. Murray shows what the dominant view of salvation was and how this was impacted during the years of 1750-1858.  This change is a deadly one and often characterized within the modern “camp meeting” culture.

Camp Meetings

Murray shows where camp meetings came from and that they were born out of necessity in that time.


It shows that the modern day IFB [Independent Fundamental Baptists] revivalists are nothing close to the true, historical revival preachers in America–showing a divergence during the 2nd Great Awakening. The revivalists were professionals in the pulpit, known for their rhetoric and ability to manipulate the emotions of the hearers. Today, the lineage of the revivalists is not hard to find in the modern Evangelist/Tent Meeting scene.

In addition, Murray’s presentation of the historical, theological truth helps to guide us in what we should be looking for in true revival.


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