Beliefnet
The revival wave of the 1830s--known as the Second Great Awakening--swept through upstate New York and New Jersey with stunning force, transforming souls and communities. As one contemporary reflected, prayer was heard "in unusual places--in workshops, in garrets, in every shady place or grove was heard the supplicating cry for pardon, and thanksgiving for the sweet joy of sins forgiven. Seeking Christ appeared to be the whole business of the people; little else was talked of...If ever there was a genuine work of grace since the day of Pentecost, this was one."

This observer was describing the Awakening in a Reformed Dutch Church. The reaction of the doctrinally conservative church to the upheaval of the Awakening is the subject of Firth Haring Fabend's fascinating study, Zion on the Hudson. Many in the Reformed church were taken aback by the revivals. One Reformed layman. who witnessed people rolling around on the ground in religious ecstasy, wondered "what such exhibitions had to do with the holy name of religion." But Fabend also documents many Reformed Dutch who took part in the revivals themselves. Fabend makes a laudable effort--albeit not an entirely successful one--to focus on the laity instead of just quoting sermons. Though at times her narrative gets bogs down in details, "Zion on the Hudson" broadens our understanding of American religious diversity by illuminating a truly remarkable period in the history of faith.

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