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The Great Awakenings

The Essence of Contemporary American Religion

Part Three

By Shlomo Phillips © 1989
(most recent update February 23, 2015)

Recorded Live on Facebook
Parts 1-7

Impact of the American Religious Experience

Since the days of Rome's usurpation of the Way Jewish Movement begun by Y'shua and his disciples, Western religion has focused on and debated the fundamental nature of Jesus' birth and the proper human response to it. These religious debates, revivals and awakenings impacted every aspect of American life and beyond. Even in the East these revivals had significant impact. For instance there can be little doubt that the popularity of Indian bhakti-yoga (i.e. the Hindu Path of Devotion), Pure Land Buddhism, Sikhism and other Eastern teachings became more popular and advanced because of the Christian awakenings.

Judaism, the other major religion in the West, was also developing new insights during these years. Unlike Christianity Judaism tended to look inward rather than outward. Jews were understandably wary of non-Jews due to the rampant persecution and anti-Semitism they faced. Historically no religion was more dangerous to Jewish survival than Christianity. Other religions sought to kill the Jewish body, but the New Religion (i.e. Christianity) was determined to kill its soul through its relentless missionary activities.

For this reason, in part, Judaism has historically been one of the few non-missionary religions. There were splendid debates, revelations and awakenings within Klal Israel over the past 2000 years, however the overall impact of these on society at large was much less influential. For instance, the Baal Shem Tov (Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer), who lived 1698 - 1760, had a profound and lasting impact on Judaism and yet few non-Jews have ever heard of him or his key successors like Rebbe Nachman, the Lubavitcher Rebbes, et al. For most of American history the question was asked: Do you accept Jesus or aren't you religious?

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