THEY GATHERED AT THE RIVER by Bernard A. Weisberger
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Billy Graham has aroused the country to an awareness of religious revivalism, and though this vividly written and carefully documented book deals with the subject historically and biographically, the author goes only through Graham's predecessor, Billy Sunday. Although the saving of souls was a basic part of early American religious life the true revival was not born until the late 1700's, when believers became alarmed over the fact that, because of the rapid expansion of the frontier, many Americans were living far removed from churches and means of salvation -- were, indeed, living in a ""state of sin"". Preachers went on circuit to take the word of God to remote settlements. The movement spread to towns and cities in far reaches of the country. Early revivals, and some later ones, sometimes turned into religious and emotional orgies, but those who were ""converted"" felt they had experienced a true miracle. Many great and truly pious men played their parts in this movement:- Asahel Nettleton, Lyman Beecher, Charles Grandison Finney, the first president of Oberlin, Dwight L. Moody, who with his colleague, Asa Sankey, dominated a portion of religious thought in America for years, and others. The author rounds out his record with the showman, Billy Sunday, whom he looks on as the last true revivalist. After World War I the religious temper changed; few believed that unbelievers were doomed to everlasting torment. Years of research have gone into this book, which is written with wit the understanding. It will stand as an authoritative treatment of a colorful panel in American history, a must for theological libraries, and of interest to layman as well.

Pub Date: May 20th, 1958
Publisher: Little, Brown