Scott E. Bryant, “The Awakening of the Freewill Baptists: Benjamin Randall and the Founding of an American Religious Tradition”

, posted by SEA

This is the author’s Baylor University PhD dissertation. Please click on the link to view Scott E. Bryant, “The Awakening of the Freewill Baptists: Benjamin Randall and the Founding of an American Religious Tradition” (PhD dissertation; Baylor University, 2007).

Here is the author’s abstract:

The last decades of the eighteenth century brought numerous changes to the
citizens of colonial New England. As the colonists were joining together in their fight for
independence from England, a collection of like-minded believers in Southern New
Hampshire forged an identity as a new religious tradition. Benjamin Randall (1749-
1808), a principal founder of the Freewill Baptist movement in colonial New England,
was one of the many eighteenth century colonists that enjoyed a conversion experience as
a result of the revival ministry of George Whitefield. Randall’s conversion included a
direct revelation from God that communicated God’s universal love and grace for all
people. As a result of his conversion he began evaluating the spiritual condition of his
fellow parishioners and he was disappointed that his peers did not share his newfound
zeal for spiritual matters. His spiritual zeal prompted him to examine the scriptures on
his own and he questioned the practice of infant baptism. Randall completed his
separation from the Congregational church of his youth when he contacted a Baptist
congregation and submitted himself for baptism. When Randall was introduced to the
universal love and universal grace, was at odds with Calvin’s doctrine of election that
was affirmed by the other Baptists.

Randall’s spiritual journey continued as he began to preach revival services
throughout the region. His ministry was well received and he established a new
congregation in New Durham, New Hampshire, in 1780. The congregation in New
Durham served as Randall’s base of operation as he led revival services throughout New
Hampshire and Southern Maine. Randall’s travels introduced him to many colonists who
accepted his message of universal love and universal grace and a movement was born as
Randall formed many congregations throughout the region. Randall spent the remainder
of his life organizing, guiding, and leading the Freewill Baptists as they developed into a
religious tradition that included thousands of adherents spread throughout New England
and into Canada.