Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Faith Crisis on the Frontier

One thing I've noticed searching for my ancestors is a strange thread of the "wrong" biblical names.
  • Pharaoh Shepherd
  • Absalom Shepherd
  • Nimrod Shepherd
  • Delilah Shepherd
  • Eli Shepherd
You have to wonder if the people coming up with these names were bitter toward Christianity. They are unusual names for people to have on the frontier, from what I can tell. Since some Shepherds were Quakers, I've wondered if these names come from disaffected Quakers.

I know there were frontier revivals in Kentucky as early as 1801. But it occurs to me that much of the frontier must have been religiously silent. When you were hacking through the trees in the mountains of Tennessee, Kentucky, or Indiana, you had to build the church building if there was going to be one. Your own personal devotion had to stick with you on the journey because there probably wasn't a minister with you. And since many of these frontier people were illiterate, they couldn't sustain themselves by reading the Bible.

I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on faith crisis on the frontier. Surely someone has. You wonder if the frontier revivals were, in their own way, a response to the disconnect of people living in religious silence...

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