Jonathan Edwards, American theologian and philosopher, dies at the age of 54. A Congregationalist minister, he had a great deal of influence on the religious development of the American colonies. Most scholars believe that Jonathan Edwards' preaching was the spark that ignited the first Great Awakening, a grassroots religious revival movement which redefined the nature and practice of American Christianity for decades.
Jonathan Edwards came into conflict with other Christian leaders because of his view on the nature of being a Christian. According to Edwards, being a Christian wasn't simply a matter of adopting a few church doctrines, but rather a genuine conversion and sincere acceptance of faith - an inner experience of God which completely transforms the person. This isn't what orthodox churches taught in Massachusetts, leading to his dismissal and eventual move to Princeton, New Jersey, where he became president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University).