Relative to evangelicalism elsewhere in the English-speaking world, radical evangelicalism in Canada was defined centrally (often almost exclusively) by the New Birth experience or by similar experiences, such as sanctification. Over time, however, there has been significant change regarding the centre of Canadian evangelicalism. This change, sometimes gradual and sometimes sudden, is of crucial importance in understanding all aspects of evolving Canadian Protestantism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Prominent preachers such as Henry Alline, William Black, David George, Freeborn Garrettson, and Harris Harding as well as rank-and-file evangelists figure in The Canada Fire. Through letters, diaries, and autobiographies the actors and actresses in this unfolding religious drama speak for themselves, and their voices are permeated with vulnerability and honesty. The Canada Fire is not only a book about the distant past; it also throws light on the changing face of Canadian Protestantism in general, and Canadian evangelicalism in particular.
Part 1 The radical evangelical paradigm established: the maritime experience, Henry Alline (1748-1784); the shaping of the conversion paradigm, William Black (1760-1834); methodist new light?, David George (1743-1810); black Nova Scotian new light baptist, Freeborn Garrettson (1752-1827); a methodist new light. Harris Harding (1761-1854); an Allinite new light indeed. Part 2 The evolving radical evangelical ethos of Canada - from Nova Scotia to upper Canada and back: The Nova Scotia new lights - from the bottom up, 1785-1793; The Canada fire - methodist radical evangelicalism in upper Canada, 1784-1812; "A total revolution in religious and civil government" - the evolving radical evangelical ethos of British North America, 1775-1812 Part 3 The evangelical rituals - camp meetings, believer's baptism, and the long communion: "a powerful means of awakening and converting souls" - the Hay Bay camp meeting, September 1805; the rage for dipping, Joseph Crandall, Elijah Estabrooks, and believer's baptism, 1795-1800; new lights, presbyterians, James MacGregor, and Nova Scotia's first long communion, July 1788.