Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen I (1692 – c. 1747) was a German-American Dutch-Reformed Minister, theologian and the progenitor of the Frelinghuysen family in the United States of America. Frelinghuysen is most remembered for his religious contributions in the Raritan Valley during the beginnings of the First Great Awakening. Several of his descendants became influential theologians and politicians throughout American history.
Biographical Sketch: Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography (1898) at Wikisource
Biographical Sketch: Famous Americans
A History of the Reformed Church, Dutch, the Reformed Church, German, and the Moravian Church in the United States in America (1895) by Edward Tanjore Corwin (1834-1914), Joseph Henry Dubbs (1838-1910), and John Taylor Hamilton (1859-1951) (see page 134)
[The American Church History Series, Volume VIII]
A letter from Rev. Theodore J. Frelinghuysen to possibly Rev. Joseph Morgan, April 22, 1725 from "Ecclesiastical Records, State of New York, Volume 3 by Hugh Hastings (see page 2303)
Forerunner of the Great Awakening: Sermons by Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen by Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen, Joel R. Beeke - 2000 - 339 pages
Church of the Three Mile Run: at flickr.com where Rev. Frelinghuysen served.
Revivals first broke out in the middle colonies, particularly in New Jersey, where a Dutch Reformed preacher, Theodore J. Frelinghuysen, preached a pietistic message. Pietism originated in Europe among the Germans in the mid-1600s under the leadership of Jacob Spener and August Hermann Franke. Tired of the coldness of doctrinal preaching which left life untouched, these men relegated doctrine to second place and substituted subjective feelings for the objective nature of God's word.
Frelinghuysen, educated in Pietism, settled in New Jersey's Raritan Valley in 1720. Rough folk with little interest in anything save outward religious conformity populated the region. They simply sought to preserve their Dutch church as a landmark to their national heritage. These colonists did not want a religion which challenged their commitment or emotions. Frelinghuysen preached an inner religion which he contrasted with their satisfaction with externals. Older members soon became offended with his preaching. Younger members found themselves attracted to him.
Controversy hit nearly every Dutch Reformed congregation in the colonies. It even influenced churches back in Holland in time. Frelinghuysen continued his efforts until he even reached his detractors.
Revival spread from the Dutch Reformed Churches to the Presbyterians. "Log College" graduates picked up the revival fervor and preached it. Log College graduates possessed strong evangelistic zeal anyway, so they easily identified with the revival efforts. Throughout the 1730s, Presbyterian revival blazed and increased.
Wherever revivalism went it caused division. Revival preachers traveled into areas where other preachers shepherded local congregations. Resentment followed! "Conservative" preachers criticized revivalists for their emotionalism and the agitations revivalism caused. Presbyterians and the remaining Puritans experienced serious division. The Presbyterians divided into "New Light" and "Old Light" factions. The former favored revivalism, the latter did not.