[PW] How many Americans did George Whitefield preach to

Brett Spencer legolasbow1212 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 12:05:31 PDT 2018


Thank you very much for researching this.  I just checked out the Packer
"Spirit with the Word" book chapter but, alas, it also did not have the
citation for these estimates.  A few sentences later in the essay, it does
cite John Wesley as saying that Whitefield preached a lot, and I checked
Wesley's work but no exact estimate there...

Best,
Brett

On Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 1:55 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:

> Here is an excerpt from a book that contains the assertion being
> examined. The book contains a footnote that points to another book
> containing the assertion.
>
> Year: 2012 (2011 Copyright)
> Title: Men of One Book: A Comparison of Two Methodist Preachers,
> John Wesley and George Whitefield
> Author: Ian Maddock
> Foreword by: Andrew T. B. McGowan
> Publisher: The Lutterworth Press (Reprint edition)
> Database: Google Books Preview
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> Whitefield's preaching record was no less impressive. Throughout his
> 35 year public ministry as a transatlantic evangelical revivalist, he
> preached 18,000 formal sermons, often to audiences exceeding 20,000
> people. As Packer observes, "Preaching the grace of God in Christ was
> Whitefield's life, both metaphorically and literally." [9]
> [End excerpt]
>
> [Begin footnote]
> [9] Packer, "Spirit with the Word," 167. Packer continues, “It has
> been estimated that during his ministry he preached to combined
> audiences of over ten million, and that four-fifths of America's
> colonists, from Georgia to New Hampshire, heard him at least
> once—something that could be said of no other person." Packer, "Spirit
> with the Word," 167-68.
> [End footnote]
>
> The item below seems to be the reference that contains the claim. I
> have not examined it, and the excerpt above used the phrase "It has
> been estimated"; hence, the claim in the reference is also indirect.
> Maybe there is a supporting citation within the reference? In any
> case, it might be a useful lead for you.
>
> "The Spirit with the Word: The Reformational Revivalism of George
> Whitefield", in The Bible, the Reformation and the Church: Essays in
> Honour of James Atkinson, edited by William P. Stephens, 166-189,
> Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.
>
> Garson O'Toole
>
>
> On Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 10:21 AM, Brett Spencer
> <legolasbow1212 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hello,
> >
> > We are attempting to figure out how many Americans George Whitefield
> > preached to during his lifetime.
> >
> > There is a widely-used statistic around the internet that Whitefield
> > preached to about 80% (sometimes phrased as four-fifths) of the American
> > colonists.  However, we can't find the original source of this estimate
> or
> > how it was compiled.  Can anyone offer suggestions?  Many thanks
> >
> > Best,
> > Brett Spencer
> > Reference Librarian
> > Thun Library
> > Penn State Berks
> > Reading PA 19610
> > 610-396-6261
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