Puritans Essay

Submitted By zenonkelly
Words: 1604
Pages: 7

Puritans

Puritans

According to Dictionary.com, Puritans is defined as “a member of a group of Protestants that arose in the 16th century within the Church of England, demanding the simplification of doctrine and worship, and greater strictness in religious discipline: during part of the 17th century the Puritans became a powerful political party”. The Puritans were a collection of people who were discontent in England and wanted religious, moral and societal change. The ideas of Mr. John Calvin, a leader in the Reformation, gave rise to Protestantism and were pivotal to the Christian revolt. They contended that The Church of England had become a product of political struggles and man-made doctrines. The Puritans were one branch of dissenters who decided that the Church of England was beyond reform. “In Massachusetts Bay, the Puritans wanted to establish a government ruled by their religious beliefs”. (Henretta, 2010) “The Puritans believed that the Bible was God's true law, and that it provided a plan for living. The established church of the day described access to God as monastic and possible only within the confines of "church authority". Puritans uncovered the traditional trappings and formalities of Christianity which had been slowly building throughout the previous 1500 years. This was an attempt to "purify" the church and their lives.” (Kizer) “The colonists were an unsophisticated people who felt very much at the mercy of their God in their new world. They knew very little about the land, the original inhabitants of their colonies, or about human behavior in stressful situations. Primarily farmers, they had difficult lives and faced unrelenting challenges in a harsh climate. An epidemic of smallpox could kill an entire family, and in a world where people saw the Devil lurking behind every misfortune, it is little wonder they believed evil spirits were at work. The Puritans put their faith in God, yet a powerful belief in the Devil helped them make sense of that which they could not explain. Satan, of course, preyed on the weakest individuals - women, children, foreigners, slaves, and those with mental incapacities. These individuals were often labeled witches, and hanging was the answer to witchery as the individual from a life on earth under Satan's power and reunited with God.” (USQ Artworks, 2010) “Most of the Puritans settled in the New England area. As they immigrated and formed individual colonies, their numbers rose from 17,800 in 1640 to 106,000 in 1700. Religious exclusiveness was the foremost principle of their society. The spiritual beliefs that they held were strong. This strength held over to include community laws and customs. Since God was at the forefront of their minds, He was to motivate all of their actions. This premise worked both for them and against them.” (Kizer) “The common unity strengthened the community. In a foreign land surrounded with the hardships of pioneer life, their spiritual bond made them sympathetic to each other's needs. Their overall survival techniques permeated the colonies and on the whole made them more successful in several areas beyond that of the colonies established to their south. Each church congregation was to be individually responsible to God, as was each person. The New Testament was their model and their devotion so great that it permeated their entire society. People of opposing theological views were asked to leave the community or to be converted. Their interpretation of scriptures was a harsh one. They emphasized a redemptive piety. In principle, they emphasized conversion and not repression. Conversion was a rejection of the "worldliness" of society and a strict adherence to Biblical principles. While repression was not encouraged in principle, it was evident in their actions. God could forgive…