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The Puritans: a quick overview

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Lisa Cook

on 30 August 2018

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Transcript of The Puritans: a quick overview

The Puritans: a quick overview
Puritanism = a religion that attempted to “purify” the Church of England

The Puritans did not approve of the Church of England.
The Church of England did not approve of the Puritans.
Many Puritans were persecuted and tortured for their heretical ideas.

A heretic is someone whose beliefs go against commonly held ideas.
Why were the Puritans considered heretics?
Puritans wanted to return to a simpler form of worship.

They did not agree with the ornate churches and church services in England.

They thought religion was a personal,
individual experience.

They thought the clergy or government
should not and could not act as the middle
man between God and the individual.

Puritans also did not agree with the rigid hierarchies imposed by the Church of England.

Puritans hired (and fired) their own ministers according to their own needs.

To avoid persecution, many Puritans fled to Holland; however, they were worried about losing their identities as Englishmen.

So in 1620, a group of Puritans led by William Bradford set sail for the New World.

Life in Puritan America

Puritans lived by an incredibly
hard work ethic

They believed in self-reliance, industriousness, and simplicity.

Their abstemious lifestyle served them well as they had to establish entirely new lives for themselves in the New World.
They did not condone:

Reading Fiction
Performing Drama
or any other types of fun

Idle hands do the devil's work, so Puritans believed in a strong work ethic that would keep them busy and away from temptation.
Fun was selfish, and anything that might distract you from your religious obligations was forbidden
That "Puritan work ethic" is still very much influencing our society today.
You could sing in church...
...as long as you didn't smile.

God's wrath is upon you
They believed in simple, conservative dress and actions.
You were allowed to keep a journal or write poetry.
Journals were used for introspection, so you could evaluate how well you were serving God.
Poetry was allowed because it was considered an intellectual pursuit. Typically, the poetry was about one's devotion to God.
Their abstemious lifestyle served them well as they had to establish entirely new lives for themselves in the New World.
Puritan Religious Beliefs
Puritans believed that all humans were damned for all eternity because of man's original sin.
However, the Puritans believed that God sent his son, Jesus, to save
Those particular people were called "the elect."
If you were one of the chosen, one of the saved, you were called an "elect."

If you were damned, you were an "unregenerate."
So how did you know if you were saved or damned?
Turns out... you didn't!

There was no way to know if you were "elect" or "unregenerate"
Characteristics of Puritan Writing
The Bible was incredibly important.
Puritans believed the Bible was the literal word of God and sought to follow it exactly.
They believed everyone should use the Bible to find connections between the scriptures and their everyday lives in an effort to better serve God.
Because everyone needed to be able to read the Bible, Puritans placed a high value on education.

This is really the start of public schools.
Harvard College was founded in 1636 (only 16 years after their arrival!).
Because the Bible was so important, it served as a model for Puritan writing.
Puritans used writing to explore their inner and outer lives for signs of God.

They believed God was ALWAYS present in EVERY aspect of their lives.
Puritan style was very plain. They stressed clarity of expression and avoided complicated figures of speech.
So - what have we learned?

Having fun? That's the devil's doing!
Enjoying life? You aren't working hard enough to serve God!
Are you writing? Better be about God...
Are you saved? You better hope so...

The thinking was...
If you were "elect," you'd certainly be a good person and do good works and live an exemplary, moral life.

Therefore, everyone ACTED that way to "prove" they were an "elect"
Religious? Yes!
Fun...Not so much...
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