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Who were the Puritans and what did they believe?
Transcript of Who were the Puritans and what did they believe?
German friar Martin Luther put his 95 Theses, which were protests against Catholic doctrines, on the door of Wittenberg’s cathedral in 1517. This sparked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
The Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther's ideas inspired John Calvin to start his own ideology, Calvinism.
Calvinism became the main belief for many New England Puritans. In 1536, Calvin created his basic doctrine, called the Institutes of the Christian Religion. PURITANS AND SEPARATISTS
King Henry VIII was breaking his ties with the Roman Catholic Church while these doctrines came to England, which lead some religious reformers to undergo a complete purification process of English Christianity.
The religious reformers who wanted complete purification were known as Puritans.
However, some Puritans in New England weren’t happy that the “saints” and the “damned” were allowed to go to the same Church, which created a new sector of Puritans.
These people vowed to break away from the Church of England, and were called Separatists.
King James I, a Scotsman, was the head of the church in England and the state, and he thought that if the Separatists could rebel against him as a spiritual leader then they would do the same with his power of the state. This led him to kick the Separatists out of the land.
These Separatists left Holland in 1608 and made a deal with the Virginia Company to settle their land. They arrived in New England in 1620 on the Mayflower and fewer than half of the people on that boat were Separatists. What did the Puritans believe? BELIEFS
The Puritans believed that God spoke through the Bible, not the popes or the priests. Also, men and woman were saved by faith alone, not pilgrimages, fasts, alms, indulgences, or any other rituals.Furthermore, God should overpower minute human affairs.
God chose certain people from the moment of creation that were destined for eternal salvation and bliss, whom were “the elect” and were “visible saints”.
However, the others who were not predestined for heaven could not become part of the elect, even with good deeds during life. Nevertheless, everyone had to be a good person because no one knew whether or not they were part of the elect.
Another sector of Puritans was formed when the most devout Puritans, the Separatists, believed that the “visible saints” should be the only people allowed into the church because they didn’t want to share with the people who weren’t part of the elect. The ideas of John Calvin There were five main ideas John Calvin had: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. TOTAL DEPRAVITY
Humans were, because of the corrupting effect of Adam’s original sin, evil, wicked, and weak. God meant for all things to be in complete harmony and man, by his innate sinful nature, creates disharmony and deserves to be cast aside. UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION
God was all-powerful and all-knowing, and because of this God knew who was going to heaven and who was going to hell. Since creation, some souls, the “elect”, had been destined for eternal bliss and others for eternal torment, and good works could not save those who were already marked by “predestination” to spend eternity in hell. LIMITED ATONEMENT
Christ did not die for everyone, just for those who will be saved. If He had not died on the cross, no one could be saved. Calvin believed that this is the only evidence we have of God’s love towards mankind. IRRESISTIBLE GRACE
Grace is freely given and can’t be earned or refused. Grace is the transfiguring power of God, that offers newness of life, forgiveness of sins, the power to resist temptation and peace of heart and mind. It is similar to Augustine’s idea that a “restless soul having found rest in God” and Luther’s concept that you need a spiritual union with God before you can be saved. PERSEVERANCE OF SAINTS
The ones who have been saved have the power to do the will of God and live uprightly until they die. This is necessary in the assertion the God’s Sovereignty is absolute. If you could feel that power and then later reject God’s gift of grace, then you would be asserting power over God, which is not possible in Calvinism. Calvin also believed that the elect could not count on their predetermined salvation and live wild, amoral lives because their status on the heavenly ledger was unknown.
Doubts constantly plagued the Puritans about their eternal fate. The Puritans were constantly looking for signs of “conversion”, the receipt that God had bestowed his saving grace on you.
Conversion was an intense, identifiable personal experience with God in which He revealed His plan for your heavenly destiny.
After conversion, the Puritans were expected to live “sanctified” lives, where they demonstrated by their holy behavior that they were among the “visible saints”.
Visible saints were people who felt the stirrings of grace in their souls and could demonstrate this to other Puritans. Why were they called Puritans? A Puritan was a member of a group called the English Protestants, who in the 16th and 17th centuries advocated strict religious discipline in addition to the simplification of the ceremonies and creeds of the Church of England. The Puritans, in short, were people who wanted to reform or purify their church.
The word Puritan was first thought of in the 1560's as a derisive term for those who advocated more purity in worship and doctrine. The party sought to make further changes in the church than had been brought about by Protestant reforms during the reigns of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, and Queen Elizabeth I.
Defenders of these reforms called the party members Puritans because of their proposals to "purify" the church. The term Puritan has also come to describe moral attitudes and values that characterize modern movements for rapid social change that require discipline and hard work. Puritan persecution under the Stuarts The first of the English Stuarts, King James I, grew up as a Presbyterian (therefore a follower of John Calvin, the same as the Puritans).
The Puritans, who had been tormented while Elizabeth was Queen, hoped that James I would listen to their wants.
Unfortunately, he had grown tired of Presbyterianism (because Calvin’s idea of church organization hindered his religious power as a king). Requests from the Puritans to change parts of the church were not met (if even a small amount been taken into consideration, the turmoil between Stuarts and Puritans could have been avoided, if not more peaceful).
He rejected the Puritans and kicked the clergymen who would not accept the Church of England’s traditions out of their positions; over 300 were removed from their jobs.
King James I called upon the Parliament in 1640, after 11 years of being disbanded, to help with funding of soldiers to stop the Scottish rebellion. Parliament was angry with the king because there had been 11 years with no meetings.
Because of this, they decided to ally with the Scottish, and in 1642, Parliament’s new soldiers were fighting the king’s army.
To end the fighting, both England and Scotland agreed to develop a Presbyterian form of church government.
The army began to remove those who upheld the values of the king from Parliament. The Puritans took over and subsequently beheaded Charles I.
Oliver Cromwell became the ruler of England, which was now a republic called the Commonwealth.
After Cromwell dies, Charles II was restored to the throne. Charles II changed the English religion to Anglicanism, and persecuted the Puritans as retribution for what they did to his father.
Acts, such as the Act of Uniformity, were passed, which caused the ejection of almost 2,000 Puritan ministers.
Another Act was the Five Mile Act of 1665, which prohibited any ministers that were previously ejected from living within a 5 mile radius of any town or place they had formerly ministered.