The Puritans Who were the Puritans Puritans were
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Who were the Puritans? Puritans were a branch of the Protestant church Their movement began in the 16 th and 17 th centuries Although they preferred to be called “the godly, ” they were given the name “Puritans” for their struggle to reform or purify the Church of England
Two Types of Puritans: Separatists Held irreconcilable differences with the Church of England; they thought the church was corrupt and that they must distance themselves from it Were persecuted under various monarchies in England First fled from England to Holland Later, came to found the Plymouth Colony in America in 1620 Non-Separatists Held less extreme views of the Church of England Believed in church reform rather than an overthrow of the church Came to America in 1630 and founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Doctrine of Election / Predestination: Man is innately sinful; original sin means that we are incapable of any depravity Only those who are chosen by God (the elect) are saved; salvation is not based on your beliefs or good works The grace of Christ allows the chosen the strength to follow the will of God The chosen will follow the path of righteousness
Predestination continued… No one knew who was or was not saved. Puritans believed that you must have a conversion experience in order to be accepted by God’s grace was given to the chosen, and this grace was demonstrated through one’s behavior. Puritans would, therefore, reflect upon themselves (self-examination) for signs of this grace. So, even though they did not believe good works helped one get into heaven, they believed that living a godly life was evidence of being chosen.
As a result of their belief in predestination, Puritans: Were always looking for signs Scrutinized daily events Thought there was always a reason for everything Felt that God’s hand was in everything, no matter how insignificant
Puritan Beliefs & Values: Puritans believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible They believed in explicit readings of the Bible, as opposed to church doctrines They did not believe in excess worship; they wanted no rituals, adornments, no stained glass, no cushioned pews, no singing, and no music They wanted to keep things simple so that they could concentrate on God There is a constant struggle between the forces of God and Satan God rewards the good and punishes the wicked
Education & Work Ethic: They believed in living a virtuous, selfexamined life They believed in strict discipline and had a strong work ethic They felt that qualities that led to economic success were virtuous They valued education Harvard was founded in 1636 to train ministers They wanted their children to get far away from the evils of England Children were not allowed to play games; boys were taught to go hunting and fishing, while girls were taught how to run a household Women were considered less capable intellectually, physically, theologically, and morally (Eve was the first sinner) Literature for pleasure was highly censored
Puritan Literature & Writings: They did not write for pleasure or entertainment. One reason was the fact that they were struggling to build their settlement. Another reason was the fact that they considered works of fiction frivolous and possibly immoral. Types of texts: - historical documents: preserving their history and offering justifications to relieve the guilt they felt over leaving relatives behind in England - personal journals: as tools for self-reflection/ examination and as a way to look for signs of salvation - poetry, but highly inspired by religious beliefs - religious tracts
Puritan Plain Style: a mode of expression characterized by its clarity, accessibility, straightforwardness, simplicity, and lack of ornamentation. In early America, the plain style aesthetic had broad cultural relevance, shaping the language of prose and poetry, the design of furniture and architecture, painting and other visual arts. Rejecting ornamental flourishes and superfluous decoration as sinful vanity, plain stylists worked to glorify God in their expressions rather than to show off their own artistry or claim any renown for themselves. This aesthetic appealed to both Puritans and Quakers.