Persecution for your beliefs or the desire for purity within the church is not something that most modern day Christians are familiar with. In a day and age when most people change churches like they change their clothes (for the most flippant of reasons) it’s hard to conceive of the type of dedication, conviction and faith that our early Christian forefathers had when they first came to America. In the pages that follow we will briefly examine some of the causes and conditions which led to the Puritan migration of 1620, while also observing the distinctions which set them apart from their contemporary counterparts.
It is thought that the Puritan movement first began to organize, into what we would recognize today, sometime in the 1560s under the reign of Queen Elizabeth. However its roots can be traced back all the way to William Tyndale, who is probably best known for his translation of the Bible from its original languages (mainly Hebrew and Greek) to the first English Bibles ever written. This inevitably led into the same sweeping reformation of the church, which was taking place in Germany (however this time for its English counterparts) primarily because of the new found ability of the common man to read and interpret the Bible for themselves. In 1536 the English Parliament officially separated from the Catholic Church in Rome to form the Church of England. The change however was predominantly one of polity as opposed to doctrine, which was the primary reason for the Puritans desire for reformation.
According to William Bradford, who was one of the charter members of the original group of Puritans who came over on the Mayflower, the Church had become, “full of bitter contentions and h...
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...ling the Puritans to leave their families, homes and jobs in order to establish a community which was free from religious persecution and similar in its beliefs. These beliefs or distinctives included the following: an emphasis on strong moral character, the prominence of the Bible as the ultimate authority in both doctrine and practice and an uncompromising belief in the doctrines of grace. All of which set apart our Puritan forefathers from both the contemporary Christians of their day and the majority of modern Christianity today.
McMichael, George, James S. Leonard, Shelly Fisher Fishkin, David Bradley, Dana D. Nelson, Joseph Csicsila, Anthology of American Literature: Bradford /Of Plymouth Plantation. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.
Ryken, Leland. Worldly Saints: The Puritans as they Really Were. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986.
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