The Puritans

The Puritans

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The Puritans

I. The history of the Puritans

The Puritans didn't give themself this name. At first it was used to humiliate the Puritans. But after a while they adopt the name for themselves. The name comes from the word pure and has the meaning "clean", "unspoiled", "proper".

The Puritans origins are in England during the early 16th Century. The Puritanism was a form of protestantism in England. The Puritans are people, who believes in predestination, because of their religious conflict with the church of England and as a result of the persecution they were forced to leave England.

Puritans are discontented with the Church of England. The Puritans are people, who stand in for the pure doctrin of the bible. They reject all forms of religious practise. Every written word in the bible must be believed from them. Who follows God's moral codes will be blessed with eternal life. The conflict between the King, the Church of England and the Puritans had reached the climax when William Laud became the new Archbishop of Canterbury. He brought new beliefs in the Church, but this was unacceptable for the Puritans. This new beliefs included emphasise on individual acceptance or rejection of God's grace, toleration for a varity of religious beliefs, and the incoporation of "high church" symbols. For the Puritans is this not true belief. So they wished to get rid of all catholics influence in their religion. Thats the reason why they split from the Church of England in 1633.

So they travelled by ship to New England in the early 17th century. The New England region became the center for Puritanism. To controll most of the colonies' activity they held a strong connection between church and state. This strong controll could be hold up until the end of the 17th century.

II. Puritans beliefs & values

The Puritans had five basic beliefs, which were very similar to Calvins' doctrins. Johannes Calvin was a french Protestant reformer, who lived in Geneva.

A. Total Depravity – that means because of the original sin of Adam everyone is a siner by birth and no one has the right to salvation. Every person is absolutly bad and doomed.
B. Unconditional Election – God has chosen some for salvation and some to be condemned. Whether or not one is predestinated for salvation can not be affectet by oneself. Its not because of what one has done or not done, there is no reason for the predestination and no possibility to change the own status.

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C. Limited Atonement – In contrast to the catholic's doctrins one can not work off a debt. The acts to please God are limited.
D. Irresistible Grace – when one is chosen from God for salvation, one can not resist his grace.
E. Perseverance –When someone is predestinated for salvation, nothing he does can change that fact.

The Puritans strongly believed, that God intervens actively in their lifes. They believed that God is present in every human action and natural phenomenon. Hence, nothing happens by chance but everthing happens on purpose. Through the events God shows his wrath or reward.

Furthermore, they believed that they are God's chosen people and that they are a shining example for the rest of the world. Hence, they wanted to create a model theocracy in America.

Their beliefs led to a own view in many areas.
No one could know whether or not he is predestinated for salvation, but when one obeys God's will and succeeds in his life he probably is.
As a result, the Puritans tried to obey every single word from the bible. That produced strict laws and moral codes in their community.
What is more, they had a strong work ethic. They were very disciplined, worked hard and didn't spend their money for their own pleasure.

Moreover, they brought forward education in their communities. Everyone should be able to read and understand the bible, because they believed in the "pristerhood of all believers". That means, there is no difference between minister and farmer, every Christian has to follow God's will.

Also, they had a strong believe in the devil. To their mind, the devil was behind every evil action and his desire was to lead them astray. Each person should continually read the bible, pray and go to church, to avoid the devils influence. They were afraid of everything that could contain evil, like witchcraft, pagan or occult rituals and practices.

III. Salem Witch Hunts

Early in 1692 the witch hunt hysteria began in Salem. A doctor examined Rev. Parris' daughter and niece and decided that the only explanation for their strange behaviour were witchcraft. The Puritans of Salem believed the doctors conclusion without any questioning. On march 1, 1692 the two magistrates John Hawthorne and Jonathan Corwin started to examine the accusation of witchcraft in Salem. During this questioning, Tituba confessed first to being a witch and claimed that she and the accused girls had all made pacts with the devil. Through this confession the Puritans of Salem felt that their suspicion were valid. Hysteria ruled in Salem. No one were save of this paranoia. Governor William Phips was forced to create a special court to hear the witch cases. This court was known as Oyer and Terminer. The charge of witchcraft were only based uppon gossip or hearsay, and the only way to avoid execution was to admitt to being a witch. Nineteen people refused to confess and they were all executed in 1692. Among these nineteen people where Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor. These trials were the harsh answer for religious purity that does not allow any individual thinking.
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