The Major Beliefs of the English Puritans

The English Puritans strove to separate themselves from the traditional church.
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The Puritans emerged in the 16th century as a reform movement within the Church of England. The Puritans' goal was to “purify” the official Church of England by restoring traditional biblical beliefs and practices rather than following church traditions. Some attempted to reform the Church from within while many others left the Church of England to start anew. The Puritans followed many of the teachings of John Calvin (1509-64), a leader in the Protestant Reformation. The English Puritans had a great influence on early American history because many of them left the Church of England and came to live in the American colonies.

1 Covenants

The purpose of Biblical covenants was to show people God's expectations. The Puritans emphasized the covenant of grace and the covenant of works in their teachings. In Puritan theology, the covenant of works was the initial covenant between mankind and God, one wherein people could merit God's rewards through perfect obedience to Him. They believed that Adam's original sin required the covenant of grace, which was God's promise to give unmerited reward of eternal life to “the elect” people whom He has predestined to be saved from their sins.

2 Predestination

The Puritans believed in the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, which says that God has predetermined the people who will be saved from damnation and those who will not. They accepted the doctrine's implication that God continually plays an active role in the lives of people and in the fate of nations.

3 Practicality of Bible

The English Puritans devoted themselves to following the Bible's plan for living and using it as a practical guide for all of their activities. They believed that the Church of England did not follow the Bible properly and that its traditions were simply the result of “political struggles and man-made doctrines" rather than a careful study of the Bible. Thus, the Puritans wanted to break off from the official church to reclaim biblical principles for living.

4 Vocation

For Puritans, each person was supposed to fulfill a special vocation designed by God. The doctrine of vocation meant that, since a person's talents come from God, God must desire for them to use those talents for specific purposes. Puritan vocations were often religious in nature, such as working in the ministry. But many other vocations brought Puritan individuals into secular society to play economic and civic roles in their communities.

Brian Gabriel has been a writer and blogger since 2009, contributing to various online publications. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in history from Whitworth University.