After almost half a millenium, the Puritans are now “hip”.  It’s incredible how the New Calvinists have embraced Puritanism in recent years.  Who were the Puritans?  What did they believe?  And how did the Puritans worship God?  We will attempt to answer these questions in today’s post.  It’s important to note that this article is not intended to be a treatise on Puritanism.  We’re just skimming the surface of a topic about which volumes and volumes have been written.  Please feel free to chime in with your personal knowledge of the Puritans. 


Who were the Puritans?

The Puritans were a group of Christians which formed after the Reformation.  According to the Wikipedia article on “Puritan” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puritan), Puritans did not originally use the term for themselves. It was a term of abuse that first surfaced in the 1560s. “Precisemen” and “Precisians” were other early antagonistic terms for Puritans who preferred to call themselves “the godly.”

The Puritans were greatly inspired by John Calvin and wanted to establish their own “city on a hill” (from Matthew 5:14) just as Calvin (who died in 1564) had attempted to do in Geneva, Switzerland.

The first Puritans lived predominantly in England; however, some fled to other parts of Europe when faced with religious persecution.  Some of the Puritans abandoned their old life and bravely traveled to a new land where they tried to establish their own “city on a hill”. 

What did the Puritans believe?

The Puritans criticized the Church of England for being too close to Catholicism. They believed it needed further reformation.  According to the Wikipedia article on “Puritan”

“Puritans still opposed much of the Catholic summations in the Church of England, notably the Book of Common Prayer, but also the use of non-secular vestments (cap and gown) during services, the use of the Holy Cross during baptism, and kneeling during the sacrament. Puritans rejected anything they thought was reminiscent of the Pope, and many of the non-secular rituals preserved by the Church of England were not only considered to be objectionable, but were believed to put one’s immortal soul in peril.”

The Puritans embraced Calvinism, and they believed that only the truly elect should be admitted to church membership.  They further believed that their congregations represented the true church.

According to the Wikipedia article on “Puritan”,

“The central tenet of Calvinism was God’s supreme authority over human affairs, particularly in the church, and especially as expressed in the Bible. Puritans therefore sought both individual and corporate conformity to the teaching of the Bible, with moral purity pursued both down to the smallest detail as well as ecclesiastical purity to the highest level. They believed that man existed for the glory of God; that his first concern in life was to do God’s will and so to receive future happiness. On the individual level, Calvinists emphasized that each person should be continually reformed by the grace of God to fight against indwelling sin and do what is right before God. A humble and obedient life would arise for every Christian.”  

How did the Puritans worship God?

Puritans rejected the ritual, décor, and worship practices prevalent in Catholic churches durng the 16th century.  The Wiki article on “Puritan” states:

“At the level of the church body, Calvinists believed that the worship in the church ought to be strictly regulated by what is commanded in the Bible (the regulative principle of worship). Calvinists condemned as idolatry many worship practices, regardless of antiquity or widespread adoption among Christians, against opponents who defended tradition. Like some of Reformed churches on the European continent, Puritan reforms were typified by a minimum of ritual and decoration and by an unambiguous emphasis on preaching. Simplicity in worship led to the exclusion of vestments, images, candles, etc. They did not celebrate traditional holidays which they believed to be in violation of the regulative principle…

Puritans opposed the supremacy of the monarch in the church (Erastianism), and argued that the only head of the Church in heaven or earth is Christ. They believed that secular governors are accountable to God (not through the church, but alongside it) to protect and reward virtue, including “true religion”, and to punish wrongdoers — a policy that is better described as non-interference rather than separation of church and state. The separating Congregationalists, a radical segment of the Puritan movement, believed the Divine Right of Kings was heresy.

Other notable beliefs of Calvinists included the priesthood of all believers, and that the observance of the Sabbath was still obligatory for Christians, although they generally believed the Sabbath had been changed to Sunday.”

There is much more information to share about the Puritans, and we will pick it up tomorrow…



  1. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    But it was also the Puritans that distinguished the covenants between Israel and the Church, something Calvin and Luther did not do well.

  2. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Hopefully, we will outline how the Puritans impacted faith and culture-both positively and negatively. We will try to deal with the issue that you raised. Happy St.Paddy’s Day.

  3. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    I want to say that I enjoy your blog. I don’t agree with everything you say, but for the most part, I find it interesting and informative.

    About the background color: could you try white or an off-white shade? I think it would be much easier to read. I follow several other blogs, and most of them have a white background with black type. My eyes are getting old and I just can’t focus and distinguish colors like I did when I was younger. For example, if you look at the bottom of this page, there is something that looks as if it is printed in lavender, but I cannot make it out. All colors would show up with a white background. Just a suggestion.

  4. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    We are planning such a background. The green is for Sr. Patrick’s Day. You will see a change in the next couple of days. Thanks for reading.

  5. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Hope you’ll take some time, please, to visit our Puritan-admiring site, read some articles, listen to some radio shows, give me some feedback. Also hope you’ll consider listening to the radio show live and call in. God bless you, your family, your work.

    John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com
    Communications Director, Institute on the Constitution
    Host, “The American View” Radio Show
    Recovering Republican

    The American View LIVE!

    “The American View” call-in radio show can be heard daily, live, at 11 a.m. to Noon (EST) by going to NationalProlifeRadio.net and clicking on “ON AIR NOW LISTEN LIVE.”

    Our call-in phone number is 1-866-986-6397. Do give us a call, please. And do pray for the success of our program that it might glorify God. Because, as He says in Psalm 127:1: “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Amen!

    PS — And do tell me, please, your specific areas of interest so I might direct you to some information, radio shows, re: your topics. Thanks again…

  6. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Much better colors! 🙂

  7. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127


    We will try out a few more tomorrow but are definitely going for the lighter/gray colors like the Kindle background. Its kind of like the colors in my house. I am always trying out new colors!

  8. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    I like this color much better myself! Your comments regarding colors on the blog yesterday were funny, Junkster.