Religion in the Thirteen Colonies

Start Free Trial

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Puritans represented an English variant on Calvinism, which was a particularly rigorous form of Protestantism derived from the teachings of sixteenth century theologian John Calvin. Puritans got their name from their desire to "purify" the Church of England of many of the ceremonial and ritual aspects that they considered corrupt....

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Puritans represented an English variant on Calvinism, which was a particularly rigorous form of Protestantism derived from the teachings of sixteenth century theologian John Calvin. Puritans got their name from their desire to "purify" the Church of England of many of the ceremonial and ritual aspects that they considered corrupt. Under the leadership of John Winthrop, many Puritans migrated to New England, where they hoped to establish a society that would be "a city on a hill," an example of holiness for others to follow. Puritans believed in a society governed by their interpretation of God's law. Religion suffused every aspect of daily life among Puritans, who regarded themselves as a community of believers. In this social context, a moral transgression became a crime against the community as a whole. Perhaps the most salient belief of Puritans was their Calvinistic conviction that God had, in his infinite power, already chosen whose souls were to be saved and who was to be damned. Those marked for salvation were "saints," and Puritans strived to assuage their own anxieties as well as cement their position in society by being "visible saints," in other words, people worthy of receiving God's mercy. Puritans also regarded hard work as a virtue, and willingly embraced worldly pursuits, but maintained a lingering distrust of those who amassed the trappings of great wealth.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team