The Puritans were members of a group of English Protestants seeking further reforms or even separation from the established church during the Reformation.
Associated exclusively with no single theology or definition of the church (although many were Calvinists), the English Puritans were known at first for their extremely critical attitude regarding the religious compromises made during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Many of them were graduates of Cambridge University, and they became Anglican priests to make changes in their local churches. They encouraged direct personal religious experience, sincere moral conduct, and simple worship services. Worship was the area in which Puritans tried to change things most; their efforts in that direction were sustained by intense theological convictions and definite expectations about how seriously Christianity should be taken as the focus of human existence.
Basic Puritan Beliefs are
- 1. Total Depravity - through Adam's fall, every human is born sinful - concept of Original Sin.
- 2. Unconditional Election - God "saves" those he wishes - only a few are selected for salvation - concept of predestination.
- 3. Limited Atonement - Jesus died for the chosen only, not for everyone.
- 4. Irresistible Grace - God's grace is freely given, it cannot be earned or denied. Grace is defined as the saving and transfiguring power of God.
- 5. Perseverance of the "saints" - those elected by God have full power to interpret the will of God, and to live uprightly. If anyone rejects grace after feeling its power in his life, he will be going against the will of God - something impossible in Puritanism.