Puritanism grew out of the teachings of John Calvin, and became a movement to reform the Church of England. It was later brought to America by the Pilgrims who settled in New England. Puritans conceived of the relationship between God and man differently from many other Christian sects.

God and Salvation

The Puritans saw God as a strict and awesome father. God’s providence, as the Puritans understood it, meant that God controlled everything and everyone in the universe, and that He could foresee everything that was to be. The Puritans believed that mortality was punishment for the Original Sin committed by Adam in the Garden of Eden, and that most people were depraved and undeserving of salvation, which was a gift from God that was bestowed upon the very few.


The Puritans believed that since God knows all that has happened, is happening and will happen, and that everything is a manifestation of His will, that everything, including salvation and damnation, are already preordained. This is known as predestination. Yet, since God is also inscrutable, there is no way to know for sure who will be saved and who will be damned, according to the book "The Puritan Way of Death: A Study in Religion, Culture, and Social Change."

The Elect

The elect are those fortunate enough to enjoy eternal life in heaven after death. Since it was impossible to know whether or not one was a member of the elect or not, the Puritans believed that the best one could do was to lead a good life and have faith. The Puritans taught the need to constantly examine one’s life for proper living in line with the teachings of the Bible, as well as to maintain faith in one’s goodness and God’s providence.

Eternal Damnation

Those who are not destined to be saved, according to the Puritans, would suffer eternal damnation in Hell after death or after God’s judgment on Doomsday, whichever came first. They believed that because God bestowed salvation on very few people, most souls would face eternal torment in Hell, which they believed was full of the worst horrors.

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