Introduction to the Puritans     Bible

Witches and death seem to be the opposite of saints and everlasting life, but the Puritans search for truth resulted in lies and the famous Salem witchcraft trials. Find out what went wrong and how some Puritan beliefs live on in you.

The beliefs of the Puritans still affect the beliefs of Americans. The Puritans wanted a “pure” religion that they could no longer have in England, so in the 1600s they went to America. They valued reading the Bible and following its values. They greatly valued education. According to Kathryn VanSpanckeren, between 1630 and 1690, “there were as many university graduates in the northeastern section of the United States, known as New England, as in the mother country….They wanted education to understand and execute God's will as they established their colonies throughout New England.”

Puritan writing had one goal: to teach people “the importance of worshipping God and of the spiritual dangers that the soul faced on Earth.” The Puritans wrote spiritual diaries, poetry, sermons, and documented religious history.  William Bradford and Anne Bradstreet are excellent examples of Puritan writers who sincerely wanted to help people understand the word of God.

Sadly, the Puritans efforts to be "good" led them to become judgmental. Since there was no separation between religious rules and governmental laws, people could be punished for not attending church, working on a Sunday, dressing improperly, or other "crimes" against God. Also, the Puritan belief in a spiritual world caused them to accept as evidence the words of accusers who said they had seen the spirits of others attack them. Studying Arthur Miller's play The Crucible shows how dangerous judging others without good evidence can be.

Much of America’s success is the result of the Puritan belief in “ambition, hard work, and an intense striving for successVanSpanckeren). Success showed that they were following God’s directives and would be able to go to heaven to have eternal life. They believed that everything they had in life came from God.

“The first Puritan colonists who settled New England… were known at the ‘Pilgrims.’ They were a small group of believers who had migrated from England to Holland – even then known for its religious tolerance – in 1608, during a time of persecutions” (VanSpanckeren),

Quick Summary

Puritan Literature

·         1600 – 1860

·         Taught that ambition, a good education, God’s blessing, and hard work led to success

·         Believed humanity’s role in the universe was to worship God and follow His word

Read more from Dr.VanSpanckeren at