Puritanism Essay, Research Paper
Puritanism, a movement arising
Puritanism was not static and unchanging. At first it simply stood for further reform of worship, but soon it began to attack episcopacy as unscriptural. At times the difference between the Puritans and the Anglicans seems to have been as much a matter of differing cultural values as of differing theological opinions, as when their Sabbatarianism (insistence on strict observance of the Sabbath) came into conflict with King James I’s defense of sports and games on Sunday. Puritanism became a political as well as a religious movement when the parliamentary protest against Stu art despotism became entwined with the religious protest against Archbishop Laud’s policy of enforced conformity (see English Revolution). Both in England during the Commonwealth (1649-60), and in 17th- century New England, Puritanism meant the direction and control of civil authority.
Nor was Puritanism a wholly cohesive movement. In the 1580s, the Separatists were bitterly condemned by other Puritans. When the Westminster Assembly (1643) sought to define doctrine and polity, the differences between Presbyterians and Independents (congregationalists) were manifest. In the turbulence of the 1640s, a number of small sects appeared, emphasizing that part of Puritan doctrine which acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the believer to the neglect of that part which stands for social order and authority.
With the Stuart Restoration, many Puritans accepted the Book of Common Prayer and rule by bishops; others were forced into permanent nonconformity. In one sense, therefore, Puritanism failed. Its influence has persisted, however, entering into Methodism in the 18th century and evangelicalism in the 19th. Furthermore, in America, Puritan moralism and its sense of an elect people in covenant with God deeply affected the national character.
Theocracy (Greek theokratia, “government by a god”), constitution, or polity, of a country in which God is regarded as the sole sovereign and the laws of the realm are seen as divine commands. By extension a theocracy is a country in which control is in the hands of the clergy. The typical example of a theocracy is that established by the Hebrew lawgiver Moses. Later attempts to found theocratic societies were made by the French theologian John Calvin and the English soldier-statesman Oliver Cromwell. The caliphate, in Muslim communities, was a theocracy. The rule of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran is an example of a theocratic government in modern times.
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