Calvinism: the theological system
of French/Swiss theologian and his
followers, marked by strong emphasis on the
sovereignty of God, the depravity of
humankind, and the doctrine of
Calvinist Groups
Pilgrims: Totally separated from the
Anglican Church (the governmentestablished, Protestant Church of
England); generally poorer than
1. started in Yorkshire, England
2. went to Holland
3. sailed Mayflower to Plymouth
Calvinist Groups
Puritans: wished to reform the
Anglican Church from within;
followed the Pilgrims to New
England and established
Massachusetts Bay Colony
Calvinist Groups (cont.)
 All came to New World
to establish a theocracy –
a colony with laws based
on their religious beliefs
Calvinist Beliefs (Tenets)
Calvinist Tenets – the basic religious
beliefs of the Pilgrims/Puritans
Absolute sovereignty of God: God is
all-powerful and controls everything
Predestination: an omniscient Deity
knows from the beginning who will be
“saved” – have eternal life in heaven
Tenets (cont.)
Providence: God intervenes
directly in the world
Natural Depravity: Since Adam’s
fall, all humans are born in sin and
deserve damnation
Tenets (cont.)
 . Election: Through God’s mercy, a few people are
“saved,” but by the grace of God alone and not
through their own behavior or works. One hoped
one was one of the “Elect” (the term for those who
were saved), and one lived the life of a saved person,
constantly searching one’s soul for signs of “grace”;
but there was really nothing one could do to change
God’s plan for one’s immortal soul. (Note: This most
extreme of Puritan/Calvinist doctrines was dropped
by the early 1700s and was not a part of Edwards’
theology or of other later Calvinists.)
Tenets (cont.)
Evil is inner: Man needs reform of
himself, rather than of institutions
(such as schools, prisons,
government, etc.)
God is revealed in the Bible (and
nowhere else, such as in nature)
Decline of New England
 1643: 11% church membership
Preaching of the “Jeremiad” type of sermon: jeremiads
bemoan their communities’ fall from grace, they also read
the misfortunes and punishments that result from that fall
as paradoxical proofs of God’s love and of the group’s status
as his “chosen people.”
 1657: Half-Way Covenant
 Secularized state
Decline of Puritanism (cont.)
1677: Stoddardeanism: Very open Communion
Secularized church
1691: Massachusetts a Royal Colony
No religious bans
1692: Salem Witch Trials
Result of Decline
Religious Revival known as the
Great Awakening
Itinerant preachers told people
they could be saved by a
“conversion experience,” or else
be damned to eternity in Hell
(different from old idea of
Result of Decline
Rise of other religious groups
such as Quakers
Rise of Deism (set of beliefs
held by many Revolutionaries)