Differences between Puritans and Pilgrims

This paper discusses the differences that exist between the Puritans and the Pilgrims. It is worth noting that both groups: the puritans and the Pilgrims advanced for reforms of the Church of England. The strategies they undertook to advance reforms of the church marked their point of differences despite both of them being strict Calvinists. These are some of the events that occurred in the early America, and as much as most American people know the existence of the terms “Pilgrim” and “Puritan,” they fail to realize that they are two distinct groups. According to Collier (2012), many scholars have the perception that the Pilgrims also referred to as the “English Separatists” constituted a gentle and sober group that only sought the truth. On the other hand, they believe that the Puritans constituted a group of tyrannical, harsh people who banned everything including sneezing and dancing. The Puritans advanced for the reformation of the church from within it while the Pilgrims advanced for separation from it and embark on reformation from outside it. According to Collier (2012), the Pilgrims separated from the Puritans in order to seek religious freedom in what they referred to as the “new world.” However, as much as both groups held varying views in terms of reforms of the Church, they both had similar belief in predestination, original sin and literal biblical interpretation as the word of God.       

In considering the two groups who colonized the New England i.e. the modern day states such as Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, it is clear that the Puritans and the Pilgrims were two distinct groups, which had polarized missions (Winship, 2012). In fact one of the most noticeable differences between the two groups is that the Puritans refused to break away from the Anglican Church. In the perception of the Puritans, religion was a highly intellectual, subtle and complex affair. They required religious leaders in the Anglican Church to be competently trained scholars whose level of education required translating authoritarian positions (Winship, 2012).  On the other hand, the Pilgrims held a separatist position and held in their view that that there were not yet satisfactory reforms of the Anglican Church. They opposed the idea of replacing the king with the pope as the highest authority of the church believing that it was a corrupt practice that could create an idolatrous order. Another difference is that, unlike the Puritans, the Pilgrims lacked a political agenda in their push for religious reforms; they only involved theological and moral principles.     

Owing to their push for the reformation of the Anglican Church from within it, the Puritans developed a more rational comprehension of the manner in which the state should relate with the church. The Pilgrims, on the other hand, refused to compromise the relation relationship between the state and the church. This is the reason why discontent emerged causing pilgrims to migrate from England to form their own churches (Lewalski, 1967). Another difference is that the Pilgrims were the first group to land in America (in 1620), and they were few in numbers due to the difficult journey across the ocean from Holland (Collier, 2012). The Puritans, on the other hand, landed in America a decade later and in large numbers thus outnumbering the Pilgrims.

In terms of education and social class, there existed a major difference between the two groups. The Puritans encouraged their members to pursue education to higher levels, and advance their religious understanding to greater heights. They believed in high social class and therefore scrambled for high social positions in the society. The Pilgrims, on the other hand, did not believe in securing positions in higher social positions; besides, not many of their members had a desirable academic background as the Puritans (Collier, 2012). The difference existed, also, in terms of community and governance. The Pilgrims embraced some form of democracy in the governance of their community. They believed both the leaders and the people should have equal rights, and that the church and the state were separate entities from each other. The Puritans on the other hand, embraced theocracy as a form of governance in their community (Winship, 2012). They believed leaders and ordinary members were not equal because leaders had a celestial responsibility to rule. Besides, the church and the state were not separate entities because a lot of issues had to overlap each other.    In conclusion, this paper discusses the difference between the Puritans and the Pilgrims. The strategies they undertook to advance reforms of the church marked their point of differences despite both of them being strict Calvinists. The Puritans advanced for the reformation of the church from within it while the Pilgrims advanced for separation from it and embark on reformation from outside it. Owing to their push for the reformation of the Anglican Church from within it, the Puritans developed a more rational comprehension of the manner in which the state should relate with the church. The Pilgrims, on the other hand, refused to compromise the relation relationship between the state and the church.

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