The Puritans once held a position of power among the religious world. Their beliefs were strict and they did not compromise their morals or standards for any outside individual. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Puritan religion reflects the attitude and values of the common man during that particular time period.
The main belief among the Puritans was that they were God's chosen people. In their eyes, they held supremacy over the average man. They believed in Pelagianism based on the Doctrine of Elect. This was the belief that man could redeem himself through acts of charity, religious devotion, and by living an unselfish life. Many of these strict beliefs were based on John Calvin's principle of predestination. Predestination was that through God's grace, one would reach heaven and that this special grace could not be earned; it was predetermined at birth. This principle of predestination forced Puritans to truly believe that their actions did not matter and their devotion to God had no bearing over their destiny.
Puritans also believed in the degradation of one's self, which meant that they had to make themselves worthy to God so that he would not instill his wrath on the Puritan community. They feared God and his special power, but considered themselves God's special elects. Basically, they felt they had the right to perform any necessary deeds that would satisfy God's will. Sin was thought of as an unavoidable element of human nature, and since this was a natural occurrence, all sins had to be confessed.
Although the Puritans believed that their destiny was predetermined and their actions did not matter, they still strove to be good citizens and prove their strength to God. They followed a daily routine of prayer and behavior focusing on devoting themselves to the Lord. The Puritans believed that they were superior to the common man and thought themselves to be faithful representatives of God.
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