I noticed during Christmas many people that oppose traditional Christianity, such as the Torah observant/Hebrew roots community, were pointing out the fact that the Puritans did not celebrate Christmas, because they believed it was a pagan holiday. This got me thinking about how superstitious the Puritans were with things such as hanging innocent people during the Salem witch trials. It is obvious that they are not a perfect model of what we should believe or do as Christians. So I thought I would add a short list of the beliefs and superstitions of the Puritans to further point out their hypocrisy and superstitious nature, since according to the sects mentioned above, the Puritans are a model of true Christian practices.
Beliefs and practices of the Puritans:
– Predestination/Election: God preordained some people to heaven and some to hell.
– Total depravity: This doctrine was not held in the early Church and comes from Gnosticism.
– The Puritans believed that they were Israel with their exodus to America as proof.
– The non-elect were evil. Like with the witch trials, the Puritans persecuted others, such as the Indians, calling them the “limbs of Satan.” They also persecuted the Quakers and immigrants as well. Since they were eliminating evil, there was apparently nothing wrong with the murder of the non-elect. Sounds like the Puritans were more like the Roman Catholic Church since a Catholic during the inquisitions could commit murder of a non-Catholic and have their sin forgiven by a Priest or the Pope.
– Superstitions that everything was a good or bad sign. Example: If a bird flew inside a house that meant someone inside would soon die.
– Witches were afraid of horses since they rode on broomsticks. Horse items were saved in order to ward off witches. Example: Horseshoe hung above a door.
– Witches could be identified by a mark from the devil, such as warts, moles, birthmarks and any other non-painful skin abrasion. Any of these were seen as a sign that the person with the “mark” had signed a contract with the devil.
– Storms at sea were caused by “sea witches” who wanted to sink ships. In one recorded incident an elderly woman aboard a ship was stripped of her clothes and hanged because she was thought to be a sea witch who caused a violent storm. Hanging her, the crew thought would end the storm, which, of course, had no effect.
– Mice would leave your home if you wrote a letter asking them to.
– It was illegal to not attend Church. Church should be attended, however, it is not possible for some to attend due to various health or financial reasons.
– Art and certain forms of music, such as the organ, were considered idolatry or evil.
– Anything considered ritual, including parties and large assemblies of people, was considered evil.
As you can see the Puritans were very superstitious people. With their overly superstitious attitude, they persecuted and killed innocent people, something that early Christians did not do until well after Constantine became Emperor of Rome. It appears that they were very self righteous and hypocritical since they did not mind voodoo type rituals such as the belief about horses/horse shoes or writing letters to vermin while labeling other things as ritual, pagan, or evil. It seems the Puritans became experts at picking and choosing which belief or ritual/tradition was evil and which was not, to the point that they could not see their own hypocrisy and evil attitude towards others. Sounds similar to the modern cults that police and persecute Christians. Having said this, if the Puritans are a good model of Christianity for others just because they did not keep Christmas, the logic stands that they were a good role model in all aspects of Christianity. However, from the above beliefs of the Puritans we can see they were not.