Predestinarianism in the New World

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Predestinarianism was a key belief held by the Puritans, a religious group that migrated from England to the New World in the 17th century. This article explores the idea behind predestinarianism and its significance to the Puritans in America.

Understanding Predestinarianism

Predestinarianism is rooted in the belief of predestination, which states that God, an all-powerful being in the Christian belief system, has already predetermined the fate of every individual. According to this belief, all human beings have no power over their fates and their eventual place in the afterlife (heaven or hell) has already been decided upon. Many of the Puritans who traveled to the Americas to find religious freedom, embraced this doctrine. Fortunately for many of these Puritans, they also saw themselves as the chosen ones destined for heaven. This was also called ‘salvation.’

Divine Election and the Puritan Mission

The Puritans saw themselves as the "elect," the chosen ones who were predestined for salvation. They believed that their migration to the New World was part of God's plan, a mission to establish a godly society free from the corruption and religious persecution they faced in England. They viewed their journey as a manifestation of their special status in God's eyes.

Living a Godly Life

Predestinarianism influenced the Puritans' way of life. They believed their migration to the New World was part of God's plan to establish a righteous society. They lived with a sense of duty and strived to lead holy lives, upholding strict moral codes and religious practices, despite the belief that nothing they did in life would change their fates. Those who were wicked on the inside would go to hell regardless of their righteous way of living. While nothing they did in life would change God’s mind about their fate, their lifestyle was seen as an indicator of where they would eventually end up – in heaven with their loved ones or burning in hell for all eternity. One might assume that it was therefore still in their best interests to live ’Godly’ lives for the sake of appearances.

Despite their perhaps self-defeating belief system, Puritans who believed in predestination have been quite influential in American society. Their emphasis on morality, hard work, and education is believed to have shaped the early foundations of American culture. Their commitment to their faith also influenced the legal system and governance in the New World. Expect to see this term pop up when we get to the topic of American exceptionalism!

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