Puritans vs Separatists
Is there any difference between puritans and separatists? This is a question worth answering as we hear people saying that “all Separatists are Puritans.” In order to understand how this statement can be true, you need to have an understanding who a Puritan is and who a Separatist is. Once, that is identified the difference between Puritans and Separatists will be very clear. Before delving into the description of each term, keep in mind that both of these groups came into being as a result of the actions of the Church of England. They are both part of Protestantism.
Who are Puritans?
A puritan thoroughly believes that religious schools have paved the way for the corruption in the worship of God. Therefore, he firmly believes that people should resort to purer forms of worshipping God and thus establish a personal connection with God. Puritans never aimed at separating themselves from the Church of England. Instead, Puritans attempted to change the English church. In addition, they only want to purify the Church of the influence of the Catholic Church. In short, it can be said that the Puritans are the English Protestants who strived hard to simplify the religion. They aimed at the simplification of religion, especially after Reformation. Thus, a Puritan is deeply rooted in the firm belief of returning back to the very beginning of Christianity.
Who are Separatists?
The separatists did their best to oppose the practice of the English church at that time. Separatists aimed at protection from ethnic cleansing and genocide. The activities of separatists are triggered by economic motivations too in the sense that they want to put an end to economic exploitation by a more powerful group of the poorer group. A separatist, as the name itself would indicate, distances himself from the Church of England. In other words, he encourages separatism to a great deal. Separatists want themselves to be separated from the Church of England. They would also aim at separating themselves from the so-called non-believers.
It is interesting to note that there is another form of separatism called the ethnic separatism. Ethnic separatism is based more on differences arising out of cultural and linguistic concepts. They have not much to do with religious differences or even racial differences for that matter. It is to be understood that destabilization of one separatist movement may give rise to the advent of another separatist movement.
What is the difference between Puritans and Separatists?
• Puritans are a group of extremists in Protestantism. They were not satisfied with the Reformation of the Church of England. But, they still did not leave the church and stayed with it, advising reforms. The Separatists are the group of Puritans, who got away from the Church of England as they did not accept the changes and did not agree with their ways.
• When you use the word Puritan, in a wider sense, it includes both Puritans and Separatists. That is why it is said that all Separatists are Puritans, but not all Puritans are Separatists.
• Separatists want themselves to be separated from the Church of England. They would also aim at separating themselves from the so-called non-believers.
• Puritans would not aim at separating themselves from the Church of England. On the other hand, they only want to purify the Church of the influence of the Catholic Church.
• Puritans are very firm in their beliefs. Such cannot be said about separatists as they wanted to get away from everyone. They did not like the church, so they left, unlike the Puritans who stayed even when they did not agree with the methods.
• Puritans wanted to cleanse the Anglican Church using whatever means. Separatists were not like that. They wanted to get away from genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Images Courtesy: Gallery of famous 17th-century Puritan theologians via Wikicommons (Public Domain)