This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

The meaning behind the words Protestant and Puritan

When I was a kid, I asked a lot of questions that the grown-ups couldn't answer. At first I remember this surprising me, but it wasn't long before I pretty much expected the people around me to just accept the world as given to them, without ever questioning anything.

To me, asking a question is not the same as criticizing something. It's not the same as taking an opposite view, it's simply a way to understand. So, if you have ever wondered what the words Protestant means, or Puritan, and found that people either had no idea, or were wondering if you were questioning your faith, relax, you're not alone.

The word Protestant means exactly what it looks like, a person who is protesting. And what they were protesting was the way that the Christian Church was being run. The most famous protestor was Martin Luther, who protested the selling of *indulgences* from the church in 1517. My family, who were in England, started wondering the same things. They came to known, naturally enough, as Protestants.

Here is where it gets bit tricky. There were two groups of people protesting the church in those days. One group was known as Separatists. Like the name implies, they desired to separate from the existing (Anglican) Church. My family were not Separatists, they were Puritans. Their desire was to purify the existing church. That never really happened, so in the long run all Protestants became Separatists.

To me, the Puritans remain to this day. They are the common folk who are always keeping an eye out that the church doesn't get too rich, powerful, and pushy. They are continually referring back to the essence of Christianity. It's a lofty goal, trying to keep the church as pure as possible, as churches are just groups of people, and people tend to make mistakes. When my family were labelled Puritans, it was in a derisive way, as if they were attempting the impossible. But they tried, and that's all they could have done, and all we can do now.

Photo above, John Winthrop, Puritan leader. I'm not related to him, but he is the person that my family followed to The New World.
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