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Can you guess the early Americans’ basis for morality and society?

July 27, 2017

The Puritans’ Moral Authority was the Bible

The Puritans of early Massachusetts and Connecticut believed that the Bible was God’s divinely-inspired written Word, and this sacred book was the foundation of the Puritans’ morality and colonies.

Puritans Going to Church by George Henry Boughton, c1884

The Bible contains the moral law of God as expressed in the Ten Commandments, the Two Great Commandments, and other teachings of Moses, the prophets, Jesus Christ, and the Apostles.  Other ceremonial laws were practiced by the Israelites of the Bible in their Jewish nation, but those laws were not considered part of God’s moral law, nor applicable to other peoples.

In Exodus 20:1-17, God gives Moses and the ancient Israelites the Ten Commandments to follow.  He commands that they have no other gods, make no idols, do not take His name in vain, keep the Sabbath rest, honor father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness against neighbor, and do not covet your neighbor.  The greater spirit of these laws is summarized in the Two Great Commandments—to love God and to love others—also known as the “Law of Love” found in Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18, and Matthew 22:37-40.  In Matthew, when Jesus is questioned by a religious leader about the greatest commandment of the law, Jesus replies with the two commandments of love:  “‘‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”

The Puritans sought to uphold this Biblical morality in their communities.  They aimed to create colonies that were centered on the Bible.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

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Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Activity:  Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 3, Part 2 of 3, Activity 3:  Learning More About the Puritans, p. 118, 317-319.  MS-HS.

Learning More About the Puritans… 

To download the whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the member resources page on americanheritage.org.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Published by: The Founding

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