Lay Empowerment and the Development of Puritanism

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2015-03-30
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
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Looking at the rise, spread, and decline of puritanism in England and New England, this book focuses on the role of godly men and women as opposed to the clergy. It focuses on the spiritist or mystical element of puritanism and explores the role of family devotions, lay conferences, prophesying and other means by which the laity influenced puritan belief and practice. The book examines the central role of the laity in building the Congregational system of New England churches. It explores the role of religious discussions around the campfires of the New Model Army in shaping England's religious direction, and looks as well at the radical street preachers of London (including women) during England's Civil Wars. The latter chapters focus on the clerical and magisterial reaction to lay power and the attempt to enhance the role of the clergy within churches and of clerical associations over individual congregations.

Author Biography

Francis J. Bremer is Professor Emeritus of History at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, USA. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University, the University of Cambridge, and Trinity College. He has authored and edited a total of sixteen other books on puritanism in the Atlantic world, including the prize-winning John Winthrop: America's Forgotten Founding Father (2003) and Building a New Jerusalem: John Davenport, a Puritan in Three Worlds (2012).

Table of Contents

1. The Experience and Meaning of God's Caress
2. Thinking of the Laity in the English Reformation
3. Lay Puritans in Stuart England
4. Gatherings of the Saints in England and the Netherlands
5. Shaping the New England Way
6. The Free Grace Controversy and Redefining the Role of Lay Believers
7. The Role of the Laity in England's Puritan Revolution
8. Varieties of Lay Enthusiasm in New England and England
9. Responding to the Challenges of Diversity, 1640-1660
10. Clergy and Laity in the Later Seventeenth Century

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