Twenty-First Century Puritanism

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  • Title: Twenty-First Century Puritanism: Why We Need It and How It Can Help Us
  • Author(s): Stuart Sim
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Religion in Society
  • Keywords: Puritanism, Neo-Puritanism, Calvinism, Nonconformism, Anglicanism, New England Puritanism, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress, Oliver Cromwell, John Milton, English Civil War, Mark Rutherford, William Hale White
  • Year: 2018
  • ISBN (hbk): 978-1-61229-946-4
  • ISBN (pbk): 978-1-61229-947-1
  • ISBN (pdf): 978-1-61229-948-8
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Sim, Stuart. 2018. Twenty-First Century Puritanism: Why We Need It and How It Can Help Us. Common Ground Research Networks. doi:10.18848/978-1-61229-948-8/CGP.
  • Extent: 118 pages


Puritanism is a very negative term nowadays, usually meaning something akin to 'killjoy'. In the popular mind a Puritan is someone strait-laced, severe, and intolerant of others' beliefs and behaviour; so to be described that way is effectively to be held up for ridicule. Despite that reputation, Stuart Sim provocatively argues that Puritanism can be re-appropriated for our contemporary cultural situation, as an attitude of mind rather than a set of rigid beliefs. Puritanism could be regarded as serious rather than severe, anti-authoritarian rather than intolerant, and those are characteristics that could play an important social role in contemporary life. The best aspects of Puritanism can be adapted, and after surveying both its historical emergence and then its legacy in British culture (as well as in various other countries, most notably the USA), Twenty-First Century Puritanism puts forward a secularised philosophy of Puritanism suitable for today's world.