Sunday, February 27, 2011

Puritanism and the Rejection of the Church Year

By getting rid of the church year and all Christian holidays, the Puritans left a vacuum that would ultimately be filled by the non-religious ordering of time, thus reintroducing the idea that there exists a secular world that functions separately to religious categories. Of course, it should not be overlooked that the Puritan antipathy to the church calendar was not initially motivated by a dualistic impulse. In fact, quite the contrary: their rejection of Christmas and all other religious holidays was rooted in the notion that the entire years was sanctified. Nevertheless, the Puritan’s strict adherence to the regulative principle, whereby all things not explicitly prescribed in scripture as part of worship were therefore forbidden from worship, helped (when combined with numerous other social, political and religious factors) to create a duality in the culture that emerged in their wake, especially in North America. By relinquishing the Christian narrative from the calendar, the Puritans created the template for a culture that would be evacuated of its religious moorings. First this would manifest itself in a sense of culture as an autonomous institution running parallel to the church; secondly, culture would become a system in actual competition with the church. By rejecting the church year as one legitimate way to tell and retell the story of redemption, the Puritans helped to underscore the sense of evangelical religion as disembodied, detached from the space-time continuum.

To read more about the church year, see my previous blog post "Church Calendar."

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