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Excerpt from Understanding The Scarlet Letter: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents by Claudia Johnson.

Excerpt from Understanding The Scarlet Letter: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents by Claudia Johnson.

This passage clarifies the differences between Puritan and Quaker beliefs and shows that the religious disagreements between the two had important political implications.

"Quakerism, as it emerged in England in the 1650's, was actually an offshoot of Puritanism. George Fox, the most prominent Quaker leader, taught that every person had the seed of Christ or a true light within him or her, and that if one listened to and respected this light, he or she would go to heaven. This contradicted the Puritan idea that only a few elect people, chosen before the creation of the world, would be saved. It also threatened the authority of the clergy, because one did not need an educated clergy to get to know this inner light or truth. Furthermore, scripture was not the only (or even the principal) way of knowing God. Inner revelation could be truer than the Bible. There was clearly potential for a clash between Puritans and Quakers in the New World. In fact, given the strong beliefs of both, it was inevitable" (161).



Claudia Durst Johnson,  Understanding the Scarlet Letter: a Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents, Greenwood Press, c. 1995


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