Puritans Vs. Protestants: What Is The Main Difference?

I am continually teaching about the history of the church and how the many denominations differ from each other. In recent days, I’ve been taking time to teach my Bible study group about the aspects that differentiate different believers, specifically Puritans and protestants. In this post, therefore, I’ll give a detailed breakdown of Puritans vs. Protestants and what it means to belong to either group.

While both Puritans and Protestants are terms associated with Christianity, Puritans get their name from the many efforts made by believers to purify the Church of England. At the same time, Protestant is a Latin word derivative of the word protestari, which means ‘bearing witness.’ Additionally, Puritans followed John Calvin’s teachings, while Protestants followed the sermons and teachings of Martin Luther, the Nicene, and the Apostles Creeds.

In this post, I’ll delve deeper into the aspects that differentiate Puritans from Protestants, how these groups proliferated the populations worldwide, the differences in their beliefs, and their similarities. Read on to learn more.

Puritans vs. Protestants: Difference in definition 

Puritans Vs. Protestants
Puritans vs. Protestants. Image source: Pixabay

Puritans are defined as a group of Protestants that followed and believed in the teachings of the scholar John Calvin and subsequently wished to purify the then Anglican Church (Church of England) from the 16th and 17th centuries’ influences of the Catholic Church.

On the other hand, Protestantism is regarded as the broad term that defines the 16th-century Christian movements that challenged the Catholic Church’s teachings, practices, and doctrines. So, while the Puritans aimed to purify the church, the Protestants (protestari) intended to become witnesses who’d also revolt against the Catholic Church.

What’s the Difference between Puritans and Protestants?

Parameters of Comparison



Meaning of the name

Purification of the Anglican Church, the Church of England, from the influence of the Catholic church. Also called precisionists by its enemies.

Protesting the doctrines, beliefs, and practices of the Catholic church and bearing witness.

Origin and Earliest Influences

The Puritan movement started in the 16th Century as a Protestant movement calling for reformations throughout England and the church.

Puritans were influenced greatly by William Perkins, William Ames, Jonathan Edwards, and John Owen.

The Protestant movement dates to 16th-century Europe and is believed to have started in Germany under the leadership of Martin Luther, who lived between 1483-1546.

The Protestants were mainly influenced by Germany’s Martin Luther, Switzerland’s Ulrich Zwingli, and France’s John Calvin.


The puritans do not follow or observe any sacraments

The protestants observe two sacraments – Baptism and Eucharist.


Puritanism was influenced by, and it influenced the traditions of the Presbyterian denomination.

Protestants not only make up the second-largest Christian Denomination but also make up the largest of all Protestant denominations today. The biggest protestant denominations include the Southern Baptist Convention, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Assemblies of God, and the United Methodist Church.

Important Writings that influenced the movement (Not the Bible)

John Calvin’s works influenced Puritanism to a large extent, but there also were influences from the works of Jonathan Edwards, William Perkins, John Owen, and William Ames.

In addition to Martin Luther’s works and sermons, Protestants were also influenced by the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creeds. Others include John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Differences in the beliefs between Puritans and Protestant

Puritans Vs. Protestants - What Is The Main Difference?
Beliefs between Puritans and Protestant. Image source: Pixabay


According to Puritanism, believers must have a covenant relationship with their maker for salvation or redemption from sin. Puritans hold onto the belief that God gives salvation through preaching and the Holy Spirit, a strong force necessary for salvation. Therefore, the Puritans believe, at their core, that God is the only one who can save sinners. They also believe that Faith is one of the gifts from God, and these aspects of salvation are emphasized in their writings and sermons.

On the other hand, the Protestants hold on to the core belief that salvation to humankind is through God’s grace by having Faith in Christ.


Puritans believe in the Bible’s authority, and the believers note that Christians should only do what’s instructed in the Bible and that they are only forbidden from doing the things prohibited in the Bible. The Protestants, on the other hand, believe in the authority of the bible scripture above the traditions created by the church while also believing that the Bible was inspired.


While Puritans baptized their children in infancy according to the Covenant Theology framework from the Reformed traditions, the Protestants are divided about baptism at infancy. For the Protestants, baptism symbolizes the death and resurrection of Christ, as seen in Romans 6:3-5, as well as the believers’ obedience to Christ. The Protestants also deem baptism a sign of inclusion in the church’s community. It’s worth noting that this sacrament of baptism is the main reason for division in the protestant church and why the protestant churches are often differentiated based on who’s to be baptized and how baptism is meant to take place. Some Protestants believe that baptism is only complete after a full emersion. Others support sprinkling water to represent baptism. Also, the matter of age divides the Baptists.

Family Unit

One of the most important elements for the Puritans is the family, and since the beginning, the Puritan movement was concerned with the organization and the nature of the family. They believed that marriage was socially, theologically, and practically the most significant aspect of their worldview, and they encouraged families to work together instead of allowing young men to be sent to work alone in faraway lands. On the contrary, Protestant traditions hold different views about families.

What are the similarities between Puritans and Protestants?


Puritans and Protestants believe in the Trinity – God, The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Both movements believe that the Holy Trinity is fully divine.

Jesus Christ

Both Puritans and Protestants believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the second in the Holy Trinity, and that Jesus Christ is God in human form. Both groups believe that Jesus Christ is 100% Man and 100% God, born of the Virgin Mary, led a life without sin, that His death was intended to atone for the sins of mankind, and that He resurrected physically on the 3rd day.

Holy Communion

According to the Puritans, the Holy Communion refers to the Real Spiritual Presence of Jesus Christ rather than the transubstantiation of the bread and cup or even how these are used to memorialize Christ’s body and blood. At the same time, the Protestants believe in the Lord’s Supper as a practice that came to be before Jesus’ death and His resurrection, and they also disagree with the memorial view of bread and the cup for the body and blood of Christ.

Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Protestants and Puritans believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, a core belief for both groups.

Do Puritans still exist?

Yes, Puritans still exist today. They may not be as popular as the Protestants or Catholics, but believers in Puritanism still exist. Notably, they played a role in creating the intrinsic American history guided under God’s direction and is believed to have been aligned with the Old Testament Jews’ belief as the new Chosen People. Puritan beliefs were significantly reinforced by Max Weber. Since the 18th Century to date, Puritanism has survived, albeit as a form of secular movement or the self-reliance movement that also focuses on the family. It also upholds moral rigor, as well as political localism. Today, Puritanism is associated with the Age of Enlightenment.

What do Protestants think of Puritans?

Puritans Vs. Protestants
What do Protestants think of Puritans? Image source: Pixabay

Protestants consider the Puritans to be precisionists, which is a term that describes the extreme level of contempt held by Protestants and other Christians against the Puritans. The Protestants considered the Puritans their enemies even though both groups came to be during the English Reformation when the churches revolted against the Catholic Church’s rule and papacy.

Do Puritans and Protestants use the same Bible?

Yes, puritans and Protestants not only use the same Bible but at the core of their beliefs is the Bible and the importance of Faith. These two are elemental in salvation. It’s also worth noting that both Protestants and Puritans were supporters of the need to translate the Bible into different languages to encourage individual worship.

Which one is more popular between Puritans and Protestants?

Protestantism is more popular than Puritanism, the second-largest Christian denomination after Catholicism. Puritanism is the least popular Christian belief, while Protestantism is the umbrella Christian belief for Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, Pentecostals, and Episcopalians. It is believed that there are almost one Billion Protestants worldwide.

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