Digest of terms
historically this is a reformer movement in sixteenth and seventeenth century Christianity, by men and women who took seriously their calling as Christians to assist in bringing in the Kingdom of God on earth. It is typified by the zeal of Oliver Cromwell and the New Model Army in England to transform the kingdom into a commonwealth, and of the 'Pilgrim Fathers' in North America seeking to create this re-ordering in a new world. The connotation of ' straitjacketed' joylessness attributed to Puritans, sometimes rightly and sometimes wrongly, overlooks the exuberance of communal life in the spirit, which was its intended characteristic based on its New Testament template. Sadly, over-zealous enthusiasminspired active campaigns to identify and punish deviants, including most notoriously witches and those deranged by 'possession'.
The term Puritan is also applied to equivalent movements which involve 'purist' interpretation and application of religious or equivalent beliefs. Examples of this are the Wahhabis in Islam, the Brahmo Samaj in India, and the Cultural Revolutionaries in China under Mao.