That very middle way the history and historiography of Puritan ideas


The New England Puritans brought with them to America a middle way, a philosophy that balanced the extremes of religious, political, economic, and social life. Though first developed by Reformed theologians on the European Continent, the middle way made its way to England where it gained adherence among Puritan ministers who balanced pastoral and prophetic roles. The first generation of English emigrants to New England, having fully expected their zeal to flourish in the free air of America, quickly realized that theirs was not only a mission to reform society but to establish and maintain it. In such an environment, the middle way proved an essential philosophy for Massachusetts Bay's civil and ecclesiastical authorities who faced challenges from Antinomians in America and Arminians in England.

This study first defines the middle way, demonstrating its particular relevance in America among emigrants who felt both the burden· of the past and the promise of the future. The first chapter offers the middle way as a philosophy of history to modern historians who, like the New England Puritans, find themselves balancing obligations to both objectivity and historicism. The second chapter explores the often contentious world of Puritan historiography through the lens of Niebuhrian irony. The third chapter approaches the first generation of New England Puritans on their own terms, drawing on their written records in order to understand the challenges, real and perceived, from both Antinomianism and Arminianism. The conclusion reflects on the middle way's legacy and continued endurance as the New England mind faced both continuity and change in later centuries.


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Thesis Completion





Crepeau, Richard C.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities

Degree Program



Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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