The Puritan Dilemma shows how a group of people from England come to New England with a charter from the king and setup a community based on God. They were led by John Winthrop, the Governor, who chose to separate himself from an impure England and set up a purer Christian community. The “Puritan Dilemma” is trying to live a religious and spiritual life in a secular world, “the paradox that required a man to live in the world without being of it.” “But to young John Winthrop it principally meant the problem of living in this world without taking his mind off God.” “Puritans must live in the world, not leave it.” Puritans must set up a community, government, have families, work hard and devote time to human existence but at the same time balance all of this against a spiritual life of prayer. Also one must interpret the bible and imply its ideas and laws to everyday life. “Puritanism was a power not to be denied. It did great things for England and for America, but only by creating in the men and women it affected a tension which was at best painful and at worst unbearable. Puritanism required that a man devote his life to seeking salvation but told him he was helpless to do anything but evil.”
Separatism means to withdraw and in the case of the Puritan Dilemma it was first John Winthrop and his decision to withdraw from the Church of England and move to New England to set up a purer Christian community in Massachusetts compared to the one in England. The problem with separatism is that if everyone decided to follow their own interpretation of religion this would cause society to disintegrate. “Separatism might splinter the colony into a hundred earnest little Utopias, each feeding on its own special type of holiness and each breeding new types, multiplying, like earthworms, by division. In order to prevent this there must be some common agreement as to what everyone’s idea of religion should be.