Geestelijke strijd bij de puriteinen. Een spiritualiteit-historisch onderzoek naar Engelse puriteinse geschriften in de periode 1587-1684

R.W. de Koeijer

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 2 (Research NOT UU / Graduation UU)


This historical study of Puritan spirituality focuses on the theme of spiritual warfare in English Puritan writings of the period 1587-1684. Within Puritan spirituality the metaphor of spiritual warfare stands out. On his path of life to the future kingdom of God the believer meets the enemies of Satan, sin and flesh, who all intend his doom. In order to make the different ramification of this spiritual confrontation clear, this study has chosen to analyse various representative writings on precisely this theme. The dissertation's historical part begins in chapter 1 with a description of the early modern English context of the Puritan movement prior to 1625. In this period the Puritan movement occupies an ambivalent position as far as the relation between church and society is concerned. One the one hand the Puritan movement comes up in a reformed church with a broas 'calvinistic or reformed consensus'. From the start, however, the movement also criticizes the lack of continuous reformation with the English Established Church. Chapters 2-7 discuss the way in which the selected publications portray the different opponents, followed by a sketch of the Christian soldier. Having examined the strength of his opponents, this part of the book also explores the various ways in which the believer can react effectively. The following authors are discussed: William Perkins, William Gouge, John Downame, Thomas Brooks, William Gurnall, John Owen, Isaac Ambrose, Richard Gilpin, and John Bunyan. The thematic part of the dissertation starts with chapter 8, which interprets the Puritan writings about the spiritual combat back in the pastoral setting of Puritan practical divinity. Great importance should be attached to the pastoral context of English congregations in the post-reformation Establshed Church. Chapter 9 deals with the use of biblical exegesis in Puritan writings about spiritual warfare. Chapter 10 applies a more thematic approach to the spiritual enemies Satan, world, and flesh, while chapter 11 deals with the theme of spiritual resistance. Chapter 12 discusses 'religious despair' as a theme that goes to the heart of Puritan spirituality, pervading most writings about spiritual combat. A comparative and concluding part rounds off this study. Chapter 13 illustrates the unique dynamics of Puritan spiritual conflict by bringing in the voices of different West-European authors, such as Jean Gerson, Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, Ignatius of Loyola and Theodore Beza. Containing the book's conclusion, chapter 14 argues that the prominent place of spiritual warfare in Puritan spirituality is best explained based on a convergence of interconnected factors: pastoral, spiritual, ecclesiastical and social. The dissertation concludes by saying that the combination of Trinity, historia salutis, and affective piety can be seen as constitutive of the Puritan position in the history of West-European spirituality in general and of Puritan spiritual warfare literature in particular.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Otten, W., Primary supervisor, External person
  • de Reuver, A., Supervisor
Award date13 Apr 2010
Print ISBNs978 90 336 0893 3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2010


  • Geografie, Planologie, Pre- en Protohistorie
  • Menswetenschappen
  • History of the Christian Church
  • Godgeleerdheid
  • Onderzoek gefinancierd uit algemene universiteitsfondsen
  • Godgeleerheid (GODG)

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