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What are "visible saints"?

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Quick Answer

Visible sainthood is based on the belief that individuals can demonstrate wholesome living and financial success sufficient that God is likely to award them with salvation after death. The Puritans began the visible sainthood movement in the 16th century in an attempt to purify the Anglican church of remnants of Catholicism.

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Because the Church of England refusee their purification reform doctrine, 20,000 Puritans emigrated to America between 1630 and 1643. There, the visible saints created a "new" England, where they vetted prospective members to assure the purity of their congregations. American Puritans tried to remain humble while striving to excel in their chosen occupations. They believed that financial success was a sign of God's approval and grace, so they embraced commerce. Most Puritans were unsure that they were good enough to merit God's favor. They displayed intense anxiety and worked feverishly to demonstrate evidence of their worthiness through regular church attendance and devotion to private prayer.

Anglicanism was originally established in 1534 by King Henry VIII after Catholic Pope Clement VII refused to grant the king a divorce of convenience to marry a younger woman. King Henry then founded a Christian denomination that met his needs and included all English citizens.

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