Blest Be the Ties that Bind: Covenant and Community in Puritan Thought

23 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2011 Last revised: 15 Jan 2020

See all articles by John Witte

John Witte

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: 1987


Seventeenth-century Puritans in England and America transformed the biblical idea of covenant into an organizing principle of their theology and society. They reconfigured the traditional theological covenant of works and covenant of grace into a fluid contractual relationship between God and humanity. They used the idea of divinely-sanctioned covenant as a way to organize their key social relationships of family, church, state, and community as well as their doctrine of voluntary binding contracts. This covenantal theory eventually provided a prototype for the more secular contractarian theories of society and politics that became more prominent in Enlightenment liberalism.

Keywords: Covenant, Puritan, Religion, Law, Puritanism, Covenant Theology, Covenant of Grace, Covenant of Works, Natural Law, Election, Sin

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, Blest Be the Ties that Bind: Covenant and Community in Puritan Thought (1987). Emory Law Journal, Vol. 36, 1987, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN:

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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