Kristina Bross' book explores the shift in Puritan thought considering the New England colonies. What, exactly, does this mean then? Basically this: Bross is arguing that the Puritan view as to why these settlers migrated to America changed in the midst of the English Civil War. When it seemed that God's wrath was not going to come crashing down on Archbishop Laud and the English government for their persecution against Puritans, many repatriated back to England where things finally seemed to be falling into place. However, those that stayed in America needed another reason to bein America. Here is where Bross' argument comes into play:
"The real reason for migration, they had now discovered, had not been to escape God’s wrath on Archbishop Laud’s persecution but to carry the knowledge of God’s redeeming love to a people held captive by Satan" (Bross 8).
But wait, back up -- what does that mean? That the Puritans "discovered," or perhaps invented, another reason for their migration to the Americas: Christian Indians.
When their original reasons for emigrating became suddenly ungrounded and the migration itself seemed premature, the Puritans saved themselves with a new "errand" that they had not foreseen, though God had. They weren't in America in order to escape being carried to Hell in a hand basket, but rather they were meant to bring Christianity and the Word of God to those that did not know: the Native Americans. I think that Bross' own words sum up my view of this revelation quite nicely:
". . . the sudden appearance of systematic Puritan evangelism in New England years after the initial migration is less surprising if it is understood as evangelical improvisation, a response to events that made the initial colonial self-understanding -- whether primitivist or simply confused -- inadequate" (Bross 11, emphasis mine).
I find it interesting that the Puritans discovered their "true" errand just after their initial reasons failed them. It is not surprising that Bross accuses them of "responding to English national -- not New English colonial -- events" (Bross 7)
Though the book explores many different angles of these happenings in colonial America -- such as the Praying Indians' point of view and the Puritan point of view through scripture, i.e. the Revelation of St. John -- they all contribute to the same argument: that the evangelism of Indians began when the migrants original reasons for inhabiting America failedand critics screamed a resounding, "What now?!"