English Dissenters

English Dissenters

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English Dissenters were Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s who separated from the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

They originally agitated for a wide reaching Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 of the Established Church, and triumphed briefly under Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

.

King James I of England, VI of Scotland
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 had said "no bishop, no king"; Cromwell capitalised on that phrase, abolishing both upon founding the Commonwealth of England
Commonwealth of England
The Commonwealth of England was the republic which ruled first England, and then Ireland and Scotland from 1649 to 1660. Between 1653–1659 it was known as the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland...

. After the restoration of the monarchy
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

 in 1660, the episcopacy was reinstalled and the rights of the Dissenters were limited: the Act of Uniformity 1662
Act of Uniformity 1662
The Act of Uniformity was an Act of the Parliament of England, 13&14 Ch.2 c. 4 ,The '16 Charles II c. 2' nomenclature is reference to the statute book of the numbered year of the reign of the named King in the stated chapter...

 required Anglican ordination
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 for all clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

, and many instead withdrew from the state church
State church
State churches are organizational bodies within a Christian denomination which are given official status or operated by a state.State churches are not necessarily national churches in the ethnic sense of the term, but the two concepts may overlap in the case of a nation state where the state...

. These ministers and their followers came to be known as Nonconformists
Nonconformism
Nonconformity is the refusal to "conform" to, or follow, the governance and usages of the Church of England by the Protestant Christians of England and Wales.- Origins and use:...

, though originally this term referred to refusal to use certain vestments and ceremonies of the Church of England, rather than separation from it.

Dissenters opposed state interference in religious matters
Separation of church and state
The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state....

, and founded their own churches, educational establishments
Dissenting academies
The dissenting academies were schools, colleges and nonconformist seminaries run by dissenters. They formed a significant part of England’s educational systems from the mid-seventeenth to nineteenth centuries....

, and communities; some emigrated to the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

.

Rational Dissenters


In the eighteenth century, one group of Dissenters became known as "Rational Dissenters". In many respects they were closer to the Anglicanism of their day than other Dissenting sects; however, they believed that state religions impinged on the freedom of conscience. They were fiercely opposed to the hierarchical structure of the Established Church and the financial ties between it and the government. Like moderate Anglicans, they desired an educated ministry and an orderly church, but they based their opinions on reason and the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 rather than on appeals to tradition and authority. They rejected doctrines such as the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 and original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

, arguing that they were irrational. Rational Dissenters believed that Christianity and faith could be dissected and evaluated using the newly emerging discipline of science, and that a stronger belief in God would be the result.

Adamites



The Adamites
Adamites
The Adamites, or Adamians, were adherents of an Early Christian sect that flourished in North Africa in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries, but knew later revivals.-Ancient Adamites:...

 took their name and practises from a North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

n Christian sect that first existed between the 2nd and 4th centuries. The Adamites that emerged in the 17th century had similar beliefs to this sect, believing that they existed in a state of grace, claiming to have regained the innocence that Adam and Eve possessed prior to the Fall.

The Adamites were said to have associated with each other in the nude, professing that a person could reattain the innocence and purity held by Adam through being unburdened by clothing.

Very little is known about these English Adamites, as most information on them comes from their critics, who believed them to be radicals.

Anabaptists



During the Interregnum, the term Anabaptist was often used to describe sects who seemed to hold or practiced believers baptism or baptism by immersion by their opponents. These included the General Baptist
General Baptist
General Baptists is a generic term for Baptists who hold the view of a general atonement, as well as a specific name of groups of Baptists within the broader category.General Baptists are distinguished from Particular or Reformed Baptists.-History:...

, the Particular Baptist, Barrowists, and other nonconformists groups.

It is generally assumed that the Baptist and other dissenting groups absorbed the British Anabaptists. The relations between Baptists and Anabaptists were early strained. In 1624 the then five existing Baptist churches of London issued an anathema against the Anabaptists. Today there is little dialogue between Anabaptist organizations (such as the Mennonite World Conference
Mennonite World Conference
The Mennonite World Conference is a global community of Christian churches that facilitates community between Anabaptist-related churches and relates to other Christian world communions and organizations....

) and the Baptist bodies.

Barrowists



Henry Barrowe maintained the right and duty of the Church to carry out necessary reforms without awaiting the permission of the civil power; and advocated congregational independency. He regarded the whole established church order as polluted by the relics of Roman Catholicism, and insisted on separation as essential to pure worship and discipline.

Behmenists


The Behmenists
Behmenism
Behmenism, also Behemenism and similar, is the English-language designation for a 17th Century European Christian movement based on the teachings of German mystic and theosopher Jakob Böhme . The term was not usually applied by followers of Böhme's theosophy to themselves, but rather was used by...

 religious movement began on continental Europe and took its ideas from the writings of Jakob Böhme
Jakob Böhme
Jakob Böhme was a German Christian mystic and theologian. He is considered an original thinker within the Lutheran tradition...

 (Behmen being one of the translations of his name used in England), a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 mystic and theosopher who claimed Divine Revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

. In the 1640s, his works appeared in England and English Behmenists developed. Eventually, some of these merged with the Quakers of the time.

Böhme's writings primarily concerned the nature of sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

, evil
Evil
Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

, and redemption
Redemption (theology)
Redemption is a concept common to several theologies. It is generally associated with the efforts of people within a faith to overcome their shortcomings and achieve the moral positions exemplified in their faith.- In Buddhism :...

. Consistent with Lutheran theology, Böhme believed that humanity had fallen from a state of divine grace into a state of sin and suffering, that the forces of evil included fallen angels who had rebelled against God, and subsequently that God's goal was to restore the world to a state of grace.

However, in some ways, Behmenist belief deviated significantly from traditional Lutheran belief. For example, Böhme rejected the concepts of sola fide
Sola fide
Sola fide , also historically known as the doctrine of justification by faith alone, is a Christian theological doctrine that distinguishes most Protestant denominations from Catholicism, Eastern Christianity, and some in the Restoration Movement.The doctrine of sola fide or "by faith alone"...

 and sola gratia
Sola gratia
Sola gratia is one of the five solas propounded to summarise the Reformers' basic beliefs during the Protestant Reformation; it is a Latin term meaning grace alone...

.

Brownists



By 1580, Robert Browne had become a leader in the movement for a congregational form of organization for the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 and attempted to set up a separate Congregational Church
Congregational church
Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing Congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs....

 in Norwich
Norwich
Norwich is a city in England. It is the regional administrative centre and county town of Norfolk. During the 11th century, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important places in the kingdom...

, Norfolk
Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

, England. He was arrested but released on the advice of William Cecil
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley , KG was an English statesman, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer from 1572...

, his kinsman. Browne and his companions were obliged to leave England and moved to Middelburg
Middelburg
Middelburg is a municipality and a city in the south-western Netherlands and the capital of the province of Zeeland. It is situated in the Midden-Zeeland region. It has a population of about 48,000.- History of Middelburg :...

 in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 in 1581.

Diggers



The Diggers were an English group of Protestant agrarian communists
Agrarian socialism
Agrarian socialism is a socioeconomic political system which combines an agrarian way of life with socialist economic policies.When compared to standard socialist systems which are generally urban/industrial , internationally oriented, and more progressive/liberal in terms of social orientation,...

, begun by Gerrard Winstanley
Gerrard Winstanley
Gerrard Winstanley was an English Protestant religious reformer and political activist during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell...

 as True Levellers in 1649, who became known as Diggers due to their activities.

Their original name came from their belief in economic equality based upon a specific passage in the Book of Acts. The Diggers tried (by "levelling" real property
Real property
In English Common Law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is any subset of land that has been legally defined and the improvements to it made by human efforts: any buildings, machinery, wells, dams, ponds, mines, canals, roads, various property rights, and so forth...

) to reform the existing social order
Social order
Social order is a concept used in sociology, history and other social sciences. It refers to a set of linked social structures, social institutions and social practices which conserve, maintain and enforce "normal" ways of relating and behaving....

 with an agrarian lifestyle based on their ideas for the creation of small egalitarian rural communities. They were one of a number of nonconformist dissenting groups that emerged around this time.

Familists


The Family of Love
Family of Love
Family of Love may refer to* Familists, a mystic religious community in renaissance England and the Low Countries* Children of God, a new religious movement, which later used the names Family of Love and as of 2006, Family International...

, or the Familists, were a religious sect that began in continental Europe in the 16th century. Members of this religious group were devout followers of a Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 mystic
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 named Hendrik Niclaes. The Familists believed that Niclaes was the only person who truly knew how to achieve a state of perfection, and his texts attracted followers in Germany, France, and England.

The Familists were extremely secretive and wary of outsiders. For example, they wished death upon those outside of the Family of Love, and re-marriage after the death of a spouse could only take place between men and women of the same Familist congregation. Additionally, they would not discuss their ideas and opinions with outsiders and sought to remain undetected by ordinary members of society: they tended to be members of an established church so as not to attract suspicion and showed respect for authority.

The group were considered heretics in 16th century England. Among their beliefs were that there existed a time before Adam and Eve, heaven and hell were both present on Earth, and that all things were ruled by nature
Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

 and not directed by God.

The Familists continued to exist until the middle of the 17th century, when they were absorbed into the Quaker movement.

Fifth Monarchists



The Fifth Monarchists or Fifth Monarchy Men were active from 1649 to 1661 during the Interregnum, following the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

s of the 17th century. They took their name from a prophecy in the Book of Daniel
Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...

 that four ancient monarchies (Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman) would precede Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

's return. They also referred to the year 1666 and its relationship to the biblical Number of the Beast
Number of the Beast
The Number of the Beast is a term in the Book of Revelation, of the New Testament, that is associated with the first Beast of Revelation chapter 13, the Beast of the sea. In most manuscripts of the New Testament and in English translations of the Bible, the number of the Beast is...

 indicating the end of earthly rule by carnal human beings. They were one of a number of nonconformist dissenting groups that emerged around this time.

Grindletonians



In a sermon preached at Paul's Cross on 11 February 1627, and published under the title of The White Wolfe, 1627, Stephen Denison, minister of St. Catherine Cree, charges the 'Gringltonian (sic) familists' with holding nine points of an antinomian tendency. These nine points are repeated from Denison by Ephraim Pagitt in his Heresiography (2nd ed. 1645, p. 89), and glanced at by Alexander Ross
Alexander Ross (writer)
Alexander Ross was a prolific Scottish writer and controversialist. He was Chaplain-in-Ordinary to Charles I.-Life:He was born in Aberdeen, and entered King's College, Aberdeen, in 1604. About 1616 he succeeded Thomas Parker in the mastership of the free school at Southampton, an appointment which...

, Πανσεβεια (2nd ed. 1655, p. 365). In 1635 John Webster
John Webster (minister)
John Webster , also known as Johannes Hyphastes, was an English clergyman, physician and chemist with occult interests, a proponent of astrology and a sceptic about witchcraft. He is known for controversial works.-Life:...

, curate at Kildwick
Kildwick
Kildwick, or Kildwick-in-Craven, is a village and civil parish of the District of Craven in North Yorkshire, England. It is situated between Skipton and Keighley and has a population of 191...

, was before a church court charged with being a Grindletonian, and simultaneously in New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 John Winthrop
John Winthrop
John Winthrop was a wealthy English Puritan lawyer, and one of the leading figures in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the first major settlement in New England after Plymouth Colony. Winthrop led the first large wave of migrants from England in 1630, and served as governor for 12 of...

 thought that Anne Hutchinson
Anne Hutchinson
Anne Hutchinson was one of the most prominent women in colonial America, noted for her strong religious convictions, and for her stand against the staunch religious orthodoxy of 17th century Massachusetts...

 was one. The last known Grindletonian died in the 1680s.

Muggletonians



The Muggletonians, named after Lodowicke Muggleton
Lodowicke Muggleton
Lodowicke Muggleton was an English plebeian religious thinker, who gave his name to Muggletonianism. He spent his working life as a journeyman tailor in the City of London and was imprisoned twice for his beliefs. He held opinions hostile to all forms of philosophical reason...

, were a small Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 movement which began in 1651 when two London tailors announced they were the last prophets foretold in the biblical Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

. The group grew out of the Ranters and in opposition to the Quakers. Muggletonian beliefs include a hostility to philosophical reason, a scriptural understanding of how the universe works and a belief that God appeared directly on this earth as Christ Jesus. A consequential belief is that God takes no notice of everyday events on earth and will not generally intervene until it is meet to bring the world to an end.

Muggletonians have avoided all forms of worship or preaching and, in the past, met only for discussion and socializing amongst members. The movement has been egalitarian, apolitical, pacifist and has resolutely avoided evangelism
Evangelism
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

. Members attained a degree of public notoriety by cursing those who reviled their faith. This practice, which proved uncannily effective, ceased in the mid-nineteenth century and one of the last to suffer was the novelist Sir Walter Scott.

Puritans



The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th
Christianity in the 16th century
- Age of Discovery :During the Age of Discovery, the Roman Catholic Church established a number of Missions in the Americas and other colonies in order to spread Christianity in the New World and to convert the indigenous peoples...

 and 17th centuries
Christianity in the 17th century
The history of Christianity in the 17th century showed both deep conflict and new tolerance. The Enlightenment grew to challenge Christianity as a whole, generally elevated human reason above divine revelation, and down-graded religious authorities such as the Papacy based on it...

. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles
Marian exiles
The Marian Exiles were English Calvinist Protestants who fled to the continent during the reign of Queen Mary I.-Exile communities:According to English historian John Strype, more than 800 Protestants fled to the continent, mainly to the Low Countries, Germany, Switzerland, and France, and joined...

 from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

. The designation "Puritan" is often incorrectly used, notably based on the assumption that hedonism
Hedonism
Hedonism is a school of thought which argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure .-Etymology:The name derives from the Greek word for "delight" ....

 and puritanism
Religious fanaticism
Religious fanaticism is fanaticism related to a person's, or a group's, devotion to a religion. However, religious fanaticism is a subjective evaluation defined by the culture context that is performing the evaluation. What constitutes fanaticism in another's behavior or belief is determined by the...

 are antonyms: historically, the word was used to characterize the Protestant group as extremists similar to the Cathari of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and according to Thomas Fuller
Thomas Fuller
Thomas Fuller was an English churchman and historian. He is now remembered for his writings, particularly his Worthies of England, published after his death...

 in his Church History dated back to 1564. Archbishop Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. He was also an influential theologian and arguably the co-founder of Anglican theological thought....

 of that time used it and "precisian" with the sense of stickler. T. D. Bozeman therefore uses instead the term precisianist in regard to the historical groups of England and New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

.

Philadelphians



The Philadelphians, or the Philadelphian Society, were a Protestant 17th century religious group in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. They were organized around John Pordage
John Pordage
John Pordage was an Anglican priest, astrologer, alchemist and Christian mystic. He founded the 17th century English Behmenist group which would later become known as the Philadelphian Society when it was led by his disciple and successor, Jane Leade.-Behmenists:John Pordage was the eldest son of...

 (1607–1681), an Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 priest from Bradfield, Berkshire
Bradfield, Berkshire
Bradfield is a small village and civil parish in Berkshire, England. The parish also includes the now rather larger village of Bradfield Southend, and the hamlet of Tutts Clump....

, who had been ejected from his parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

 in 1655 because of differing views, but then reinstated in 1660 during the English Restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

. Pordage was attracted to the ideas of Jakob Böhme
Jakob Böhme
Jakob Böhme was a German Christian mystic and theologian. He is considered an original thinker within the Lutheran tradition...

, a Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 theosophist
Theosophy (history of philosophy)
Theosophy , designates several bodies of ideas since Late Antiquity. The Greek term is attested on magical papyri .-Neoplatonism:...

 and Christian mystic
Christian mysticism
Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. It has often been connected to mystical theology, especially in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions...

.

Ranters



The Ranters were an alleged sect
Sect
A sect is a group with distinctive religious, political or philosophical beliefs. Although in past it was mostly used to refer to religious groups, it has since expanded and in modern culture can refer to any organization that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and...

 in the time of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of England
The Commonwealth of England was the republic which ruled first England, and then Ireland and Scotland from 1649 to 1660. Between 1653–1659 it was known as the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland...

 (1649–1660) who were regarded as heretical
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 by the established Church of that period. If they indeed existed, their central idea was pantheistic
Pantheism
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

, that God is essentially in every creature; this led them to deny the authority of the Church, of scripture, of the current ministry and of services, instead calling on men to hearken to Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 within them. Many Ranters seem to have rejected a belief in immortality
Immortality
Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

 and in a personal God, and in many ways they resemble the Brethren of the Free Spirit
Brethren of the Free Spirit
The Brothers, or Brethren of the Free Spirit, was a lay Christian movement which flourished in northern Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries. Antinomian and individualist in outlook, it came into conflict with the Catholic Church and was declared heretical by Pope Clement V at the Council of...

 in the 14th century. The Ranters revived the Brethren of the Free Spirit's beliefs of amoralism and followed the Brethren's ideals which “stressed the desire to surpass the human condition and become godlike.” Further drawing from the Brethren of the Free Spirit, the Ranter embraced antinomianism
Antinomianism
Antinomianism is defined as holding that, under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation....

 and believed that Christians are freed by grace from the necessity of obeying Mosaic Law. Because they believed that God was present in all living creatures, the Ranters' adherence to antinomianism allowed them to reject the very notion of obedience, thus making them a great threat to the stability of the government.

Sabbatarians


Sabbatarians were known in England from the time of Elizabeth 1 (1558–1601). Some Dutch Anabaptists embraced Sabbatarianism, and may have helped to introduce these practices into England. Socinians and Reformed Church members were also know to hold Sabbatarian beliefs.Sabbatarian practitioner were also to be found within the Church of England in one form or another. Even the puritans were known to harbor Sabbatarian views. Now with access to an English Bible this allowed scriptural study and questioning of Church doctrines including the Christian Sunday to anyone that could read.English Sabbatarianism is generally associated with two individuals: John Traske (1585–1636); and, Theophilus Brabourne (1590–1662). Dorothy Traske (1585?-1645) was also a major figure in keeping the early Traskite congregations growing in numbers.

Seekers


The Seekers
Seekers
The Seekers, or Legatine-Arians as they were sometimes known, were a Protestant dissenting group that emerged around the 1620s, probably inspired by the preaching of three brothers – Walter, Thomas, and Bartholomew Legate. Arguably, they are best thought of as forerunners of the Quakers, with whom...

 were not a distinct religion or sect, but instead formed a religious society. Like other Protestant dissenting groups at the time, they believed the Roman Catholic Church to be corrupt, which subsequently applied to the Church of England as well through its common heritage.

Seekers considered all Churches and denominations to be in error, and believed that only a new Church established by Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 upon His return
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

 could possess His grace. Their anticipation of this event was found in their practises. For example, Seekers held meetings as opposed to religious services, and as such had no clergy or hierarchy. During these gatherings they would wait in silence and speak only when felt that God had inspired them to do so.

Furthermore to this, the Seekers denied the effectiveness of external forms of religion such as the sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

s, baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

, and the Scriptures
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 as a means of salvation
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

.

Socinians


The followers of Socinianism
Socinianism
Socinianism is a system of Christian doctrine named for Fausto Sozzini , which was developed among the Polish Brethren in the Minor Reformed Church of Poland during the 15th and 16th centuries and embraced also by the Unitarian Church of Transylvania during the same period...

 were Unitarian or Nontrinitarian in theology and influenced by the Polish Brethren
Polish Brethren
The Polish Brethren were members of the Minor Reformed Church of Poland, a Nontrinitarian Protestant church that existed in Poland from 1565 to 1658...

. The Socinians of 17th century England influenced the development of the English Presbyterians, the English Unitarians
General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches is the umbrella organisation for Unitarian, Free Christian and other liberal religious congregations in the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1928, with denominational roots going back to the Great Ejection of 1662...

, and the Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland
Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland
The Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland derives its name and its liberal and tolerant identity from early 18th century Presbyterian ministers who refused to subscribe at their ordination to the Westminster Confession, a standard Reformed statement of faith; and who formed, in 1725, the...

.

Present-day Dissenting groups

  • Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion
    Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion
    The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion is a small society of evangelical churches, founded in 1783 by Selina, Countess of Huntingdon as a result of the Evangelical Revival. For years it was strongly associated with the Calvinist Methodist movement of George Whitefield...

  • Baptists
  • Presbyterians
  • Congregationalist
    Congregational church
    Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing Congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs....

    s
  • Quakers
    Religious Society of Friends
    The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

  • Unitarians
    Unitarianism
    Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....


See also


  • Christian anarchism
    Christian anarchism
    Christian anarchism is a movement in political theology that combines anarchism and Christianity. It is the belief that there is only one source of authority to which Christians are ultimately answerable, the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Jesus...

  • Freedom of religion
    Freedom of religion
    Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

  • Nonconformism
    Nonconformism
    Nonconformity is the refusal to "conform" to, or follow, the governance and usages of the Church of England by the Protestant Christians of England and Wales.- Origins and use:...

  • Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom and the states that pre-dated the UK, was dominated by forms of Christianity for over 1,400 years. Although a majority of citizens still identify with Christianity in many surveys, regular church attendance has fallen dramatically since the middle of the 20th century,...

  • 17th century denominations in England
    17th century denominations in England
    A large number of religious denominations emerged during the early-to-mid-17th century in England. Many of these were influenced by the radical changes brought on by the English Civil War, subsequent execution of Charles I and the advent of the Commonwealth of England...

  • English Independents
  • Separatists
  • Dissenting academies
    Dissenting academies
    The dissenting academies were schools, colleges and nonconformist seminaries run by dissenters. They formed a significant part of England’s educational systems from the mid-seventeenth to nineteenth centuries....