Ranterism is a term that refers to a belief system or a particular form of religious and political expression. It originated in England during the 17th century, particularly among a sect known as the Ranters. The Ranters were a radical group of dissenters who emerged during the tumultuous period of the English Civil War and Interregnum.
In terms of religious beliefs, Ranterism adheres to a form of antinomianism, which emphasizes the rejection of conventional moral and social norms. Ranters believed in the concept of God-flesh, suggesting that divinity could be found within every human being. They rejected traditional religious institutions and practices, often adopting an ecstatic and emotionally charged worship style.
Politically, Ranterism can be seen as a form of proto-anarchism, as the movement emphasized individual freedom and liberty from external authority. Ranters criticized the prevailing social order, advocating for communal sharing, equality, and the abolition of worldly hierarchies. Their ideas challenged both religious and social conventions of the time, often leading to their persecution and suppression by the authorities.
Although Ranterism declined as a distinct movement by the late 17th century, its impact can still be seen in various radical and countercultural ideologies that emerged in subsequent centuries. The term "Ranter" is sometimes used in contemporary discourse to describe someone who advocates for extreme individualism or challenges societal norms in a confrontational manner.
The word "Ranterism" derives from the term "Ranter" and the suffix "-ism".
The term "Ranter" originated in the mid-17th century in England. It referred to a member of a religious sect known as the "Ranters", who were part of the wider radical religious movement during the English Civil War and Commonwealth period.
The Ranters were known for their unconventional and extreme beliefs, emphasizing the direct experience of God's presence within each individual. They rejected traditional religious authorities and rituals, claiming that true spirituality required personal revelation and a rejection of sin and moral constraints. They often expressed their beliefs in enthusiastic and sometimes uncontrolled ecstatic outbursts.
Due to their unconventional practices and controversial beliefs, the Ranters were often criticized and even persecuted by mainstream religious and political authorities of the time.