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Ranters. A loosely organized mid-17th-cent. radical group with antinomian tendencies. Its leaders substantiated their individualistic teaching by appealing to revelatory experiences of the Spirit or the indwelling Christ. Jacob Bauthumley's The Light and Darker Sides of God expounds their ‘inner light’ teaching. The movement died out in the 17th cent., but the term was later used colloquially to describe the Primitive Methodists.

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ranters. An anarchic quasi-religious movement which emerged in 1648 and horrified orthodox puritans. Ranters were never an organized sect, and their writings were so heterogeneous that their very existence as a movement has recently been denied. Contemporaries, however, had no doubt that they existed. Ranters typically believed in an immanent God, present in all his creatures, man above all; men and women who attuned themselves to the godhead within them were free of sin, since all God's work is good. Groups of them scandalized the godly by their unbridled dancing, drinking, smoking, swearing, and sharing of sexual partners. Through lack of organization and the extreme hostility of magistrates and ministers, their heyday was short.

Austin Woolrych