A number of independent groups arose in the United States, embracing one form of antinomianism or another. We shall only mention a few of these. First, there was a group known as the Shakers, who were started by Mrs. Ann Lee in England and brought to the United States in 1774. She claimed to have had a vision of Adam and Eve in sexual intercourse, which she decided was the cause of their fall into sin. She came to the conclusion that total celibacy was the proper way to live a holy life. The Shakers embraced revivalist practices, and their services were marked by shaking, trembling, shouting, leaping, singing, dancing, speaking in tongues, whirling, stamping, rolling on the floor, and crying out against sin and the carnal nature.
A second and much more radical movement arose from the Shakers, under the leadership of John Humphrey Noyes. It was the Oneida Community, which was developed in Oneida, N.Y. Instead of a policy of celibacy, Noyes developed the concept of “complex marriage” in which every woman of the community was the wife of every man, and every man the husband of every woman. Under pressure from the outside community, the complex marriage system eventually was dropped.
Parallel with this development was that of Joseph Smith, who abandoned orthodox Christianity and developed a wholly new religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which included the practice of polygamous marriages. Though outlawed, this practice continues in some of the remote areas of the West.
Alexander Campbell, a former Presbyterian minister, became one of the leaders of the so-called Church of Christ or Christian Church movement. One of its tenets is that, with the coming of Christ, the whole of the law was abrogated. He also taught a form of baptismal regeneration, that one must be baptized in the “Church of Christ” in order to be saved. Thus, salvation was no longer by grace alone, but by grace plus works.
Modern-day dispensationalism was taught by John Darby in England and propagated by C.I. Scofield in the United States through his annotated Bible, which is antinomian.
We see that antinomianism is a tendency in sinful human thought that has existed from Adam onward. It reared its ugly head in Biblical times, in the early Christian church, and at the time of the Reformation, and it continues to plague the church to this day. We all need to be in prayer and study that we do not fall into this error.