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antinomianism (ăntĭnōˈmēənĭzəm) [Gr.,=against the law], the belief that Christians are not bound by the moral law, particularly that of the Old Testament. The idea was strong among the Gnostics, especially Marcion. Certain heretical sects in the Middle Ages practiced sexual license as an expression of Christian freedom. In the Protestant Reformation theoretical antinomian views were maintained by the Anabaptists and Johann Agricola, and in the 17th cent. Anne Hutchinson was persecuted for supposed antinomianism. Rom. 6 is the usual refutation for antinomianism.
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antinomianismthe beliefs held, e.g. by the members of some Protestant sects in the 16th and 17th centuries, that, as members of ‘God's elect’, they could no longer be guilty of sin. As WEBER (1922) put it, such persons felt themselves ‘certain of salvation’, and ‘no longer bound by any conventional rule of conduct’. This belief was interpreted by some believers as permitting them to engage in unorthodox marital practices, including plural marriages, as well as in sexual activity outside marriage, which they justified as bringing others to salvation. Weber's view was that antinomianism is a generally occurring phenomenon, and that the more systematically the ‘practical psychological character’ of a religious faith develops, the greater is the tendency for antinomianism to be the outcome.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000