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Naked come, naked go

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Romans 5 is very clear that within humanity, there are really two humanities; one headed by Adam and destined for death, and the other headed by Christ and promised eternal life. Orthodox Christians have always held that the way to transfer membership from the first humanity into the second is to be born again by the Holy Spirit.  Yet for some throughout Church history, the idea of charting new paths from one to the other has proved far more attractive.

The Adamites were a well known North African cult in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Centuries, devoted to regaining the innocence of pre-Fall Adam.  Their main expression of (or motivation behind) this rediscovered ‘liberty’ was to practice ‘holy nudism’- both in every day life, and in public worship.  They tended to meet underground, and referred to their services as ‘Paradise’.  Their favourite Bible moment was, unsurprisingly, David’s undignified dancing in his pants at the return of the ark in 2 Samuel 6.

Adamites having a jolly in the street, disturbed by armed soldiers

Despite being condemned as heretics by the likes of Augustine, the Adamites saw something of a revival in 15th Century Bohemia with a sect of Taborites who ‘indulged in predatory forays upon the neighborhood, and… committed wild excesses in nocturnal dances.’  A further revival in 17th Century London saw Adamites rejecting most civil, moral and social restraints on their behaviour- including marriage, adherence to the law, and the ‘false modesty’ of society.  Perhaps due to the chillier location (London is hardly Algeria) this group tended to restrict their displays of the ‘divine state of grace’ to closed meetings in members’ homes.