456: RED CHRISTIANS #33: THE ZWICKAUER PROPHETS (1522)

“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the Christian-Atheist manifesto with ‘Zing’! Its aim is to map what lies beyond progressive and radical Christianity, to take a peep into the future. The blog also has a left wing bias: it has even been known to refer to Our Lord as ‘Comrade Jesus’. Still there? Historically there were many Christians who challenged the status quo, both ecclesiastical and civil, and today’s Post is number 33 in my ‘Red Christians’ series. The 3 ‘Zwickauer Prophets’, as Luther disparagingly called them, were way out, resembling today’s Islamic Jihadists.
I hope you find this brief essay interesting,
In solidarity,
Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.”

IMG_1232

Zwickau is a town in Germany where in the middle ages three Christians tried to overthrow the established order and set up the Kingdom of God here on earth.
They were Markus Stübner, who had studied theology at University;  Nicolas Storch who was a weaver with an impressive knowledge of the bible; and Thomas Drechsel who was an unlettered weaver. All 3 of them were closely connected with Thomas Müntzer , who is better remembered today as he assembled an army of thousands of peasants who sadly turned out to be no match for the professional troops set upon them by the German princes.
The Zwickauer trio organised riots in the streets, they led crowds of labourers armed with rocks in attacks on priests in church services, and they preached the imminent end of the world. Their followers, lay labourers, were united in an organisation known as a conventicle. Their theological beliefs were that God spoke to people directly and revealed his will through visions and dreams  rather than through the church and the scriptures. They rejected the sacraments, in particular infant baptism. Storch claimed that God had chosen him to finish off the reformation that Martin Luther had left uncompleted. Storch had a vivid eschatological hope that the Kingdom of God was coming very soon, and that it would be inaugurated by God’s own pious, bold people.

He impressed his listeners greatly, including many of Luther’s disciples. They set about implementing the ‘Prophets” recommendations for the radical reformation of public life. The Zwickau city council had enough and they asked Luther to come and intervene. At some risk to himself, Luther came over and railed against these “messengers of Satan”. In a series of daily sermons in Lent 1522, described as ‘firm but gentle’, Luther rallied the townspeople against the ‘Prophets.’
Result?

The three Zwickauer Prophets left town and were not heard from again.

Sources:
Gelderloos, Peter “Anarchy works”
Gritsch, E.W. “Thomas Muntzer, a tragedy of errors”
Elwell, W.A. “Evangelical Dictionary of theology”
Saji, Tina “Christian Social Reformers”

Related Zingcreed Posts:
Red Christians #1: Thomas Muntzer
Red Christian Documents #8: Muntzer’s Programme

IMG_1397

 

london graffiti, 2015

[456,i]

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: