Radical Reform Movements

Sources: Carter Lindberg, The European Reformations (Blackwell, 1996); Denis R.. Janz, A Reformation Reader: Primary Texts with Introductions (Fortress, 1999); Steven Ozment, The Age of Reform (Yale, 1980); Heiko A. Oberman, Luther: Man between God and the Devil (Doubleday, 1992); Diarmaid MacCulloch, "The Reformation 1500-1650" in Richard Harries and Henry Mayr-Harting, Christianity: Two Thousand Years (Oxford, 2001).

Reading: Matt. 5:3-16.

By the sixteenth century the medieval synthesis has broken down
Questioning tradition potentially unsettles all settled Catholic positions
Humanist influence ("ad fontes!") and biblical subjectivity lead to conflicting interpretations
Rival visions of reformation multiply, dividing reform movements:

Roman Catholics conserve church structures
Magisterial Protestants (German, Swiss, English) conserve state structures
"Radicals" overturn both, threatening civil order

Violent Radicals
By 1520-1521, "Zwickau prophets" embrace believers' baptism, charismatic and mystical revelation, equality of believers, and Christ's imminent return
Thomas Müntzer leads a doomed peasant revolution ending in 1525
The German "Peasants' War" 1524-1526 opposes feudalism and clericalism (The Twelve Articles); Luther rebuffs their appeals (Admotion to Peace)
Melchior Hoffman's visions make Münster a charismatic terror state 1534-1535
These events frighten rulers throughout Europe and strengthen conservatives

Nonviolent Radicals
In 1522 Andreas Karlstadt advocates iconoclasm, forcible civil reform
Luther differs; Karlstadt pursues spiritualism and early puritanism in Switzerland
A few Swiss are "re"-baptized in 1524, creating
"free churches" that

affirm believers' baptism only (for varying reasons)
practice nonviolence (despite an all-volunteer Swiss army)
consider Church a community of disciplined believers, not a corpus mixtum
reject m
onetary interest and mandatory state tithes

The first Anabaptists are executed by drowning in 1527
Michael Sattler draws up "Schleitheim Articles" in 1527, is killed
Menno Simons and Hans Hut create Mennonite and Hutterite communities
These and other movements (spiritualism, rationalism) spur religious tolerance

Conservative Reactions
Luther responds to Karlstadt with "invocavit sermons" that counsel patience, not force
Against the "Schwärmer" Luther grounds civil rule in reason and law, not gospel
Princes put down rebellions ruthlessly
Civil authorities hunt, persecute, and drown even peaceful Anabaptists