1. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    25 Jun '07 17:581 edit
    Or Thomas Müntzer, as it is sometimes spelled.

    He was a contemporary of Luther and a very important figure in the Protestant Reformation during the early 16th century. Although initially allied with Luther, the two became estranged over the breadth and depth of the proposed reformation. Luther eventually settled on the gradual, middle class transformation of Christianity, while Meunzer wanted to completely revolutionize it by introducing his radical version of Christian Socialism. He became a leader of one of the
    uprisings during the Peasant's War, in 1524, with the battle cry of "Omnia sunt communia" (all things in common). Meunzer's forces were subsequently defeated at the battle of Frankenhausen, in 1525, and Meunzer was executed. Since then he has become a mere footnote in the history of Christianity as a whole, but remains an extremely important figure in the history of Christian Socialism. My primary source for him, at this point, is Friederich Engel's 1850 book, "The Peasant War In Germany." If I had known about Meunzer two weeks ago, I could have made my entry into Kirksey's sermon competition twice as long as it turned out.

    Here are a few excerpts:

    His (Meunzer's) theologic-philosophic doctrine attacked all the main points not only of Catholicism but of Christianity as such. Under the cloak of Christian forms, he preached a kind of pantheism, which curiously resembles the modern speculative mode of contemplation, and at times even taught open atheism. He repudiated the assertion that the Bible was the only infallible revelation. The only living revelation, he said, was reason, a revelation which existed among all peoples at all times. To contrast the Bible with reason, he maintained, was to kill the spirit by the latter, for the Holy Spirit of which the Bible spoke was not a thing outside of us; the Holy Spirit was our reason. Faith, he said, was nothing else but reason become alive in man, therefore, he said, pagans could also have faith. Through this faith, through reason come to life, man became godlike and blessed, he said. Heaven was to be sought in this life, not beyond, and it was, according to Muenzer, the task of the believers to establish Heaven, the kingdom of God, here on earth. As there is no Heaven in the beyond, he so there is no Hell in the beyond, and no damnation, and there are no devils but the evil desires and cravings of man. Christ, he said, was a man, as we are, a prophet and a teacher, and his "Lord's Supper" is nothing but a plain meal of commemoration wherein bread and wine are being consumed with mystic additions.

    ...and...

    Muenzer's political doctrine followed his revolutionary religious conceptions very closely, and as his theology reached far beyond the current conceptions of his time, so his political doctrine went beyond existing social and political conditions. As Muenzer's philosophy of religion touched upon atheism, so his political programme touched upon communism, and there is more than one communist sect of modern times which, on the eve of the February Revolution, did not possess a theoretical equipment as rich as that of Muenzer of the Sixteenth Century. His programme, less a compilation of the demands of the then existing plebeians than a genius's anticipation of the conditions for the emancipation of the proletarian element that had just begun to develop among the plebeians, demanded the immediate establishment of the kingdom of God, of the prophesied millennium on earth. This was to be accomplished by the return of the church to its origins and the abolition of all institutions that were in conflict with what Muenzer conceived as original Christianity, which, in fact, was the idea of a very modern church. By the kingdom of God, Muenzer understood nothing else than a state of society without class differences, without private property, and without Superimposed state powers opposed to the members of society. All existing authorities, as far as they did not submit and join the revolution, he taught, must be overthrown, all work and all property must be shared in common, and complete equality must be introduced. In his conception, a union of the people was to be organised to realise this programme, not only throughout Germany, but throughout entire Christendom. Princes and nobles were to be invited to join, and should they refuse, the union was to overthrow or kill them, with arms in hand, at the first opportunity.

    The excerpts are taken from Chapter 2 of Engel's book, "The Main Opposition Groups and their Programmes; Luther and Muenzer"
    The entire relevant text can be read at:
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1850/peasant-war-germany/ch02.htm
  2. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    25 Jun '07 18:09
    A shorter account of Meunzer can be read at:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Muentzer
  3. Joined
    27 Sep '06
    Moves
    9651
    25 Jun '07 18:18
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Or Thomas Müntzer, as it is sometimes spelled.

    He was a contemporary of Luther and a very important figure in the Protestant Reformation during the early 16th century. Although initially allied with Luther, the two became estranged over the breadth and depth of the proposed reformation. Luther eventually settled on the gradual, middle class transformati ...[text shortened]...
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1850/peasant-war-germany/ch02.htm
    It appears he had a big ego. I wonder what made him think he could over throw the established social structure?
  4. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    25 Jun '07 18:351 edit
    Originally posted by josephw
    It appears he had a big ego. I wonder what made him think he could over throw the established social structure?
    What made Jesus think he could do it?
  5. Illinois
    Joined
    20 Mar '07
    Moves
    6266
    25 Jun '07 19:21
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Or Thomas Müntzer, as it is sometimes spelled.

    He was a contemporary of Luther and a very important figure in the Protestant Reformation during the early 16th century. Although initially allied with Luther, the two became estranged over the breadth and depth of the proposed reformation. Luther eventually settled on the gradual, middle class transformati ...[text shortened]...
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1850/peasant-war-germany/ch02.htm
    The bible is not a communist manifesto, so it's easy to see why he failed soundly by all accounts.
  6. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    25 Jun '07 23:29
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    The bible is not a communist manifesto, so it's easy to see why he failed soundly by all accounts.
    This thread was meant to be read in conjunction with my post in Kirksey's sermon competition #1. It has been my contention that Jesus' words were, in fact, a program for a socialistic rejuvenation of society. Moreover, this opinion has been shared by many Christians over the years. Thomas Meunzer is one prominent example of that.
  7. Illinois
    Joined
    20 Mar '07
    Moves
    6266
    26 Jun '07 01:38
    Originally posted by rwingett
    This thread was meant to be read in conjunction with my post in Kirksey's sermon competition #1. It has been my contention that Jesus' words were, in fact, a program for a socialistic rejuvenation of society. Moreover, this opinion has been shared by many Christians over the years. Thomas Meunzer is one prominent example of that.
    If Jesus' words were a program for a socialistic society, why would he say this:

    “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).

    Thomas Meunzer can hardly be considered a Christian, at least biblically speaking.
  8. Joined
    27 Sep '06
    Moves
    9651
    26 Jun '07 02:12
    Originally posted by rwingett
    What made Jesus think he could do it?
    Jesus did do it! Did you ever consider what the world would be like if there were no God?

    I'll tell you. There would be no world. 😀
  9. Joined
    27 Sep '06
    Moves
    9651
    26 Jun '07 02:14
    Originally posted by rwingett
    This thread was meant to be read in conjunction with my post in Kirksey's sermon competition #1. It has been my contention that Jesus' words were, in fact, a program for a socialistic rejuvenation of society. Moreover, this opinion has been shared by many Christians over the years. Thomas Meunzer is one prominent example of that.
    You don't know how right you are!
    And one day Jesus will sit on the throne of David ruling the nations with a rod of iron.
  10. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    26 Jun '07 02:53
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    If Jesus' words were a program for a socialistic society, why would he say this:

    “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).

    Thomas Meunzer can hardly be considered a Christian, at least biblically speaking.
    There are plenty of verses that support my position. Such as:

    Acts 2:44-45:
    (44) And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; (45) And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

    Acts 4:34-35:
    (34) Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, (35) And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

    It is my contention that Jesus' original message was one of the socialistic transformation of society, but that his message was badly corrupted in the years between his death and the time the books of the bible were written. The simple answer is that all the verses that agree with my position are originals, while all the verses that disagree with me are later forgeries. The verses from Acts are clearly originals, while your verse from John (the last of the gospels written) is clearly a forgery.
  11. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    26 Jun '07 05:411 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    If Jesus' words were a program for a socialistic society, why would he say this:

    “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).

    Thomas Meunzer can hardly be considered a Christian, at least biblically speaking.
    It is interesting to note that Luther started off with the same revolutionary ardour as Meunzer, saying at one point, "If the raging madness [of the Roman churchmen] were to continue, it seems to me no better counsel and remedy could be found against it than that kings and princes apply force, arm themselves, attack those evil people who have poisoned the entire world, and once and for all make an end to this game, with arms, not with words. If thieves are being punished with swords, murderers with ropes, and heretics with fire, why do we not seize, with arms in hand, all those evil teachers of perdition, those popes, bishops, cardinals, and the entire crew of Roman Sodom? Why do we not wash our hands in their blood?"

    Luther soon backed away from this sentiment by advocating a gradualist, middle class reformation, while Meunzer stuck to his guns (so to speak) in his desire to sweep away the rotting carcass of the Roman Catholic Church and usher in Jesus' revolutionary program of social egalitarianism.
  12. Illinois
    Joined
    20 Mar '07
    Moves
    6266
    26 Jun '07 14:233 edits
    Originally posted by rwingett
    There are plenty of verses that support my position. Such as:

    Acts 2:44-45:
    (44) And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; (45) And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

    Acts 4:34-35:
    (34) Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or h originals, while your verse from John (the last of the gospels written) is clearly a forgery.
    It is my contention that Jesus' original message was one of the socialistic transformation of society, but that his message was badly corrupted in the years between his death and the time the books of the bible were written.

    Christ did have plenty to say about the rich, that they should give all they have to the poor, but he always couched those suggestions with the command to "follow him." In those two words hides much, much more than merely a superficial message about socialistic transformation.

    The early church was inspired to sell all their possessions and give to any of them that were in need because the Holy Spirit led them to do so; that is, they were driven by the Spirit of Love (God's Spirit) to care for one another. You are quite mistaken in your assumption that they did so according to an overarching political ideology, which supposedly took precedence over preaching the Good News of the Gospel to the poor.

    Granted, there is some merit to socialism, as there is some merit to all '-isms' in one way or another, but reducing the message of Jesus to a socio-economic revolution fails to meet scripture on its own terms.

    If, as you say, the Gospel of grace towards sinners and the message of God's love for all is only a forgery, and that the 'original' message of socialistic transformation was corrupted in the handful of years between Christ's ascension and the NT books, where then are all the missing manuscripts? Surely someone secreted them away somewhere in order to preserve their contents for future generations, that they might not fall into the hands of the meek and mild mob. Where are the torn and tattered originals tauting Christ's worldly ambitions?

    You see, it's just not true what you claim. However clear that is, though, I don't have much hope in convincing you otherwise, since you probably believe the majority of the NT is nonsense to begin with.
  13. Standard memberblakbuzzrd
    Buzzardus Maximus
    Joined
    03 Oct '05
    Moves
    23729
    26 Jun '07 14:33
    Originally posted by rwingett
    This thread was meant to be read in conjunction with my post in Kirksey's sermon competition #1. It has been my contention that Jesus' words were, in fact, a program for a socialistic rejuvenation of society. Moreover, this opinion has been shared by many Christians over the years. Thomas Meunzer is one prominent example of that.
    Interesting. I know you're a fan of Ehrman; he treats Jesus as less of a social revolutionary than an apocalyptic prophet, whose signs and wonders were performed primarily as indicators of the imminence of the eschaton.

    Do you find Ehrman's take unconvincing?

    BTW, I have tickets to go see him talk in a small venue Thursday night. The topic is "History and Legend: Contemporary Religious Issues." I think he's going to riff off the recent Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene book he wrote.
  14. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    26 Jun '07 14:49
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    [b]It is my contention that Jesus' original message was one of the socialistic transformation of society, but that his message was badly corrupted in the years between his death and the time the books of the bible were written.

    Christ did have plenty to say about the rich, that they should give all they have to the poor, but he always couched thos ...[text shortened]... rwise, since you probably believe the majority of the NT is nonsense to begin with.[/b]
    Yes, I do think that the majority of the NT is nonsense. I think what came out of it is mostly Paul's religion and not Jesus'. I think Christianity went from being Jesus' program of social transformation to Paul's cult of the personhood of Jesus. The 'Kingdom of God' was supposed to be built in the here and now. Private property was the original sin which led to the fall of man. Jesus' message was to liberate man from this fallen state and return him to the communal, egalitarian state that existed at creation. That was to be the path to mankind's 'salvation.'

    There have been many Christian groups who have understood Jesus' message in just that way, from Thomas Meunzer, to Gerard Winstanley and the Diggers, to the many 19th century Christian Socialists and the Social Gospel, to the communal Hutterites of today. There has been a constant undercurrent of Christian Socialist activity for a long, long time.

    Where are the works? Gone. As you well know, Jesus never wrote down what he said. His message existed solely as oral tradition for decades before people began to write down what they thought he had said. By then the damage had been done. But glimpses of that original message can still be glimpsed throughout the bible and the remaining biblical apocrypha. If we strip away the accumulated Pauline errors maybe we can reconstruct part of that original message.

    Anyway, that is the theory I am pursuing recently. Is that theory correct? Who knows? But I think it is compelling enough to warrant investigation.
  15. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    26 Jun '07 14:58
    Originally posted by blakbuzzrd
    Interesting. I know you're a fan of Ehrman; he treats Jesus as less of a social revolutionary than an apocalyptic prophet, whose signs and wonders were performed primarily as indicators of the imminence of the eschaton.

    Do you find Ehrman's take unconvincing?

    BTW, I have tickets to go see him talk in a small venue Thursday night. The topic is "Histo ...[text shortened]... ink he's going to riff off the recent Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene book he wrote.
    The theory I am pursuing stems from many sources. Ehrman plays a big part in it by pointing out how Jesus' message became corrupted, but the casting of Jesus as a social revolutionary comes from other sources. Primarily the writings of Gerard Winstanley of the Diggers, Friederich Engels' interpretation of Thomas Meunzer, and the many Christian Socialists of the 19th century.

    Is Ehrman correct in his interpretation of things? Could be. But I find that interpretation far less interesting. So I've been exploring the theory of Jesus as social revolutionary to see where that takes me. I feel I am on somewhat solid ground here as there have been many before me who have done the same thing.
Back to Top