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.
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: