Spiritualism

Although Müntzer is usually categorized as a Spiritualist, he is anomalous.8 Unlike other Spiritualists - including the two most important discussed here, Caspar Schwenckfeld and Sebastian Franck - Müntzer's devaluation of scripture and the sacraments was not based upon spirit/matter dualism. His conception of Spirit resembled that found in the Bible: an external force, sometimes violent, described with material imagery, producing strong emotions that result in outwardly directed action. Müntzer's dualism was based on that of flesh (fear of humans) and spirit (fear of God), or that of letter (literal understanding) and spirit (inspired interpretation, transformative faith). As a result, Müntzer could criticize infant baptism but retain it, reject the real presence but celebrate the eucharist. The other Spiritualists, however, operated with a platonic dualism in which spirit is the immaterial mind. Found in the depths of the human soul and described in abstract terms, spirit is the passive object of desire that moves the observer by attraction, and produces peace, harmony and stasis. As a result of their understanding of Spirit, Schwenckfeld and Franck were programmatic Spiritualists for whom denying the material was the basis of true religion.

Of the lower nobility, Caspar Schwenckfeld (1489-1561) was serving in the ducal courts of his native Silesia when in 1519 Luther's message provoked a 'divine visitation' (Heimsuchung), or conversion. By 1521 Schwenckfeld was leader of the Silesian reform movement, and by 1522 he had won over the

8 McLaughlin, 'Reformation Spiritualism', and McLaughlin, 'Spiritualismus'.

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