Möller, Georg (d. 1536)
Georg Möller (Müller), an Anabaptist martyr from Schönau near Zwickau, Germany, joined the Anabaptists after hearing sermons by Georg Köhler in Riestedt near Sangerhausen and by Heinz Kraut in March 1535. He was baptized by Heinz Kraut on 10 July with his brother Jobst Möller in the home of Georg Knoblauch behind the cathedral in Halberstadt. He began at once to preach repentance (Jacobs, 469) in the vicinity of Riestedt. He was seized with Georg Köhler on the morning of 2 September 1535, and taken to the prison in Sangerhausen, where an Anabaptist woman, Petronella, was detained. Two days later Köhler and Möller were subjected singly to a lengthy cross-examination by the Catholic authorities. The bailiff Philipp Reibitzsch reported at once to Georg, Duke of Saxony, with the comment that he was greatly surprised by their free confession of their faith and the frank answers to the questions asked them; the presence of the executioner had not intimidated them (Thüringen, 130 and 392).
The answers, published by Eduard Jacobs from the court records (pp. 496-508), give important information on the history of the Anabaptist movement in Central Germany. Georg Köhler, in answer to the question how he had come to join the Anabaptists, said that he had first been admonished by Georg Knoblauch—whose wife Greta Knoblauch had been executed in April 1534 at Sangerhausen, and with whom he had been baptized six months later by Heinz Kraut—to turn to God, be obedient to Him, repent, and deny the world, pride, and drunkenness. Georg Möller had also been deeply influenced by Knoblauch, whose house in Halberstadt was long an Anabaptist center.
As in other countries, the Anabaptists in Saxony were suspected of seditious intentions. Köhler declared that they had made no conspiracy against the government, that God had ordained government, and killing was forbidden in the Ten Commandments (Jacobs, 504). And Möller said in reply to the question as to the whereabouts of his brethren that God's followers were all beloved of Him and were ready to endure all persecution for God's sake (Jacobs, 472).
The Anabaptists put great stress on clean moral living, as is shown by their statements on marriage. Among them marriage was not begun with excessive eating, drinking, and pride, as is the usage in the world. "By their simple and moral conduct," writes Jacobs, "they stand high above the unrefined generation of their day, in many cases sunken in gluttony and drunkenness. ... It is indeed no trifling matter that our friends of God could say that they tolerated no adulterer, gambler, or glutton, nor any with an undisciplined or evil life and conduct in their brotherhood; they were not permitted to speak ill or laugh in derision at anyone" (Jacobs, 485 and 529).
The questioning on doctrinal points covered infant baptism, original sin, confession of faith, communion, confessional, and forgiveness of sin. Baptism they regarded as the covenant of a good conscience with God, which an infant cannot enter into. Infants are not tainted by original sin or any other kind of sin. God has instilled a clean spirit into them. It is therefore not possible that they could be in the power of the devil whom the parson must drive out. God has not granted the devil so much power over a child that has done no wrong. Concerning communion both repeated what they had been taught by Heinz Kraut, who later became a martyr in Jena, "that God is a living God and a spirit, over whom no man has any power." Therefore, declared Köhler, he did not believe that in the form of the bread the body of God was concealed or was pure flesh and blood. Möller answered that he did not believe that God would permit Himself to be transformed into bread by a priest or a sinful man. In reply to the question of what benefit communion was to them Möller replied that it was of no special benefit; he thought that as the grain of wheat must suffer much before it becomes bread, so also a disciple of Jesus must suffer much before he becomes a real Christian (Jacobs, 508). Communion they regarded as a meal of the covenant which obligated them to faithful discipleship. That included being willing to give up home, property, wife, and child, indeed even life (Jacobs, 475, 500, 503, and 507). Asked about the confessional and absolution Köhler said that he placed no value on the forgiveness of sin as the church taught it. Nobody was able to forgive sin except those sins which his neighbor had committed against him. The forgiving of sins pertained to God alone. To that end He did not need a man, but required a penitent heart.
The records state that Köhler had answered freely without the use of the rack and had in conclusion declared that he would adhere to his opinion, come what might. Likewise Möller said he would adhere to his confession of faith, hoping that God would strengthen and illumine him in doing so. Albrecht, Cardinal of Mainz, on 24 September 1535, advised Duke George to have them beheaded and also to put Petronella to death unless she recanted, as soon as the consent of the council of Quedlinburg and the official of Sachsenberg arrived, since Petronella had been baptized in his district by schoolmaster Alexander, who had already been martyred, "that such an unchristian undertaking be seriously punished and eradicated" (Thüringen, 130).
The arrest of these two men led to further executions, also under Lutheran authority, since they named their brethren when asked to do so. John, the young Duke of Saxony, had in the absence of his father sent the records of the trials to Cardinal Albrecht, administrator of Halberstadt, with the request to seize the Anabaptists named by the prisoners and try them, "that we may see behind their intrigues" (Jacobs, 519). The Anabaptists who remained steadfast were drowned by order of the cardinal at Groningen near Halberstadt (Jacobs, 536).
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: III: 147 f.
Jacobs, Eduard. "Die Wiedertäufer am Harz." Zeitschrift des Harz-Vereins für Geschichte und Altertumskunde 32 (1899): 422-536.
Wappler, Paul. Inquisition und Ketzerprozesse in Zwickau zur Reformationszeit: Dargestellt im Zusammenhang mit der Entwicklung der Ansichten Luthers und Melanchthons über Glaubens- und Gewissensfreiheit. Leipzig : M. Heinsius, 1908.
Wappler, Paul. Die Täuferbewegung in Thüringen von 1526-1584. Jena: Gustav Fisher, 1913.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 727-728. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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APA style: Hege, Christian. (1957). Möller, Georg (d. 1536). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M6512.html.