Entfelder, Christian (16th century)
Christian Entfelder (Endtfelder), a pupil of Hans Denck, a friend of Hubmaier, was probably the preacher of an Anabaptist congregation in Eibenschitz in 1526-1527. Having been expelled from Eibenschitz, he came to Strasbourg in 1529, after which nothing more is heard of him until 1544, when he was at Königsberg, Prussia, in a position of some influence in the Prussian court. Probably he was one of those intellectuals who were for a time close to the Anabaptists, and then broke the connections with them, either from fear of suffering or inner dissatisfaction, and then spent their lives alone in various positions. He wrote the following three books:
(1) Von den manigfaltigen im glauben zerspaltungen, dise jar entstanden. In Sonderheit von der Taufspaltung unn jrem urtail. Ain bedacht (Strasbourg, 1530).
(2) Von warer Gottseligkeyt wie der mensch allhie in diser zeyt dartzu kommen mag, ain kurtze (aber gar nutzliche) betrachtung. Apocal. 14. Fürchtend Gott und gebt jme die eer (Strasbourg, 1530).
(3) Von Gottes vnnd Christi Jesu vnnseres Herren erkändtnuss, ain bedacht, Allen Schülern des hailigen gaysts weiter zu bedencken aufgezaichnet, mit freyem vrthayl (1533).
All three books were also printed by Philipp Ulhart at Augsburg about 1530 (Schottenloher).
The first book, “a dark and confused” (Veesenmeyer, 312) writing, falls into two parts; in the first he seeks to discover the source of religious division; in the second he takes up the dispute on baptism and communion. The content of the first part he treats in five statements, as follows:
- That many people think they have what has not been given them, and presume to give what they do not have; this is a source of great error.
- That many pretend to be learned and attend the true Master’s school very little, from which follows that divine and human art are confused, divine and human word are not distinguished, and many concern themselves with more things than are committed to them, and this is a source of much error.
- That nobody believes that he does not have what he after all really has, and that nobody sincerely seeks or desires that without which he cannot be saved; this is a cause of many divisions.
- He who could properly judge divisions causes none, but creates unity in the midst of division.
- As the understanding zeal nourishes the spirit and consumes the flesh, likewise the zeal without understanding consumes unity and nourishes all divisions wherein the spirit disappears and the flesh struggles with the creature.
In this book Entfelder attacks the dead letter of the law. He speaks very unclearly about the voice of God and of men. The treatise on baptism he wrote upon the request of some Anabaptists, from whom he seems to have detached himself. He says it is a divine counsel, Christian command, and elementary ceremony. Von den manigfaltigen im glauben zerspaltungen was translated into Dutch by Petrus Serrarius, and under the title Bedenckinge over de veelderley Scheuringen ende Dwalingen added as an appendix to Serrarius’ book, De Vertredinge des Heyligen Stadts (Amsterdam, 1659). It had some influence in Dutch Collegiant circles.
The second booklet (17 pages) deals with generally mystical ideas. Blessedness is nothing but a rest in which the Spirit of God works in man through Christ, to rid him of all creature including himself, so that he hears only what God speaks to him. Man can acquire this rest by the rebirth, in which Christ is formed in him. It takes place in six stages. Only then is man able to take his outer senses captive and to activate his inner senses in the power of Him who indwells him, so that he performs perfectly that which God commands him. His faith puts him into this position, as is illustrated in Abraham and Peter. It is a matter of not only accepting the Word outwardly, but of making it one’s own with a complete loss of himself. Because man does not want to lose himself, he can never come to rest. . . . It is very reprehensible that one wishes to pay for Christ with mere words. Man will not find rest until he is one with God. Then the true Sabbath dawns with peace, joy, love, gentleness, comfort, and all pleasure. . . . But such unity cannot take place unless man tolerates the will of his God, which has been revealed to him in Christ Jesus, the first fruits of all. . . . To take up one’s cross (without the cross it cannot take place, the servant is not above the Master), with Christ committed to a simple, poor life, as the seed grain must first die, grow and become fruitful, be threshed out and crushed in true submission, then one becomes the true food from God the heavenly Father. . . . The one who so sincerely loves us can be recognized only through the suffering of His Son through the Holy Spirit. . . . If one comes to Him like the prodigal son one learns to love Him ardently; one finds in Him peace, rest, salvation, and all sufficiency, so that one disregards the whole world and without Him is so poor that one would not wish to be poorer even if the whole world were ours; “for here is nought but love and love, the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ in the rest of the Holy Spirit, in whom man may cry with the joy of the free princely spirit: who shall separate us from the love of God? shall tribulation or peril, persecution, hunger, thirst, danger, want, or the sword: I am certain that neither death nor life, angels, principalities nor powers, neither the present nor the future nor height nor depdi nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. And this is true blessedness, to which may God, the heavenly Father, help us with grace. Watch, pray, be sober, for ye know neither the day nor the hour.” This booklet was republished by Friedrich Nicolai, Lessing’s friend, in 1781.
The third book contains an obscure treatise on the nature of the Trinity, which we follow with difficulty. In the foreword the author assures us that only love to the truth has moved him to publish this work and to add his mite to the removal of aberrations on the doctrine of the person of Jesus Christ, without any pretension of infallibility and with the solemn conviction that he would be very sorry if he should cause offense to anyone with this writing. He makes three assertions, on the basis of which he deals with the questions:
- How the one God from the single reason of His love, has in threefold power, known as the three Persons, revealed Himself.
- How the manifold human beings are reminded of the revealed knowledge of God by means of manifold causes and oppositions.
- Concerning the knowledge of the true Mediator, concluded with the introduction of several afore-mentioned things (Veesenmeyer, 321-28, where is found the letter written in March 1544 by Entfelder to Johann á Lasco). Krollmann (p. 247) says that Entfelder returned to the service of Duke Albrecht of Prussia.
Calvary, Verzeichnis seltener und wertvoller Bücher. Berlin, 1870: 47.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: I, 594 f.
Hegler, A. Geist und Schrift bei Sebastian Franck. Freiburg, 1892.
Keller, Ludwig. Die Reformation und die älteren Reformparteien : in ihrem Zusammenhange dargestellt. Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1885: 433, 470.
Keller, Ludwig. Johann von Staupitz. Leipzig, 1885: 213, 360, 380, 394.
Krollmann, “Die Entwicklung der preussischen Landeskirche im 16. Jahrhundert,” in Monatshefte der Comeniusgesellschaft XVIII. 1909.
Schottenloher, K. Philipp Ulhart, Ein Augsburger Winkeldrucker und Helfershelfer der “Schwärmer” und “Wiedertäufer”. München and Freising, 1921: 85, 89.
Veesenmeyer in Gabler’s Neuestes theologisches Journal IV, No. 4. Nürnberg, 1800.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 226-227. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Neff, Christian. "Entfelder, Christian (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/entfelder_christian_16th_century.
APA style: Neff, Christian. (1956). Entfelder, Christian (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/entfelder_christian_16th_century.