Ortlep, Christoph (d. 1530)
Christoph Ortlep, an Anabaptist martyr, was executed for his faith at Reinhardsbrunn, a monastery in Thuringia, Germany, on 18 January 1530 together with Andreas Kolb and four women—Katharina König, Katharina Kolb, Elsa Kunz, and Barbara Unger. Ortlep was arrested in 1529 and subjected to a cross-examination on his faith; after indoctrination by Lutheran theologians he recanted and was released. But he again joined the Anabaptists and was arrested and cross-examined with other Anabaptist prisoners. He declared that he would stand by his faith in all points, in the conviction that the Anabaptist doctrine was the most fundamental truth, from which he would not again depart, even if he must lose his life for it. He did not regret having suffered the penalty imposed on him as shame for the sake of Christ; but he did regret that he had once denied the truth he knew and recanted. A few days later he was sentenced to death and executed at once with the other steadfast prisoners.
The execution aroused general attention, since the condemned were the first blood witnesses in matters of faith under Lutheran government, and there were no civil charges brought against them. The Gotha superintendent Friedrich Myconius, who conducted the hearing and therefore knew the earnest mind of the victims, was shocked by the death sentence and expressed his qualms in a letter to Melanchthon; Melanchthon replied in February, trying to quiet his doubts, thereby reversing the attitude of the Wittenberg theologians on the death penalty in matters of faith.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: vol. III, 311.
Paulus, Nikolaus. Protestantismus und Toleranz im 16. Jahrhundert. Freiburg im Breisgan; St. Louis: Herdersche Verlagshandlung, 1911: 31 ff.
Wappler, Paul. Die Stellung Kursachsens und des Landgrafen Philipp von Hessen zur Täuferbewegung. Münster i. W. : Druck und Verlag der Aschendorffschen Buchhandlung, 1910: 137.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 88. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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