Liefde, Jan de (1814-1869)

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Jan de Liefde was born 25 December 1814 at Amsterdam and died there 6 December 1869. He was an "author, preacher, poet, composer, humorist, and theologian," entered the Amsterdam Mennonite Seminary in 1832, attended the lectures of Muller, who considered him an excellent student, and of Koopmans, and was called to preach at Woudsend in 1837, and two years later at Zutphen. He was converted in the revival movement "Reveil," and became one of its ardent advocates. He stirred up animosity by his polemic, Gevaar, gevaar en geen vreede (1844), which exposed and attacked the weaknesses of the Mennonite Church. His position became untenable, and he resigned on 26 October 1845, leaving the brotherhood and joining a group of apostolic Separatists. A year later, on the advice of van der Brugghen, he entered the normal school at Mors in Germany with the intention of preparing himself for the teaching profession. Before the completion of the course, however, he served for a short time as director of the Rhine missionary association at Barmen, and in 1848 returned to Holland. He worked at a collection of "folk writings." Poverty caused him to decide to go to America. Wealthy friends of the Reveil movement held him back and gave him an evangelistic position in Amsterdam, and built him the church "Eben-Ezer." He had a seminary of his own to train evangelists. He took an especial interest in the poor and initiated an organization called "For the welfare of the People," the object of which was to raise the social and economic level of the very destitute.

De Liefde's hostility to the (Reformed) church at the conference of the "Friends of the Truth" at Amsterdam in 1854 obliged him to resign this position. He founded a free brotherhood, which after a brief growth disintegrated. This unhappy experience consumed his vitality and put an early end to a life of great blessing. He lived temporarily in Utrecht and Amersfoort. To acquire the necessary funds he made frequent trips to England. For some years he had his home there. His brother-in-law, Johannes Molenaar, pastor at Monsheim, translated some of his folk writings: "Der Schiffbrüchige aus dem fernen Lande," "Die Diligence oder die Reise nach der Stadt der Erbschaft," "Des Christen Einnahme und Ausgabe," "Der Strafling," and "Allgemeine Geschichte für das Volk" (Mennonitische Blätter, 1865, 63). They were read in Mennonite circles in South Germany. In 1857 a few Mennonites at Hollum, Ameland, who were followers of de Liefde, left the Mennonite congregation to found a "Free Evangelical Congregation."


Coolsma, S.  J. de Liefde in zijn leven en werken geschetst. Nijkerk, 1917.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1861): 37, 146; (1881): 55-61; (1896): 27, 35.

Doopsgezind Jaarboekje (1840): 19, 22; (1850): 37.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 653 f.

Holl, F. J. de. "Jan de Liefde, zijn denkbeelden over de gemeente en zijne vroomheid." Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1901): 133-195.

Visscher, H. and L. A. van Langeraad. Biographisch Woordenboek von Protestantsche Godgeleerden in Nederland. Utrecht, 1903-: VI, 1-14.

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1957

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MLA style

Neff, Christian. "Liefde, Jan de (1814-1869)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 4 Jun 2020.,_Jan_de_(1814-1869)&oldid=145718.

APA style

Neff, Christian. (1957). Liefde, Jan de (1814-1869). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 4 June 2020, from,_Jan_de_(1814-1869)&oldid=145718.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 341. All rights reserved.

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