Thomas Müntzer was a unique individual. Like Luther, he became frustrated with priestly privilege, the abuses and simony in the Catholic Church. Unlike Luther, he developed this mystical belief that all true believers must have revelations. Eventually he came to the belief that any clergy members who did not have revelations were “of no use to the church.”
Müntzer is part of what would become known as the Radical Reformation movement. Radical in the sense that society needed a complete restructuring in anticipation of the end days. Luther called him a fanatic.
The issues that surrounded many of the radical reformers were true of Müntzer. He banned infant baptism and taught that the bread and wine of the Eucharist did not contain the real presence of Christ. But here is where the similarities ended. Müntzer believed that he was a new Daniel, called to reveal God’s mind to the political elite.
Luther did not think highly of this. Violence would follow Müntzer and his followers, some stemming from Luther’s outspoken opposition. He was made to leave Allstedt, and settled in Mulhausen. Sadly, he would lead uprisings against his political and spiritual opponents, now known as the German Peasants’ war. Müntzer was eventually arrested and tortured, until he recanted.
Tragically, Müntzer was beheaded on May 27, 1525, outside Mulhausen. His head and body were displayed as a warning to the peasants who had any desire to follow Müntzer’s revolutionary ideas.