A necessary smelting: Leonhard Schiemer's theology of suffering
This dissertation argues that Leonhard Schiemer utilized key concepts of medieval German mysticism to express an Anabaptist theology of suffering. Schiemer, under the influence of the Theologia Germanica, combined mystical ideas with normative sixteenth century Anabaptism to develop a significant theology of the cross.
The Introduction explains the thesis, outlines its methodology, and provides an overview of medieval German mysticism and Anabaptist theology. In addition, it argues for a greater appreciation of Schiemer's contribution to South German and Austrian Anabaptism.
Chapter 1 gives a biographical account of Schiemer's life, highlighting his activity as an Anabaptist leader and his courageous martyrdom. This chapter also summarizes the letters of Schiemer that were analyzed in this dissertation.
Chapter 2 identifies the primary mystical elements that Schiemer utilized. The first task determines what the author of the Theologia Germanica meant in his use of these ideas. Hans Hut's “the gospel of all creatures” is included as well. The second task compares Schiemer's use of these ideas to the Theologia Germanica (and Hans Hut) in order to determine how he adapted them for his theology of suffering.
Chapter 3 analyzes the Anabaptist doctrine in Schiemer's writings to demonstrate that he represents typical sixteenth century Anabaptism. This chapter also explores the way he ties each of the major doctrines to the necessity of experiencing the pain of Christ's cross.
Chapter 4 synthesizes the results of the two previous chapters to spell out Schiemer's theology of suffering. This chapter explains why, for Schiemer, the cross of suffering cannot be avoided. It also studies Schiemer's perspective regarding God's purpose in suffering and the importance of the Holy Spirit's comfort in suffering. The Conclusion provides a summary of the dissertation's conclusions and suggests possibilities for future explorations.
The focus of this dissertation argues that Leonhard Schiemer utilized key concepts of medieval German mysticism and expressed them through Anabaptist theology to develop his kreutzestheologie. In doing this, Schiemer makes a unique contribution to South German and Austrian Anabaptism.