If I would have a patron saint, it would be Hans Denck. So much of his life parallels mine. He was a bit of a pragmatic Christian mystic from the early days of the reformation with the bulk of his writings created around the time when the first Anabaptists began baptizing one another in 1525. He is often lumped in with Anabaptist and it’s true he was baptized as an adult, but the thrust of his message was not second baptism but rather more about allowing God to have full control of our life through transformation (or death) of the flesh. He was a very complex man and his writings can be confusing at times. These days he is held up as a Universalist among many of the denominations who adhere to those beliefs. But if one were to read his complete writings they would quickly realize his understanding of the separation of souls from God. That separation due to their choices clearly, not God’s. But on the flip-side Denck has a beautiful and eloquent way of describing God’s infinite love, grace and mercy for all humankind regardless of their past transgressions.
If you haven’t read this book I encourage you to. If you have read it and/or want to discuss the quotes, feel free to comment. Just keep it positive. I will be adding notes & quotes as I continue to read.
All quotes come from “Selected Writings of Hans Denck” edited and Translated by Walter Fellmann by Edward J. Furcha with Ford Lewis Battles. Published in 1/1/1976. The copy I hold is the Pittsburgh Original Texts & Translations Series: Number 1: An Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers: Pickwick Publications. ISBN 13: 978-0-915138-15-9
“If you notice your brother treasures something which he should not, teach him first to know God, then he will treasure Him alone. If he does not do so, loose few words over it. For if you destroy everything he has and he heeds you, he will set another treasure in it’s place which will be like the former or worse. You, however, if you hear your brother say something that is strange to you, do not refute it right away, but listen first to determine whether it is right for you to accept it, too.” -pg 45 Chapter II.4 “The Law of God” from “Selected Writings of Hans Denck”
“Sin is disobedience and unbelief [John 16:9]; It is man seeking himself. Then his righteousness suffers, because a man would rather let it [his righteousness] fall to the ground and be destroyed than suffer any damage himself, if he can help it in any way [Matthew 23:37].
“The penalty thereof is a hardening in unbelief [Romans 9:18] when man has set himself free to do evil [Psalm 1:4ff]: he now hates everything that is good and finds pleasure and delight in everything which is wrong. Yet the godless says: “Why has God created me evil? I can’t help it. I too would be saved like everyone else if He intends to save me, He could well do it [Isaiah 45:22, Romans 9:15f].
“Then he makes a pact with hell [Isaiah 28:15]: when he finds a just person, he will hate such a one all the more ardently the closer he is to God.
“Finally he says that everything pertaining to eternal life and damnation is a lie and fanciful invention; we live on until we die and then it is finished [Wisdom 2:1].” -pg 81 Chapter II.5 “Divine Order” from “Selected Writings of Hans Denck”