Melchiorites is a term used for the followers of Melchior Hoffman (modernized in German as Hoffmann), the Reformer who carried the gospel to Baltic areas such as Estonia and Livonia, to Emden in Friesland, and to Amsterdam. Hoffman was an individualist who did not unite with the Swiss Brethren, and they in turn repudiated him. Nevertheless he did unite with a fringe group of Anabaptists in Strasbourg in 1530. For a time he was a Lutheran, but Luther ultimately repudiated him. In the 1530s he traveled about a great deal. He held to such Swiss Brethren doctrines as believer's baptism, nonresistance, the rejection of oaths, earnest discipleship to Christ, and separation of church and state. He wrote numerous books, mostly on eschatology. He made much of baptism as a covenant (see 1 Pet. 3:21 in the Luther Bible), and his followers were often called Brethren of the Covenant or "Covenanters."
In addition to the usual Anabaptist doctrines Hoffman was obsessed with eschatology, reveling in the anticipated apocalyptic violence against the wicked after Christ's return, and he was naively drawn to "special revelations" through dreams and visions. He also held an eccentric view of the incarnation whereby Mary was understood to be merely a channel through which the "heavenly flesh of Christ made its entrance to the earth." In response to a special revelation through a Melchiorite he hastened back to Strasbourg in 1533, was arrested, and jailed, in the expectation that in six months Christ would return.
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J C Wenger
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)
Mennonite Encyclopedia, II, III.
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