Antonians

Antonians

1. A sect of Antinomians in Switzerland, followers of Anton Unternahrer, born a Roman Catholic at Entlebuch, 1761, whose mind seems to have been unsettled. In 1799 he began to hold meetings, and soon after announced himself as the Son of Man.

This he tried to demonstrate in the most singular manner from a number of scriptural passages, from his name, and from circumstances of his body and life. On Good Friday,1802, he appeared, with a number of adherents, before the minster of Berne, proclaiming an impending crisis. He also summoned the government of the canton to appear before him. This led to his arrest and to an investigation, in consequence of which he was sentenced to two years imprisonment. As soon as dismissed from the prison, he again held assemblies in the neighborhood of Thun, was again arrested, and sentenced (April 4. 1805) to life-long banishment from the canton. He then went to Schlipfhelm in the canton of Lucerne, where he was visited by many of his adherents. The government was first inclined to treat him as a monomaniac, but subsequently arrested him, and kept him in prison until his death in 1824. Unternahrer published fifteen small volumes, several of which were printed secretly. All are written in the tone and language of the Bible. He combined the passages of the Bible without any regard to sense and connection, and justified this arbitrariness by saying that the Scriptures were only "fragments," and that he, as the Man of God, had the mission to put these fragments together in the proper way. Of God he speaks as a personal being, having all the attributes given to him in the Scriptures. Still, his conception is unconsciously pantheistic, inasmuch as he regards him merely as a natural being, without the idea of concrete holiness. He also accepted the doctrine of the Trinity, but thought himself to be the God who became man the second time. Every thing created by God, inclusive of man, with all his natural instincts, was regarded by him as good; the making of any distinction, as between good and evil, he declared to be the work of the devil. According to him, the man who recognises all such distinctions as opposed to the will of God, is redeemed. The redemption of mankind was begun by Christ, and completed by himself (Unternahrer). All institutions of church and state, marriage, property, religious service, sacraments, he denounced and cursed as distinctions taught by the devil. The only religious service he taught consisted in the cultivation of love — in particular, sexual love, without any restraint or distinction whatever. He found adherents in several places, and many continued to believe in him even after his death, expecting that his spirit would appear again in another form. In Amsoldingen, his former place of residence, the sect was suppressed in 1805. In Wohlen, near Berne, and several adjoining communities, a certain Bendicht Schori —became the center of the sect. They were summoned before the courts in 1830, but dismissed with a moderate fine, and still exist. Another branch of the sect existed in the community of Gsteig, near Interlachen, under the leadership of Christ. Michel. The courts several times proceeded a-rainst this branch (1821, 1830, and 1840), and in 1841 Michel and others were sentenced to five years' imprisonment. Traces and branches of this sect, it is said, may also still be found in the cantons of Lucerne, Aargau, and Zurich. (See Zyro, Chr. Michel und seine Anhanger, in Trechsel's Beitrdge zur Geschichte der Schweiz. reform. Kirche). Herzog, 1, 410.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

2. The name of several orders. SEE ANTHONY, ORDERS OF.

 
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