Dippel Johann Conrad

Dippel Johann Conrad, called the Christian Democritus, was born August 10, 1673, at Frankenstein, near Darmstadt, studied at the University of Giessen, and became professor there. His vanity, and his desire to be considered as a "reformer of theology," led him into excesses which cost him his situation, and he became a sort of literary adventurer. He was at first a violent opponent of Pietism, afterwards lectured on chiromancy and astrology, and in 1697 appeared in Darmstadt in the character of an alchemist and Pietist. Driven away as an impostor from Darmstadt in 1704, and from Berlin in 1707, we find him practicing medicine in Holland, where some cures performed by his "universal medicine" (Dippel's oil) gained him a great reputation. Obliged to flee on account of debt, he went to Altona, and was imprisoned at Bornholm from 1719 to 1725. After his liberation, he went as a physician to Sweden in 1727, but left it in December, 1737, on account of his attacks against the Church and the institutions of the country. He was afterwards known in Hesse and the Rhenish provinces as adept, quack, and herald of the "interior light," which he sought to substitute for Christianity. In theology, Dippel "attacked in particular the doctrine of the atonement of Christ, and of justification by faith. Redemption takes place through Christ in us without external means. There is no anger in God; an atonement is therefore not necessary. As Christ did not assume his humanity out of Paradise, but out of the weakened substance of fallen man, he was under the necessity, on his own account,- of going though the narrow gate of self-denial to glory; not in our place, but for our good, did Christ set an example of his holy life. The Word of God, in his view, is not in Christ alone. It is an immediate efflux from the mouth of God, which communicates itself to the hearts of all men, even without the Scriptures: in every man there is a divine seed, or efflux of the divine nature. After the Fall, however, there was in man the seed of the serpent, which totally concealed the Word of God implanted in us. To the end of awakening and ripening this seed of God, the eternal Word of God was, compelled to assume a lucific body in heaven, by whose means the flesh assumed in Mary was tinged and deified, and the seed of the serpent in his flesh was killed by his sufferings and death. Through both, however, a universal tincture was prepared, through which the seed of God is awakened in us, and we are clothed with a new lucific body for our deification. This, however, we do not receive through external means of grace. In true Christianity nothing takes place mediately: it is God's will to speak directly to our heart by inspiration; it is Christ's will to begin his process again in us, in each one separately" (Dorner, Hist. of the Doctrine of the Person of Christ, Edinb. transl., div. 2, volume 2, page 376). He died April 25, 1734, in Wittgenstein Castle. His adherents were called Dippelians (Dippelianer). He wrote several hymns; among them the penitential hymn "O Jesu, sieh darein." Under the name of Christianus Democritus he wrote Orthodoxia orthodoxorum (1697): — Papismus pr.otestarn tium vapulans (1698): — Fatum fatuum. (Amst. 1710): — Glanz des Evangeliums Jesu Christi (Stockh. 1827): Der Regentenspiegel, ein iateinisches Gedicht: — Personalia (an autobiography, no date). His writings were collected under the title Eroffneter Weg zum Frieden m. Gott u. allen Creaturen (Amsterd. 1709; new collection 1743, 3 volumes). — Ackermann, Lebensbeschreibung (Leips. 1781); Hoffmann, Lebensbeschreibung (Darmst. 1783); Kahnis, German Protestantism, page 126; Schröckh, Kirchengeschichte, part 2, 8:303 sq.; Herzog, Real-Encykl. 3:42.

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