Monheim, Johannes

Monheim, Johannes a follower of the great Desiderius Erasmus, and a noted teacher of the 16th century, was born of humble parentage at Claussen, near Elberfeld, in 1509. His father was a linen-draper, and Monheim entered his business when quite young. But his superior mental endowments soon led him into a different course; and, though not privileged with the advantages of a careful training, he yet managed to acquire a good classical education. It is said that he studied with Erasmus, but Hamelmann's assertion that Monheim studied. at Minster and Cologne deserves more credit. When but twenty-three years old, he was elected rector of the school at Essen, and four years later he received a call to Cologne as rector of the schola metropolitanae ecclesiae Coloniensis. Here he enjoyed intimate connections with the leaders of Erasmianism, and in a short time became so popular as a teacher that he attracted students from every direction. In 1545 he received and accepted a very flattering call from duke Wilhelm of Cleve to take the rectorship of the newly founded institute at Dusseldorf, and only five years after his inauguration in this new position Monheim wrote to a friend that his scholars outnumbered most German universities, more than 2000 young men being just then matriculated (see Frid. Reiffenbergii e Soc. Jesus Presbyteri Hist. Societatis Jesu, 1:89). Monheim, in opposition to other humanists, — insisted on a religious instruction, and published numerous catechisms, the best known of which is his Catechismus in quo Christianae religionis elementa sincere simpliciterque explicantur (Dusseldorf, 1560, with an introduction; and, edited and revised, it was recently published by Dr. Sack, Bonn, 1847). Though, outwardly at least, Monheim belonged to the Church of Rome, his catechism proves beyond doubt that he taught and believed the evangelical doctrines as set forth in the teachings of Calvin. The book was severely attacked. The theological faculty of the University of Cologne issued a Censura et docta explicatio errorum Catechismi Johannis Monheimoii (Cologne, 1560); and a number of other essays, partly in defence, partly in opposition to Monheim, were published. Monheim, however, himself remained quiet; but Martin Chemnitz, enraged at the open and secret attacks of the Cologne Jesuits on the learned man, edited his Theologiae Jesuitarum praecipua capita, ex quadam nensum, guae Coloniae anno 1560 edita est (Lips. 1563), which, together with his Examen Concilii Tridentii, so embittered pope Paul IV that he requested duke William to depose and banish "that arch-heretic" Johannes Monheim. Monheim was cited before the duke, and obliged to sign an agreement in which he promised to abstain from teaching Protestant doctrines, either openly or secretly (see Zeitschrift d. bergischen Geschichtsvereins, 2:255). The pope, however, was not satisfied even with this. He insisted upon an open judgment on Monheim, especially as the pardoning of a heretic was not within the duke's jurisdiction — "nec princeps haeretico publico quicquam ignoscere potuit." Further steps of the papal court were made unnecessary by Monheim's sudden decease, September 9, 1564. Monheim wrote a great number of learned books, but his most valued work is the above- mentioned catechism, which Theo. Strack calls Catechismum orthodoxum, in quo Reformatorum doctrina, quae hodie Luthero-Calvinini nomine odiose traducitur, accurate confirmatur. Monheim lacked strength of character to take a decided position in the great struggle of the Reformation. He preferred, although thoroughly Protestant in all his views, to remain in the Church of Rome. "He belonged," said one, "to that class of actors on the stage of life who have always appeared as the harbingers of great social men gifted with the power to discern and the hardihood to proclaim truths of which they want the courage to encounter the infallible result." See Mohler, Symbolik; Seek, Protestant. Beantwortung der Synzbolik Mohler's.

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