Steinhofer, Maximilian Friedrich Christoph

Steinhofer, Maximilian Friedrich Christoph, an eminent minister in the Church of Wurtemberg, was born Jan. 16, 1706, at Owen, and graduated in theology at Tübingen in 1729. He supplemented his studies with a journey of observation among the churches of North Germany, and visited Herrnhut, the seat of the Moravian Brotherhood. Mutual esteem resulted, and measures were proposed for obtaining Steinhofer as pastor to the community of Herrnhut, but before any decision was reached he returned to Wurtemberg. Zinzendorf subsequently secured the release of Steinhofer from his own Church for Herrnhut; but the Saxon government interposed difficulties, and he accepted a call to Ebersdorf instead, where he filled the post of chaplain to the counts. The latter had previously organized the religious portion of their household into an ecclesiola after the pattern of Spener, and to guide this organization and oversee the associated orphanage was to be his task. The society ultimately (August, 1745) effected an organization and adopted a constitution modeled after those of Herrnhut, but was distinguished from the latter in doctrine and modes of expression, being more cautious, critical, and unqualifiedly scriptural. Steinhofer's relations with Herrnhut, however, were strongly influential, and in 1746 the Ebersdorf congregation united with the Moravian Brotherhood, while Steinhofer himself was ordained "coepiscopus for the Lutheran tropus." His service here was, however, brief, though varied. He married in 1747, and became inspector of a training school for a short time, after which he traveled in the execution of his office through various districts. The unsettled life to which he was condemned and the increasing fanaticism of the Brotherhood alienated him gradually from what had never been a thoroughly congenial home, and a brief visit to Wurtemberg threw him in the way of influences which excited all his long suppressed aversion to the sensuous teachings and modes of expression in current use at Herrnhut. He thereupon quietly retired from his functions, and in time, after correspondence with Zinzendorf, laid down his offices, March 14, 1749, and returned to the Church of Würtemberg. Four years were now spent in the sub-pastorate at Dettingen, whose fruit appeared in a collection of sermons, published in 1753. In this year he obtained the parish of Zavelstein, in 1756 that of Ehningen, and in 1759 he was made dean and preacher at Weinsberg, where he died in peace, Feb. 11, 1761. Steinhofer was characterized by mildness of disposition, joined with heroic devotion to the truth. He studied the Bible to obtain a correct apprehension of its meaning and for the enriching and developing of the Christian character. He differed from Bengel in not preferring apocalyptic studies, and from Oetinger in avoiding a theosophic tendency. He preferred the solid ground of Scripture to the position of any speculation whatever. He is said by his contemporaries to have been endowed with an inexpressible something in his character with a peculiar sanctity which cannot be described. It was impossible to trifle in his presence, and yet impossible not to find pleasure there. He was an anointed one, who carried about with him supernatural radiance too impressive to be forgotten by those who knew him. His ministry was accordingly successful in the winning of souls. Steinhofer's writings have been in part republished, and may be recommended to all who regard being imbued with the Scriptures as requisite for a right apprehension of the truth. They are, Tagliche Nahrung d. Glaubens. n. d. Ep. an d. Hebraier (latest ed. 1859, with autobiography): — Nach d. Ep. an d. Colosser (1853): — Nach d. Leben Jesu (1764), eighty-three sermons: — Evangel. Glaubensgrund (1753 54): — Evangel. Glaubensgrund aus d. Leiden Jesu (1754): — Haushaltung d. dreieinigen Gebers (1759): — Erklärung d. ersten Briefes Johannis-last ed. Hornburg, 1856): — Römer (Tüb. 1851): — Christologie (Nuremb. 1797; Tüb. 1864), etc. See Knapp's sketch of Steinhofer's life in collection of Sermons (27) published by the Evangelical Brotherhood at Stuttgart; the autobiography mentioned above; an article in the Christenbote, 1832, and another in the Bruderbote, 1865-66; MS. sources in the archives of the Brotherhood, etc.

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