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Friends of God

Friends of God

A mystical school founded in Germany in the fourteenth century for the purpose of ministering to the poor by preaching, sacrament, and meditation. Those associated with it included men and women of every rank and station, not only monks and nuns but knights, farmers, artisans, and merchants.

The name Friends of God derived from the Christian New Testament (John 15:15): "Henceforth I call you not servants; for one servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends." The Friends of God were not organized as a formal society but rather as a school of thought with a strongly mystical trend. Their law was, "That universal love, commanded by Christ, and not to be gainsaid by his vicar."

Many Dominicans were Friends of God, and notable mystics associated with the school included Meister Eckhart (1304-1328), Nicolas of Basle (1330-1383), and John Tauler (1290-1361). Their teachings roused antagonism among the establishment clergy of their time, who strongly condemned them. They influenced the first generation of Protestant think-ers.

Sources:

Inge, William Ralph. Christian Mysticism. London: Methuen, 1899.

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