The early Gemeinde documents of the Swiss radical reformation,1 namely the letter addressed by the Grebel circle in Zürich in September, 1524, to Thomas Müntzer and the Schleitheim Articles of February, 1527, imply a pluralist theory of society and state. Government and church officials in the polities directly affected by that reformation correctly inferred as much, and responded in a manner consistent with the unitary conception which they themselves held. Less evident, on the other hand, is the degree to which the radicals had worked out the logic of their own position. Did they act simply in obedience to an inner spiritual call, or did they intend their course of action as a deliberate alternative to the concept of the corpus christianum held by the magisterial reformers? If the former was the case, did the radicals thus earn the charge of Schwärmerei constantly brought by their enemies, of acting intuitively without responsible forethought for the consequences of their action?2 If the latter, will their apparent claim, in any case, that the latter can be answered only in terms of the former stand critical judgment?


Political Theory Political Pluralism Member Unit Political Revolution Pluralist Theory 
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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1977

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  • Paul P. Peachey

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