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 1515) ‘‘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 thinkers.
Sources
Inge, William Ralph. Christian Mysticism. London Methuen,
1899.