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John Mensing

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A theologian and celebrated opponent of Luther, born according to some at Zütphen, Holland, but more probably at Magdeburg, Saxony, date unknown; died about 1541. In 1495 he entered the Dominican Order and made part of his theological studies in the studium of his province. Matriculating at the university of Wittenberg in 1515, he received there in 1517 the licentiate in theology, and the following year received in Frankfort-on-the-Oder the doctorate in theology from the hands of the general of his order. According to the Dominican historian, Quétif, he taught theology in 1514 in the monastery at Ulm, but it is highly improbable that Mensing, belonging to the province of Saxony, should act as professor in another province which had no studium generale of its own. He lived at a time when controversy was rife, when men, abandoning beaten paths, began to set up systems of their own. The heretical teachings of the reformers spread rapidly throughout Germany. No province seemed exempt from the invasions of Luther's emissaries. To prevent these doctrinal innovations from gaining a foothold in his province, Mensing zealously entered into all the controversies with the sectaries. From 1522 to 1524 he occupied the pulpit in the cathedral of Magdeburg, where he also composed his first apologetic works on the Sacrifice of the Mass. Notwithstanding his efforts, the boldness of the enemy forced him to leave and seek other fields of labour. Upon the invitation of the Princess Margaretha von Anhalt, who ruled during the minority of her sons, he proceeded to Dessau to support her in her efforts against heresy in her territory. In 1529 he was professor in the University of Frankfort-on-the-Oder and preacher in the cathedral. The following year he attended, as theologian to the Elector Joachim von Anhalt, the Diet of Augsburg, and secured from Charles V a renewal of the letter of protection for the Dominican Order in Germany which Charles IV had granted them in 1355 and 1359. In 1534 he was elected provincial of his own province, but before the termination of his office Paul III made him suffragan Bishop of Halberstadt. In 1540 and 1541 he attended the theological conferences of Worms and Ratisbon, where with Eck, the vice-chancellor of the University of Ingolstadt, and Pelargus, he took a leading part in the deliberations. His vast theological knowledge and remarkable command of the German language made him one of the foremost controversialists of the first half of the sixteenth century. A complete list of his works, all of which bear a polemical tinge, is given by Streber in the "Kirchenlexikon".


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