BEKKER, BALTHASAR: Dutch precursor of rationalism; b. at Metslawier (4 m. n.e. of Dokkum) Mar. 30, 1634; d. in Friesland June 11, 1698. He studied at Groningen under J. Alting and in Franeker, where he was rector of the Latin school, was made doctor of theology, and preacher in 1666. Being an enthusiastic follower of the Cartesian philosophy, he published at Wesel in 1668 an Admonitio sincera et candida de philosophia Cartesiana, and gave greater offense by his catechisms in 1668 and 1670. He was accused of Socinianism, although Alting and other theologians pronounced him to be orthodox. After many controversies, he accepted a call as preacher to Weesp, and, in 1679, to Amsterdam. The appearance of a large comet in 1680 induced him to issue a work against popular superstition, which stirred up more commotion; and, in 1691, in De betoverde Wereld, published at Leeuwarden, he denied the existence of sorcery, magic, possessions by the devil, and of the devil himself. The consistory of Amsterdam instituted a formal process against him, and he was deposed July 30, 1692. He went to Friesland, where he edited the last two books of his work.
H. C. ROOGE†.