FRIENDS OF THE TEMPLE:
The Founder. An organization which originated in Germany for the setting up of the Kingdom of Christ upon earth according to the Law and the Prophets, with its capital in Jerusalem. The founder, Christoph Hoffmann, was born at Leonberg Dec. 2, 1815, as the son of the burgomaster G. W. Hoffmann and younger brother of the future court preacher Wilhelm Hoffmann (q.v.). The impressions which he early received at Kornthal (q.v.), his father's foundation, were decisive of his future career, and he regarded his own work as the fulfilment of his father's plans. His theological training was largely along lines of his own choosing, and the lack of a scientific knowledge of the Scriptures was always obvious in him. His course was determined by the conception of the kingdom of Christ on earth as set forth in the writings of P. M. Hahn (q.v.); and his marriage to Hahn's granddaughter brought him into connection with the Paulus brothers, in whose educational work he assisted until 1853. He came out against the conventional Christianity of his time in his 21 Sätze gegen Gottesleugner (Ludwigsburg, 1844) and other writings of the kind; and he carried his campaign further in the periodical published by him in conjunction with Paulus, the Süddeutsche Warte (called after 1877 Warte des Tempels). In the eventful year 1848 he was elected for the Ludwigsburg district to the Frankfort Assembly, in which he voted with the Left for the complete separation of Church and State; but, dissatisfied with the way things were going, he resigned his seat the next year, giving utterance to his views in Stimmen der Weissagung über Babel und das Volk Gottes (1849). If the Church was to fulfil its mission of renewing the national life, it must itself be revivified; and this was the purpose of the Evangelischer Verein, founded in 1848 and composed of about 450 local branches, and of a school of evangelists under Hoffmann's direction, the lay preachers trained in which were to put new life into Pietism. It was not long before his peculiar ideas began to come out strongly--social regeneration through the "assembling of God's people" with a central point, the Temple, conceived partly in a spiritual sense, and partly in a realistic as involving the restoration of the Temple and the theocracy at Jerusalem. With these views, it was natural that Hoffmann should stand apart from the Inner Mission, which arose at the same time, and ultimately from the Church. With his followers he left the Evangelischer Verein, and at the same time turned his back on Pietism, whose leaders, in their predominantly eschatological conception of the kingdom of God, declared decidedly against his views and forbade their members to read the Warte. He gained a vigorous ally, however, in Georg David Hardegg of Ludwigsburg, who aided him to assemble there (Aug. 24, 1854) a gathering of the "Friends of Jerusalem." This body sent a petition to the Frankfort Assembly with 500 signatures, requesting it to bring pressure to bear on the sultan for the sanction of a settlement in Palestine. Since nothing came of this and similar efforts, Hoffmann undertook to build up the Temple in Germany. He wrote a projected constitution for the people of God, an appeal to Christians and Jews alike to support his project, and a book intended as a contribution to the social question, Geschichte des Volkes Gottes (Stuttgart, 1855). The first practical step was the purchase of a place near Marbach in 1856, which was intended to be a preliminary settlement on the road to Jerusalem. While his sympathizers settled there under regulations based on the Law and the Prophets, Hoffmann went, with Hardegg and Bubeck, to Palestine, and after a thorough investigation came to the conclusion that there was no use attempting the erection of the Temple until after much preliminary work.
Organization as a Sect. Hoffmann was suspended from the privileges of a Lutheran candidate in 1857 by the Consistory, and then, refusing to give any satisfactory explanation of his attitude, formally expelled from the communion of the national Church in 1859. The next step was definite organization as a separate religious body, accomplished in 1861 in a gathering of sixty-four men at Kirschenhardthof, the headquarters. The Temple was to be governed provisionally by Hardegg as secular and Hoffmann as spiritual leader, with an advisory council of twelve elders. A constitutional election was first held in 1867. The movement spread in Franconia and especially in the Black Forest, until the number of adherents was estimated at 3,000. Hoffmann was incessantly active in the organization of various departments at Kirschenhardthof, in lecturing (most frequently at Stuttgart), and most of all in the composition of his book Fortschritt und Rückschritt, oder Geschichte des Abfalls vom Christenthum (3 vols., Stuttgart, 1863-68). From 1861 to 1868, however, the real leadership of the movement was not in his hands but in Hardegg's. He was a fanatical dreamer, and Hoffmann was forced into an antagonism to him which gradually became apparent. Hoffmann even thought for a time of resigning the whole charge into his hands and seeking to realize his own views in America.
Colonization in Palestine. In 1868 they made an attempt to settle in Palestine, the first settlement being at Haifa near Mount Carmel, where Hardegg remained while Hoffmann migrated to Jaffa the next year, founding there a school and a hospital. The acquisition of a tract of ground in the plain of Resaim near Jerusalem in 1873 marked an important advance; and smaller settlements arose at Nazareth, Tiberias, Beirut, Ramleh, and other places, including Alexandria. About 1,500 colonists in all took up their abode in these places. In 1874 occurred an open breach between the two leaders. Hardegg went his way, founded an organization of his own (the Temple Union), and died in 1879. Hoffmann now founded an inner brotherhood for the strict carrying out of his principles, and in 1878 transferred his headquarters to Jerusalem. He gradually broke more and more with orthodoxy, contesting many of its fundamental doctrines and leaving the use of the sacraments wholly voluntary. His pen was still busy; Occident und Orient (Stuttgart, 1875) is a noteworthy production of this period. A definite constitution was drawn up in 1875, and replaced by another in 1879. Hoffmann was forced by infirmity to resign his leadership in 1884, and died Dec. 8, 1885. At that time there were 1,300 colonists in the East, and in 1901 1,406. Another new constitution, promulgated in 1890 and since then little modified, placed the rule in the hands of the "Guardian of the Temple" (from 1893 Christoph Hoffmann, Jr., the founder's son), and prescribed very simple rites, requiring unconditional obedience to the governing body. But with Hoffmann's death the movement lost its stimulus. A new colony was founded in Palestine in 1903; there is one community in Württemberg (with a diminishing number of members--244 in 1905), and a few adherents are found in Saxony, in Russia, and in America [in the United States in 1905, four churches with 340 members]. Among the colonists in Palestine divisions have occurred, which an attempt at reunion in 1897 did not fully reconcile. A number of them have shown a tendency to return to the Lutheran Church and accept its ministrations. The importance of the movement there to-day is to be found in its economic aspects, which now admittedly predominate, and in its support of German interests in the East. Hoffmann's curious mixture of supernatural and rationalistic, Judaizing and Christian, Pietistic and socialistic elements could never have served as the basis of a permanent structure; and in what he set out to do he may be said to have definitely failed.