REITZ, raits, JOHANN HEINRICH: German Reformed and mystic; b. at Oberdiebach (a village near Bacharach, 22 m. s.s.e. of Coblenz) 1655; d. at Wesel (32 m. n.w. of Düsseldorf) Nov. 25, 1720. He was educated at Leyden and Bremen, in the latter city coming under pietistic influences. Completing his studies at Heidelberg, he taught at Frankenthal, until 1681, when he was called to the pastorate of Freinsheim. Here he remained until compelled to flee by the War of the Palatinate in 1689, and during this first pastorate completed his Latin translation of the Moses and Aaron of Thomas Godwin (Bremen, 1684). He then became inspector of churches and schools in the district of Ladenburg, only again to be driven out by war. He next preached for a time at Asslar, and a few years later was made inspector at Braunfels. Here, however, his attempt to convert a mystic to the ways of faith led to his own fall from orthodoxy, and he was deposed and expelled. For a time he was pastor at Homberg-vor-der-Höhe, and then went to Frankfort, justifying his tenets in his Kurtzer Begriff des Leidens, der Lehre und des Verhaltens J. H. Reitzens (Offenbach, 1698), manifesting a mixture of Reformed orthodoxy and chiliasm. He now wandered about with other enthusiasts, founding "Philadelphian" societies, and enjoying the favor of noble sympathizers. For some three years he resided at Offenbach, attacking the Heidelberg Catechism in his Kurtzer Vortrag von der Gerechtigkeit, die wir auss und in Jehova durch den Glauben haben (n.p., 1701) and preparing a translation of the New Testament (Offenbach, 1703) which was colored by his peculiar views. In 1702-04 he was director of a Reformed Latin school at Siegen, but was removed for attending meetings for private devotion. He then wandered for some years from place to place, finally becoming administrator for the widowed princess of Nassau-Siegen, then residing at her castle of Wisch, near Terborg. Finally, in 1711, he went to Wesel, where, having wearied of his former extravagances and returned to orthodoxy, he set up a successful Latin school, over which he presided until his death.
The chief work of Reitz was his collection of brief biographies entitled Historie der Wiedergeborenen (7 parts, 3d ed., Berleburg, 1724-46), and his writings also include: Geöffneter Himmel, Erklärung der sonderbaren Geheimnisse des Himmelreichs (Wetzlar, 1707); and the posthumous Nachfolge Jesu Christi (Leipsic, 1730) and Verborgene Offenbarung Jesu Christi aus dreien Büchern, der inneren und äusseren Natur, und der Schrift erklärt (Frankfort, 1738). In all these wide scope is given to the "inner light," as among the Anabaptists and Quakers, as well as, under the influence of Cocceius, to contempt of the observance of Sunday and disparagement of the Old Testament. Creeds and an ordained ministry are also lightly regarded as secondary in importance, restorationism is taught, all sorts of mystical ideas are advanced, and it is maintained that Christ assumed, not the flesh of the first Adam, but, as Paul taught, the peccable nature of fallen man.
(F. W. CUNO)