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the Anabaptists of the Reformation

Anabaptist, from the Latin anabaptista

   They believe that baptism is valid only when the baptismal candidate, having reached a given measure of maturity, confesses their faith in Christ along with the desire to be baptized. This is called a 'believer's baptism', as opposed to what had become the standing tradition of baptizing infants. Anabaptists dared to openly give an embarrassing  thumbs-down to tradition, by pointing out that infants are unable to make a conscious decision to be baptized, or make a commitment of dedication to the Messiah. These two points are what actually define a 'baptism'. Infant baptism is found nowhere in scripture.

   Other Christian groups also practice believer's baptism, such as the Southern Baptists, but these groups came later, originating from different roots than Anabaptists. The Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites are the direct descendants of the early Anabaptist movement. 

True Christian believers are sheep among wolves, sheep for the slaughter... Neither do they use worldly sword or war, since all killing has ceased with them.

   The City Council of Zurich went on to rule that all who continued to refuse to baptize their infant children should be expelled from the city. Banished. Dissenters were given one week to comply. Conrad Grebel had refused to baptize his infant daughter Rachel, born in January, 1525, and so the Council's decision was alarming, and disturbing on a very personal level. It wasn't just Grebel either, but there were others who had not baptized their infant children as required by law. Thus, when sixteen of the radicals met in January, 1525, they first prayed, then George Blaurock stood up and asked Conrad Grebel, for God's sake to baptize him with the true Believer's Baptism, based upon his faith and knowledge. And so it was that Conrad proceeded to baptize him in violation of the law. The dispute was no longer simply academic.

   After Blaurock was baptized, he in turn baptized others at the meeting. Even though some had not been fully committed to the rejection of infant baptism prior to this, or the breaking of the law, they now got onboard. These baptisms are recognized as the first 'rebaptisms' of individuals who had been baptized as infants, and thus in fact, Swiss Anabaptism was born.

   Felix Manz became the first Anabaptist martyr in 1527. Then in May, 1527, Roman Catholic authorities executed Michael Sattler. King Ferdinand declared drowning "the best antidote to Anabaptism". The English  Tudor regime even joined in, under the Protestant monarchs of Edward VI, and Elizabeth I of England, persecuting Anabaptists which were deemed too radical (too devoted to Gospel teaching), and therefore a danger to religious stability.

   The burning at the stake of a 16th-century Dutch Anabaptist, Anneken Hendriks, who was charged with heresy, brought the persecution of Anabaptists under the ancient fourth century laws of Theodosius I and Justinian I, which were passed against the Donatists as heretics. Therefore the decree of death for heretics (by burning alive at the stake) was extended to anyone who practiced rebaptism. Jakob Hutter, an early leader of the Hutterites (not a founder), was then

   Different sorts exist among the so-called extreme radicals that rose up around the time of the reformation, although the categorizations tend to vary with any given scholar's viewpoint on origins. Some claim that in order to understand Anabaptism, one must "distinguish between the Anabaptists, inspirationists, and rationalists"  Scholars put the likes of Blaurock, Grebel, Balthasar Hubmaier, Manz, and Simons in a separate class as Anabaptists. They group Müntzer, Storch, et al. as inspirationists who believed they had received direct revelation from the Holy Spirit. Anti-trinitarians such as Michael Servetus, Juan de Valdés, Sebastian Castellio, and Faustus Socinus are classified as rationalists. It is said, "The Anabaptists were one of several branches of 'Radical' reformers (i.e. reformers that went further than the mainstream Reformers) to emerge from the Renaissance and Reformation. Rationalists, or anti-trinitarians, rebelled against the traditional Christian doctrine of the triune godhead, in favor of the Jewish tradition of Abrahamic monotheism, such a rationalist was Michael Servetus. (see - Michael Servetus)

          Rebaptism was a practice that came to be so loathed and condemned by the established orthodox Christian institutions (Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox), as well as the reformed Protestant denominations, that the ruthless Christian persecution from other Christians led to some of the most shameful episodes of recorded church history. It seems the Devil's work was being championed by the Devil's appointed deputies, and they happened to be "men of the cloth." The question echoes through Christian history - Why? For what violation of scripture, or what violation of God's Law, were these good brothers and sisters being condemned to torture, and death?

   This study will examine the murderous motivations that drove, the backlash which came, not only from the mother Nicene church (Roman Catholicism), but also from her miscreant daughters (especially Lutherans) of the reformation, which joined her in what seems a completely irrational hatred of Anabaptists. 

   The early part of the 16th century was an extraordinary period of theological revolution known as the Reformation. But Lutherans, 

"One who baptizes again," -- or "rebaptizer."

   The Anabaptists strayed even further from orthodoxy by teaching that the community of believers which has made a public commitment of faith, should stand separate and apart from the state (government), which they believed existed only for the control and punishment of sinners. Most Anabaptists were pacifists who opposed war and the use of coercive measures to maintain the social order.

   They also refused to swear oaths, including those to civil authorities. They were essentially restorationists, determined to restore the institutions and spirit of the primitive Christian community, as spelled out in the Sermon on the Mount, and the teachings of Yeshua. Conrad Grebel wrote in a letter to Thomas Müntzer in 1524:

   Persecution arose from both Protestants and Roman Catholics, as well as government officials, for the group's defiance of state and church interpretations of orthodox Christian religious traditions. They were too fringe, too radical, too embarrassing in the way they showed how church traditions had corrupted scripture. As such, they represented a danger to political order and stability. It was their persecutors who first started calling them 'Anabaptists' as a pejorative slur. The leaders 

   The following convictions were drawn from a literal interpretation of Yeshua's Sermon on the Mount:


       *The believer must not swear oaths or refer disputes between believers to courts of law for resolution.

       *The believer must not bear arms or offer forcible resistance to wrongdoers, nor wield the sword.

       *No Christian has the jus gladii (the right of the sword).

       *Civil government (i.e. "Caesar") belongs to the world. The believer belongs to God's kingdom, so must not fill             any office nor hold any rank under government, which is to be only passively obeyed.

       *Sinners or unfaithful ones are to be excommunicated, and excluded from the sacraments and from interaction               with believers unless they repent, but no force is to be used towards them.


   Find Yeshua's Sermon on the Mount - Matthew chapters 5 through 7.

   Hulrych Zwingli, in Switzerland, (see - Zwingli) was one that had been pressing for reforms in the Nicene church. The original little group of Anabaptists had been followers of Zwingli as he became a well known critic of such Catholic practices as tithes, the mass, infant baptism, and the teaching of transubstantiation in the eucharist.

   He was a harsh critic, not only of the Roman Catholic church, but also of Martin Luther, with whom he found sharp disagreement over the traditional teaching of transubstantiation. Luther, the iconic reformer, had been unwilling to discard this teaching of the church, whereas Zwingli saw only a symbolic celebration in the eucharist, and neither man was willing to yield on the issue. Luther was also unwilling to forsake the Catholic tradition of infant baptism, but perhaps more importantly, the Council of Zurich too, would not budge on the long accepted issue of infant baptism, so facing confrontational opposition  from civil authority, Zwingli was forced to back down.

   What arouses and energizes the intense hatred so many have had against what can only be understood as a proper Christian baptism according to scripture? The answer is fear. There is nothing that motivates people, come hell or highwater, quite like 'FEAR'. In the case of church leaders, the fear is nothing short of existential. Church leaders don't fear God, so what are they afraid of? They fear the people they lord over, the so-called laity. While they teach that a soul cannot get into heaven, unless it has been baptized, what they fear is anybody pointing out that infant baptism isn't a true baptism, and has no meaningful value to the child. What the Anabaptists were pointing out, was an insistence that the greatest numbers of Christians are in fact, unbaptized, and the clergy know it. It means that the clergy class has done the Devil's work, separating a gazillion Christian people throughout Christian history from the Messiah, as unbaptized, and from any chance of ever getting to heaven.

   It is mortal fear that demands, they cannot allow these truths to be revealed. Fear that the laity could turn on them in anger, outrage, and fury. They fear throngs of furious mobs with torches and pitchforks. They fear losing the control and prestige they have empowered themselves with, and enjoyed for so long. Repeating for emphasis, the clergy class live in fear of the laity, they have no fear of God.

   This fact underscores the reasons that the church stood with such murderous determination against allowing the Holy Scriptures to be translated into local vernacular, preventing common people from reading God's Word for themselves. (see - church suppression of Bible reading - see also - William Tyndale).


   Therefore, the expedient course of action has always been to have critics executed publicly and in the most inhumane manner possible. Thus providing the two-fold benefit. First, eliminating the source of criticism, and secondly making a memorable example, meant to discourage any others who might allow themselves to entertain similar objections to church doctrine. So Anabaptists suffered marginalization, humiliation, and execution. Rather than the usual manner of execution -- burning them alive -- the Nicolaitans of the clergy came up with something new and sadistically inventive - more suitable for these rebels, drowning the heretics in mock baptisms called, "the third baptism."

Conrad Grebel

George Blaurock

Felix Manz

    Zwingli had gathered a group of reform-minded men around him, with whom he had been studying classical literature and the scriptures in Greek. However, some of these young men became disenchanted with Zwingli when he backed down in the face of threats from the Zurich City Council. They felt he should have stood his ground, based on conscience, supported by scripture.

   Zwingli was simply being pragmatic, but it was interpreted by his study group as a lack of resolve. To Zwingli, the reforms could only go as fast as the City Council allowed them. To the radicals, the council had no right to make that decision, but rather the Bible was the final authority on church reform. Feeling frustrated, some of them chose to abandon Zwingli, and began to meet for a Bible study on their own. Thus, the Swiss Brethren emerged from the reformation efforts, and perceived compromises of  Huldrych Zwingli.

    The convictions and beliefs of the early Anabaptist movement were set forth in the seven articles of the Schleitheim Confession (1527), prepared under the leadership of Michael Sattler who stated, "The articles which we discussed and on which we were of one mind are these" ---


    I Baptism;
   II The Ban (Excommunication);
  III Breaking of Bread;
  IV Separation from the Abomination;
   V Pastors in the Church;

  VI The Sword;

 VII The Oath.

A BRIEF STUDY ON THE DANGERS OF TAKING RELIGIOUS REFORMS TOO FAR --

burned at the stake in 1536 as an Anabaptist heretic. Martyrs Mirror, by Thielman J.van Braght, describes the persecution and execution of thousands of Anabaptists in various places across Europe between 1525 and 1660.

major Anabaptist migrations to North America

of the Anabaptist movement resented the name, contending and arguing that the baptism of self-confessed, adult believers constituted a first 'true baptism', not a second 'rebaptism'.

the third baptism

   The answer to the question, why? The irrational hatred of the Anabaptists by pious representatives of Christian orthodoxy was, and remains, entirely unfounded in any scriptural or spiritual sense. These poor folks came up against the entrenched teachings of institutionalized religious dogma, and were punished without mercy for their defiance of church authority. Never minding that these discordant persuasions were based on true gospel teachings of the Lord Yeshua, which the institutionalized religionists had long abandoned. Though the murderous persecution of Anabaptists has abated, the practice of infant baptism continues as an orthodox sacrament. Nobody's mind has changed. However, we must understand the sacrament in terms of the historical record established by the Nicene Mother church and her miscreant daughters of mainline Protestantism. Remember what our teacher said;

HOW COULD SUCH RADICAL THINKING CREEP INTO THE CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION OF YESHUA

JUSTIFCATION FOR PERSECUTION AND MURDER

see also - Michael Servetus

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." - Matthew 7:15-20 

   Make no mistake, these so-called Protestant Christians, holding to the orbit of Catholicism would have joined right in with the mob action in the crucifixion of the Messiah for his radical teachings against the established orthodox Jewish institutions of the day. They are cut from the same cloth as the religious leaders of Yeshua's time.

CAN GOSPEL TEACHING BE ALLOWED TO SPEAK LOUDER THAN RELIGIOUS TRADITION

   Continuing, and ongoing persecution throughout Europe was largely responsible for the mass emigrations to North America by the Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites. Many found their way directly to North American ports, and from there, moving out to establish communities of their own. Many more moved first to Russia, where they were well received at first, until the rise of the Communist revolution. Then, from Russia they made their way to North America. Many settled in the area of Pennsylvania which had become well known as a haven for "freedom of religion." However they formed colonies in different territories of North America, scattered from Minnesota to the Pacific as well as the prairie provinces of Canada.

Know your faith.

peaceful lawbreakers

Calvinists, Anglicans and others all laid down their reformist objections to Roman Catholicism when it came to the condemnation of 'super radicals' such as Anabaptists and Waldensians. Never minding that these were people of the Bible, who simply let the Gospel teachings of the Lord Yeshua speak louder to their faith than church tradition.