ANABAPTISM (from Neo-Latin anabaptista, from the Greek
ἀναβαπτισμός: ἀνά- "re-" and βαπτισμός
"baptism" ) is a Christian movement which traces its origins to the
Radical Reformation in Europe. The movement is generally seen as an
Protestantism , although this view has been challenged by
Christians who believe that baptism is only valid
when the candidate confesses his or her faith in Christ and wants to
be baptized. This believer\'s baptism is opposed to baptism of infants
, who are not able to make a conscious decision to be baptized.
Anabaptists are those who are in a traditional line with the early
Anabaptists of the 16th century. Other Christian groups with different
roots also practice believer's baptism, such as
Baptists , but these
groups are not seen as Anabaptist. The
Hutterites , and
Mennonites are direct descendants of the early Anabaptist movement.
Schwarzenau Brethren ,
Bruderhof , and the Apostolic Christian Church
are considered later developments among the Anabaptists.
The name Anabaptist means "one who baptizes again". Their persecutors
named them this, referring to the practice of baptizing persons when
they converted or declared their faith in Christ, even if they had
been "baptized" as infants. Anabaptists required that baptismal
candidates be able to make a confession of faith that is freely chosen
and so rejected baptism of infants. The early members of this movement
did not accept the name Anabaptist, claiming that infant baptism was
not part of scripture and was therefore null and void. They said that
baptizing self-confessed believers was their first true baptism:
I have never taught Anabaptism.… But the right baptism of Christ,
which is preceded by teaching and oral confession of faith, I teach,
and say that infant baptism is a robbery of the right baptism of
Christ. — Hubmaier, Balthasar (1526), Short apology. :204
Anabaptists were heavily persecuted during the 16th century and into
the 17th century by both Magisterial Protestants and
Roman Catholics ,
largely because of their interpretation of scripture which put them
at odds with official state church interpretations and with
government. Most Anabaptists adhered to a literal interpretation of
Sermon on the Mount which precluded taking oaths, participating in
military actions, and participating in civil government. Some groups
who practiced rebaptism felt otherwise (though they are now extinct)
and complied with these requirements of civil society. They were thus
technically Anabaptists, even though conservative
Hutterites , and some historians consider them outside true
Conrad Grebel wrote in a letter to
Thomas Müntzer in
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.
* 1 Origins
* 1.1 Medieval forerunners
Zwickau prophets and the German Peasants\' War
* 1.3 Views on origins
* 1.3.1 Monogenesis
* 1.3.2 Polygenesis
* 2 History
* 2.2 Tyrol
* 2.3 The
* 2.4 Moravia
* 2.5 South
* 2.6 Persecutions and migrations
* 3 Types
* 4 Spirituality
* 4.1 Charismatic manifestations
* 4.2 Holy Spirit leadership
* 5 Today
* 5.1 Anabaptists
* 5.2 Similar groups
* 5.3 Neo-Anabaptists
* 6 Legacy
* 7 See also
* 8 Notes
* 9 References
* 10 Bibliography
* 11 Further reading
* 12 External links
Anabaptists are considered to have begun with the Radical Reformers
in the 16th century, but historians classify certain people and groups
as their forerunners because of a similar approach to the
interpretation and application of the Bible. For instance, Petr
Chelčický , a 15th-century Bohemian reformer, taught most of the
beliefs considered integral to Anabaptist theology. Medieval
antecedents may include the
Brethren of the Common Life , the Hussites
, Dutch Sacramentists, and some forms of monasticism . The
Waldensians also represent a faith similar to the Anabaptists.
Medieval dissenters and Anabaptists who held to a literal
interpretation of the
Sermon on the Mount share in common the
* The believer must not swear oaths or refer disputes between
believers to law-courts for resolution, in accordance with 1
* 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). Matthew 5:39
* 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 passively obeyed. John
18:36 Romans 13:1–7
* Sinners or unfaithful ones are to be excommunicated, and excluded
from the sacraments and from intercourse with believers unless they
repent, according to 1 Corinthians 5:9–13 and Matthew 18:15 seq.,
but no force is to be used towards them.
ZWICKAU PROPHETS AND THE GERMAN PEASANTS\' WAR
Thomas Müntzer ,
Zwickau prophets , and German
On December 27, 1521, three "prophets" appeared in
Zwickau who were influenced by (and, in turn, influencing) Thomas
Müntzer —Thomas Dreschel,
Nicholas Storch , and Mark Thomas
Stübner. They preached an apocalyptic, radical alternative to
Lutheranism. Their preaching helped to stir the feelings concerning
the social crisis which erupted in the German Peasants\' War in
Germany in 1525 as a revolt against feudal oppression. Under
the leadership of Müntzer, it became a war against all constituted
authorities and an attempt to establish by revolution an ideal
Christian commonwealth, with absolute equality among persons and the
community of goods. The
Zwickau prophets were not Anabaptists (that
is, they did not practise "rebaptism"); nevertheless, the prevalent
social inequities and the preaching of men such as these have been
seen as laying the foundation for the Anabaptist movement. The social
ideals of the Anabaptist movement coincided closely with those of
leaders in the German Peasants' War. Studies have found a very low
percentage of later Anabaptists to have been active participants in
the peasant uprising.
VIEWS ON ORIGINS
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Research on the origins of the Anabaptists has been tainted both by
the attempts of their enemies to slander them and by the attempts of
their supporters to vindicate them. It was long popular to classify
all Anabaptists as Munsterites and radicals associated with the
Zwickau prophets ,
Jan Matthys ,
John of Leiden , and Thomas Müntzer
. Those desiring to correct this error tended to over-correct and deny
all connections between the larger Anabaptist movement and the most
The modern era of Anabaptist historiography arose with Roman Catholic
scholar Carl Adolf Cornelius ' publication of Die Geschichte des
Münsterischen Aufruhrs (The History of the
Münster Uprising) in
Baptist historian Albert Henry Newman (1852–1933), who Harold
S. Bender said occupied "first position in the field of American
Anabaptist historiography," made a major contribution with his A
History of Anti-Pedobaptism (1897).
Three main theories on origins of the Anabaptists are the following:
* The movement began in a single expression in
Zürich and spread
from there (Monogenesis);
* It developed through several independent movements (polygenesis );
* It was a continuation of true
New Testament Christianity
(apostolic succession or church perpetuity).
A number of scholars (e.g., Harold S. Bender, William Estep, Robert
Friedmann) consider the Anabaptist movement to have developed from the
Swiss Brethren movement of
Conrad Grebel ,
Felix Manz , George
Blaurock , et al. They generally held that
Anabaptism had its origins
Zürich , and that the
Anabaptism of the
Swiss Brethren was
transmitted to southern Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and
northern Germany, where it developed into its various branches. The
monogenesis theory usually rejects the Münsterites and other radicals
from the category of true Anabaptists. In the monogenesis view the
time of origin is January 21, 1525, when
Conrad Grebel baptized George
Blaurock, and Blaurock in turn baptized several others immediately.
These baptisms were the first "re-baptisms" known in the movement.
This continues to be the most widely accepted date posited for the
establishment of Anabaptism.
James M. Stayer , Werner O. Packull , and Klaus Deppermann disputed
the idea of a single origin of Anabaptists in a 1975 essay entitled
"From Monogenesis to Polygenesis," suggesting that February 24, 1527,
at Schleitheim is the proper date of the origin of Anabaptism. On this
Swiss Brethren wrote a declaration of belief called the
Schleitheim Confession . The authors of the essay noted the agreement
among previous Anabaptist historians on polygenesis, even when
disputing the date for a single starting point: "Hillerbrand and
Bender (like Holl and Troeltsch) were in agreement that there was a
single dispersion of
Anabaptism ..., which certainly ran through
Zurich. The only question was whether or not it went back further to
Saxony." :83 After criticizing the standard polygenetic history, the
authors found six groups in early
Anabaptism which could be collapsed
into three originating "points of departure": "South German
Anabaptism, the Swiss Brethren, and the Melchiorites." According to
their polygenesis theory, South German–Austrian
Anabaptism "was a
diluted form of
Rhineland mysticism ," Swiss
Anabaptism "arose out of
Reformed congregationalism ", and Dutch
Anabaptism was formed by
"Social unrest and the apocalyptic visions of
Melchior Hoffman ". As
examples of how the Anabaptist movement was influenced from sources
other than the
Swiss Brethren movement, mention has been made of how
Pilgram Marpeck 's Vermanung of 1542 was deeply influenced by the
Bekenntnisse of 1533 by
Bernhard Rothmann .
Melchior Hoffman influenced the
Hutterites when they used his
commentary on the Apocalypse shortly after he wrote it.
Others who have written in support of polygensis include Grete
Mecenseffy and Walter Klaassen, who established links between Thomas
Müntzer and Hans Hut. In another work, Gottfried Seebaß and Werner
Packull showed the influence of
Thomas Müntzer on the formation of
South German Anabaptism. Similarly, author Steven Ozment linked Hans
Hans Hut with Thomas Müntzer,
Sebastian Franck , and
others. Author Calvin Pater showed how
Andreas Karlstadt influenced
Anabaptism in various areas, including his view of Scripture,
doctrine of the church, and views on baptism.
Baptist successionists have, at times, pointed to 16th-century
Anabaptists as part of an apostolic succession of churches ("church
perpetuity") from the time of Christ. This view is held by some
Baptists, some Mennonites, and a number of "true church" movements.
The opponents of the
Baptist successionism theory emphasize that
these non-Catholic groups clearly differed from each other, that they
held some heretical views, or that the groups had no connection with
one another and had origins that were separate both in time and in
A different strain of successionism is the theory that the
Anabaptists are of
Waldensian origin. Some hold the idea that the
Waldensians are part of the apostolic succession, while others simply
believe they were an independent group out of whom the Anabaptists
arose. Ludwig Keller, Thomas M. Lindsay, H. C. Vedder, Delbert Grätz,
John T. Christian and
Thieleman J. van Braght (author of Martyrs
Mirror ) all held, in varying degrees, the position that the
Anabaptists were of
Spread of the early anabaptists in Central
Switzerland began as an offshoot of the church reforms
instigated by Ulrich Zwingli . As early as 1522 it became evident that
Zwingli was on a path of reform preaching when he began to question or
criticize such Catholic practices as tithes, the mass, and even infant
baptism. Zwingli had gathered a group of reform-minded men around him,
with whom he studied classical literature and the scriptures. However,
some of these young men began to feel that Zwingli was not moving fast
enough in his reform. The division between Zwingli and his more
radical disciples became apparent in an October 1523 disputation held
in Zurich. When the discussion of the mass was about to be ended
without making any actual change in practice,
Conrad Grebel stood up
and asked "what should be done about the mass?" Zwingli responded by
saying the council would make that decision. At this point, Simon
Stumpf, a radical priest from Hongg, answered saying, "The decision
has already been made by the Spirit of God." :79
This incident illustrated clearly that Zwingli and his more radical
disciples had different expectations. To Zwingli, the reforms would
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
the final authority of church reform. Feeling frustrated, some of them
began to meet on their own for
Bible study. As early as 1523, William
Reublin began to preach against infant baptism in villages surrounding
Zurich, encouraging parents to not baptize their children.
Seeking fellowship with other reform-minded people, the radical group
wrote letters to
Martin Luther ,
Andreas Karlstadt , and Thomas
Felix Manz began to publish some of Karlstadt's writings in
Zurich in late 1524. By this time the question of infant baptism had
become agitated and the Zurich council had instructed Zwingli to meet
weekly with those who rejected infant baptism "until the matter could
be resolved." Zwingli broke off the meetings after two sessions, and
Felix Manz petitioned the Council to find a solution, since he felt
Zwingli was too hard to work with. The council then called a meeting
for January 17, 1525. Dissatisfaction with the outcome of a
disputation in 1525 prompted
Swiss Brethren to part ways with Huldrych
The Council ruled in this meeting that all who continued to refuse to
baptize their infants should be expelled from Zurich if they did not
have them baptized within one week. Since
Conrad Grebel had refused to
baptize his daughter Rachel, born on January 5, 1525, the Council
decision was extremely personal to him and others who had not baptized
their children. Thus, when sixteen of the radicals met on Saturday
evening, January 21, 1525, the situation seemed particularly dark. The
Hutterian Chronicle records the event:
After prayer, George of the House of Jacob (
George Blaurock ) stood
up and besought
Conrad Grebel for God's sake to baptize him with the
true Christian baptism upon his faith and knowledge. And when he knelt
down with such a request and desire, Conrad baptized him, since at
that time there was no ordained minister to perform such work.
After Blaurock was baptized, he in turn baptized others at the
meeting. Even though some had rejected infant baptism before this
date, these baptisms marked the first re-baptisms of those who had
been baptized as infants and thus, technically, Swiss
born on that day.
Anabaptism appears to have come to Tyrol through the labors of George
Blaurock. Similar to the German Peasants\' War , the Gasmair uprising
set the stage by producing a hope for social justice. Michael Gasmair
had tried to bring religious, political, and economical reform through
a violent peasant uprising, but the movement was squashed. Although
little hard evidence exists of a direct connection between Gasmair's
uprising and Tyrolian Anabaptism, at least a few of the peasants
involved in the uprising later became Anabaptists. While a connection
between a violent social revolution and non-resistant
be hard to imagine, the common link was the desire for a radical
change in the prevailing social injustices. Disappointed with the
failure of armed revolt, Anabaptist ideals of an alternative peaceful,
just society probably resonated on the ears of the disappointed
Anabaptism proper was introduced to South Tyrol, Protestant
ideas had been propagated in the region by men such as Hans Vischer, a
former Dominican. Some of those who participated in conventicles where
Protestant ideas were presented later became Anabaptists. As well, the
population in general seemed to have a favorable attitude towards
reform, be it Protestant or Anabaptist.
George Blaurock appears to
have preached itinerantly in the Puster Valley region in 1527, which
most likely was the first introduction of Anabaptist ideas in the
area. Another visit through the area in 1529 reinforced these ideas,
but he was captured and burned at the stake in Klausen on September 6,
Jacob Hutter was one of the early converts in South Tyrol, and later
became a leader among the
Hutterites , who received their name from
him. Hutter made several trips between Moravia and Tyrol, and most of
the Anabaptists in
South Tyrol ended up emigrating to Moravia because
of the fierce persecution unleashed by Ferdinand I . In November 1535,
Hutter was captured near Klausen and taken to Innsbruck where he was
burned at the stake on February 25, 1536. By 1540
Anabaptism in South
Tyrol was beginning to die out, largely because of the emigration to
Moravia of the converts because of incessant persecution.
THE LOW COUNTRIES
Melchior Hoffman is credited with the introduction of Anabaptist
ideas into the Low Countries. Hoffman had picked up Lutheran and
Reformed ideas, but on April 23, 1530 he was "re-baptized" at
Strasbourg and within two months had gone to
Emden and baptized about
300 persons. For several years Hoffman preached in the Low Countries
until he was arrested and imprisoned at Strasbourg, where he died
about 10 years later. Hoffman's apocalyptic ideas were indirectly
related to the
Münster Rebellion , even though he was "of a different
spirit." Obbe and
Dirk Philips had been baptized by disciples of Jan
Matthijs , but were opposed to the violence that occurred at Münster.
Obbe later became disillusioned with
Anabaptism and withdrew from the
movement in about 1540, but not before ordaining
David Joris , his
brother Dirk , and
Menno Simons , the latter from whom the Mennonites
received their name.
David Joris and
Menno Simons parted ways, with
Joris placing more emphasis on "spirit and prophecy," while Menno
emphasized the authority of the Bible. For the
Mennonite side, the
emphasis on the "inner" and "spiritual" permitted compromise to
"escape persecution," while to the Joris side, the
under the "dead letter of the Scripture." Because of persecution and
expansion, many of the Low Country
Mennonites emigrated to
and from there to
Ukraine (which at the time was part of
Russia ). In
the late 1800s, many of the Russian
Mennonites emigrated to the
prairie states and provinces of the U.S. and Canada; to
Mexico ; to
Belize , and to South America (especially
Argentina , and
Brazil ) where thousands of them still live in
Anabaptism was a transplant from other areas of
Europe, Moravia soon became a center for the growing movement, largely
because of the greater religious tolerance found there.
Hans Hut was
an early evangelist in the area, with one historian crediting him with
baptizing more converts in two years than all the other Anabaptist
evangelists put together. The coming of
Balthasar Hübmaier to
Nikolsburg was a definite boost for Anabaptist ideas to the area. With
the great influx of religious refugees from all over Europe, many
Anabaptism appeared in Moravia, with Jarold Zeman
documenting at least ten slightly different versions. Soon, one-eyed
Jacob Wiedemann appeared at Nikolsburg, and began to teach the
pacifistic convictions of the
Swiss Brethren , on which Hübmaier had
been less authoritative. This eventually led to a division between the
Schwertler (sword-bearing) and the Stäbler (staff-bearing). Wiedemann
and those with him also promoted the practice of community of goods .
With orders from the lords of
Liechtenstein to leave Nikolsburg, about
200 Stäbler withdrew to Moravia to form a community at Austerlitz.
South Tyrol brought many refugees to Moravia, many of
whom formed into communities that practised community of goods. Jacob
Hutter was instrumental in organizing these into what became known as
Hutterites . But others came from
Switzerland , German
lands, and the Low Countries. With the passing of time and
persecution, all the other versions of
Anabaptism eventually died out
in Moravia, leaving only the Hutterites. Even the
eventually dissipated by persecution, with a remnant fleeing to
Transylvania , then to the Ukraine, and eventually to North America in
Anabaptism had its roots in
German mysticism . Andreas
Karlstadt , who first worked alongside
Martin Luther , is seen as a
forerunner of South German
Anabaptism because of his reforming
theology that rejected many Catholic practices, including infant
baptism. However, Karlstadt is not known to have been "rebaptized",
nor to have taught it.
Hans Denck and
Hans Hut , both with German
Mystical background (in connection with
Thomas Muntzer ) both accepted
"rebaptism", but Denck eventually backed off from the idea under
Hans Hut is said to have brought more people into early
Anabaptism than all the other Anabaptist evangelists of his time put
together. However, there may have been confusion about what his
baptism (at least some of the times it was done by making the sign of
the Tau on the forehead) may have meant to the recipient. Some seem to
have taken it as a sign by which they would escape the apocalyptical
revenge of the Turks that Hut predicted. Hut even went so far as to
predict a 1528 coming of the kingdom of God. When the prediction
failed, some of his converts became discouraged and left the
Anabaptist movement. The large congregation of Anabaptists at Augsburg
fell apart (partly because of persecution) and those who stayed with
Anabaptist ideas were absorbed into Swiss and Moravia Anabaptist
Pilgram Marpeck was another notable leader
in early South German Anabaptism.
PERSECUTIONS AND MIGRATIONS
The burning of a 16th-century Dutch Anabaptist, Anneken
Hendriks, who was charged by the Spanish Inquisition with heresy.
Roman Catholics and Protestants alike persecuted the Anabaptists,
resorting to torture and execution in attempts to curb the growth of
the movement. The Protestants under Zwingli were the first to
persecute the Anabaptists, with
Felix Manz becoming the first martyr
in 1527. On May 20, 1527, Roman Catholic authorities executed Michael
Sattler . King Ferdinand declared drowning (called the third baptism)
"the best antidote to Anabaptism". The Tudor regime, even the
Protestant monarchs (
Edward VI of England
Edward VI of England and Elizabeth I of England
), persecuted Anabaptists as they were deemed too radical and
therefore a danger to religious stability. The persecution of
Anabaptists was condoned by ancient laws of
Theodosius I and Justinian
I that were passed against the
Donatists , which decreed the death
penalty for any who practised rebaptism.
Martyrs Mirror , by Thieleman
J. van Braght , describes the persecution and execution of thousands
of Anabaptists in various parts of
Europe between 1525 and 1660.
Continuing persecution in
Europe was largely responsible for the mass
emigrations to North America by
Hutterites , and
Calvinists , Anabaptists failed to get a recognition in the
Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia of 1648 and persecution continued in
after that treaty.
* Charismatic movement
* Nondenominational churches
* House churches
Theology of Anabaptism
Different types exist among the Anabaptists, although the
categorizations tend to vary with the scholar's viewpoint on origins.
Estep claims that in order to understand Anabaptism, one must
"distinguish between the Anabaptists, inspirationists, and
rationalists." He classes the likes of Blaurock, Grebel, Balthasar
Hubmaier , Manz, Marpeck, and Simons as Anabaptists. He groups
Müntzer, Storch, et al. as inspirationists, and anti-trinitarians
Michael Servetus , Juan de Valdés ,
Sebastian Castellio , and
Faustus Socinus as rationalists . Mark S. Ritchie follows this line of
thought, saying, "The Anabaptists were one of several branches of
'Radical' reformers (i.e. reformers that went further than the
mainstream Reformers) to arise out of the Renaissance and Reformation
. Two other branches were Spirituals or Inspirationists, who believed
that they had received direct revelation from the Spirit, and
rationalists or anti-Trinitarians, who rebelled against traditional
Christian doctrine, like Michael Servetus."
Those of the polygenesis viewpoint use Anabaptist to define the
larger movement, and include the inspirationists and rationalists as
James M. Stayer used the term Anabaptist for those
who rebaptized persons already "baptized" in infancy. Walter Klaassen
was perhaps the first
Mennonite scholar to define Anabaptists that way
in his 1960 Oxford dissertation. This represents a rejection of the
previous standard held by
Mennonite scholars such as Bender and
Another method of categorization acknowledges regional variations,
Swiss Brethren (Grebel, Manz), Dutch and Frisian Anabaptism
Dirk Philips ), and South German
Historians and sociologists have made further distinctions between
radical Anabaptists, who were prepared to use violence in their
attempts to build a
New Jerusalem , and their pacifist brethren, later
broadly known as
Mennonites . Radical Anabaptist groups included the
Münsterites, who occupied and held the German city of
1534–35, and the
Batenburgers , who persisted in various guises as
late as the 1570s.
Memorial plate at
Schipfe quarter in
Zürich for the Anabaptists
executed in the early 16th century by the
Zürich city government
Within the inspirationist wing of the Anabaptist movement, it was not
unusual for charismatic manifestations to appear, such as dancing,
falling under the power of the Holy Spirit, "prophetic processions"
(at Zurich in 1525, at Munster in 1534 and at Amsterdam in 1535), and
speaking in tongues. In
Germany some Anabaptists, "excited by mass
hypnosis, experienced healings, glossolalia, contortions and other
manifestations of a camp-meeting revival". The Anabaptist
congregations that later developed into the
Mennonite and Hutterite
churches tended not to promote these manifestations, but did not
totally reject the miraculous.
Pilgram Marpeck , for example, wrote
against the exclusion of miracles: "Nor does Scripture assert this
exclusion... God has a free hand even in these last days." Referring
to some who had been raised from the dead, he wrote: "Many of them
have remained constant, enduring tortures inflicted by sword, rope,
fire and water and suffering terrible, tyrannical, unheard-of deaths
and martyrdoms, all of which they could easily have avoided by
recantation. Moreover one also marvels when he sees how the faithful
God (Who, after all, overflows with goodness) raises from the dead
several such brothers and sisters of Christ after they were hanged,
drowned, or killed in other ways. Even today, they are found alive and
we can hear their own testimony... Cannot everyone who sees, even the
blind, say with a good conscience that such things are a powerful,
unusual, and miraculous act of God? Those who would deny it must be
hardened men". The
Hutterite Chronicle and The
Martyrs Mirror record
several accounts of miraculous events, such as when a man named Martin
prophesied while being led across a bridge to his execution in 1531:
"...this once yet the pious are led over this bridge, but no more
hereafter." Just "a short time afterwards such a violent storm and
flood came that the bridge was demolished".
HOLY SPIRIT LEADERSHIP
The Anabaptists insisted upon the "free course" of the Holy Spirit in
worship, yet still maintained it all must be judged according to the
Scriptures. The Swiss Anabaptist document titled "Answer of Some Who
Are Called (Ana-)
Baptists – Why They Do Not Attend the Churches".
One reason given for not attending the state churches was that these
institutions forbade the congregation to exercise spiritual gifts
according to "the Christian order as taught in the gospel or the Word
of God in 1 Corinthians 14." "When such believers come together,
'Everyone of you (note every one) hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath
a revelation, hath an interpretation', and so on. When someone comes
to church and constantly hears only one person speaking, and all the
listeners are silent, neither speaking nor prophesying, who can or
will regard or confess the same to be a spiritual congregation, or
confess according to 1 Corinthians 14 that God is dwelling and
operating in them through His Holy Spirit with His gifts, impelling
them one after another in the above-mentioned order of speaking and
Hutterites in North America
Mennonite family in Campeche
Amish children on their way to school
Several existing denominational bodies are the direct successors of
the continental Anabaptists.
Hutterites are in
a direct and unbroken line back to the Anabapists of the early 16th
Schwarzenau Brethren and
River Brethren emerged in the 18th
century and adopted many Anabapist elements. The same is true for the
Bruderhof Communities that emerged in the early 20th century.
Sometimes the Apostolic
Christian Church is seen as Neutäufer
("Neo-Anabaptist"). Some historical connections have been
demonstrated for all of these spiritual descendants, though perhaps
not as clearly as the noted institutionally lineal descendants.
Although many see the more well-known Anabaptist groups (Amish,
Hutterites and Mennonites) as ethnic groups, only the
Amish and the
Hutterites today are composed almost totally of descendants of the
continental Anabaptists, while among the
Mennonites there are Ethnic
Mennonites and others who are not. Brethren groups have mostly lost
their ethnic distinctiveness.
Total worldwide membership of the Mennonite,
Brethren in Christ and
related churches totals 1,616,126 (as of 2009) with about 60 percent
in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2015 there were some 300,000
Amish, more than 200,000 "Russian"
Mennonites in Latin America, some
60,000 to 80,000 Old Order
Mennonites and some 50,000
Hutterites , who
have preserved their ethnicity, their German dialects (Pennsylvania
Plain dress and many other old
Bruderhof Communities were founded in
Germany by Eberhard Arnold
in 1920, establishing and organisationally joining the
1930. The group moved to England after the Gestapo confiscated their
property in 1933, and subsequently to
Paraguay to avoid military
conscription, and by settlement then moved the
United States after
World War II
World War II .
Groups deriving from the
Schwarzenau Brethren , often called German
Baptists , while not directly descended from the 16th-century
Anabaptists, are usually considered Anabaptist because of an almost
identical doctrine and practice. The modern-day Brethren movement is a
Radical Pietism .
The relations between
Baptists and Anabaptists were early strained.
In 1624, the then five existing
Baptist churches of London issued a
condemnation of the Anabaptists. Puritans of England and their
Baptist branch arose independently, and although they may have been
informed by Anabaptist theology, they clearly differentiate themselves
from Anabaptists as seen in the London
Baptist Confession of Faith
A.D. 1644, "Of those Churches which are commonly (though falsely)
called ANABAPTISTS;"". Moreover,
Baptist historian Chris Traffanstedt
maintains that Anabaptists share "some similarities with the early
General Baptists, but overall these similarities are slight and not
always relational. In the end, we must come to say that this group of
Christians does not reflect the historical teaching of the Baptists."
Baptists are not related to the English
Baptist movement and
were inspired by central European Anabaptists. Upon moving to the
United States, they associated with
Mennonites and Quakers.
Anabaptist characters exist in popular culture, most notably Chaplain
Joseph Heller 's novel
Catch-22 , James (Jacques) in
Voltaire 's novella
Giacomo Meyerbeer 's opera Le prophète
(1849), and the central character in the novel Q , by the collective
known as "Luther Blissett".
The term Neo-Anabaptist has been used to describe a late twentieth
and early twenty-first century theological movement within American
Christianity which draws inspiration from theologians
located within the Anabaptist tradition while remaining
ecclesiastically outside of it. Neo-Anabaptists have been noted for
its "low church, counter-cultural, prophetic-stance-against-empire
ethos" and for focusing on pacifism , social justice and poverty .
The works of
Ron Sider and
John Howard Yoder
John Howard Yoder are
frequently cited as having a strong influence on the movement.
Persons often associated with the Neo-Anabaptist movement include
Stanley Hauerwas ,
Scot McKnight ,
Rob Bell ,
Brian McLaren , Jim
Wallis , and
Shane Claiborne .
Common Anabaptist beliefs and practices of the 16th century continue
to influence modern
Christianity and Western society. Dirk
Willems saves his pursuer. This act of mercy led to his recapture,
after which he was burned at the stake. Luyken, Jan (1685), Dirk
Willems (picture) .
* Voluntary church membership and believer's baptism
Freedom of religion – liberty of conscience
Separation of church and state
* Separation or nonconformity to the world
Nonresistance , in modernized groups interpreted as pacifism
Priesthood of all believers
The Anabaptists were early promoters of a free church and freedom of
religion (sometimes associated with separation of church and state).
When it was introduced by the Anabaptists in the 15th and 16th
centuries, religious freedom independent of the state was unthinkable
to both clerical and governmental leaders. Religious liberty was
equated with anarchy; Kropotkin traces the birth of anarchist thought
Europe to these early Anabaptist communities.
According to Estep:
Where men believe in the freedom of religion, supported by a
guarantee of separation of church and state, they have entered into
that heritage. Where men have caught the Anabaptist vision of
discipleship, they have become worthy of that heritage. Where
corporate discipleship submits itself to the
New Testament pattern of
the church, the heir has then entered full possession of his legacy.
Creed § Articles 9–10
The Brethren Church
* Brethren , Anabaptist Group
Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren
Donatists (first historical occurrence of Anabaptism)
Melchior Rink , a central-German Anabaptist leader during the
List of Anabaptist churches
* ^ Since the middle of the 20th century, the German-speaking world
no longer uses the term "Wiedertäufer" (translation: "Re-baptizers"),
considering it biased. The term Täufer (translation: "Baptizers") is
now used, which is considered more impartial. From the perspective of
their persecutors, the "Baptizers" baptized for the second time those
"who as infants had already been baptized". The denigrative term
Anabaptist signifies rebaptizing and is considered a polemical term,
so it has been dropped from use in modern German. However, in the
English-speaking world, it is still used to distinguish the Baptizers
more clearly from the
Baptists , a Protestant sect that developed
later in England. Cf. their self-designation as "Brethren in Christ"
or "Church of God": Stayer, James M. (2001). "Täufer". Theologische
Realenzyklopädie (TRE) (in German). 32. Berlin, New York: Walter de
Gruyter . pp. 597–617. ISBN 3-11-016712-3 . Brüder in Christo",
"Gemeinde Gottes .
* ^ For example, the followers of
Thomas Müntzer and Balthasar
* ^ A "true church" movement is a part of the Protestant or
Reformed group of
Christianity that claims to represent the true faith
and order of
New Testament Christianity. Most only assert this in
relation to their church doctrines, polity, and practice (e.g., the
ordinances), while a few hold they are the only true Christians. Some
examples of Anabaptistic true church movements are the Landmark
Baptists and the Church of God in Christ,
Mennonite . The Church of
God , the Stone-Campbell restoration movement , and others represent a
variation in which the "true church" apostatized and was restored, in
distinction to this idea of apostolic or church succession. These
groups trace their "true church" status through means other than those
generally accepted by Roman
Catholicism or Orthodox Christianity, both
of which likewise claim to represent the true faith and order of New
* ^ Such as the
Adoptionism of the
Paulicianists ; some of the
other groups often cited were in fact little different from the
Catholics and bore little similarity to modern Baptists.
* ^ The origins of religious freedom in the
United States are
traced back to the Anabaptists.
* ^ "Anabaptist, n.", Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University
Press, December 2012, retrieved January 21, 2013
* ^ "Anabaptism, n.", Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University
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* ^ Klaassen 1973 .
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from the original (PDF) on December 27, 2016
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belongs on the fringe of Anabaptist life which was completely divorced
from the evangelical, biblical heart of the movement'
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Christian Church of America".
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* Anabaptists and the Sword, by
James M. Stayer , (Google Books,
ISBN 0-87291-081-4 )
* In Editha's Days. A Tale of Religious Liberty, by Mary E. Bamford
LCCN 06006296 (republished as The
Bible Makes Us Baptists, Larry
Harrison, ed.), (Google Books)
Harold S. Bender , Cornelius J. Dyck,
Dennis D. Martin, Henry C. Smith, et al., editors, (Google Books, ISBN
* Revelation & Revolution: Basic Writings of Thomas Muntzer, by
Michael G. Baylor, (Google Books, ISBN 0-934223-16-5 )
* The Anabaptist Vision, by Harold S. Bender, (Google Books, ISBN
* The Anatomy of a Hybrid : a Study in Church-State Relationships by
Leonard Verduin, (Google Books, ISBN 0-8028-1615-0 )
* The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror, by
Thieleman J. van Braght ,
(Google Books, ISBN 0-8361-1390-X )
* The Encyclopedia of American Religions, by
J. Gordon Melton
J. Gordon Melton ,
(Google Books, ISBN 0-8103-6904-4 )
* Pearse, Meic , The Great Restoration: The Religious Radicals of
the 16th and 17th Centuries .
* The Pursuit of the Millennium, by Norman Cohn, (Google Books, ISBN
* The Reformers and their Stepchildren, by Leonard Verduin, (Google
Books, ISBN 0-8010-9284-1 )
* The Secret of the Strength, by
Peter Hoover , (Google Books) (Free
* The Tailor King: The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptist Kingdom of
Munster, by Anthony Arthur, (Google Books, ISBN 0-312-20515-5 )
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