Anabaptism (from Neo-Latin anabaptista, from the Greek
ἀναβαπτισμός: ἀνά- "re-" and βαπτισμός
"baptism", German: Täufer, earlier also Wiedertäufer[a]) is a
Christian movement which traces its origins to the Radical
Reformation. The movement is generally seen as an offshoot of
Protestantism, although this view has been challenged by some
Approximately 4 million Anabaptists live in the world today with
adherents scattered across all inhabited continents. In addition to a
number of minor Anabaptist groups, the most numerous include the
Mennonites at 2.1 million, the German
Baptists at 1.5 million, the
Amish at 0.3 million and the
Hutterites at 0.05 million.
In the 21st century there are large cultural differences between
assimilated Anabaptists, who do not differ much from evangelical or
mainline Protestants and traditional groups like the Amish, the Old
Colony Mennonites, the Old Order Mennonites, the
Hutterites and the
Christians who believe that baptism is valid only 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 Amish, 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
— Hubmaier, Balthasar (1526), Short apology.:204
Anabaptists were heavily and long persecuted starting in the 16th
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.
Anabaptism was never established by any state and therefore never
enjoyed any of the privileges that come with it. Most Anabaptists
adhered to a literal interpretation of the
Sermon on the Mount
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.[b] They were thus technically
Anabaptists, even though conservative Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites,
and some historians consider them outside true Anabaptism. Conrad
Grebel wrote in a letter to
Thomas Müntzer in 1524:
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.
1.1 Medieval forerunners
Zwickau prophets and the German Peasants' War
1.3 Views on origins
1.3.3 Apostolic succession
2.3 The Low Countries
2.5 South Germany
2.6 Persecutions and migrations
4.1 Charismatic manifestations
4.2 Holy Spirit leadership
5.2 Similar groups
7 See also
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
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 Corinthians
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
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
Main articles: Thomas Müntzer,
Zwickau prophets, and German Peasants'
Twelve Articles of the Peasants pamphlet of 1525
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
German Peasants' War in southern 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 subsequent
sectarians to have taken part 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
It developed through several independent movements (polygenesis); and
It was a continuation of true
succession or church perpetuity).
Felix Manz was executed by drowning within two years of his rebaptism
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
its origins in 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.[page needed] 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
Melchior Hoffman influenced the
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 Swiss
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.[c]
The opponents of the
Baptist successionism theory emphasize that these
non-Catholic groups clearly differed from each other, that they held
some heretical views,[d] or that the groups had no connection with one
another and had origins that were separate both in time and in place.
A different strain of successionism is the theory that the Anabaptists
Waldensian origin. Some hold the idea that the
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.
Thieleman J. van Braght
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 Europe
Anabaptism in 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."
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,
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 Zwingli.
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
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.
Afterwards 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
Anabaptism may 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
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
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
withdrew from the movement in about 1540, but not before ordaining
David Joris, his brother Dirk, and Menno Simons, the latter from whom
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
Mennonites were under the "dead letter of the Scripture".
Because of persecution and expansion, some of the Low Country
Mennonites emigrated to
Vistula delta, a region settled by Germans but
under Polish rule until it became part of
Prussia in 1772. There they
Mennonites integrating some other Mennonites
mainly from Northern Germany. In the late 18. century several thousand
of them migrated from there to Ukraine (which at the time was part of
Russia) forming the so-called Russian Mennonites. Beginning in 1874,
many of them emigrated to the prairie states and provinces of the U.S.
and Canada. In the 1920s the conservative faction of the Canadian
settlers went to Mexico and Paraguay. Beginning in the 1950s the most
conservative of them started to migrate to Bolivia. In 1958 Mexican
Mennonites migrated to Belize. Since the 1980s traditional Russian
Mennonites migrated to Argentina. Smaller groups went to Brazil and
Uruguay. In 2015 some
Mennonites from Bolivia settled in Peru. In 2018
there are more than 200.000 of them living in colonies in Central and
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
Nikolsburg was a definite boost for Anabaptist ideas to
the area. With the great influx of religious refugees from all over
Europe, many variations of
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 would lead 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
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
the Hutterites. But others came from Silesia, Switzerland, German
lands, and the Low Countries. With the passing of time and
persecution, all the other versions of
Anabaptism would die out in
Moravia, leaving only the Hutterites. Even the
Hutterites would be
dissipated by persecution, with a remnant fleeing to Transylvania,
then to the Ukraine, and finally to North America in
1874.[page needed] 
Thomas Müntzer led the German peasants against the landowners
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 or 21, 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 Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites.
Unlike Calvinists, Anabaptists failed to get a recognition in the
Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia of 1648 and persecution continued in Europe well
after that treaty.
Main article: 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
such as 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 true
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
(Menno Simons, 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
1534–1535, 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, Mexico
Amish children on their way to school
Several existing denominational bodies are the direct successors of
the continental Anabaptists. Mennonites,
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.
Apostolic Christian Church
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
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
German, Plautdietsch, Hutterisch),
Plain dress and many other old
Bruderhof Communities were founded in Germany by Eberhard Arnold
in 1920, establishing and organisationally joining the Hutterites
in 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.
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
Anabaptism and 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
Christians does not reflect the historical teaching of the
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
Anabaptist characters exist in popular culture, most notably Chaplain
Tappman in Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22, James (Jacques) in
Voltaire's novella Candide, 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 are frequently cited as having a strong influence on the
Persons often associated with the Neo-Anabaptist movement include
Stanley Hauerwas, Scot McKnight, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis,
and Shane Claiborne.[unreliable source]
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).[e] 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 in 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.
Donatists (first historical occurrence of re-baptism)
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
Christianity that claims to represent the true faith and
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
Press, December 2012, retrieved January 21, 2013
^ Klaassen 1973.
^ McGrath, William, The Anabaptists: Neither Catholic nor Protestant
(PDF), Hartville, OH: The Fellowship Messenger, archived from the
original (PDF) on December 27, 2016
^ Gilbert, William (1998), "The Radicals of the Reformation",
Renaissance and Reformation, Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas
^ Harper, Douglas (2010) , "Anabaptist", Online Etymological
Dictionary, retrieved April 25, 2011
^ Vedder, Henry Clay (1905), Balthasar Hübmaier: the Leader of the
Anabaptists, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, p. 204 .
^ Dyck 1967, p. 45
^ Wagner, Murray L (1983). Petr Chelčický: A Radical Separatist in
Hussite Bohemia. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press. p. 20.
^ van der Zijpp, Nanne. "Sacramentists". Global Anabaptist Mennonite
Encyclopedia Online. Archived from the original on February 27, 2007.
Retrieved April 12, 2007.
^ Fontaine, Piet FM (2006). "Chapter I – part 1 Radical
Reformation – Dutch Sacramentists". The Light and the Dark: A
Cultural History of Dualism. XXIII. Postlutheran Reformation. Utrecht:
Gopher Publishers. Archived from the original on May 9, 2007.
^ van Braght 1950, p. 277.
^ a b Stayer 1994.
^ Estep 1963, p. 5: 'Too much has been said of Münster. It
belongs on the fringe of Anabaptist life which was completely divorced
from the evangelical, biblical heart of the movement'
^ Dyck 1967, p. 49.
^ a b Stayer, James M; Packull, Werner O; Deppermann, Klaus (April
1975), "From Monogenesis to Polygenesis: the historical discussion of
Mennonite Quarterly Review, 49 (2)
^ Stayer 1994, p. 86.
^ Carrol, JM (1931). The Trail of Blood. Lexington, KY: Ashland Avenue
Baptist Church. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009.
^ Ruth, John L. (1975). Conrad Grebel, Son of Zurich. Scottdale, PA:
Herald Press. p. 79. ISBN 0-8361-1767-0.
^ Dyck 1967, p. 46.
^ "The Chronicle of the Hutterian Brethren, Known as Das grosse
Geschichtbuch der Hutterischen Brüder". Rifton, Ν. Y.: Plough Pub.
House. 1987: 45.
^ "1525, The Anabaptist Movement Begins". Retrieved December 27,
^ Klaassen, Walter (1985). "A Fire That Spread Anabaptist Beginnings".
Waterloo, ON, Canada: Christian History Institute. Retrieved December
^ Hoover, Peter (2008). The Mystery of the Mark-Anabaptist Mission
Work under the Fire of God. Mountain Lake, Minnesota: Elmendorf Books.
^ Packull 1995, pp. 169–75.
^ Packull 1995, pp. 181–5.
^ Packull 1995, p. 280.
^ Estep 1963, p. 109.
^ Estep 1963, p. 111.
^ Dyck 1967, p. 105.
^ a b Dyck 1967, p. 111.
^ Estep 1963, p. 89.
^ Packull 1995, p. 54.
^ Dyck 1967, p. 67.
^ Packull 1995, p. 55.
^ Packull 1995, p. 61.
^ Packull 1995.
^ Sreenivasan, Jyotsna (2008). Utopias in American History. ABC-CLIO.
pp. 175–6. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ Packull, Werner O (1977). Mysticism and the Early South
German-Austrian Anabaptist Movement 1525–1531. Scottdale, PA: Herald
Press. ISBN 0-8361-1130-3.
^ Bossert, Jr., Gustav; Bender, Harold S.; Snyder, C. Arnold (2017).
"Sattler, Michael (d. 1527)". In Roth, John D. Global Anabaptist
Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. , reprinted from ; ; (1989).
Bender, Harold S., ed.
Mennonite Encyclopedia. Harrisonburg, VA:
Herald Press. Vol. 4, pp. 427-434, 1148; vol. 5, pp. 794-795.
^ Klaassen 1973, p. 63.
^ Little, Franklin H (1964), The Origins of Sectarian Protestantism,
New York: Beacons, p. 19
^ Williams 2000, p. 667.
^ Marpeck 1978, p. 50.
^ van Braght 1950, p. 440.
^ Oyer, John S (1964), Lutheran Reformers Against Anabaptists, The
Hague: M Nijhoff, p. 86
^ Peachey, Paul; Peachey, Shem, eds. (1971), "Answer of Some Who Are
Called (Ana-)Baptists – Why They Do Not Attend the Churches",
Mennonite Quarterly Review, 45 (1): 10, 11
^ "Life Among The Bruderhof". The American Conservative. Retrieved May
Apostolic Christian Church
Apostolic Christian Church of America".
Mennonite World Conference
Mennonite World Conference (December 1, 2009), New global map
locates 1.6 million Anabaptists,
Mennonite Brethren Herald
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Anabaptism Religion & Spirituality". Scribd.
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Baptist Confession of 1644". spurgeon.org. Archived from the
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(though falsely) called ANABAPTISTS;
^ Traffanstedt, Chris (1994), "Baptists", A Primer on
Baptist Trail, archived from the original on September 11,
^ a b DeYoung, Kevin. "The Neo-Anabaptists". The Gospel Coalition.
Retrieved March 25, 2017.
^ Hiebert, Jared; Hiebert, Terry G. (Fall 2013). "New
Neo-Anabaptists: A Tale of Two Tribes". Direction: A Mennonite
Brethren Forum. 42 (2): 178–194. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
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Mennonite Takeover?". The American Spectator.
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Christian Hymnary, ISBN 1-890050-17-2
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"Anabaptism". Global Anabaptist
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Anabaptist History Complete Playlist (Parts 1–20) history of the
movement from the
Bible to present. (YouTube videos, 27 hours)
"The Story of the Church: The Protestant Reformation: The Anabaptists
and Other Radical Reformers". Ritchie Family Page. Archived from the
original on December 17, 2005. Retrieved December 15, 2005.
"The Anabaptist Story". The Reformed Reader. Archived from the
original on December 15, 2005. Retrieved December 15, 2005.
The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptists, by
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Old Order Mennonites
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