Reformation was the response to what was believed to be
the corruption in both the Roman
Catholic Church and the expanding
Magisterial Protestant movement led by
Martin Luther and many others.
Beginning in Germany and Switzerland in the 16th century, the Radical
Reformation gave birth to many radical Protestant groups throughout
Europe. The term covers both radical reformers like Thomas Müntzer,
Andreas Karlstadt, groups like the
Zwickau prophets and Anabaptist
groups like the
Hutterites and Mennonites.
In parts of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, a majority sympathized
with the Radical
Reformation despite intense persecution. Although
the surviving proportion of the European population that rebelled
Zwinglian churches was small, Radical
Reformers wrote profusely and the literature on the Radical
Reformation is disproportionately large, partly as a result of the
proliferation of the Radical
Reformation teachings in the United
2 Non-Anabaptist Radical reformers
3 Early forms of Anabaptism
4 Later forms of Anabaptism
5 Other movements
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
Unlike the Catholics and the more Magisterial
Lutheran and Reformed
Zwinglian and Calvinist) Protestant movements, some of the Radical
Reformation abandoned the idea that the "Church visible" was distinct
from the "Church invisible." Thus, the Church only consisted of the
tiny community of believers, who accepted
Jesus Christ and
demonstrated this by adult baptism, called "believer's baptism".
While the magisterial reformers wanted to substitute their own learned
elite for the learned elite of the Catholic Church, the radical
Protestant groups rejected the authority of the institutional "church"
organization, almost entirely, as being unbiblical. As the search for
Christianity was carried further, it was claimed that the
tension between the church and the
Roman Empire in the first centuries
Christianity was normative, that the church is not to be allied
with government sacralism, that a true church is always subject to be
persecuted, and that the conversion of Constantine I was therefore the
Great Apostasy that marked a deviation from pure Christianity.
Non-Anabaptist Radical reformers
Though most of the Radical Reformers were Anabaptist, some did not
identify themselves with the mainstream Anabaptist tradition. Thomas
Müntzer was involved in the German Peasants' War. Andreas Karlstadt
disagreed theologically with
Huldrych Zwingli and Martin Luther,
teaching nonviolence and refusing to baptize infants while not
rebaptizing adult believers.
Kaspar Schwenkfeld and Sebastian
Franck were influenced by
German mysticism and spiritualism.
Early forms of Anabaptism
Some early forms of the Radical
Reformation were millenarian, focusing
on the imminent end of the world. This was particularly notable in the
John of Leiden
John of Leiden over the city of
Münster in 1535, which was
ultimately crushed by the combined forces of the Catholic Bishop of
Münster and the
Lutheran Landgrave of Hesse. After the Munster
rebellion, the small group of the
Batenburgers continued to adhere to
militant Anabaptist beliefs. Non-violent Anabaptist groups also had
Anabaptists believed that their reformation must purify not
only theology but also the actual lives of Christians, especially
their political and social relationships. Therefore, the church
should not be supported by the state, neither by tithes and taxes, nor
by the use of the sword;
Christianity was a matter of individual
conviction, which could not be forced on anyone, but rather required a
personal decision for it.
Many groups were influenced by biblicism (like the Swiss Brethren),
spiritualism (like the South German Anabaptists) and mainly absolute
pacifism (like the Swiss Brethren, the
Hutterites and the Mennonites
from Northern Germany and the Netherlands). The
practiced community of goods. In the beginning most of them were
Later forms of Anabaptism
Later forms[clarification needed] of
Anabaptism were much smaller, and
focused on the formation of small, separatist communities. Among the
many varieties to develop were Mennonites, Amish, and Hutterites.
Typical among the new leaders of the later Anabaptist movement, and
certainly the most influential of them, was Menno Simons
(1496–1561), a Dutch Catholic priest who early in 1536 decided to
join the Anabaptists.
Simons had no use for the violence advocated and practiced by the
Münster movement, which seemed to him to pervert the very heart of
Mennonite pacifism is not merely a peripheral
characteristic of the movement, but rather belongs to the very essence
of Menno's understanding of the gospel; this is one of the reasons
that it has been a constant characteristic of all
through the centuries.
Anabaptists of the Radical
Reformation continue to inspire
community groups such as the Bruderhof and movements such as Urban
Expression in the UK.
In addition to the Anabaptists, other Radical
have been identified. Notably, George Huntston Williams, the great
categorizer of the Radical Reformation, considered early forms of
Unitarianism (such as that of the Socinians, and exemplified by
Michael Servetus as well as the Polish Brethren), and other trends
that disregarded the Nicene christology still accepted by most
Christians, as part of the Radical Reformation. With Michael Servetus
Faustus Socinus (1539–1604) anti-Trinitarianism
came to the foreground.
Restorationism (Christian primitivism)
^ Horsch, John (1995).
Mennonites in Europe. Herald Press.
p. 299. ISBN 978-0836113952.
^ Euan Cameron (1991). The European Reformation. New York: Oxford
University Press. ISBN 0-19-873093-4.
^ Maseko, Achim N. (2008), Church Schism & Corruption, South
Africa: Lulu.com, p. 236, ISBN 9781409221869
^ Justo L. Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought (Abingdon:
^ Hein, Gerhard. "Karlstadt, Andreas Rudolff-Bodenstein von
(1486-1541)". Global Anabaptist
Mennonite Encyclopedia Online.
Retrieved 19 April 2014.
^ a b Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, 88.
^ a b c Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, 96.
^ "Why the Bruderhof is not a cult - by Bryan Wilson Cult And Sect
Religion And Belief". Scribd. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
^ "Eberhard Arnold: Founder of the Bruderhof". www.eberhardarnold.com.
^ Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, 101.
Estep, William R., The Anabaptist story: An introduction to
Roth, John, and James Stayer, eds. A companion to
Spiritualism, 1521-1700 (Brill, 2007).
Williams, George H., The Radical Reformation, 3rd ed (Truman State
Univ Press, 2000).
Reformation at Global Anabaptist
Mennonite Encyclopedia Online
Reformation Reading Room, Tyndale Seminary
Old Order Mennonites
Schwarzenau (German Baptist) Brethren
Brethren in Christ Church
Apostolic Christian Church
German Peasants' War
Dordrecht Confession of Faith
Theology of Anabaptism
Apostolic succession/Great Apostasy
Freedom of religion
Nonconformity to the world
Priesthood of all believers
Separation of church and state/free church
History of Christianity
Centuries:1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th
15th 16th 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st
Ministry of Jesus
and Apostolic Age
Paul the Apostle
Council of Jerusalem
Councils: Nicaea I
Church of the East
Fall of Constantinople
Bernard of Clairvaux
Vatican I and II
Diet of Worms
Book of Concord
Three Forms of Unity
First Great Awakening
Neo- and Old Lutherans
Independent Catholic denominations
Second Great Awakening
Third Great Awakening
Genocide by ISIL