The Info List - Radical Reformation

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The Radical Reformation
was the response to what was believed to be the corruption in both the Roman Catholic Church
Catholic Church
and the expanding Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther
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
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.[1] Although the surviving proportion of the European population that rebelled against Catholic, Lutheran
and 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 States.[2]


1 Characteristics 2 Non-Anabaptist Radical reformers 3 Early forms of Anabaptism 4 Later forms of Anabaptism 5 Other movements 6 See also 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External links

Characteristics[edit] 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."[3] 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 original Christianity
was carried further, it was claimed that the tension between the church and the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in the first centuries of 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
Great Apostasy
that marked a deviation from pure Christianity.[4] Non-Anabaptist Radical reformers[edit] 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
Huldrych Zwingli
and Martin Luther, teaching nonviolence and refusing to baptize infants while not rebaptizing adult believers.[5] Kaspar Schwenkfeld
Kaspar Schwenkfeld
and Sebastian Franck were influenced by German mysticism
German mysticism
and spiritualism. Early forms of Anabaptism[edit] Some early forms of the Radical Reformation
were millenarian, focusing on the imminent end of the world. This was particularly notable in the rule of 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 millenarian beliefs. The early Anabaptists
believed that their reformation must purify not only theology but also the actual lives of Christians, especially their political and social relationships.[6] 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.[6] 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 Hutterites
also practiced community of goods. In the beginning most of them were strongly missionary. Later forms of Anabaptism[edit] 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.[7] Simons had no use for the violence advocated and practiced by the Münster
movement, which seemed to him to pervert the very heart of Christianity.[7] Thus, 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 Mennonite
bodies through the centuries.[7] The Anabaptists
of the Radical Reformation
continue to inspire community groups such as the Bruderhof and movements such as Urban Expression in the UK.[8][9] Other movements[edit] In addition to the Anabaptists, other Radical Reformation
movements 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
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 (1511–1553) and Faustus Socinus
Faustus Socinus
(1539–1604) anti-Trinitarianism came to the foreground.[10] See also[edit]


Christian anarchism Justus Velsius Martyrs Mirror 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: Nashville, 1975) ^ 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. Retrieved 2017-05-25.  ^ Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, 101.

Further reading[edit]

Estep, William R., The Anabaptist story: An introduction to sixteenth-century Anabaptism
(1996). Roth, John, and James Stayer, eds. A companion to Anabaptism
and Spiritualism, 1521-1700 (Brill, 2007). Williams, George H., The Radical Reformation, 3rd ed (Truman State Univ Press, 2000).

External links[edit]

Radical Reformation
at Global Anabaptist Mennonite
Encyclopedia Online 16th Century Reformation
Reading Room, Tyndale Seminary

v t e



Protestant Reformation Radical Reformation Waldensians Petr Chelčický Moravian Church German mysticism Zwickau prophets Congregationalism


Swiss Brethren Hutterites Batenburgers Mennonites

Old Order Mennonites Conservative Mennonites Russian Mennonite


Beachy Amish Amish

Abecedarians Schwenkfelders Schwarzenau (German Baptist) Brethren Brethren in Christ Church Bruderhof Apostolic Christian Church Peace churches


Ausbund German Peasants' War Münster
Rebellion Martyrs Mirror Schleitheim Confession Dordrecht Confession of Faith


Theology of Anabaptism Apostolic succession/Great Apostasy Church discipline Communalism/Communism Freedom of religion Memorialism Nonconformity to the world Nonresistance Pacifism Priesthood of all believers Separation of church and state/free church Sola scriptura


Agape feast/Lovefeast Believer's baptism Foot washing Ordnung Plain dress Shunning Simple living

Notable Anabaptists

Felix Manz Conrad Grebel Pilgram Marpeck Michael Sattler Hans Denck Jacob Hutter Balthasar Hubmaier Bernhard Rothmann Dirk Philips Menno Simons Jakob Ammann Alexander Mack

Portal: Anabaptism

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