The Anabaptists And Their Core Values

INTRODUCTION

            Men of conviction, value systems, faith, resilience, and unwavering nature to situation that has a threatening or upheaval nature of death; nevertheless, they lay unforgettable history thereby leaving legacies perpetual which serves as roadmaps for posterities to take responsibilities of the same or take proponent ship fostering such ideologies to lead and to redirect the followers to the desire dream in order to accomplish a goal of both political and religious practices based on belief systems, ethics, statement of faith, and code of conduct. The Anabaptists, as the result of conviction, value system, faith, and resilience birthed resistance to enable them exercise their religious freedom in their world which did contribute meaningfully to Christendom annulling the dogmas and unbiblical practices that were practiced during the 16th century. In an effort to explore the movement of Anabaptism, this paper clearly elucidates and delineates the background, the emergence, the beliefs, the legacies they had left which affect the present day churches who are practicing the values and the ethics of the movement born some 500 years ago during the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli. These figures were the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation during the 16th century; however, Lutheranism and Calvinism had some disagreements with Zwingli groups based on some doctrinal and ideological issues. It was based on this schism that the word “Radical Reformation” and “Magisterial Reformation” came into existence. The Radical Reformers were never supported by the state because they went against some doctrinal teachings that the Catholic Church practiced; ironically, the Luther and the Calvin compromised with some of those teachings. According to research all mainstream Protestants generally date their doctrinal separation from the Roman Catholic Church to the 16th century, occasionally called the “Magisterial Reformation” because the ruling magistrates supported them; unlike, the “Radical Reformation,” which the state did not support.[1]

            The Zwingli group who toke a radical position was not supported by the state; as such, the Anabaptists who under the leadership of the three break away from Zurish’s movement, who took a more radical position regarding the issues of infants baptism and the paying of tithes, suffered inhumane treatment and genocide from the Luther, the Calvin, and the Zwingli’s movement. The continued genocide perpetrated against the Anabaptists caused them to flee and became refugees in other nations of the World. According to research as stated below:

            “The Reformation in the Netherlands, unlike in many other countries, was not initiated by the ruler of the seventeen provinces, but instead by multiple popular movements, which in turn were bolstered by the arrival of the protestant refugees form other parts of the continent. While the Anabaptists movement enjoyed popularity in the region in the early decades of the Reformation, Calvinism, in the form of the Dutch Reformed Church, became dominant protestant faith in the country from the 1560s onward.”[2]

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

            The background of the Anabaptists can be traced back to the initiation of the Protestant Reformation during the 16th century when Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli staged the movement. The climax of he Reformation ignited when Martin Luther wrote the 95 Thesis and nailed it to the Church’s door in Wittenberg, Germany. The Reformation called the Protestant Reformation, started in Germany and Switzerland simultaneously by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli respectively. During this era, Lutheranism and Calvinism on the other hand had disagreement with Zwingli based on doctrinal matters that they both struggled with which led to religious schism among the protestant reformers. Following this era, Ulrich Zwingli was challenged by three of his followers, namely Conrad Grebel, Simon Simpf, and Wilhelm Reublin regarding the paying of tithes and infant baptism. Ulrich Zwingli regarded these guys as radicals because they opposed this teaching of infant baptism. This led to the birth of Anabaptists bringing a radical reform. According to James M. Stayer, a quarterly review of the article of the Mennonite states that radical adherents of the Reformation who broke with Zwingli and the Zurish magistrate over whether infants or adults should be baptized anticipated some of the socioeconomic demands from registers. Three of the radicals who challenged Zwingli – Conrad Grebel, Simon Stumpf, and Wilhelm Reublin – were also prominent in opposition to the payment of tithes.[3]

THE EMERGENCE

            The movement of the Anabaptists originally begun in Switzerland under the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli at the time Martin Luther had started his campaign against Roman Catholicism by writing the 95 Theses; no sooner, had the two movements agreed to unite on most issues, but some unresolved differences kept them separate. According to research as quoted below:

            “Parallel to the events in Germany, a movement began in Switzerland under the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli. The two movements quickly agreed on most issues, but some unresolved differences kept them separate. Some followers of Zwingli believed that the reformation was too conservative, and moved independently toward more radical positions, some of which survived among modern day Anabaptists.[4]

            The emergence of the Anabaptists was the result of doctrinal issues regarding infant’s baptism. Conrad Grebel, Simon Simpf, and Wilhelm Reublin and others of the movement decided to take a more radical position to question this teaching biblically. Based on the questioning of this teaching, Zwingli decided to name them as radicals and eventually have them ostracized from the movement.

THE BELIEFS

            The Anabaptists are primarily non-violence group of people who believe that the use of force is not necessary in the time of political and religious upheaval; however, there are situations force could be necessary provided if it were a just war. Some humanists and Anabaptists believe that force could be necessary in some cases while others believe that no force should be used in either case. There is a disagreement on the used of force. The justification for the political used of force surfaced among the humanist and Anabaptists pacifist during the 16th century when the Anabaptists were being killed in thousands because of their introduction of rebaptism annulling infant baptism. According to the article entitled, “Two Kinds of Pacifism: Opposition to the Political use of Force in the Renaissance Reformation Period” written by James T. Johnson states that the Renaissance-Reformation period, these two varieties of pacifist objected to the political use of force were associated, broadly, with the thinking of Renaissance humanists like Erasmus and more on the one hand and with the emerging doctrine and practice of the Anabaptists for the radical wing of the Reformation on the other.”[5]

            It was a critical period the Anabaptists faced at the time when war was being waged against them by the Roman Catholic Church and other people they considered to be on their sides initially; as the result, they needed to decide as if it was necessary to resist any movement that could come against them. According to research both humanist and Anabaptist pacifism in the sixteen century came into existence in a context shaped around justification for the political use of force in terms given by the just war tradition.[6]

            The Anabaptists and humanists resolved that it was necessary to resist evil people who try to fight you and bring you to extermination; as such, the political use of force in the sixteen century became thoughtful among the Anabaptists and the humanists.

            The Anabaptists are among religious faith extremists when it comes to keeping religious standardized model such as holiness living and apparel wearing. They believe that the kinds of lifestyles they live and the kind of clothes they wear dictate their true identities and thereby set them apart from the world in which they live. This is the reason why they could not deny their faith and identities during the religious upheaval perpetrated against them during the Protestant Reformation. They believe what they stand for that could even lead to their deaths. Anabaptists refused to deny their identities even if they were killed. They preached their rebaptism and participated of the same. Their ways of doing things vary quiet differently from liberal Christianity or liberalism. They were people of true colors and conviction. They never change gear because someone harassed them to take their lives. Their emphasis on discipleship, community spiritual development, and the teaching on the Spirit of God was highlighted and emphasized in the daily teaching of the scripture. They were devoted to holy Christian living. According to the article entitled, “Reading the Anabaptists: Anabaptists Historiography and Luther Blessett’s Q states that the magnetic draw of sixteen-century Anabaptists emanates form the drama of its inception. Anabaptist’s beliefs can not be separated form its story. Its theological emphasis of discipleship, community, and pneumatological Biblicism are inextricably liked to the stories of resolute Martyrs dying in flame with their tongues cut out.[7]

            The Anabaptists were religious enthusiasts in conjunction with the Pentecostal movement of the later day. Pavel writes that the Anabaptist and Pentecostal traditions, for much of their history sidelined by the Christian mainstream as sectarian enthusiasts, have in the last few decades experienced a revival of theological scholarship.[8] Such scholarship has been encouraged within their group as to open their eyes and view concerning theological and doctrinal issues. Klassen writes that in the historical, spiritual and ecclesiastical renaissance of Anabaptism there are few chapters as fascinating as the discovery of the writings of Pilgram Marpeck and the community which he inspired and which inspired him.[9] 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, he stated, but God has a free hand even in these last days. He wrote that many of .them have remained constant, enduring tortures inflicted by sword, rope, fire and water and suffering.[10]

            The Anabaptists believed that non-violence was part of their religious obligation and it was the only means that radical reform could be instituted to make oppressive powers to give in and compromise with them. It was used as the weapon of war to allow God to fight for them in the midst of upheaval and reprisal against them. I.P. Ashervadam gave his view of what he saw in the Anabaptists as stated in the following article entitled, Shaping Christian Higher Education: Toward a Relevant Anabaptist View of Education. This document states that Anabaptists used the weapon of pacifism and demonstrated the power of non-violence in the sixteen century to bring radical reformation in the context of the oppressive powers and structures of that day.[11]

            The Anabaptists are people who have laid history of legacy regarding martyrdom. They believed what they stood for, died for what they believed, celebrated when they were about to be killed, and gave word of go ahead to their killers.

According to the hymn memorizing his martyrdom, neither torture nor the threat of execution could persuade Hans Bablibacher to recant his faith. When the executioner arrived, Hans confidently proclaimed: Now eat and drink, be of good cheer, today you will offer up my innocent blood, but it is for the good of my soul.[12]

            The Anabaptists believed strongly that for what they believed was a worthy cost. They lived the lives of non-violence and tended to emulate Christ. Snyder writes that Anabaptists have been united as followers concerning the sword. The sword is an ordering of God outside the perfection of Christ. . . . Christ teaches and commands us to learn from him, for he is meek and lowly of heart. . . . Christ did not wish to decide or pass judgment between brother and brother. . . . So should we also d.”[13]  Anabaptists are non-violent people because they have decided to live after the similitude of Christ. Even in our time, Anabaptists are still being murdered by those who hate them. Originally, they were listed as religious radicals and heretics by the Catholic Church and others. It is sadden that murder is still being carried out in the house of God. Roth writes that on January 22, 2012, the Mennonite pastor from Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, was beaten and killed following an evening worship service he had led with a congregation in the nearby town of Veracruz^ The murder took place on World Fellowship Sunday, a day designated by Mennonite World Conference as an occasion for Anabaptist Mennonite congregations.[14] If the church allows Satan to enter it, it is a sadden thing to imagine. Anabapists in time past had been victims of religious reprisal and such; it is unfortunate that such horrifying incidence could take place on such day to kill the servant of God.

            The Anabaptists way of dressing and the manner in which they conducted themselves in regarding to regulations concerning governing morality and clothing make them distinct from other reformed church movement during the 16th century. Mary Ann states that although the Bernese State typically defined Anabaptists as dangerous and rebels and heretics, this article examines an instance where Anabaptists could be viewed as model subjects in regard to regulations governing morality and clothing.”

THE LEGACIES

            The Anabaptists movement is the reason of the reformed churches created today such as the Pentecostals, the Baptists, the holiness movement, and independent present day churches or ministries which practice leadership based on the move of the Holy Spirit. The existence of the Anabaptists is the reason of the existence of true protestant churches that do not practice mass or infant baptism. This movement brought true spirituality and ushered the Church into Charismatic-Pentecostalism. The below quotations verify the legacies that Anabaptists had left with Christendom:

            “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 hysteria, experienced healings, glossolalia, contortions and other manifestations of a camp-meeting revival”[15]

            In the reformed churches today created by the reason of Anabaptism, the word of God becomes the final authority. Christ is the head of the Church while the authority of church lies in the local church assembly. Froese states that the Anabaptist Vision began by connecting the Anabaptists, through the centuries, to the “great principles of freedom of conscience, separation of church and state, and voluntarism in religion, so basic in American Protestantism.[16] The move to be free from dogmas and traditional practices of the Roman Catholic and the desire to be conscious of separation of church and state led to the voluntarism of the Anabaptists to initiate religious liberty. The Anabapists indeed have been famous as religious group with principles with relative to liberation and pietism.

            Notwithstanding, the creation and division of churches started with Luther who preached on justification by faith and consequently condemned the practices of the Roman Catholic church concerning indulgences sales. Werner writes that as a result of Luther’s controversy with the Schwärmer, concerning the outer word and justification by faith alone, Hut in an attempt to preempt Luther’s criticism built a preliminary justification into his soteriology which he had inherited from Müntzer.[17]

            The Catholic Church in time past had preached on the sales of indulgences for buyers’ sin remission. This did not go well with Luther; as the result, he used the teaching of justification by faith to enable him speak against the erroneous and heretical teaching of the Catholic Church. This was the beginning of the reformation which decimated the Catholic Church as the result of the Counter Reformation. The Counter Reformation did not only divide the Catholic Church, but it also brought revival of new beginning concerning doctrines and practices.

The emergence of the Anabaptists can not be divorced from the instrumentality of the Zurich Movement led by Ulrich Zwingli when the symptoms for the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther and amplified by John Calvin through his scholastic influence in literature got on the way; meanwhile, the beliefs, values, and legacies left by the Anabaptists through their sacrificial exercise of resilient faith and religious tolerance remain forever in history to affect the emergence of present and future churches and ministries in Christendom

Bibliography

Ashervadam, I.P. Shaping Christian Higher Education: Toward a Relevant Anabaptist View of Education. Mennonite Quarterly Review 36, no 2 Fall 2007.

Bates, Mary Ann Miller. Insubordinate Anabaptists in Virtuous Clothing? Amish Anabaptists as Model Subjects in the Context of Bernese Sumptuary and Morals Mandates. An Article of Mennonite Quarterly Review 82, no 4, 2008.

Froese, Brian. Anabaptist Identity, Pedagogy, Faith, Ethics, and Research in the Teaching of History, Mennonite Quarterly Review, 75 no 3 Jl 2001, p 315-324, ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serial.

Garber, Jeremy. Reading the Anabaptists: Anabaptist Historiography and Luther Blessit’s Q. The Mennonite Quarterly Review 24, no 1 wint 2006.

Heizlar, Pavel. The Church in the Bakehouse: John Smyth’s English Anabaptist Congregation at Amsterdam, 1609-1660, 55 no 1 2013, p 35-56, ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials.

Johnson, James T. Two Kinds of Pacifism: Opposition to the Political Use of Force in the Renaissance-Reformation Period. (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 1984.

Klassen, William. Pilgram Marpeck and the Fellows of the Covenant: The Short and Fragmentary History of the Rise and Decline of an Anabaptist Denominational Network, Mennonite Quarterly Review, 78 no 1 Ja 2004, p 7-28,  ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials.

Packull, Warner O. Anabaptist Studies at the Crossroads, Mennonite Quarterly Review, 49 no 1 Ja 1975, p 57-67, ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials.

Packull, Werner O. Anabaptist Youth Ministry Revisited: Beyond the Programming, Mennonite Quarterly Review, 78 no 1 Ja 2004, p 7-28. ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials.

Penner, Sydney. Swiss Anabaptists and the Miraculous. Article of Mennonite quarterly Review 80, no 2 AP 2006.

Roth, John D.2012 Bechtel Lectures“Blest Be the Ties That Bind”: In Search of the Global Anabaptist Church Lecture One: The Challenge of Church Unity in the Anabaptist, 31 no 1 Wint 2013, p 24-43, ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials.

Snyder, Arnold C. Anabaptist origins of Mennonite commitment to peace, 14 no 2 Fall 2013, p 15-23. ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials.

Stayer, James M. Anabaptists and Future Anabaptists in the Peasants War. Mennonite Quarterly Review 62, no 2 AP 1988.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anabaptists Retrieved 01/29/2012

www.en.wikipendia.org/wiki/Protestant-Reformation, Retrieved 01/28/2012


[1]www.en.wikipendia.org/wiki/Protestant-Reformation, Retrieved 01/28/2012

[2]ibid

[3]James M. Stayer, Anabaptists and Future Anabaptists in the Peasants War, Mennonite Quarterly Review 62, no 2 AP 1988, 99-139.

[4]ibid

[5]James T. Johnson, Two Kinds of Pacifism: Opposition to the Political Use of Force in the RenaissanceReformation Period (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 1984, 12.

[6]ibid

[7]Jeremy Garber, Reading the Anabaptists: Anabaptist Historiography and Luther Blessit’s Q, The Mennonite Quarterly Review 24, no 1 wint 2006, 82-94.

[8] Pavel Heizlar, The Church in the Bakehouse: John Smyth’s English Anabaptist Congregation at Amsterdam, 1609-1660, 55 no 1 2013, p 35-56,  ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials

[9]William Klassen, Pilgram Marpeck and the Fellows of the Covenant: The Short and Fragmentary History of the Rise and Decline of an Anabaptist Denominational Network, Mennonite Quarterly Review, 78 no 1 Ja 2004, p 7-28,  ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials

[10]Werner O. Packull, Anabaptist Youth Ministry Revisited: Beyond the Programming, Mennonite Quarterly Review, 78 no 1 Ja 2004, p 7-28. ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials

[11]I.P. Ashervadam, Shaping Christian Higher Education: Toward a Relevant Anabaptist View of Education, Mennonite Quarterly Review 36, no 2 Fall 2007, 144-158.

[12]Sydney Penner, Swiss Anabaptists and the Miraculous, Article of Mennonite quarterly Review 80, no 2 AP 2006, 207-228.

[13] Arnold C. Snyder, Anabaptist origins of Mennonite commitment to peace, 14 no 2 Fall 2013, p 15-23. ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials

[14]John D. Roth, 2012 BECHTEL LECTURES “Blest Be the Ties That Bind”: In Search of the Global Anabaptist Church Le c t u r e O n e The Challenge of Church Unity in the Anabaptist, , 31 no 1 Wint 2013, p 24-43. Publication Type: Article, Database: ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials

[15]www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anabaptists Retrieved 01/29/2012

[16] Brian Froese, Anabaptist Identity, Pedagogy, Faith, Ethics, and Research in the Teaching of History, Mennonite Quarterly Review, 75 no 3 Jl 2001, p 315-324, ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serial

[17] Warner O. Packull, Anabaptist Studies at the Crossroads, Mennonite Quarterly Review, 49 no 1 Ja 1975, p 57-67, ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials