Session IV - The Anabaptists


Sun, 04/28/2013


Given By: 

Pastor Mike

Series Name: 


                                                      1517 – Luther’s 95 Theses

                                                            1519 – Zwingli begins Swiss Reformation

                                                            1522-- Magellan’s fleet completes voyage around the world

                                                            1524 – Peasants Revolt (Germany)

                                                            1525Anabaptist movement begins

                                                            1534 – Henry VIII, the English Act of Supremacy

                                                            1540 – Society of Jesus (Jesuits) formed

                                                            1541 – John Calvin returns to Geneva



            A.  The most radical group of the Reformation.  Some say the true, complete Reformers.

                                    1. The direct descendents are the Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites,

                                    2. Less direct are Quakers, Baptists but Anabaptist influence is much wider.

            B. Their essential radicalism, Part One – Their rejection of infant baptism

                        1.  “Anabaptist” was a derisive term meaning re-baptizer because of their belief in                                                                                             believer baptism and rejection of infant baptism..

                        2.  Derisive because for centuries, by royal and papal decrees, re- baptism was a crime                                                     punishable by death.  Why?

                                                a. Because it was believed that not baptizing an infant meant eternal damnation for                                                                                      that child.        

                                                b. Because infant baptism had social and political significance.

                        3.  In Christendom infant baptism made you a member of the church and a citizen.

                        4.   Members of a church were all the citizens of its region, district, diocese, etc.

                                                            The Anabaptist understanding: The church is a community of believers only.

.           C. Their essential radicalism, Part Two:  The separation of Church and State

                                    The state should not have any involvement in the church.

                        1.  No oath taking, including the annual oath of civic loyalty and obedience.

                        2. Pacifism based on principle of love

                                    a. No going to war

                                    b. No self defense      

            D.  Not a unified or centralized movement.  There is no Anabaptist church.

            E.  Emphasis on discipleship in daily life in contrast to dedication to, and definition by, rituals,                         spiritual experiences or doctrine.       

            F.  Emphasis on discipline and accountability.

        G.  No private property.  Property was either treated as communal (Mine stuff belong to                                         everyone) or was communal (No such thing as my stuff, only our stuff.)

                                    Separate/separated communities were often established.

            H.  No sacred things or hierarchy.

            I.  Worship was simple if not barren.  Sometimes - no singing.

            J. Intensely persecuted by Catholics and Protestants

                        Mostly an underground church, probably 15,000 or fewer at its peak.



            A.  Ulrich Zwingli begins to preach in Zurich, Switzerland, 1519

                        1.  Teaching:  If the Bible does not prescribe it, it is prohibited.

                                                Does away with statues, candles, pictures, and musical instruments.

                        2.  Worked with and under the city council about church practice.

            B.  Some (Anabaptists) split off over definition of the church (association with civil gov.), infant                 baptism and pace of reform.



            A.  Fall, 1524 –  In Zurich Conrad Grebel and his wife, do not baptize their new born child.

                        1.  January 1525 – Zurich city council rules that those who do not baptize their children will                                         be banished and forbidden to preach or meet.


                        2.  January 1525, Grebel, Felix Manz and others baptize one another and go on to preach                                        in other villages, cities and countries.


            B.  Anabaptism will spread to Germany, Netherlands, Austria, etc.


            “Hiding in the woods gave Anabaptists the telltale pallor that identified them in the popular                             mind as a heretic.  By 1527 several governments offered rewards for information leading                                   to the arrest of Anabaptists.  In 1563 the reward became one third of Anabaptist property.                      As late as the 1700’s, an agency for Anabaptist hunting persisted in Bern, Switzerland.”


               “A 16th century man who did not drink to excess, curse or abuse his workmen or family could     be suspected of being an Anabaptist and thus persecuted.”


A. January 5, 1527, Felix Manz is drowned in the Limmat River of Zurich.  


B.  Persecution is organized, systematic, pursuit, torture, drowning, beheading and burning.

            1. By 1527 governments are offering rewards for capture of Anabaptists.

            2.  1563 Ferdinand I (Holy Roman Empire) offers one third of Anabaptist property as reward.

            3.  Sometimes Anabaptists are protected by sympathetic authorities because of their value as                       good citizens, hard work, good farming and craftsmanship.



V.  Munster, Germany 1534-1535

            A.  Fanatical Anabaptists take over the city, declare it the New Jerusalem under a new King                             David

                        All manner of bizarre, violent events and practices take place – forced rebaptism, special                               revelations, polygamy, murder/executions, etc.


            B.  Eventually retaken by local bishop/king army and all inhabitants are killed.


            C.  This taints the Anabaptist movement.



            A.  Separation of Church and State or more accurately religious freedom.

            B.  Congregational governance.

            C.  Believer baptism.