The anabaptist movement
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The Anabaptist Movement. Gonzalez, Vol. II, Chapter 6. Luther & Zwingli. Difference of Approach. Luther. Zwingli. Sought to cleanse the church from what contradicted Scripture Whatever was not prohibited by Scripture was allowed if it served to edify the people and reinforce the faith.

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The Anabaptist Movement

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The anabaptist movement

The Anabaptist Movement

Gonzalez, Vol. II, Chapter 6

Luther zwingli

Luther & Zwingli

Difference of approach

Difference of Approach



  • Sought to cleanse the church from what contradicted Scripture

  • Whatever was not prohibited by Scripture was allowed if it served to edify the people and reinforce the faith

  • Sought to reconstruct the Church on a scriptural foundation

  • Whatever was not explicitly warranted in Scripture was rejected outright

The radical reformation anabaptism

The Radical Reformation: Anabaptism

Contended that Zwingli & Luther did not go far enough in their programs of reform

A marked contrast between the church and society in the NT

Early Christians were persecuted by the state

Constantine’s “conversion” was a betrayal of primitive Christianity

The relationship between church society

The Relationship between Church & Society

The Church should not be confused with society

One belongs to society by the mere fact of birth; one cannot belong to the church without a personal decision

Infant baptism must be rejected, because it assumes that one becomes a Christian simply by being born into a supposedly Christian society

Conflict with society

Conflict with Society

The rejection of infant baptism essentially meant the rejection of Christian society

True Christians were not to support the state, even against invading infidels (Turks); later this would become full-blown pacifism

Supreme New Testament ethic: Sermon on the Mount

Zwingli the anabaptists

Zwingli & The Anabaptists

The “radical reformation” first came to public attention in Zurich, early in Zwingli’s program of reform

Certain “brethren” had been urging Zwingli to undertake a more radical program of reform; nearly convinced him to reject infant baptism

Breaking ranks with Zwingli, they finally took matters into their own hands

Conrad grebel 1498 1526

Conrad Grebel (1498-1526)

Conrad grebel

Conrad Grebel

Embraced Reformation ideal in 1522; early supporter of Zwingli

Disputed with Zwingli over the abolishing the Mass in 1523

After his dispute with Zwingli, Grebel and a group of 15 men began to meet for prayer and private Bible study

Final break with Zwingli came in 1525 when Grebel and his companions failed to convince Zwingli on the issue of infant baptism

Third disputation of zurich january 17 1525

Third Disputation of Zurich (January 17, 1525)

Zwingli argued against Grebel, George Blaurock and Felix Manz on the issue of baptism

The city council decided in favor of Zwingli, ordered Grebel’s group to cease their activities, and ordered all unbaptized children to be baptized within eight days, else face exile from the canton

Grebel ignored the order to have his own infant daughter baptized

The fateful meeting

The Fateful Meeting

Grebel and his companions met together (illegally) in the home of Felix Manz on January 21, 1525

At this meeting, George Blaurock asked Grebel to baptize him on confession of faith; Blaurock then proceeded to baptize the others

They committed themselves to living apart from the world according to NT principles

The anabaptists

The “Anabaptists”

Persecution sweeps Europe

Why were the anabaptists persecuted

Why were the Anabaptists persecuted?

In the eyes of the state, the Anabaptists were a threat to social order

They refused to support the state (militarily)

They implied that the structures of power should not be transferred to the church, nor should authority in spiritual matters be transferred to the state

In contrast

In contrast…

Lutheranism depended on the support of the princes who embraced it, who in turn enjoyed great authority in matters both civil and ecclesiastical

In Zwingli’s Zurich, the Council of Government had the final word in religious matters

In Catholic lands, the state enforced church teaching and practice

Anabaptist society

Anabaptist Society

The Church was a voluntary community, totally distinct from the civil community

Radically egalitarian – in most groups, women had the same rights as men; the poor and ignorant were as important as the rich and learned

The course of persecution

The Course of Persecution

In 1525, the Catholic areas of Switzerland began condemning Anabaptist to death

The Zurich Council of Government followed suit in 1526

No uniform policy in Germany; ancient laws against heretics applied to Anabaptists

In 1528, Charles V ordered that they be put to death on the basis of ancient Roman laws against Donatists (who also re-baptized)

The course of persecution1

The Course of Persecution

The Diet of Speyer (1529) approved Charles’ imperial decree against the Anabaptists

The only German prince to follow his conscience was Philip of Hesse

In many areas, Anabaptists were accused of both heresy and sedition (ecclesiastical and criminal charges)

The radicalization of the anabaptist movement

The Radicalization of the Anabaptist Movement

Most of the early Anabaptist leaders were scholars (in humanism); most were pacifists

Most of the early Anabaptists succumbed to martyrdom

The next generation became more radicalized; original pacifism was largely forgotten

Thomas muntzer 1489 1525

Thomas Muntzer (1489-1525)

Melchoir hoffman 1495 1543

Melchoir Hoffman (1495-1543)

A time ripe for revolution

A Time Ripe for Revolution

Muntzer’s ideas of social justice for the peasants had unsettled central Europe (culminating in the Peasant’s Rebellion)

Hoffman’s preaching that Day of the Lord was at hand incited the multitudes to believe that Muntzer’s ideas were still within reach

Hoffman s apocalypticism

Hoffman’s Apocalypticism

Originally a follower of Luther, then of Zwingli

Moved to Strasbourg in 1530; rebaptized in April

Founded a community in Emden in 1532

Returned to Strasbourg in 1533 after it was prophesied that he would be imprisoned for six months

Hoffman s apocalypticism1

Hoffman’s Apocalypticism

Studied John’s Apocalypse; believed that the New Jerusalem would be established in Strasbourg

Rejected pacifism because he believed that the children of God would have to take up arms against the children of darkness

His imprisonment “fulfilled” the first half of his prophecy; many flocked to his movement

Hoffman s prediction fails

Hoffman’s Prediction Fails

Hoffman predicted that Christ would return in 1533; but Hoffman was still in prison on the day predicted for Christ’s return

The movement relocated to the city of Muenster, where the balance of powers between Catholics and Protestants meant that the Anabaptists enjoyed a measure of tolerance

Muenster rebellion 1534 1535

Muenster Rebellion (1534-1535)

Anabaptists take control

Anabaptists take control

Soon Muenster was seen as the “New Jerusalem”

Anabaptists took control of the city in 1534, and established a theocracy under John Matthys, a Dutch baker, and his main disciple, John of Leiden

Catholics were expelled from the city; the local bishop then gathered an army and besieged the city

John matthys

John Matthys

Died in a foolish sortie against Catholic forces besieging Muenster in April 1534

John of leiden

John of Leiden

“King of Jerusalem”

Bernhard knipperdolling

Bernhard Knipperdolling

Conditions deteriorate

Conditions deteriorate…

Moderate Protestants eventually expelled

Sculptures, paintings destroyed; governed by literal interpretation of Scripture

Food increasingly scarce

Daily claims of visions and revelations

Less and less males meant more and more females

John of Leiden decreed the practice of polygamy

Fall of muenster

Fall of Muenster

Some of the inhabitants of the city, tired of the excesses of the visionaries, finally opened the gates of the city to the bishop and his besieging army

John of Leiden and Knipperdolling were captured, humiliated, tortured and killed

The later anabaptists

The Later Anabaptists

Fall of Muenster put an end to revolutionary Anabaptism; impetus for renewed persecution

New leaders emphasized pacifism

Menno Simons (1496-1561); catholic priest who embraced Anabaptism in 1536

Menno simons 1496 1561

Menno Simons (1496-1561)

Mennonite teachings

Mennonite Teachings

Pacifism was essential part of Christianity

No swearing of oaths; nor occupying positions of authority in the state

Obedience to the state unless in conflict with the teachings of Scripture

Baptism by pouring, only to adults who confess their faith publicly

Sacraments are outward signs

Practice of footwashing

Mennonites considered subversive

Mennonites considered subversive

Would not swear oaths or offer military service

As a result, they were scattered all over Europe

Eventually spread to Russia, North America, and South America

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