ANABAPTIST BEGINNINGS. 16 th Century Life:. A life dominated by the union of…. Church. and State. Tower from 12 th century. Cologne Cathedral. symbolized by Cathedrals and Castles. State. Church. Bacharach, Germany. St. James Cathedral. Innsbruck, Austria. ceiling. pipe organ.
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A life dominated by the union of…
Tower from 12th century
Church tower at Ulm (786 steps)
Alcase region of France
have joined the “Peasant’s War” or become an Anabaptist.”
Pallatinate in southern Germany
Limmat River, Zurich
(Note that he is holding both
Sword and Bible)
with a group of young radicals
George Blaurock in the
upper room of this house…
…and a movement is born
Blaurock is driven out of town … Grebel and others are imprisoned
In the Limmat River
Despite and because of persecution the movement spread to the Alsace region of France, The Palatinate of Germany, Austria and Moravia, and eventually to North America.
Achenpas, view from Germany to Austria
The very same day that Conrad Grebel was baptizing in Zurich, another young man, Hans Denck, was being kicked out of the town of Nuremberg in southern Germany for similar radical ideas…
“No one can truly know Christ unless they follow him in life.”
Conrad Grebel, Hans Denck and many other early Anabaptist leaders were dead before they reached the age of 30.
“The more beautiful the countryside the harsher the persecution.”
Pilgram Marpeck, engineer and lay theologian
At one point about 2/3 of the people in the Inn Valley were Anabaptist,
but in 1528 there was a crackdown and numerous executions.
Pilgram Marpeck disappeared.
Augsurg, continuing his Anabaptist leadership as well as civic leadership.
Ruins above Rattenberg
martyred in Rattenberg
who hosted a
church in a
in the castle of Emperor Maximilian I,
now a trendy and thriving public market
in Innsbruck, Austria
The plaque in his memory
The market square
(note plaque below)
emperor’s veranda where he and his attendants could watch festivities,
Although the Hutterites grew to 20,000+ by the end of the 16th century, persecution was so severe and effective in this area that virtually all Anabaptists were eliminated.
Only about a dozen
followers of Jakob Hutter remained at the end of the 17th century.
Switzerland and Germany, but it found a fertile soil.
Rural countryside in Friesland
City of Munster…
Some leaders who thought themselves prophets and kings called on followers to take up arms (and wives) in preparation for the End Times.
A sculpture in Munster:
(Note: apocalyptic images, a walled Munster and tools of violence.
The same sculpture with the “Apocalypse” under his left arm… Perhaps contemplating the horrors of apocalyptic violence.
put down the revolution as violently as it arose.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Hall of Westphalia
hung from the tower of St. Lambert’s Cathedral in
3 cages which hang there to this day.
my tears mixed with the rain as I wept for the cycle
of violence which was perpetuated on that day
in the name of Christ.
violence centuries earlier
The same sculpture as seen earlier
The example of Christ and the events of Munster so impacted Menno Simons that he left the comfort of the priesthood and became an Anabaptist leader.
At the Menno Simons monument near Witmarsum
where he apparently preached his first evangelical sermon
on his monument
on the run, often preaching and worshiping in secret.
The “Hidden Church” at Pingjum
Dutch Anabaptists became known as Mennists or Mennonites. Persecution and migration caused them to scatter along the coast to northern Germany and Prussia [Poland] with the majority eventually migrating to Russia [Ukraine] at the invitation of the czar in 1789. Most of the Mennonites from there found their way to North or South America beginning in the 1870’s and especially following the Bolshevik Revolution and the great wars in Germany and eastern Europe in the 20th century.
Painting (Circa 1824)
Hanging in Witmarsum Meetinghouse
and this story of Dirk Willems from Martyrs Mirror
Dirk Willems was captured as an Anabaptist and imprisoned in this church tower in Asperen, Netherlands.
He escaped and was crossing a pond of thin ice when his pursuer fell through. Instead of, “Hallelujah! God saved me!” he turned around to rescue his pursuer.
Of course his pursuer was grateful and wanted to save his life but the Magistrate would have none of it. He was later executed on this spot at the Leerdam River just outside Asperen in 1569.
to our salvation?
Stairs leading away from the site
Entrance to Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachau Concentration Camp is a few centuries away from the Anabaptist Movement but there are some related theological themes. As with Munster, here too was the deadly brew of “Christianity” mixed with exclusive and fervent nationalism. Yet the essence of the Anabaptist Movement was about a church free from the violent powers of the state.
“All the terrible things the Nazi’s did would have been impossible were it not for the silence, complicity and passivity of the state church in Germany at the time.”(John Sharp)
destroying the barriers
and the dividing
walls of hostility…
His purpose was to create
one new humanity…
to reconcile all people
to God through the cross.
A small sculpture in the Roman
Catholic chapel at Dachau
May we be a witness to that peace today.
Bench in The Hague at International Court of Justice and Peace Park
global with 1.9 million participants
in 1000’s of churches in 70+
countries on 6 continents.
Strasbourg, France, home of Mennonite World Conference offices