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Thread: Anabaptist Revisionist History

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    Originally posted by wildboar
    In America especially I think we are influenced by Anabaptist tendencies and have this constant attitude that we know so much more than those foolish people who lived 1000 years ago.
    thanks for the response. i think i understand where you are coming from now. but i wonder, what do you mean by this statement? what is your understanding of the anabaptists? have you read anabaptist story by william estep? i highly recommend it. also a book by leonard verduin called reformers and their stepchildren. anyway, many of the freedoms we have today (not just in america but the whole world) and the free church model (as opposed to the state church which was an abomination) that most churches follow today is a product of the anabaptists' labors and deaths. we have much to thank them for in regards to ecclesiology, their semi-pelagian soteriology notwithstanding.
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    Originally posted by wildboar
    In America especially I think we are influenced by Anabaptist tendencies...
    And that's a BAD thing? Granted the anabaptists (as a whole) got a lot wrong, but they were used by God to contribute many good things (eg. liberty of conscience).
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    Ha! Doug and I were thinking the exact same thing!
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    Originally posted by grebel
    Ha! Doug and I were thinking the exact same thing!
    LOL! who woulda thunk!!

    i am convinced that the ignorance and misunderstanding of what the anabaptists (evangelical type) believed and fought for is as great today as it was back in the reformation. i really feel that this is an area of history that is told in such a revisionist fashion (by the detractors then and those today who repeat their ignorance and misunderstandings) that people don't have a real understanding of why we have the freedoms we do. i'm encouraged that many of the writings (anabaptist type) that have been left untranslated to this day are beginning to be translated so we can know the truth. i would like to buy the writings of pilgram marpeck but it's like $55.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    Yes, I'm familiar with "the Reformers and Their Step-Children" but was not convinced on alot of the points it tried to make. Have you read "The Anabaptists and Their Step-Children"? It's available on-line at http://www.reformed.org/sacramentology/lee/

    I certainly think there are major problems with state churches and physical punishment for spiritual offenses but Munster wasn't a very pretty picture either.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar

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    Originally posted by wildboar
    I certainly think there are major problems with state churches and physical punishment for spiritual offenses but Munster wasn't a very pretty picture either.
    i think you only say that because the magesterial reformers and catholics lumped everyone who opposed the state church into the category of anabaptists. i'm making a very important distinction between evangelical anabaptists and the other types such as rationalist and spiritualist anabaptists whose opposition to the state church sometimes took the form of physical conflict (e.g., taking up arms). the evangelical anabaptist position was opposition in the fashion of the NT apostles (cf. Acts 5) by preaching and living the gospel. in our discussion of evangelical anabaptists we will not be able to communicate if the error of lumping them together with the musterites is repeated here. i think it is a vital distinction that so many fail to make. and again it seems to have been made here. very unfortunate.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    A room without books is a body without soul.
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    I understand that most of the Anabaptists were peaceful, many were pacifists but so were most in the Reformed churches it just the acts of violence that make the news. I apologize because I got too far away from the issue I was actually wanting to address. The tendency I see in the churches today is a very strong lack of knowledge of church history. When I read Robert Reymond's "New Systematic Theology" which is excellent for the most part and he begins critiquing Nicene Trinitarianism he doesn't really seem to have a good handle on what he is even critiquing and I see this all over the place in various forms. People are attacking traditional systems of interpretation without really having an understanding of the system itself. When Luther suggested changes within the Roman Catholic system he knew Roman Catholicism probably better than anyone else ever did or ever will know. When Servetus denied the Trinity he would not discuss it or listen but sought to cause division in the church because he thought he knew so much more than those who had gone before him. Was it right to burn him? Of course not.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar

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    Originally posted by wildboar
    but was not convinced on alot of the points it tried to make
    No offense Charles, but did you actually read the book?
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    Originally posted by wildboar
    When Servetus denied the Trinity he would not discuss it or listen but sought to cause division in the church because he thought he knew so much more than those who had gone before him. Was it right to burn him? Of course not.
    i hope you don't think i'm just referring to serventus. besides the fact that he wasn't an evangelical anabaptist and was just a rabble-rouser. he's always used as an example just because his case was so well known. from what i understand, martyr's mirror has many accounts from executions from both catholic and protestant state churches. what i'm talking about is all the banishing and drowning that went on by the german (luther and melancthon) and swiss state (zwingli) churches. they thought it was funny and had a saying that the anabaptists would get baptized three times (e.g., once at birth, once at belief, and one at their execution). the state church was an abomination and the magesterial reformers were recalcitrant about it. certainly they were much less brutal than the catholics and their punishments usually took the form of banishments and fines rather than torture and execution...but the latter did happen quite often as well.

    i don't want to characterize them as devils but neither do i want to deify them as if they were infallible. the same goes for the anabaptists. i don't think that they were without their faults (their semi-pelagianism being a glaring problem) so if it sounds as if i'm putting them on a pedestal that is not what i want to portray. but when you denigrated them in your comment, i wanted to try and set the record straight and try and head off this misconception at the pass.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Grebel:

    I did not read all of the book. I have read portions of it and looked it over. I don't claim to be an expert on the book but some of the statements in the book seemed to contradict some of my own research with some of the primary sources. A great deal of this has to do with how one interprets the primary sources. History is not the exact science that some seem to make it out to be. Just as an example, Lilliback wrote a pretty well reviewed book on the concept of the covenant in Calvin's writings. He finds the idea of a bilateral conditional covenant all over the place in Calvin. I read the same text and do not come to these conclusions. I have the book on my shelf and find that parts of it have a great deal of insite but I disagree with the author on what seems to be the main point he is trying to make in the book. Because I don't have time to reread and find the portions I read in "The Reformers and Their Step-Children" and am rather quite involved in a study of the covenant I'll stop commenting on the book so I don't give any false information.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar

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    Some stories from Martyrs Mirror - I can't see how one can be so harsh on the anabaptists after reading these stories!

    http://www.5solas.org/media.php?id=176

    http://www.5solas.org/media.php?id=178

    http://www.5solas.org/media.php?id=184

    http://www.5solas.org/media.php?id=183

    http://www.5solas.org/media.php?id=182

    Here are some more - http://www.5solas.org/media.php?id=180

    Brandan
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    Thanks for making the new thread Doug!

    Charles, please take a peek at a couple of those links I just posted. Some of the testimonies are striking, and you will recognize that these "anabaptists" had belief in God's absolute sovereignty!

    Brandan
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    Originally posted by grebel
    ...you will recognize that these "anabaptists" had belief in God's absolute sovereignty!
    it seems like the anabaptists during those times were no different in that respect that baptists of our times. there are some baptists that hold to the free-will position and some baptsits who hold to the doctrines of grace. just as being baptist today doesn't determine their soteriology neither did being anabaptist back then.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Originally posted by wildboar
    I did not read all of the book. I have read portions of it and looked it over.
    do you have the book? and what have you read? sections? whole chapters?

    I don't claim to be an expert on the book but some of the statements in the book seemed to contradict some of my own research with some of the primary sources. A great deal of this has to do with how one interprets the primary sources.
    which statements? do you realize that he quotes from the primary sources? in fact, much of the quotes are his own translations from the german. there's not a lot of writings from the anabaptists that are translated into english therefore knowledge about what the evangelical anabaptists believed and taught is shrouded in mystery for the english speaking world. several anabaptists that i'd like to read more from are pilgram marpeck and dirk phillips.

    anyway, i wondered what specific objections you have and if we could discuss them. perhaps they're based on a reading out of context, on a misunderstanding, or on false information. thanks!
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    A room without books is a body without soul.
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    Originally posted by disciple
    it seems like the anabaptists during those times were no different in that respect that baptists of our times. there are some baptists that hold to the free-will position and some baptsits who hold to the doctrines of grace. just as being baptist today doesn't determine their soteriology neither did being anabaptist back then.
    Bah, I don't consider "free will" baptists to be BAPTISTS! Seriously though, you're right - not all the "anabaptists" were soteriologically sound, but surprisingly, a good number of them were, and that is always a shocker to presbyterians who have always assumed that all anabaptists were rogue heretics.
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    Originally posted by Garfield
    Bah, I don't consider "free will" baptists to be BAPTISTS! Seriously though, you're right - not all the "anabaptists" were soteriologically sound, but surprisingly, a good number of them were, and that is always a shocker to presbyterians who have always assumed that all anabaptists were rogue heretics.
    just to add that "free will" baptists (actually probably most baptists) would be surprised to find out that their direct roots to the early baptists (out of the church of england by way of the puritans and congregationalists) were all very thoroughly calvinistic. i just wanted to point out that just because someone was called an anabaptist, contrary to popular opinion, they were not necessarily unorthodox and were not what they were made out to be by their detractors. actually they were all straight out of the ranks of the early reformers luther and zwingli (and others). i think the slate needs to be wiped clean if we are to really learn from our forefathers and from history. what could we possibly learn if we are buying into a revisionist history as i think most paedobaptist reformed folk are in this case? how could believing a lie be beneficial?
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Story of the Church

    Originally posted by wildboar
    I did not read all of the book. I have read portions of it and looked it over. I don't claim to be an expert on the book but some of the statements in the book seemed to contradict some of my own research with some of the primary sources.
    if you don't want (or have the time) to read the whole book, please read this very informative history.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    I followed the links and still don't see why I should support people who denied the true humanity of Christ and the truth that the government bears the power of the sword in Romans 13. The doctrine of Christ is at the very core of Christianity. I don't know how anyone could think that these people were not heretics. Yes, it's sad that these people were killed for their beliefs but I don't see any positivie theological benefits they produced. It would be sad if the government began to kill Jehovah Witnesses but I don't know why that means I should like their theology.

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    Originally posted by wildboar
    I followed the links and still don't see why I should support people who denied the true humanity of Christ and the truth that the government bears the power of the sword in Romans 13. The doctrine of Christ is at the very core of Christianity. I don't know how anyone could think that these people were not heretics. Yes, it's sad that these people were killed for their beliefs but I don't see any positivie theological benefits they produced. It would be sad if the government began to kill Jehovah Witnesses but I don't know why that means I should like their theology.
    how much do you even know about the anabaptists and the reformation?! your very comments display an apparent ignorance of the reality of the situation. most anabaptists weren't like serventus (in fact he wasn't an evangelical anabaptist at all! he was only called an anabaptist because the catholics and magesterial reformers threw everyone who opposed the state-church into this category) and their beef was not that the government bears (or is allowed to bear) the power of the sword but that the churches (reformed, lutheran, and catholic) were employing the sword of that very government to settle business and condemn what they saw as heretics and a threat to peace inside the church. the objection was that the church was utilizing a sword that was not her's to take care of business that was not within the government's jurisdiction. it was a confusion and confounding of the God ordained institutions. Church and state must not be mixed. here is an excerpt from http://www.ritchies.net/p4wk4.htm.

    1 - Who Were the Anabaptists?
    The Anabaptists are hard to define because it depends on how you look at them. ...

    The Anabaptists were one of several branches of "Radical" reformers (i.e. reformers that went further than the mainstream Reformers) to arise out of the Renaissance and Reformation. Two other branches were Spirituals or Inspirationists, who believed that they had received direct revelation from the Spirit, and rationalists or anti-Trinitarians, who rebelled against traditional Christian doctrine, like Michael Servetus.

    The Anabaptists, on the other hand, were characterized generally by believers' baptism, refusal of infant baptism, an emphasis on piety and good works, an aversion to the state-run churches whether Catholic or Protestant, a policy of nonviolence and nonresistance, believing that it was not right to swear oaths, and other beliefs. They mostly held to a soteriology that resembled Protestantism, with an emphasis on the reality of free will and the necessity of good works to accompany faith.

    The evangelical Anabaptists that we are concerned with, originated in Zurich in the 1520's as a result of the teachings of Zwingli. Zwingli did not go far enough, they believed, and so George Blaurock, Conrad Grebel, and Felix Manz began to agitate for truly biblical reform, including believer's baptism and a "gathered" church, i.e. a church where members were there because they had believed and been baptized, not because of State intervention or mandatory church attendance.

    The Anabaptists, as well as the other groups named above, were persecuted cruelly by the Catholics and Protestants alike. Historic Protestant literature, with which I am passing familiar, treats them as scandalous groups who always preach false doctrine and lead people astray. Outside of Anabaptist circles, it has only been in the 20th century that the rest of the world has begun to give the Anabaptist movement its due place in church history.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Originally posted by wildboar
    Yes, it's sad that these people were killed for their beliefs but I don't see any positivie theological benefits they produced. It would be sad if the government began to kill Jehovah Witnesses but I don't know why that means I should like their theology.
    here is an excerpt discussing their beliefs which apparently you are unfamiliar with or have accepted an unfaithful acount or caricature by hearsay:

    What was their theology?
    It was not often that the Anabaptists were enough at peace in their environment such that they could write theology. We must not deny that there were some very strange people who were at times associated with Anabaptist thinking, but they were not the majority. Anabaptist theology is basically Protestant, and it is easier to define it by listing where the differences were between them and the mainstream Reformers. Indeed, the Anabaptists themselves seemed content to do so; where they listed articles of faith, they usually consisted only of their differences with their surrounding neighbors. Two examples will suffice here.

    In 1529, Michael Sattler and others put forth the Schleitheim Confession. Its main points were:

    1. Baptism was to be administered to believers only. Infant baptism, "the greatest and first abomination of the pope," is not to be practiced.
    2. The "ban" should be observed by local churches against those who fall into sin, after a first and second private warning.
    3. The bread and wine should only be broken with baptized believers, and no others.
    4. True Christians should be separated from the world system, including its "church attendance", oaths, the sword, etc.
    5. There should be shepherds among the flock, who will preach, etc., and will be supported by the church. If a pastor is taken from the flock, another should be ordained in his place.
    6. The "sword," i.e. the magistracy or rulership, is outside of Christ's perfection and is to be left to the world to exercise. Christians should not exercise self-defense nor become magistrates, nor use the secular sword against spiritual offenses.
    7. Christians should not make an oath, but let their yes be yes and their no be no.


    In 1524, when the disputations at Zurich were still very recent, Balthasar Hubmaier (living in Catholic territory) published several articles representative of his theology. Those below are taken from Estep:

    1. Faith alone makes us holy before God.
    2. This faith is the acknowledgment of the mercy of God which he has shown us in the offering of his only begotten son. This excludes all sham Christians, who have nothing more than an historical faith in God.
    3. Such faith can not remain passive but must break out to God in thanksgiving and to mankind in all kinds of works of brotherly love. Hence all vain religious acts, such as candles, palm branches, and holy water will be rejected.
    4. Those works alone are good which God has commanded us and those alone are evil which he has forbidden. Hence fall away fish, flesh, cowls, and tonsures.
    5. The mass is not a sacrifice but a remembrance of the death of Christ. Therefore, it is not an offering for the dead nor for the living. . . .
    6. As often as the memorial is observed should the death of the Lord be preached in the language of the people. . . .
    7. As every Christian believes for himself and is baptized, so each individual should see and judge by the Scriptures if he is rightly provided food and drink by his pastor.


    And so forth. Hubmaier, had he been allowed to continue in this vein in Waldshut (not in Zurich territory, but rather in Austria), would have simply created an evangelical church worthy of the name. And so desired most Anabaptists. We must not confound the biblical evangelical Anabaptists with the other anti-Reformer groups, which the mainstream Reformers always did.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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