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Thread: Anabaptist Revisionist History

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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.
    here's some more info for your consideration:

    What was done to the Anabaptists and by whom?
    It is important to note that the Anabaptists were first persecuted by the Protestants under Zwingli. They had arisen on his watch, in his town, and were his former disciples. Perhaps he was afraid that the existence of several rival versions of Protestant would irreparably harm his chances of accomplishing any reform. Perhaps... but nothing can justify his actions. He had the magistrate's ear; he was in charge of Reform. The council declared that rebaptizing was a capital crime. Well, then let's enforce that.

    Felix Manz became the first Anabaptist martyr in 1527, ten short years after Luther had nailed up his theses. He was drowned in the river right in the middle of Zurich. Other Anabaptists were beaten or banished. These became standard practices in Protestant territories.

    On May 20, 1527, Michael Sattler, the author of the Anabaptist Schlietheim Confession, was executed by Catholic authorities. Even though the Catholic King Ferdinand had declared drowning (the "third baptism") the best antidote to Anabaptism, Sattler was sentenced to have his tongue cut out, his flesh cut with hot irons, and then to be burned at the stake. Others were burned or drowned by Catholic authorities. Burning seems to have been favored by Catholics, less by Protestants.

    In addition to the above, Protestant and Catholic nations alike resorted to torture and other forms of abuse. Estep estimates that thousands died in Europe in the sixteenth century, but hard numbers will never be available.

    Did they go too far and invite the hate that they received?
    The Anabaptists were often far from the stereotype of a quiet people who just wanted to worship God accurately and privately. In the early days, which is when they established their reputation, they often challenged the Reformers publicly. They used the usual sixteenth century names for their opponents. They publicly denounced the reformers in their preaching to the people, attempting to draw them away from the public worship that was being established and reformed. Estep records one incident: "Like the first English Quakers, Blaurock's zeal sometimes exceeded his judgment. He even disrupted the worship services of the Reformed churches. An event that took place on the first Sunday in February at a church in Zollikon is typical of Blaurock's methods. As the minister was making his way to the pulpit, George asked him what he intended to do. 'Preach the word of God,' was the reply. 'You were not sent to preach, it was I,' declared Blaurock. Thereupon he proceeded to the pulpit and preached." (The Anabaptist Story, 2nd ed., p. 34)

    Another thing that will always be mentioned in this connection is the events at Münster. In this city, where the Lutheran minister repudiated infant baptism, several other radicals arrived, certainly not all Anabaptist in belief. The congregation determined to expel the godless from the city and create a pure realm. Communism was instituted in 1534, about the same time a prophet named Jan of Leyden arrived. The people believed that the Second Coming was about to happen, and proclaimed Münster the New Jerusalem. They sent missionaries into the surrounding areas. Jan of Leyden took the name King David on August 31, 1534. The city was taken and crushed by combined besieging Protestant and Catholic troops sent by neighboring rulers. From that day, unjustly, Anabaptist theology has been held to result in revolutionary upheaval.

    But most Anabaptists were not like this. When we compare Felix Manz's actual actions to the punishment meted out to him, or Michael Sattler, or most any other Anabaptist, we must say with the utmost conviction that the Reformers were wrong and the Anabaptists were right. (The Roman Catholics were even more severe with the Anabaptists, but I didn't expect any better from them. They were busy burning any kind of Reformer they could get their hands on.)
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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.
    do you think that all anabaptists were anti-trinitarians? do you think that the anabaptists objected to the right of the government to bear the sword? if this is what you think, where have you read this? and if this is what you think, then it is no wonder you aren't surprised that they were called heretics. would you admit that you may not fully understand the history of this group and that perhaps you may have received some misinformation? would you be willing to admit the possibility that you have a false understanding of what the evangelical anabaptists or the radical reformers believed and taught?

    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.
    i hope you do not think i or grebel are trying you to support anti-trinitarianism or the absurd notion that the government cannot bear the sword in its own affairs. if you think we are trying to get you to sympathize with the persecution of the anabaptists so that you might buy into a false theology then you must think we are the worst of devils and pitiable individuals. do you honestly believe that was/is our purpose? think about that train of thought for a second.

    we are simply trying to share the truth that we've learned about the situation and to dispel the myths and lies that have been perpetuated by the magesterial reformers their progeny. it may be that you are just unwilling to see the truth in this matter. it may be too much to come to grips with the fact that one's forefathers killed and persecuted others unjustly. and i can understand that. but please don't continue to believe erroneous information and perpetuate it around here.
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    disciple:

    I'm sorry, I should have been more specific but I was referring to the links posted by Grebel in which various trials were listed and the the Anabaptists replied by denying that Jesus received flesh and blood from Mary.

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    My Dying and Feeble Stand!

    Bah, I don't consider "free will" baptists to be BAPTISTS!

    Well, this is wrong. First of all, 'Anabaptist' and 'Baptist' are 2 entirely different movements. In actual fact, Anabaptistism never existed. Why do I say that? Because it was the name given to various nonconformist movements by their opponents, not a name that they gave themselves.

    'Anabaptists' (nonconformists who taught water baptism as the door to church fellowship and opposed human government as the realm of the devil) had as many different views as the churchianity of today. There was no one doctrine. Of course you can find some instances of a belief in predestination. This does not justify the notion that the majority were predestinarians, however. They clearly were not. The Mennonite and Brethren movements (the largest examples of what are termed Anabaptistism by opponents) clearly are free-will overall (with few exceptions). Also, the Waldensian nonconformists, which were predecessors of the post Reformation nonconformists teaching baptism as the door to the church, were clearly legalistic. Their pre-1500 catechism has been produced by Schaff and it clearly teaches justification by lifelong faithful obedience, not by pure belief in the gospel.

    Luther and Calvin wrote against all sorts of baptistic nonconformist sects: Sabbatarians (Luther's treatise 'Against the Sabbatarians), believers in soul-sleep and annihilation (Calvin's 'Psychopannichia'), etc.

    Baptistic nonconformity, without the apostolic gospel of the Reformers, would never have liberated mankind from the doctrine of subjective justification. This in spite of their faithful martyrdom and entrance into the heavenly kingdom. The state-church Reformers supported and did horrible things, however, it would be most unfortunate if we let that fact distort our views on the history of dogma. Today's churchianity is just as far from a New Reformation as both the state-church Reformers (after their 'short-lived' original light on freedom of conscience) and the Mennonite/Brethren nonconformist movements.

    I do not believe that the nonconformist martyrs were complete champions of freedom of conscience when it came to the gospel itself. Many believers in the true gospel would never have been accepted into their assemblies either. They were champions of freedom only as it concerned freedom to express their own dogmatic views, which differed from the state-church reformers.

    The original 'Baptists' (disciples of John Smythe which fled Holland) were not anabaptists. They were free-will general Baptists. They differed immensely from the anabaptists on issues of church and state, which is evidenced in all of the later confessions of both General and Particular Baptists. The Baptists believed that human government was a legitimate part of God's good creation (in the tradition of Luther) and that believers may legitimately participate in it. This view was abhorrent to the Mennonites.

    Also, once the Immersion Baptists (1833 ff.) persuaded the Baptist movement to adopt submersionism as the only valid mode of water baptism, ALL water baptisms of BOTH Anabaptists and state-church reformers were declared to be non-baptism and disobedience to the apostolic command. In this regard, it mattered not one whit whether one was baptized as an infant in the state church or by aspersion as a professed believer. Both were strictly considered to be non-baptism.

    Many object to my challenging the theology of martyrs, starting with Justin Martyr (whose teaching I have very extreme problems with). We live in an era far removed from these men and need to evaluate their teaching while still honoring their faithfulness to convicion.

    We are still waiting on a New Reformation, in spite of all of this history. Neither movement brought us true and permanent reform away from Thomas Aquinas, in the final analysis. Neither will the 'seven' Calvinistic churches of today (I'm speaking based on symbols used in Revelation). Reform has never been accomplished and never will be without the shedding of blood. Dialog and discussion will never bring it. Only God-honored debate that results in the 'rolling of heads' (whether figuratively or literally), just like it did in ages past. Both Reformers and Anabaptists had their heads chopped off. But we are not giving our lives if we stop at the contributions of either.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    "Bah, I don't consider "free will" baptists to be BAPTISTS!"

    Dear Bill,

    I didn't think anyone would take that quote so seriously. It was a facetious comment meant to bring about a "chuckle." Maybe it wasn't that funny after all...

    As for your history about the baptists, I agree completely - they WERE two separate movements - and we owe much to our reformed brethen.

    Your post is very insightful and I agree with it almost completely. I have a few disagreements. One difference I have with you is your opinion on the mode of baptism (my preference is complete submersion); but as a baptist who does not make the mode of baptism a prerequisite for fellowship, I will just have to agree to disagree. Recalling our previous discussion, I would also agree that effusion is biblical; but my preference is a dip backwards into a pool of water because of the symbolic implications in such an act. Irregardless of the mode, I would also agree with you that it is important that the believer ends up soaking wet!

    "Many believers in the true gospel would never have been accepted into their assemblies either. "
    Hmmm, that's also true today amongst many "baptist" churches. The ugliness of landmarkism and modern Mennonites come to mind.

    Baptistic nonconformity, without the apostolic gospel of the Reformers, would never have liberated mankind from the doctrine of subjective justification.
    Agreed! However, it is my opinion that some of the early nonconformists believed in justification by faith, had a HIGH view of God (what I call small-c calvinism), and have much in common with what later became known as British nonconformity! It is unfortunate that these early reformation nonconformists were killed so quickly.

    They were champions of freedom only as it concerned freedom to express their own dogmatic views, which differed from the state-church reformers.
    WRONG. I disagree with this comment almost completely. Yes, they had very dogmatic views, and would have executed church discipline unbiblically if you dared disagreed with them. But, they would NEVER employ the use of the state or enforce their dogma on non-anabaptists. If you disagreed with them, they would say, "we pity you, you may have no part in our fellowship." And they would leave it at that! But if we are talking about freedom of conscience within the context of a local assembly, they of course were very controllling... hmmmm, it sort of reminds me of most churches today (including "Baptist").

    As for your comment on waiting for the "new reformation", well I hate to rain on your dreams, but I think it has already occurred and is occuring, and will continue to occur. God has maintained his remnant of true believers throughout all of history, and there have always been pockets of genuine biblical fellowship scattered across this world. God is pleased with history and its unfolded events despite how badly it might appear to us.

    Think about the last "reformation" with Calvin, Luther, etc... Have their ideas really taken hold? Seriously - can you honestly survey this world today and see that biblical truths have taken root? Today, when I look at churches across America I see rotten arminianism, materialism, non-gospel justification, and heresy of every sort - even in so called "reformation" churches!

    The real reformation that took place was liberation from the state church (to which I greatly credit the reformers and anabaptists but also technology); and with that came freedom of conscience. Today, God's people are free to read the Scriptures, free to study, free to congregate, free to read all sorts of literature, free to DISCOVER, and that in my mind was the greatest reformation to take place in all of "church history."

    The great apostasy will continue; and there isn't much we can do to stop it. My greatest fear today is that we'll lose our freedoms God has so graciously provided through modern historical events and technology. Unfortunately there are many of our brethren still in the "dark ages" in countries that don't allow these freedoms. These people are still awaiting THEIR reformation and redemption from the state church of secular humanism and fanatical islam.

    Yours in Christ,
    Brandan
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    Let me try again!

    [edited out by grebel - repeat post - fixed!]

    Dear Bill:

    This is a wise statement!



    Originally posted by Bill Twise:
    We live in an era far removed from these men and need to evaluate their teaching while still honoring their faithfulness to convicion.
    It is painful and even shameful to admit, but today we lost so much on the latter and did not gain very much on the former.
    In other words, our faithfulness has wilted to a mere fulfillment of a religious rite and our teachings have deteriorated into a blurry image of what the Apostles intended.

    Grebel:

    Your assessment of "churchianity" today, expressed here:
    Originally posted by Grebel:
    Today, when I look at churches across America I see rotten arminianism, materialism, non-gospel justification, and heresy of every sort - even in so called "reformation" churches!
    You are sadly correct! Your statement is sadly correct! However, every time I have to read and agree with such a statement I feel a stabbing in my heart that comes in the form of a question: "What am I going to do about it?"

    Again, if God chooses to call us to be the realization of our own dreams, I fervently pray that He would find us faithful.

    Milt

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    Re: Let me try again!

    Originally posted by GraceAmbassador
    You are sadly correct! Your statement is sadly correct! However, every time I have to read and agree with such a statement I feel a stabbing in my heart that comes in the form of a question: "What am I going to do about it?"

    Again, if God chooses to call us to be the realization of our own dreams, I fervently pray that He would find us faithful.
    Hi Milt,

    I feel your pain. No seriously, I do! It's a very sad realization. Most people are sadly deceived and going to hell. American history isn't much different than any other time in history - it's filled to the brim with deceived reprobates. Just think back on the BILLIONS of people that have lived and died before us. I think back on even OC Israel. Their situation widely parallels what we are seeing today. Most of Israel lived and died deceived and are now in hell. Today, we have millions of people claiming covenant status with God, yet they are deceived, and hellbound. The situation really doesn't seem much different. Yet througout all of history, God has maintained his remnant of true believers. We see Noah, Adam, the prophets, faithful men throughout Israels history as a nation stand and live for God. If we look back on the history of Christianity, we will see the same thing - but we have to look closely. Today, if we look really hard for pockets of true representatives of Christ, we will find them. They are hard to find - it's not as easy as walking down to the local synagogue - but we can find them! Christ's bride is being prepared, and She is living triumphantly! Every day, God is calling a brother out of that whore church system of Constantine! The reformation IS TAKING PLACE, and it's taking place in the minds and hearts of individuals scattered across God's world. We may not see it; but I assure you if you examine closely you will see that it is taking place. So take heart, and be of good cheer!

    Also, Mr. Twisse, I apologize if I was a little bit harsh with your opinion earlier. I shouldn't have said "WRONG" so bluntly. Please forgive me for my lack of tact and respect.

    Sincerely,
    Brandan
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    A Second Attempt!

    I have a friend in the gospel who always types his words on an old-fashioned typewriter, because he figures the devil invented word processing. He observes that many pages of Christian testimony can be wiped out with a single key-stroke. Well, it just happened to me!

    Disciple statesthe Anabaptists were first persecuted by the Protestants under Zwingli.

    I would point out that this is only partially true. The nonconformists did not apply the term 'anabaptist' to themselves; that was a pejorative term used by the state-church reformers. Certainly, their persecution did not begin after 1500. The nonconformist movement serving as the basis of anti-Zwinglian, anti-Lutheran, & anti-Calvinist doctrine on sacralism had existed for many prior centuries. They were murdered by the papacy in the thousands (+ who knows what number) long before Luther and Zwingli. They had their homes and property taken away & were exiled to the ends of the earth for hundreds of years prior. The jealous, lazy, and reprobate friars of the Thomist papacy joyfully became their inquisitors and executioners.

    The sins and 'dark side' of the state-church reformation was only a new occasion to protest sacralism.

    Brandan, I believe that we agree on most everything--backwards immersion only excepted. I will respond to the rest of your observations soon.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: A Second Attempt!

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    I would point out that this is only partially true. The nonconformists did not apply the term 'anabaptist' to themselves; that was a pejorative term used by the state-church reformers.

    Certainly, their persecution did not begin after 1500. The nonconformist movement serving as the basis of anti-Zwinglian, anti-Lutheran, & anti-Calvinist doctrine on sacralism had existed for many prior centuries. They were murdered by the papacy in the thousands (+ who knows what number) long before Luther and Zwingli. They had their homes and property taken away & were exiled to the ends of the earth for hundreds of years prior. The jealous, lazy, and reprobate friars of the Thomist papacy joyfully became their inquisitors and executioners.
    was there something i said that contradicted this? i realize that the 'term' anabaptist dates back to the 300s under the donatist controversy...but when i was using the term Anabaptist here i was referring specificially to the radical reformation which is traditionally dated to 1525 when grebel, manz, and blaurock broke off from the Zwinglian reformation and baptized one another. the reformers just adopted a precedent set in persecuting those who oppose the constantanian state-church back in the early 300s. i think it's important when we discuss this topic here that we recognize the distinction between the general historically pejorative term 'anabaptist' and the specific term we use to refer to the radical reformation of the 1500s of 'Anabaptist'. they are the same term but each have a different referent. perhaps from now on, i'll use the term radical reformers for that very reason...

    http://www.hccentral.com/nelson1/part1.html

    Zurich authorities could not let this (the movement) go on. All those known to have been involved were arrested and, from that moment on, Anabaptists were a hunted people.
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    Re: My Dying and Feeble Stand!

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    This does not justify the notion that the majority were predestinarians, however. They clearly were not. The Mennonite and Brethren movements (the largest examples of what are termed Anabaptistism by opponents) clearly are free-will overall (with few exceptions).
    i don't know that this is true. when you say that the majority were not, which (and at what time) are you referring to? the initial group (grebel, blaurock, manz, hubmaier, sattler, etc.) were from the ranks of the magesterial reformers (zwingli and luther) and were predestinarians (as far as i know). the mennonites were a later group and followers of the ex-roman catholic simon menno. as to the Brethren i'm not sure precisely which group you might be referring to. would this be the Swiss Brethren? perhaps you could point me to the source from which you are getting your info from. thanks!

    The original 'Baptists' (disciples of John Smythe which fled Holland) were not anabaptists. They were free-will general Baptists. They differed immensely from the anabaptists on issues of church and state, which is evidenced in all of the later confessions of both General and Particular Baptists.
    this is true. but i would not be so quick to assume that the ideas were not influenced by the labor of the anabaptists. while we cannot trace the lineage of the baptists directly to a particular anabaptist congregation or leader does not mean that there are no ties to the two. i think it would be presumptuous to assume that the ideas that they are responsible for resurrecting from Scripture (e.g., church/state, freedom of conscience, regenerate church, etc.) did not influence baptist thoughts. and while the first baptists were of the General type the main thread that didn't get absorbed into Unitarianism Universalism bodies was that which broke off from the English reformation from the Puritans and Congregationalists. without exception, these were predestinarian. see the following:

    http://www.thebaptistpage.com/
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    Anabaptists vs. Radical Reformers

    Dear Disciple:

    You are correct. I was not referring to the Radical Reformers with a Zwinglian, Calvinistic, or Lutheran heritage. No doubt some of these were sovereign grace in their convictions. However, I don't believe that even the majority of the nonconformists following Grebel and Manz would have followed their teaching on election.

    1. Luther never succeeded in getting the majority of his Lutheran followers to accept election, not even the ordained ministers. He basically dropped the issue--focusing on the sacramental controversy with Zwingli instead.

    2. Calvin never succeeded in getting Geneva to confess his predestinarian views. According to Schaff, the confession of faith required of the populace dropped the doctrine entirely, since so many were opposed to it (although admiring Calvin himself). This paved the way for the eventual triumph of Socinianism.

    These are examples of why we can never assume that the majority following any person actually accepted views abhorrent to the same majority.

    I think that Simmons ultimately became the main influence in 'Pacifist' nonconformity, whoever the earlier leaders were.

    Do you know if Grebel and Manz were pacifist?

    Why do Luther and Zwingli come down of the side of infant baptism? At least a partial answer arises from the social order of the day. Infant baptism brought the child into the church and into society. To reject infant baptism would be to undermine the medieval concept of the church and state. So Anabaptists, by rejecting infant baptism, were considered anarchists.

    PARTIAL is indeed the nature of this answer. It ignores a lot of other factors. First of all, the purely communistic medieval view of church and state was adopted by none of the reformers. But the tragedy is that in spite of reform, they still ended up supporting the killing of dissidents based on religious views. In that respect they did not shed medieval practice and darkness of soul.

    The house church movement is very wrong in assuming that the validity of infant water baptism stands or falls in relation to sacralism. Even though infant baptism was used as a basis of sacralism, its validity or otherwise in relation to scripture is absolutely independent of this.

    I do not believe that Baptists and so-called Anabaptists had any similarity on church and state. One was activist, the other pacifist. The confessions support this.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: Anabaptists vs. Radical Reformers

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    I do not believe that Baptists and so-called Anabaptists had any similarity on church and state. One was activist, the other pacifist. The confessions support this.
    you don't think they had any similarity at all? i understand their differences as to activist and pacifist...what i was referring to is that they both supported a diference in jurisdiction between church and state. they both saw the church and the state as wielding different swords and being different sorts of kingdoms and objected to the state interfering with the church's matters and the church interfering with the state's matters. this they were absolutely unified on. where they disagreed was on what level of involvement was allowed for the believer into the matters of the state. some saw it as sin to be involved at all (pacifists) and some saw it as our duty to be involved in both church and state (activist). 1) unified on rejection of intermix of church and state 2) divided on whether or not a believer may be involved in the state. #1 was what i was referring to and #2 was what you were referring to.
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    Re: Anabaptists vs. Radical Reformers

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    Do you know if Grebel and Manz were pacifist?
    don't know for sure. i looked around in the books i have (reformers and their stepchildren and the anabaptist story) and didn't find any discussion on each individual's stance on this issue. brandan, do you know?
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    Further on Church and State

    I also do not have a clear indication of whether any pre-1609 'Anabaptists' (I use that label in disgust--as I should figure out a more decent and logical term to represent the people I am talking about--an other is too broad in scope!) had those among them who held pre-Baptist convictions on church and state, i.e., that the state actually might be reformed to some degree and that Christians had some legitimate role. I believe that there no-doubt were such persons. However, I do not know if any preserved statements of their views exist--I have not studied the history of it all with this particular angle in mind.

    you don't think they had any similarity at all? i understand their differences as to activist and pacifist...what i was referring to is that they both supported a diference in jurisdiction between church and state. they both saw the church and the state as wielding different swords and being different sorts of kingdoms and objected to the state interfering with the church's matters and the church interfering with the state's matters. this they were absolutely unified on. where they disagreed was on what level of involvement was allowed for the believer into the matters of the state. some saw it as sin to be involved at all (pacifists) and some saw it as our duty to be involved in both church and state (activist).

    There is a surface similarity here, however, in all honesty it does not seem to be much. The Reformers believed the same thing (about two separate kingdoms)--contrary to Aquinas--but could not perceive how to establish a state that did not interfere with sectarian convictions. They thought that a decent government, although respecting individual liberty, needed to punish 'heretical swindlers.' Much like those who have proposed to protect the public from economic swindlers.

    The pacifists could only decry the sin of the state-church reformers from a Christian point of view. That is, Christians should never persecute fellow-Christians and it is a most terrible sin against the gospel to do so. In this they were completely right. But they had no convictions whatsoever on how Luther and Zwingli might legitimately reform the state. I find this most unfortunate, as the time in history was just as ripe for state reform against Thomistic communism and barbarism as it was for reform against Thomistic heresy in the spiritual arena.

    In failing to recognize that the state was part of God's legitimate good creation--and that Christians might legitimately reform it, Pacifists had their part in holding back mercy (in the temporal sense) from the multitudes.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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