Anabaptist Foundations   3 comments

We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel under ground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with Government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men.

Charles H. Spurgeon (New Park Street Pulpit, Vol 7, Page 225)

My spiritual antecedents were Alpine anabapists, similar to the Brethren, Amish or Mennonites. Spurgeon pretty much explains it, but William Cathcart makes the bold statement that all Christians in the 1st Century could rightly be called baptists (little b intended). So it’s not too surprising that when the catholic (little c intended) church was co-opted by the Roman Empire in the 4th century, that some Christians drifted to the edges and just didn’t participate in the Roman Catholic Church. They chose not to join the “catholic” (meaning universal) ecclesiastical system because they recognized a lack of adherence to early Christian standards. These “protestants” pop up in Roman Catholic history from time to time as heretics who refused to baptist babies.The Waldenses, Wyclifites, Hussites, and Brothers of the Common Life are examples. The Roman Catholic Church had plenty to say about them, none of it good.

Couldn’t these people get with the program? Society had decided that it needed a record of every man, woman and child in the Holy Roman Empire and the most convenient way for government to manage that was through the Church. Baptize your babies or we will destroy you as heretics!

Anabaptists were persecuted by the Romans, the Protestants and even the radical Anabaptists. They were also the original anarchists. They were loosely organized and focused on spiritual rather than civil reformation. They existed quietly for the most part, taking no part in government because they didn’t believe any human ought to have authority to control the consciences of others. That included government and any sort of ecclesiastical body beyond the local church or individual Christians meeting together for discourse.

We are not, contrary to popularly-taught history, descended from the radical Anabaptists that formed during the Reformation. Radical Anabaptism actually more resembled a cult than Christianity. Zwingli sought to create a reformation of the churches that would please the nobles. Thomas Munzer advocated for popular insurrection. The Alpine anabaptists rejected that. They insisted that the Church of Christ must first be a congregation of believers with hearts of faith, spiritual insight, obedient wills and real religious experience. They rejected compromise with the world and the reduction of Christian standards to the level of nominal, secular membership. They wanted a church consisting of only the faithful.

How that played out in practice could be seen in their baptismal rites. Infants could not exercise faith, so anabaptists rejected infant baptism as an empty legalistic ritual. The only practices worthy of the Christian church were those directly related to personal faith.

Although there is some evidence that suggests anabaptists existed at least since the 10th century Waldenses, history records that in 1523, Grebel baptized Blaurock as part of a community of brethren that began to grow distinctly away from the main Zwinglian Reformation. This community appears never to have been part of the Zwinglian organization. They grew up separately … or existed already, quietly, in deeping with their belief in not taking part of secular government. The Lutherans called them “rebaptizers” (ana – baptists), though the Alpine believers actually rejected that name because they didn’t see themselves as baptizing again. They believed that dunking infants in water could not rightfully be called “baptism” since there was no personal faith involved on the part of the recipient. They had a very strong Biblical basis for this. Adult baptism as a sign of fellowship in the pure church of Christ was the one and only baptism — not a second baptism at all. But the name stuck all the same.

These early anabaptists had some clear doctrines:

  1. The church should be entirely modeled on the New Testament, copying the apostolic pattern.
  2. The visible Church is composed only of believers, separated from the unbelieving
  3. This state of purity in the church was to be preserved by a rigorous use of discipline
  4. The Church must be completely severed from all entangling alliances with the State
  5. All Christians have the same functional rights and authority as the clergy.
  6. The Gospel is a “new law” to be followed literally and obeyed.
  7. Christians are to conduct their lives by the authority of conscience.

The first three and the 5th principles are discoverable in the Bible; in fact, it is virtually impossible to come away from an honest reading of the New Testament without those four principles principles.

The 4th principle stemmed from a history severe persecution by the State on behalf of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anabaptist organizations. They felt there must be no kind of government compulsion in spiritual matters. The churches would live, grow and enlarge their fellowship through faith and experience. The churches could influence the character of those who form the State, but its authority is an indirect influence of the conscience. In the sphere of religion, the State has no authority. Conscience is absolutely free.

The 6th principle explains the historic refusal of Amish and Mennonite to take oaths, participate in wars or take human life. The 7th principle speaks to our relationship with God Himself. The conscience is an inner sanctuary where the voice of the living God is heard. If the laws of the secular government do not ask me to violate the laws of God, good, but when they do … more on that later.

Those early anabaptists were persecuted and died for what they saw as eternal truth and everlasting righteousness.

Could we be that serious about our faith today, Church?

3 responses to “Anabaptist Foundations

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Reblogged this on That Mr. G Guy's Blog.

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
    H/T to https://thatmrgguy.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/anabaptist-foundations/

    During the Protestant Reformation, the reformers sought a return to the traditions of First Century Christianity. Of course there was a great deal of argument about that. What exactly are the traditions of First Century Christianity? Since over a thousand years had passed, there was room for debate.

    What was most unfortunate, however, was the fact some Christians took the “debate” too far and persecuted other Christians. That sort of persecution was most certainly not part of First Century Christianity. And yet during the “reformation” Christians tortured Christians. That’s the sort of history makes the 4th principle look quite reasonable.

    Like

    • It does. I think that some of the Reformers started out with good intentions, but they were so wrapped up in the notion that the state and the church must be one and that the church must be monolithic. I’m sure Luther and Zwingli could not conceive of 50,000 Great Commission Baptist churches cooperating with one another while not actually having any control over each other. They were just so used to the way the Roman Catholic Church had done it, that they couldn’t conceive of a different way that let God direct the churches without a pope by any other title.

      Like

What's Your Opinion?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Libertarian Ideal

Voice, Exit and Post-Libertarianism

CRAIN'S COMMENTS

Social trends, economics, health and other depressing topics!

My Corner

A Blog Showcasing My Writing and Me

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

Deep Thoughts from the Shallow End of the Pool

Steven Smith

The website of an aspiring author

thebibliophagist

a voracious reader. | a book blogger.

cupidcupid999

adventure, art, nature, travel, photography, wildlife - animals, and funny stuff

Republic-MainStreet

The Peaceful Revolution Liberate Main Street

%d bloggers like this: