In terms of historical research, the Anabaptist Movement defines itself both as a subject of the history of Christianity within the history of religions. Which belongs to secular science, uses objective methods, and is a subject of Church history. As a branch of Theology, we use the method of theological research from the evangelical perspective.
The Anabaptist work belongs to the radical Reformation, which was initially presented as extremist. Protestant theologians, especially evangelical ones, are now reconsidering it because its Anabaptist tendency is the forerunner of all evangelical churches that practice adult baptism. Its radical tendency to live integrally with Christianity precedes neo-Protestant fundamentalism. And in its enthusiastic tendency, it precedes the Pentecostal movement.
From the point of view of secular history, the subject raises questions beyond the history of the Church. He related to the history of culture, civilization, society, and economy. And the state is related, of course, to the fundamental problem of the relationship between the Church, the state, and the nation.
What did the Anabaptists believe?
The Anabaptist movement is a Christian movement formed during the Reformation in the 16th century and continues to this day. From this point of view, it relates to another branch of historical theology, namely the history of Christian thought. Or the history of Christian doctrines.
According to histological sources, the Anabaptists opposed the clergy and believed in the equality of all church members. They thought that following Christ meant living a life of perseverance toward holiness. They felt that each person is free to choose what they want to believe or what church to be a member of, regardless of the state in which they are located.
At the same time, the Anabaptists believed that valid baptism only applied to persons mature enough to express their faith in Christ.
Read also: What did the Lateran Council do?
What are the two beliefs of the Anabaptists?
Even though some of these groups no longer exist today as they once did, their ideas and pure faith have spanned the ages and influenced others of God’s people. Many of their ideas are found in the confessions of faith and practice of Pentecostal churches today.
According to historical sources, the Anabaptist movement has two significant beliefs, and those are as follows:
- The rejection of ecclesiastical authority, especially by disobeying the pope or his decrees of ex-communication and by reinterpreting all the Roman Catholic sacraments, except for confession and forgiveness, and communion.
- Refusing to take oaths because they said the Bible forbade it.
Through the systematic theological issues that the history of doctrines raises, the subject also relates to systematic theology, especially dogmatics and polemical theology. Through the problems of practical theology, the topic refers to branches such as evangelical theology and mission theology.
Which was a central belief of the Anabaptist movement?
Their belief was based on the “inner word”, considering it superior to the written Scriptures. Thus we find under this heading both peaceful and revolutionary groups; and fanatical ones.
The Anabaptist spiritualists had as their main belief the freedom of the individual to believe what his consciousness dictated; they believed in a church made up of true believers, separate from the state and the unbelieving world.
They sought to create a new church of believers, but did not consider a return to the New Testament model necessary. So, they rejected baptism in general, like the other sacraments.
Thomas Müntzer, in early 1524, secretly organized his followers into bands, anticipating the taking up of arms in the name of the gospel. In May, they looted a nearby Catholic place of worship. This, along with Luther’s warnings, prompted the Duke to demand clarification.
According to historical sources, the great Protestant leader Martin Luther believed that the Anabaptists were nothing but a nuisance and propagators of revolutionary germs and heresy. For example, Luther’s successor Melancthon (even though he himself had doubts about infant baptism. When the Prophets of Zwickau criticized his practices in 1521) worked diligently to embolden princes. And magistrates to take firm action against the Anabaptists. For their “articles of rebellion,” arguing that their sect was “of the devil, for certain.”
Melancthon even accompanied them to the scaffold. Their imperturbability astonished him, but he attributed it to a “terrible devil’s obstinacy.”
How were Anabaptists different from other Protestants?
In 1609, Smyth and his followers were baptized and confessed Jesus as Savior to form what is generally regarded as the first Baptist congregation. After Smyth’s death in 1611, Thomas Helwys (1550-1616) wrote the first English Baptist confession of faith.
According to scholars, what fundamentally distinguishes Anabaptists from Protestants is the issue of baptism, which can be considered the most revolutionary act of the Reformation. The practice of biblical baptism, at first by sprinkling and later by immersion, triggered the most severe persecution of Anabaptists.
Revolutionary Anabaptists had in common with the rest of the Anabaptists only the practice of adult baptism. But this was enough for Catholics and Protestants to identify all Anabaptists with that fanatical minority.
Do Anabaptists believe Jesus is God?
Anabaptists considered the practice of paedobaptism as an instrument of Satan to corrupt Christianity. Protestant adherents of paedobaptism recognized no biblical support for infant baptism.
According to the Anabaptists’ creed, they trusted in God completely and believed that Jesus was His Son, not that they were the same.
They felt that it was necessary to preserve the relationship of the church. And state and not to create a further hindrance to the spread of the Reformation.
Did Anabaptists reject the Bible?
The Anabaptists were the first reformers to formulate the principle of separation of church and state. In the Netherlands, the leader of the Anabaptist movement was Menno Simmons, a former Catholic priest. He took over the leadership of the ‘Brethren,’ a name adopted by Anabaptists in the Netherlands to escape the stigma attached to the name Anabaptist.
According to historical records, the Anabaptists accepted the Bible but believed that only the words from the Bible matter. Within the Protestant Reformation, no other group took the principle of Sola Scriptura as seriously as they did.
They repudiated any connection between the state and the church. Considering the state an institution apart and separate from the Gospel of Christ. The state has no right to intervene in matters of conscience, thus upholding the principle of freedom of conscience. Consequently, in their view of church and state, the Anabaptists denied the right of the church to exercise the magistracy, which seemed to them a violation of the precepts and example of Christ.
- The name Anabaptism was given to that movement that developed during the Reformation of the 16th century. The general character was the protest against the “baptism” of infants practiced by the Roman Catholic “Church.” And the Protestant “Churches” were a “baptism” that they considered unscriptural and invalid.
- From the outset, it should be pointed out that in the category of “Anabaptists,” their opponents included any group that opposed infant “baptism.”
- With some help from the association of the Church with secular authorities, we find peaceful and revolutionary groups and fanatical ones under this heading.
The Anabaptists are the heirs of medieval evangelical groups. Some crucial representatives of this school are the historians Keller, Vedder, Christian, Jarrel, and Verduin. However, it is acknowledged that there is no indisputable evidence of direct descent from medieval groups.
- Bender, H. So. (1944). The Anabaptist Vision1 Indeed. Therefore Church History, 13(1), 3-24.
- Estep, W. R. (1996). So the Anabaptist story: An introduction to sixteenth-century indeed Anabaptism. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.
- Finger, T. N. (2010). A contemporary Anabaptist Theology: Biblical, historical, constructive. InterVarsity Press.
- Kasdorf, H. (1984). The Anabaptist approach to mission. Anabaptism and assignment, 51-69.
- Waite, G. K. (1987). The Anabaptist movement in Amsterdam and the Netherlands, 1531-1535: an initial investigation into its genesis and social dynamics. The Sixteenth-century journal, 249-265.