Felix Manz was the son of a canon of Grossmünster church in Zürich. Though records of his education are scant, there is evidence that he had a liberal education, with a thorough knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Where he was educated was not known. Manz became a disciple of Huldrych Zwingli after he came to Zürich in 1519. He had high hopes for Zwingli’s reforms. When Conrad Grebel joined the group following Zwingli in 1521, he and Manz became friends. They questioned the mass, the nature of church and state connections, and infant baptism. After the Second Disputation of Zürich in 1523, they became dissatisfied, believing that Zwingli’s plans for reform had been compromised with the city council. He did not fully reform Switzerland after the New Testament pattern.
Grebel’s entire life was shorter than 30 years. His Christian ministry was compressed into less than four years and his time as an Anabaptist was only about a year-and-a-half. Conrad Grebel’s impact earned him the title “The father of Anabaptists” because of the stand he took for baptizing believers. Today, we look at men such as Grebel and understand that they have been forgotten during the era of the Protestant Reformation. Our heritage as Baptists comes from men like Grebel who refused to be mandated by the state church to baptize infants. They stood for believer’s baptism, as we do, and the gathered assembly of believers in the local church. For this cause–may we stand with Grebel. We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.