Täuferjäger: Anabaptist Hunters

March 4, 2013

by Ron Hale

He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, and Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.


Early Anabaptists upset the apple cart of medieval — early modern Europe as they contended for believer’s baptism, the conviction that only confessing adults could turn from their sinful lifestyle and consciously follow the path of discipleship with the first step: faith in Christ. This radical idea challenged the prevailing “church and state” mindset that assumed Christianity to be more of a birthright than a born-again experience leading to a separated life.

This tension wedded church authorities with the power of the state in using drastic means and measures in protecting Christendom from the perceived religious disorder and deviance of the Anabaptists. Persecution and prosecution were handy tools for an authoritative state-run church.

Refusing to pay tithes to state-run church jurisdictions only hastened the deep animosity toward Anabaptists. They were not just challenging a denomination, as we would think of it in America; these radical reformers were challenging a state or jurisdiction that had the laws of government and religion on their side. This institution had the authority to baptize you as a baby and burn you at the stake as an adult. In fact, not having your infant baptized and/or getting re-baptized as an adult was usually against the law. Each jurisdiction regulated their religion similar to how my Volunteer state regulates distilleries; moonshiners will be hunted and prosecuted.

Consequently, Anabaptists were denounced, hunted, and executed as arch-heretics by Catholics, Lutherans, and Reformed Churches for well over a century. This short essay will provide examples of all three.

Baptism was just one of many differences that set the Anabaptists apart from the more established groups that maintained a Constantinian tradition. Many Anabaptists saw themselves as revivers of true Christianity, and the reign of Constantine (r.306-337) being responsible for the unholy alliance of church and state —  that relied more on tradition and sacramentalism than a NT biblicism. This Constantinian shift (Caesaropapism) can also be viewed as the time in which Christian church membership was connected more with citizenship and less with a personal faith experience and devotion.

The Roman Catholic king, Ferdinand I,[1] appointed a commissioner to organize Täuferjäger or Anabaptist hunters. With the order of Ferdinand I, it is estimated that 1,000 Anabaptists were burned to death on pyres (funeral structures of wood) in the Inn Valley from 1527-30. With the Imperial Diet of Speyer extending the boundaries of persecution to the Holy Roman Empire in 1529, it was reported in the Hutterian Chronicle 3,169 Anabaptists were martyred during Charles’s and Ferdinand’s reigns as they were hunted down, imprisoned, tried, and put to death.[2] In the province of Swabia, in South Germany, four hundred mounted soldiers were, in 1528, sent out to put to death all Anabaptists on whom they could lay hands. Somewhat later the number of soldiers so commissioned was increased to eight hundred and then to one thousand.[3]

Balthasar Hubmaier was arrested in the new jurisdiction of King Ferdinand and was taken to Vienna and executed on March 10, 1528.  Upon arriving at the scaffold, he cried out a prayer in the Swiss dialect, “O my gracious God, grant me grace in great suffering!” He pardoned his accusers and asked for forgiveness if he had offended anyone.  With a stone tied around her neck, his wife was drowned in the Danube River several days later.

Martin Luther set the pace for Lutheran persecution of Anabaptists in spoken words and written works; an example is a pamphlet written in 1536.  Notice the call for death:
“Besides this the Anabaptists separate themselves from the churches . . . and they set up a ministry and congregation of their own, which is also contrary to the command of God. From all this it becomes clear that the secular authorities are bound . . . to inflict corporal punishment on the offenders . . . Also when it is a case of only upholding some spiritual tenet, such as infant baptism, original sin, and unnecessary separation, then . . . we conclude that . . . the stubborn sectaries must be put to death.”[4]

In 2010, the 11th Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation approved a statement of repentance calling on Lutherans to express regret and sorrow for past sins against Anabaptists and asking for forgiveness.  The statement was titled: Action on the Legacy of Lutheran Persecution of Anabaptists.

What about the Reformer’s response to the Anabaptists?  The Anabaptist movement was birthed in Zurich, Switzerland, where Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) became the pastor of the Grossmünster in Zurich in 1518. The movement arose out of the circle of close friends and followers of Zwingli. This circle of friends (Grebel, Manz, Blaurock, and others) failed in persuading Zwingli to establish a free church of believers only with adult baptism upon confession of faith in Christ.

The Zurich council vigorously rose to suppress this movement and established an ordinance that the teaching or preaching of Anabaptism was against the law – with the penalty of death.  Dr. Sam Storms indicates that more than 5,000 Anabaptists were executed in Switzerland by 1535.[5]

Felix Manz was the first person executed under this law. With the support of Zwingli, Manz was taken from the Wallenberg prison tower on a cold winter day.  He was taken to the fish market by the Limmat River to be read his death sentence.  He was forced into a boat and escorted to a little hut in the middle of the river by a pastor and his executioner.  Felix Manz was securely shackled and pulled from the top of the fishing hut into his watery grave.  His friend Blaurock was whipped through the streets of the city and banished; while Grebel later died of the plague.

Descendants of the Evangelical-Reformed Church of Zurich met on June 26, 2004 and corporately confessed their sins of the sixteenth century persecutions and they asked descendants of the first Anabaptists to forgive them.  A historical marker was placed on the bank of the river where Manz was drowned almost five hundred years earlier.[6]

Anabaptist leaders were quickly hunted and killed by these three state-church institutions making it difficult to mature and multiply the movement.  However, the common folk of this movement continued steadfast in pursuing the dream of restoring the Church to NT beliefs and practices. They saw the Protestant Reformation as being far from complete and they were willing to put their lives on the line for an apostolic era faith for their children and grandchildren.

 

© Ron F. Hale, February 23, 2013



[1] Ferdinand I was the king of Bohemia and Hungary beginning in 1526, and king of Croatia from 1527, and Holy Roman Emperor from 1558 until his death. Before becoming king, he ruled the Austrian hereditary lands of the Habsburgs. He was a staunch Catholic.

[4] Martin Luther: pamphlet of 1536; in Johannes Janssen, History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages, 16 volumes, translated by A.M. Christie, St. Louis: B. Herder, 1910 [orig. 1891]; Vol. X, 222-223

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Job

“Early Anabaptists upset the apple cart of medieval — early modern Europe as they contended for believer’s baptism, the conviction that only confessing adults could turn from their sinful lifestyle and consciously follow the path of discipleship with the first step: faith in Christ.”

Bible-based believer’s baptism does not limit itself to adults. Also, this Anabaptist error concerning believer’s baptism is not just among the early Anabaptists. The Amish limit baptisms to people 18 and older to this day. As for the Mennonites, while they have no strict limits, baptisms before the age of 12 are very much discouraged and quite rare within that denomination. Contrast that with the Baptist belief and practice, summarized quite well by Charles Spurgeon, that “A child of five, if properly instructed, can as truly believe and be regenerated as an adult.” So, putting age restrictions on Anabaptism where the Bible made a point of explicitly stating the opposite with the words and actions of Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:14 would tend to be a significant difference between Anabaptist and Baptist practice and belief.

    Phil Miller

    Job, I’m wondering what resource you would reference in your claim that the Amish limit baptisms to age 18 and over. I grew up Old Order Amish and in the community that I few up in the average age for baptism was 14_16. You are nevertheless correct in that the Amish will not baptize anyone they do not deem mature enough to make a lifelong commitment to the rules and instructions of the Amish church. I think you will find this consistent among all Anabaptist groups; baptism is not into Christ by profession of faith. But rather baptism into Christ via faithfulness to the church. Baptism is not only by profession of faith, but also requires a vow of faithfulness to the church and her leaders.

Job

That should have been “age restrictions on baptism where the Bible made a point of explicitly stating the opposite”. Sorry and thanks.

David R. Brumbelow

Ron,
Another great article. Hope these articles end in a book.

For this and other reasons, perhaps more of us should temper our praise of Martin Luther.
David R. Brumbelow

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Indeed.

    I have little if any praise for Martin Luther. I praise God for the good he brought out of such an all around bigoted and vulgar scumbag instead. I also think the notion of him “fathering” the Reformation and rediscovering the doctrine of justification by faith is highly reductionist given the political and spiritual climate at the time. He may have nailed a document of varying theological worth to a door and wrote a whole lot of individualist, existential gibberish…

    Big whoop…Aside from his contentiousness, bigotry and vulgarity, Luther’s penchant for sanctimonious windbaggery rivals only that of his spiritual father Augustine.

    :)

      Preach Blackman Preach

      Johnathan,

      Why don’t you just tell us what’s on your mind. (smile)

      volfan007

      Well, one things for sure…Luther hated Jews. I mean, he was anti Semitic to the core.

      Also, if I remember correctly, he was very fond of drinking strong, green, German beer.

      David

Leslie Puryear

Ron

Excellent article. Those in the SBC who venerate the Reformers are trampling on the blood of our brave Baptist forefathers.

Leslie Puryear

    Job

    Leslie:

    Two reasons why this is problematic.

    1. The Anabaptists were clearly Reformers. For example, Zwingli started out with Hubmaier and the other Anabaptists in the 1520s. But he turned on them, joined up with the state church establishment and began persecuting them. The Anabaptists were part of the Reformation. No Reformation means no Anabaptists. The magisterial Reformers and the Anabaptists did diverge very quickly, but that does not alter the fact that they were originally part of the same movement.

    2. It requires glossing over the true nature of the Anabaptists by way of history, doctrine and practice. While Baptists were certainly influenced by Anabaptists, so were the Quakers. The actual original Anabaptists are now represented by the Hutterites, Amish, Quakers etc. The Anabaptists were most similar to Baptists (early and modern) in the early days, when the Anabaptists were part of the larger Reformation and/or immediately after they split from it. But the Anabaptists very quickly took on beliefs and practices that cannot be reconciled with any legitimate Baptist church, denomination or movement, whether historical or contemporary.

    Believer’s baptism is an important part of the Baptist belief, but it is not the only part. That is why the Anabaptists cannot be called our forefathers.

Ron F. Hale

Job,

I said this in an earlier article on Michael Sattler: ” …Southern Baptists may still debate our ancient origins and tribal succession, but we cannot deny our indebtedness to the Anabaptists and their simple but clear teachings on believer’s baptism, the memorial meal of the Lord’s Supper for baptized believers, and for being ardent guardians of religious liberty – dying if they must!”

When you read the Schleitheim Articles, I see four main ways the Anabaptists have greatly influenced Baptists (and Southern Baptists):

1. Believers Baptism by immersion. Yes, rebaptisms began by pouring, but many or most began baptizing by immersion, the NT method.

2. The Lord’s Supper as a memorial meal in remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

3. Their struggle for religious liberty and we see how that carried over in early America and how the early Baptists influenced our government.

4. Their conviction of standing strong and speaking truth to power and be willing to die for their beliefs.

Clearly the Mennonites and Hutterites have a clear line of sucession with the Early Anabaptists — but we are indebted to the Anabaptists for the principles for which they died and those principles and convictions live on.

    Job

    @Ron Hale:

    We do not disagree. As a matter of fact, I stated as such in my reply to Leslie Puryear, when I stated “While Baptists were certainly influenced by Anabaptists, so were the Quakers.” Yes, we owe a debt to the Anabaptists. But we also owe a debt to the Reformers. Indeed, the Anabaptists were Reformers, or at the very most were a movement that the Reformation produced.

    Consider that while there were more than a few Anabaptists among the ranks who founded first authentic Baptist congregation and then several shortly thereafter (80 years after the Anabaptists came on the scene, and 80 years is a very long time when you consider that fluid, turbulent religious era) they were nowhere near the majority or the most numerous.Other influences who came together to create the distinctive Baptist denomination and belief were present, were likely more numerous and influential to its leadership and development, and those should not be overlooked or discounted.

Lydia

Job,

The point to keep in mind is that the Ana Baptists (they were not monolithic) NEVER even suggested that those who baptize before the age of 12 or 18 be punished by imprisonment, drowning, burning or torture like their reformed heretic hunter brothers did. That is the important point to remember.

All protest movements tend to “overcorrect”. Just as the “Protestant” Reformation” tended to overcorrect in certain areas when it was attempting to “reform” the Catholic church.

Lydia

“The magisterial Reformers and the Anabaptists did diverge very quickly, but that does not alter the fact that they were originally part of the same movement.”
Yes, until they dared to disagree with the ruling powers so then the magisterial reformers, with the state power, decided that, In the Name of Jesus, they should be imprisoned, tortured, drowned or burned. So, not sure why you are so adamant about them being part of the same movement originally. It did not last long.
“2. It requires glossing over the true nature of the Anabaptists by way of history, doctrine and practice. While Baptists were certainly influenced by Anabaptists, so were the Quakers. The actual original Anabaptists are now represented by the Hutterites, Amish, Quakers etc. The Anabaptists were most similar to Baptists (early and modern) in the early days, when the Anabaptists were part of the larger Reformation and/or immediately after they split from it. But the Anabaptists very quickly took on beliefs and practices that cannot be reconciled with any legitimate Baptist church, denomination or movement, whether historical or contemporary. “
And if we fast forward a bit, the Reformed Puritans were torturing, banishing and killing Quakers. Seems they did not learn their lesson when building the “New Jerusalem”. Seems they also believed God was still telling them to murder people who dared disagree with them.
“Believer’s baptism is an important part of the Baptist belief, but it is not the only part. That is why the Anabaptists cannot be called our forefathers.”
I am calling them my “attitudinal forefathers”.
Of course, they came here and some groups practiced isolation/legalism. Perhaps it was ingrained after a few centuries of being hunted and in hiding in Europe?

“The magisterial Reformers and the Anabaptists did diverge very quickly, but that does not alter the fact that they were originally part of the same movement.”
Yes, until they dared to disagree with the ruling powers so then the magisterial reformers, with the state power, decided that, In the Name of Jesus, they should be imprisoned, tortured, drowned or burned. So, not sure why you are so adamant about them being part of the same movement originally. It did not last long.
“2. It requires glossing over the true nature of the Anabaptists by way of history, doctrine and practice. While Baptists were certainly influenced by Anabaptists, so were the Quakers. The actual original Anabaptists are now represented by the Hutterites, Amish, Quakers etc. The Anabaptists were most similar to Baptists (early and modern) in the early days, when the Anabaptists were part of the larger Reformation and/or immediately after they split from it. But the Anabaptists very quickly took on beliefs and practices that cannot be reconciled with any legitimate Baptist church, denomination or movement, whether historical or contemporary. “
And if we fast forward a bit, the Reformed Puritans were torturing, banishing and killing Quakers. Seems they did not learn their lesson when building the “New Jerusalem”. Seems they also believed God was still telling them to murder people who dared disagree with them.
“Believer’s baptism is an important part of the Baptist belief, but it is not the only part. That is why the Anabaptists cannot be called our forefathers.”

I am calling them my “attitudinal forefathers”. :o) They certainly had more integrity than Calvin, Zwingli or Luther did. (excluding the wacked out Munster guys)
Of course, they came here and some groups practiced isolation/legalism. Perhaps it was ingrained after a few centuries of being hunted and in hiding in Europe?

    Joshua T

    Lydia,

    I don’t want to debate the validity to the Reformer’s persecution. I’m afraid there is too much lumping together (of otherwise non-pervasive thoughts) in this thread to have a reasonable discussion. Needless to say, I agree that many of their actions were unjustified.

    But I would challenge everyone to read the Reformers and their Biblical reasons for these judgments. It is not as if they pulled them out of thin air. They certainly did have a different Biblical understanding of the OT law than most of us have today but it still is an opinion over Scripture. It is easy to ridicule their opinion. But the time studying their writing, studying the Scriptures verses they call to their defense and formulating a systematic defense of your own view are the things of actual value to the church. Not accusative comments on a blog.

    Let us cease with the inflammatory “had more integrity than Calvin, Zwingli or Luther”. Let us build each other up to study the Scripture instead of tearing names down.

      Norm Miller

      JT: You don’t want to “debate the validity to the Reformer’s persecution”? I don’t blame you, for that would be like trying to justify Hitler’s extermination of Jews and several million others.
      The reformers had “Biblical reasons for these judgments”? Really? Was the enlightening ministry of the Holy Spirit void in those days, or were the murderous reformers just not in tune with the Holy Spirit who inspired the scriptures from which, as you aver, they drew their justification of murdering their detractors?
      You said: “Let us cease with the inflammatory ‘had more integrity than Calvin, Zwingli or Luther.'”
      Okay. Let us also cease from soft-peddling some of the heinous acts of these men, too. — Norm

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Yes sir!

        There is nothing wrong with someone being of low opinion regarding many of the Reformers. Indeed, I have met countless Christians with far more integrity than many of them.

        Inflammatory words are appropriate in certain cases, and just because many of the Reformers are held in high regard by some Christians, that is no cause for all Christians to share that same opinion of them.

        Joshua T

        Norm,
        I’m not soft peddling anything. Did you see me actively condone or defend they views? All I said was that we should recognize that they quoted Scripture when they made these comments and we should be in conversation with that and critical in our thinking of that.

        Unless you are willing to pass the judgment that they actively and purposely twisted Scripture to satisfy their blood-lust then we must interact with their arguments, Then we can say as Paul that they had zeal without knowledge.

        My fear is that hatred for them may cause us to be guilty of murder in our own hearts. I sense many emotions in this thread so I’ll remove myself. God bless.

        Tommy

        “Was the enlightening ministry of the Holy Spirit void in those days, or were the murderous reformers just not in tune with the Holy Spirit who inspired the scriptures from which, as you aver, they drew their justification of murdering their detractors?”

        Was the enlightening ministry of the Holy Spirit void in the days the SBC condoned slavery? Or were these slaveholders just not in tune with the Holy Spirit who inspired the scriptures, in which they claimed, justified their ownership of these “less worthy” people?

        With that said, however, the aforementioned comments and statements is precisely why I am opposed to a church state. We as believers, however, have to be careful not to make a genetic fallacy and throw out everything these men taught. God has entrusted to us (feeble minded sinners) His Word and we are going to make mistakes. So we should learn from our mistakes and continue to grow in Him.

          Norm Miller

          Tommy: the employment of debate tactics is clever, but does little to advance the discussion. So, since you dind’t ask my question, I will ask again:
          “Was the enlightening ministry of the Holy Spirit void in those days, or were the murderous reformers just not in tune with the Holy Spirit who inspired the scriptures from which, as you aver, they drew their justification of murdering their detractors?”
          The reason I ask is b/c Calvin, who is revered to have such intellectual, insightful observation into soteriology, was apparently ignorant of “Thou shalt not murder” and was numb to the conviction of the Holy Spirit who inspired such writing, yea, even the very finger of God. How can we take seriously the “theologizings” of one so oblivious or immune to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and convictions? Or worse, who recognized the Holy Spirit’s conviction, but hadn’t the stones to stand against political pressure? SO guys, not my hero!
          As Rick Patrick so ably and accurately pointed out in a previous post, such a man deserves to have the entirety of his work scrutinized.
          I will grant that Calvin did get some things right. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
          So, Tommy, will you answer my question? — Norm

            Tommy

            To answer your question. No I do not believe the Holy Spirit was void nor do I believe the reformers were “not in tune” with the Holy Spirit.

            According to the Baptist Press, “Southern Baptists support capital punishment because it is a “biblical position” that remains applicable.”As mentioned above, I do not support a church state. You must consider the time in which the reformers lived. The only thing they knew was a church state and that is how their governments were founded. Heresy was a capital punishment. Servetus denied the trinity, which is a heresy. As for Calvin, he did not possess any power. However, he spoke as a witness that Servetus was a heretic. Which was in turn, punishable by death.

            So, calling Calvin a murderer in this sense would be the same as calling any juror who votes to execute a criminal, a murderer. Or furthermore, someone who testified against the criminal because Calvin wasn’t even qualified to have a vote to execute anyone.

            Now, could you answer my question? I will ask it again.

            Was the enlightening ministry of the Holy Spirit void in the days the SBC condoned slavery? Or were these slaveholders just not in tune with the Holy Spirit who inspired the scriptures, in which they claimed, justified their ownership of these “less worthy” people?

              Norm Miller

              You don’t support a “church state” but you defend Calvin and other murderers in what you essentially deem as obedience to a state church? Abortion is legal. Is it moral? Your defense of Calvin means you would defend abortion, or at least, for consistency’s sake, could not tell others they shouldn’t do it. Why would you try to dissuade others from abortion? Because it is murder, just as it was murder to kill people for so-called heresies.
              The “men of their time” argument is so lame. The Scriptures, of which Calvin is deemed such an expert, had the prescriptions for taking a life. I don’t read anywhere in the O.T. law that heresy is a reason to kill someone — and this was in a day when the Holy Spirit only visited earth, and was not yet commissioned by Jesus to constant earthly ministry.
              I believe the Holy Spirit has never abandoned his ministry. Others have chosen to obey culture and not the Scriptures. This was the case of any believer who owned slaves, and this was true of the murderous Calvin and his quasi-theocratic band of heretic killers. Anyone at anytime who chooses to obey cultural norms in lieu of the Bible is in disobedience to God. — Norm

            Lydia

            “You must consider the time in which the reformers lived. The only thing they knew was a church state and that is how their governments were founded.”

            Congrats Tommy. You just affirmed the Nuremburg defense.

          Tommy

          “Congrats Tommy. You just affirmed the Nuremburg defense.”

          Lydia,
          Capital punishment and world domination through genocide are two totally different things. My statement was not the Nuremburg defense.

      Lydia

      Joshua T,
      I guess you would tell me that I did not understand what I read when I did study their view and what they thought were “biblical” reasons for such unjust treatment of those who dared to disagree about doctrine? That is usually how these sorts of convo’s go.

      My conclusion was they were not nearly as theologically brilliant as so many today proclaim. :o)

      You want me to systematize their reasons for brutality in the Name of God? That is a good one. Great deflection tactic. My comments cannot be “accusative” since I am basing them on fact. They tortured, imprisoned, banished, drowned and burned people who disagreed with them about God.

      A great question has been asked: Where was the Holy Spirit in their lives?

        Joshua T

        Lydia,
        I made no assumptions. I’m indicating where the value is in our response to it. I was speaking more generically than just at you. So if it was taken personally I apologize.

          Lydia

          JOshua, I don’t take any of this “personally”. I am simply trying to understand you. This makes no sense to me:

          “I’m indicating where the value is in our response to it.”

          There is no value in studying and analyzing history? How about so we don’t repeat it?

Lydia

Sorry about the double comment in one post. I am having all sort of difficulties today with ipad.

Job

@Lydia:

I will reply here to your several replies. Calling the Anabaptists your forefathers whether attitudinal or otherwise requires focusing entirely on believer’s baptism and religious freedom, and nothing that separates Baptists from the many other denominations that believe the same (i.e. Methodists, Pentecostals, Church of Christ, Seventh Day Adventist, Quakers, Nazarene’s, Wesleyans and even groups that are not authentically Christian like Jehovah’s Witnesses, oneness pentecostals and Mormons). And it also glosses over the fact that the Anabaptists themselves were at the very least products of the Reformation themselves, and not something that came about independently. So, calling the Anabaptists your forefathers makes the Reformers your grandfathers, and there is no way to avoid that fact. And then there is what I stated in my reply to Pastor Hale above, which is that the first legitimate Baptist church and those that came after and comprised the actual origions of the Baptist movement had many influences, which included the Anabaptists of course, but it was a minority influence. And that is why you are far closer to the Presbyterians (a direct descendant of the magisterial Reformers) in theology and practice than you are the Amish (direct descendants of the Anabaptists), and that is a good thing, not a bad one.

And blaming persecution for the doctrinal deviations of the Anabaptists is no excuse. Lest we forget, the original Baptists were persecuted too as were other Protestant groups in that period (i.e. the Huguenots). Also, look at church history reveals that persecution generally tends to strengthen doctrinal purity. Normally, wandering from the truth is the result of peace and prosperity, and that has been the case since even before the New Testament canon was completed (see Corinth and Laodicea).

    Ron F. Hale

    Job,
    I am closer to some of my inlaws (values, mindset, love, respect, etc.) than some of my blood relatives.

    Because a certain core of the Anabaptists were seeking a NT reformation of faith and practice — they grew weary of the “state church” model of the magisterial Reformers.

    The Radical Reformers (Anabaptists) are the group that I identify with as I have studied the two. Southern Baptists would know a lot more about them today …if…their best and brightest had not been murdered so quickly. It is hard to write books, start colleges, develop a system of teachings/theology when you’re dead.

    This movement grew and influenced future generations in spite of the fact your public baptism …marked you as an enemy of the state.

    Blessings

      Max

      “The Radical Reformers (Anabaptists) are the group that I identify with as I have studied the two.”

      Too bad that this young generation didn’t lock in on the ministries and martyrdom of Grebel, Manz, Blaurock, and Hubmaier before they followed Pied Piper and his brand of 16th century reformers. Since the young, restless and reformed are so determined to mimic old dead guys, perhaps SBC leadership should point them to the Anabaptists as role models of message and mission.

        Stephen R. Jones

        Amen, Max.

      Stephen R. Jones

      Great comment, Bro. Hale! So true.

    Lydia

    “And it also glosses over the fact that the Anabaptists themselves were at the very least products of the Reformation themselves, and not something that came about independently”

    I agree with this to a certain extent. Such as the case with Zwingli and his students. Zwingli agreed with them and then turned on them big time. Many groups were products of the Reformation so not sure what you are trying to prove. The Peasants War is a product of the Reformation. We are not just talking theology here but politics, too since the Reformation was a lot about political power. Many forget that.

    The Ana Baptists are often called the Radical Reformers because they did not support a “state” church. That is why I WANT to have something in common with them. :o)

    Your determination to make me a descendent of the Presbyterians is simply a historical exercise. Aaron Burr is a descendent of Jonathan Edwards. See, not always something to be proud of. :o)

    Lydia

    “Also, look at church history reveals that persecution generally tends to strengthen doctrinal purity.”

    Sorry but this strikes me as a curious thing to say if one is a Calvinist. Persecution from other believers? Did Calvin’s Geneva by persecuting other believers bring him more doctrinal purity?

Norm Miller

Congrats, Ron. You have attained “Dr. David Allen” status it seems. Very few seem to want to challenge Dr. Allen when he posts on our blog. With but 14 other comments on your post today, I’d say you’ve reached a blogging milestone. — Norm

    Ben Simpson

    Norm,

    I mean absolutely no disrespect to Ron. He’s a great writer! However, before you go too far in your evaluation of the lack of comments, might I suggest the lack has something to do with the fact that Ron has written basically the same–albeit great–article several times? There’s nothing left to say on the subject.

    Blessings!

      Norm Miller

      Ben: You are certainly welcome to suggest that. — Norm

      Johnathan Pritchett

      I don’t know about that. He gives us different angles and bits of history in each article. I appreciate it, anyway. Too much rose-colored glasses when it comes to the Reformation, and I am happy for Ron Hale to occasionally slap them off people’s heads, so to speak. :)

      Dean

      Ben, I disagree completely. Ron has not written the same article again and again. He reminds us of heroes that paid for their convictions at the hands of others who some hold as heroes today. That is why the thread is quite concerning his article. I ask you if Norm were to run a repeat article on Original Sin or a repeat verbatim article on regeneration not preceding faith how many comments could we expect?

      Max

      “I mean absolutely no disrespect to Ron.”

      Ben, that is encouraging to hear … As noted in the intro to this piece, Ron has “served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, and Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.” He probably has lots to share with us yet!

Ron F. Hale

Lydia,
Thanks for your comments today! I like your point about Aaron Burr.

Blessings!

Ron F. Hale

Norm,

Thanks … but I am unworthy of such status :)

I just enjoy reading, researching, and writing and re-writing and re-writing.

Of course I enjoy it when the comments start off positive and stay that way for a bit; but I’ve never enjoyed “comment day(s)” … because my mind has usually moved on to a new topic. For instance, over the last few days I’ve been reading and writing about: Elder Daniel Parker and his Two Seed in the Spirit Predestinarian Baptist movement back in the early to mid 1800s. Very interesting movement of the past.

Blessings!

    Robert Vaughn

    Ron, I enjoyed this piece on the Täuferjäger. This sad period of church history is one that should never be forgotten.

    I look forward to reading what you have to say about Daniel Parker. He has been a peculiar interest of mine for some time — because he is a distant cousin to my Parker ancestors, because he had a tremendous impact on East Texas history (church & otherwise), because he is a really interesting character, and a number of other reasons.

Rick Patrick

Ron,

Another amazing post. My son learned in school that nearly every social or ethnic group has experienced a period of persecution. Thinking about your article, I mentioned the Anabaptists who were drowned for believing in immersion. He had no idea. Neither does anyone else.

We need an epic motion picture, complete with musical score, great acting, and the powerful story of courageous people dying for their spiritual freedom: “Immersed in Glory.”

Ron F. Hale

Rick,
I like that title!

I have grown to respect and stand in awe of the courage and convictions of the Anabaptists. Their stories need to be told and heard. They were mostly made up of the common folk. With their leaders, preachers, and theologians killed very quickly …the movement was slowed and hurt. Yet, the revival continued for many years.

Most of their literature remains untranslated into English from German, etc.

Maybe the study of German would be a great major or minor at TMC or a few other schools.

Blessings my friend !

Johnathan Pritchett

Excellent article once again, Ron. I hope you continue to shine lights on these issues with more articles. They are never redundant in my opinion.

Adam Harwood

Ron,
Thanks for this article. Many (not all) seminary students and pastors may know this dark side of church history. But most Southern Baptists “in the pew” have no idea that ao many people were murdered by the state-church over believers’ baptism. As the young people today sometimes say: It’s mind blowing.
Blessings.
In Him,
Adam

Ron F. Hale

Johnathan,

Thanks for your encouragement.

As the times grow harsher toward followers of Christ …the Anabaptists will provide us some valuable lessons in facing ongoing percecution — from outside or within the Church.

Blessings!

rhutchin

It’s nice to go back to the Anabaptists and claim ancestral origin. Southern Baptists appear to have the good from the Anabaptists but not the not-so-good. However, the Southern Baptist as a denomination was formed in the 1800’s involving a disagreement with the Northern Baptists over the issue of slavery. Everyone has skeletons in the closet. The Reformed (Calvinist) influence within Southern Baptist churches today should no more be tied to the Anabaptists than today’s Southern Baptists should be tied to slavery. Theological issues are the proper focus – What do the Scriptures say?

    Ron F. Hale

    (rutchin) — history gives up her secrets as we search and find. Sometimes …the revelations of history are so shocking that our minds do not want to believe them. You bring up the issue of slavery. Even that issue reveals shocking history as to the clergymen that led the proslavery movement (from north and south). Larry E. Tise has a great book — check out his list of 270 proslavery clergymen (from north and south) and you will be shocked as to their affliliations and motivations — and the schools they started.

    Blessings!

    Lydia

    “Theological issues are the proper focus – What do the Scriptures say?”

    I agree with this. Let us start with love your neighbor as yourself and wonder why Calvin did not understand that simple command in practice even though he wrote the Institutes. We are not talking about “defensive” violence here. We are talking about violence against those who disagreed with him about doctrine. It is one of the many rotten fruits of the Reformation so we must wonder what else they got so very wrong. They reformed their political environment in the Name of God but not their hearts?

      Lydia

      If one has not seen the Piper Geneva video, it gives me one more reason why people need to be educated about the other side of that history.
      Here is a link to the video
      http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=john+piper+in+genevamid=BBEAEC3506C76582331ABBEAEC3506C76582331A&view=detail&FORM=VIRE6

      rhutchin

      Agreed. But let’s face it. Every time has its issues. In the 1800’s, it was slavery. Today, even Southern Baptists can be indifferent to sexual relationships outside of marriage. Calvin may have been extreme, but he clearly seems to have understood what compromise would do to the church. Calvin may be faulted for not being tolerant of those outside the church, but contrast that with the tolerance we see today within the church. Compromise knows no boundaries.

        Norm Miller

        Plz tell me you are not putting murder on par w/fornication. — Norm

          rhutchin

          Gee Lord, it’s not like I was murdering people.

        Lydia

        Gee, rhutchin, Paul just said to put them outside the Body.(1 Corin 5)

        But then we are not talking about that sort of “compromise” are we? We are talking about Calvin not tolerating disagreement on infant baptism or a state church to the point of implementing torture, banishments, drownings and burnings.

        I have often thought of Calvin as more of a Diotrephes in his intolerance of dissenting views on doctrine that would dare question his authority in such matters.

          rhutchin

          As I heard it, Calvin got the city government to buy into his teachings. And then, they did tell people to leave if they didn’t like it. Just how many people stayed around and challenged the system leading Calvin and the city fathers to torture or put them to death?

            Lydia

            rhutchin, I don’t really understand your question. I would think the question is how many people dared to challenge the church state authorities as they saw it becoming increasingly strident. Are we now blaming them?

            Are you suggesting that the people who did not leave when Calvin got power in the 16th century are to blame…because they did not leave? Were they supposed to get a flight to Holland and call the movers to bring their stuff while applying for a job at UPS Holland?

            My reading gives me the impression many thought it would be better with Calvin after all the chaos previously. But we both know, power corrupts.

R. Richard Tribble, Jr

Ron,

Lost touch after you left NAMB.

Enjoyed reading your post. Brought back a lot of memories of my time studying and pastoring in Europe. Most European Anabaptists still claim they were never part of the Reformation – they existed BEFORE the Reformation.

When you get a chance email me rrtribble49@gmail.com

Max

Thank you for this post Ron. It would do the SBC pew well to get a glimpse into this history – perhaps you should consider penning a “layman’s” piece in this regard for the new series being published by Free Church Press. I wish today’s majority of Southern Baptists were as “steadfast in pursuing the dream of restoring the Church to NT beliefs and practices” as were the Anabaptists. As time goes on, I find myself identifying with the Anabaptists more than those “other” 16th century reformers. Truth is unkillable!

Lydia

“My fear is that hatred for them may cause us to be guilty of murder in our own hearts. I sense many emotions in this thread so I’ll remove myself. God bless.”

Joshua T, Do you not see what you have done here? You are accusing folks of hatred who simply bring up truths this movement has ignored. You cannot expect people not to study the Reformed movement or to not point out the glaring inconsistencies of their practice. That would be ignorance. And since their stance was theo-political, you cannot separate out their behavior from their beliefs. And we know there were beleivers at the time who put their lives on the line for truth.

How about: I fear you have “murder” in your heart because you are so concerned we deal with umcomfortable truths about Calvin. Why are you so concerened it is discussed? Is it because it is very hard to explain away and causes people to question the doctrine behind it all?

Another tactic is to dismiss folks of being too “emotional”. That is downright silly. The coldest calulating Nazi working the gas chambers had many “emotions”. So that is just an attempt at a dismissive insult. Are you a pastor?

My fear is that Calvin’s behavior will become so much the norm and so tolerated with this “no big deal” attitude that we are in for some serious fallout from it when young untested men get too much power. You won’t burn people because it is illegal. but you will tell them they have “murder” in their hearts or are too emotional in order to not deal with serious issues that come up. SGM is case in point.

volfan007

Some more info about the Reformers. As I said above…in a comment that hardly anyone will read….lol…but, Martin Luther was very anti Semitic. He hated Jews. And, he loved to drink strong, green, German beer. Maybe this is where so many “Reformers” of today feel okay drinking alcohol?

Zwingli used the services of prostitutes. When the church challenged him about having sex with prostitutes, he told them that he didnt seduce virgins and married women, so it was okay. The Church said it was okay. And, he went on using prostitutes.

David

    Christian

    LOL. Our beloved elders!

    Lydia

    Vol, Martin Luther said that women were to be either wives or prostitutes. He really had a high opinion of them. I can remember reading that if his wife had not run the brewery they would never have had an income.

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