The Anabaptists and their Stepchildren - by F.N. Lee
God maintained His baptism despite the Church's mediaeval meanderings
To a much lesser extent than in Britain under the Wycliffites and in Bohemia under the Hussites, Christianity had continued even in darkest Southern Europe. It had continued not only in the stagnant southeast, but also in the papal southwest -- in spite of the tyranny there. In 1520, Luther called this The Babylonian Captivity of the Church.53 Also the Frenchman Calvin described the woes of the Western Church with great precision.
For, as the great genius of Geneva explained,54 even among "the papists" -- there were and are "vestiges of a Church which the Lord has allowed to remain among them.... The Lord...deposited His covenant in Gaul, Italy, Germany, Spain and England.
"When these countries were oppressed by the tyranny of antichrist -- He [the Lord], in order that His covenant might remain inviolable, first preserved baptism there, as an evidence of the covenant. Baptism..., consecrated by His lips, retains its power -- in spite of human depravity."
Luther on infants' faith and reason before their infant baptism
According to Scripture, it is the Spirit-empowered Word which regenerates. James 1:18. According to the Anabaptists, the Spirit alone regenerates -- unmonitorable by the Word. Rome, however, said that regeneration is effected by baptism -- and that baptism then produces faith.
Rome thus held that infants could not believe savingly until after and because they had been baptized. The Anabaptists held that infants cannot believe (nor even profess belief), so that infants should not be baptized -- but that adults could receive baptism (yet only after professing their faith). The Protestant Reformation objected first to Rome and then to the Anabaptists. Instead, it pointed both of them -- back to the Bible.
Probably even before his formal break with Rome, Luther had realized -- through studying Holy Scripture -- that baptism presupposes faith within the baptizee himself. From the Bible alone, Luther was led to deny the Romish error (and the later Anabaptist heresy) that unbaptized infants cannot believe -- and to demonstrate the contrary. On this, see Francis Nigel Lee: Revealed to Babies (Confederate Series, Commonwealth Publishing, Rowlett, Texas, 1987).
To Luther, Genesis 17:7 teaches that the Triune God is the Lord not only of adult believers but also of their seed. Himself the seed of believing parents, John the baptizer believed while yet in his mother's womb. Luke 1:41.
Luther also saw that Matthew 18:6f refers to little ones who believe in Jesus. Indeed, in Matthew 19:14 -- Jesus even declares that only those adults are fit for the kingdom of heaven, who believe like such infants.55
Thus Luther rightly realized that John the baptizer -- as when a baby born to believing parents -- was himself already a believer in Christ, even before John's own birth. Luke 1:36-44. That was prior to any possible circumcision and/or baptism John may have received either in infancy or thereafter.
Referring to Christ's blessing of the children in Mark 10:14f, Luther insisted56 that infant faith is present "before or certainly in the baptism.... If any baptism is certain of success, the baptism of children is most certain... In adults there may be deception, because of their mature reason. But in children there can be no deception, because of their slumbering reason." And if such infants indeed have a "slumbering reason" -- then why not also: a slumbering faith?
Now what exactly is this 'slumbering' reason? Luther explains: "Tell me, is the Christian deprived of his reason when he is asleep? Certainly, then, his faith and God's grace do not leave him! If faith remains with the sleeping Christian while his reason is not conscious of the faith -- why should there not be faith [with]in children, before reason is aware of it? A similar situation obtains, when a Christian is engaged in strenuous labour and is not [then] conscious of his faith and reason. Will you say that, on account of this, his faith has come to an end?" Of course not!
Luther later told the Anabaptists that Mark (16:16) does not say 'he who confesses he has faith and is baptized, shall be saved.' For Mark says instead that 'he who believes and is baptized, shall be saved.'
Explained Luther:57 "It is true that a man should believe, for baptism.... But his faith, you do not know.... Because all men are liars, and only God knows the heart.... I do not get baptized because I am sure of faith, but because God has commanded it.... Who then can exclude the little children? ... We have a command to offer every one the universal gospel and the universal baptism. The children must also be included. We plant and water; and leave God to give the increase."
Luther on covenant infants' faith at or even before their baptism
Well-known is Luther's (quasi-Calvinian) emphasis on 'infant faith' at and even before infant baptism. For, he insists, "children must themselves believe -- lest the majesty of the Word and sacrament be obscured."58 So "we are of the opinion and the expectation that the child should believe, and we pray that God give it faith. Yet we do not baptize it for that reason, but because God has so commanded."59
Already in 1521, Luther clearly stated60 that "without faith no sacrament is of any use.... The sacrament of baptism is a divine sign or seal given by virtue of the promise and Word of Christ in the last chapter of Mark [16:16]. 'He that believes and is baptized, shall be saved.'"
Again, Luther insisted61 the Church prays for God to pour out His blessing upon the one to be baptized -- "so that he may become worthy to come to grace at his baptism.... The children themselves believe...and have their own faith which God works within them -- through the faithful intercession of their parents who faithfully bring them to the Christian Church.... Through their [parental] intercession and assistances, the children receive their own faith from God."
Luther appealed to infant circumcision (Genesis 17:10f), and asserted against the Anabaptists that children actually believe. Matthew 18:6 & 19:14. Also against the Romanists he insisted: "Baptism helps no one. It is also to be given to no one --except he believes for himself. Without personal faith, no one is to be baptized." Anabaptists and Lutherans, listen to Luther!
The roots and the rise of the Anabaptist heretics
Only around 1522 did the Anabaptists emerge. They were subdivided into many different varieties, with great differences among each another. The great German church historian Rev. Prof. Dr. Albrecht Ritschl, in his famous three-volume History of Pietism, attributed their origin to the mediaeval 'spiritual Franciscans.' Drs. G. Kramer, the noted Dutch historian of doctrine, considered62 the Anabaptists to have agreed with Romanism in many weighty matters of faith.
Indeed, some of Anabaptism's views seem to derive -- also via Francke and Paracelsus -- even from the neo- paganistic Pre-Renaissance. This is unquestionably so in the cases of Campanus, Denck, Muenzer and Servetus. See Francis Nigel Lee: A Christian Introduction to the History of Philosophy, Craig, Nutley N.J., 1969, pp. 142ff.
Even modern Baptist(ic) church historians have agreed with many of these assessments. Thus, in his book The Anabaptist Story, Prof. Dr. W.R. Estep rightly insisted63 that "not one of the Swiss Anabaptist leaders came from a Waldensian background.... All of the early Anabaptist leaders came originally from the Roman Church...or directly out of Catholicism into Anabaptist life."
Even more interesting is the admission of history professor Dr. K.R. Davis in his book Anabaptism and Asceticism, published by the modern Mennonite Anabaptists themselves. "The Marburg Anabaptists," explained Davis,64 "question[ed] prospective members and those requesting the sign of baptism thus: 'If need should require it, are you prepared to devote all your possessions to the service of the brotherhood?'" Behold the dechristianizing advocacy of communism at anabapticized baptisms!
Indeed, based on his Hutterite studies, the authority Friedmann has observed "that Anabaptist baptism might perhaps be compared to a monastic vow.... Novak advocates the same idea...that in general 'Anabaptism represents a laicization of the Catholic monastic spirituality.'"
Now most Anabaptists departed much further from Scripture than Romanism had -- and upheld even a neo-paganistic denial of the incarnation. Admitted Williams:65 "The ancient heretical christology (originally developed by Valentinus and assimilated by Apollinarius)...was variously communicated to the sixteenth-century Radicals..., in part indirectly by the perpetration of the 'celestial flesh heresy' in Bogomile and Cathar circles."
True, some of the simpler Anabaptists -- such as the widow Idelette Stordeur, even before she presbyterianized and married the Protestant Reformer John Calvin -- were indeed sincere Christians. Yet as to their distinctives, even when at their very best, the Anabaptist leaders can most appropriately be described as sub-Christian. What was good in them, did not originate with them. What originated with them, was not good.
The Anabaptists were divided into many varieties. Yet they were nevertheless all apparently influenced by the dualistic, neo-Manichaean, anti-Old-Testamentistic and antipaidobaptistic66 Oriental sect of the ninth-century Paulicians.
Indeed, most of the Anabaptists were also tinged by the French Petrobrusian neo-Marcionistic antipaidobaptist soul- sleepers of the twelfth century. Thus the modern Baptist church historians Rev. Prof. Drs. H.C. Vedder and W.M.S. West.67
Dr. West divided those "Anabaptists" inter alia into 'Spiritualists' and 'Anti-Trinitarians.' He has held that the 'Spiritualists' include "Thomas Muenzer...and...eventually Andreas Carlstadt.... The most famous names among the 'Anti-Trinitarians' are Miguel Servetus...and Faustus Socinus."
Some Anabaptists believed babies were 'safe.' Others believed they were lost -- because deemed to be incapable of professing, or even of possessing, any faith in Christ at all. Again, some Anabaptists believed baptism was merely a sign of faith; others believed it made prior faith secure. Yet others believed faith was vain without baptism. But all Anabaptists believed it was wrong, and sometimes even sinful, to baptize babies.
The Anabaptist attack against the Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation commenced when the paidobaptist Martin Luther of Wittenberg issued his Ninety-Five Theses against the Romish deformation of Christ's Church. That occurred on Reformation Day, 31st October, 1517. However, by 1522, not just reactionary Romish priests (from the ultra-right wing) but also revolutionary Anabaptist weavers (from the lunatic left) were fanatically and viciously attacking the great Reformer.
As the famous Lutheran scholar Steimle has explained:68 "In December  the Zwickau prophets Niclas Storch, Thomas Drechsel...and Marcus Stuebner...appeared in Wittenberg claiming direct divine inspiration." They then went on "and preached the overturn of present conditions....
"The City Council, in the endeavor to restore order, on January 24th 1522...adopted a 'Worthy Ordinance for the Princely City of Wittenberg' in which...a date was fixed on which the images should be removed from the parish church.... But the excited populace did not await the day. Taking the matter into its own hands it invaded the church, tore images and pictures from the walls, and burned them up."
As Prof. Dr. Robert D. Linder has pointed out,69 the weavers "Nicholas Storch, Thomas Drechsel and Marcus Stuebner...preached a radical biblicism -- which included rejection of infant baptism; denial of the need for a professional ministry and organized religion, because all 'godly' men were under the direct influence of the Spirit; special revelation through visions and dreams; the imminent return of Christ; and perhaps psychopannych[ian]ism.
"Driven from the Saxon town of Zwickau where they originated and where they had influenced Thomas Muenzer, they visited Wittenberg in December 1521 during Luther's absence.... Their millenial 'enthusiasm' and outspoken criticism of the Wittenberger's liturgy, led to their expulsion in 1522."
Significantly, also the modern British Baptist historian Erroll Hulse has rightly called70 these first German Anabaptists "radical prophets." Explained Hulse: "The leaders of this group were Storch, Stubner and Muenzer -- the latter of ill-fame, because of his...claim of prophecy: the ability of inspired speech similar to the claims of neo- Pentecostals today.... Carlstadt, a well-known personality in town, was much influenced by the visitors. Eventually, he came to the position where he refused to administer infant baptism."
The historian Prof. Dr. Robert G. Clouse has described71 how "when Luther returned to Wittenberg, Carlstadt left for Orlamuende...and renounced his academic degrees. He took an anticlerical attitude, began dressing as a peasant, wearing no shoes.... These actions were based upon his conviction that inner religious experience demanded social equality. Luther visited Orlamuende.... In a debate with him, Carlstadt claimed he spoke by direct revelation of the Holy Spirit rather than with the 'papistical' talk of Luther."
Anabaptism's Muenzer or Muentzer: the monster of Muhlhausen
In his important article on Thomas Muen(t)zer, Clouse rightly indicated72 that "he preached in a violent way.... He also organized his followers into bands, ready to take up arms....
"Some of these disciples destroyed a shrine.... This action...caused Duke John and Duke Frederick of Saxony to order Muenzer to preach before them. In his sermon...he demanded that the rulers use force to establish the true Gospel....
"After some months in South Germany, he appeared at Muhlhausen, where he preached to the townsmen and helped to involve them in the Peasant Revolt.... His teaching against infant baptism and his emphasis on the [alleged new] inspiration of the Holy Spirit, influenced other Anabaptists.... Marxist historians emphasize Muenzer, because he anticipated later social revolutionaries."
Even Harvard's sympathetic Prof. Dr. G.H. Williams has admitted73 "that Thomas Muenzer was a fierce fanatic, possessed of a demoniac spirit." When previously a Romanist, "he became father confessor in a Bernadine convent" -- yet was plagued with "radical doubt as to the existence of God."
However, after "he entered the circle of the three so-called Zwickau prophets," Muenzer went "preaching a radical Biblicism characterized by direct revelation in visions and dreams..., the abandonment of infant baptism, [and] belief in the millenium --to be preceded by the ascendancy of the Turk as Antichrist.... He appears to have encouraged the postponement of baptism until children should be of sufficient age to understand the action."
In his communistic 1524 Sermon Before the Princes, Muenzer called apparently Luther "Brother Fattened Swine" and "Brother Soft Life" and even "Mr. Liar" -- and the Lutheran theologians, "vicious reprobates."74 Preaching revolution, Muenzer called upon the common people to crush the 'godless.'75
As Williams has explained:76 "Muenzer reinterpreted the politically conservative text of Romans chapter thirteen -- into a revolutionary passage...making the Ernestine princes by hortatory anticipation the executors of God's wrath against the godless and the protectors of the revolutionary saints. At the same time, Muenzer warned that if the princes should fail to identify themselves with the 'covenantal people' -- the sword would pass from them to the people....
"Sovereignty resided in the godly people" -- meaning Muenzer's people! "He took the outpouring of the Spirit in himself and others as confirmation of the prophecy of Joel (chs. 2:27-32 & 3:1-4)." This, Muenzer combined "with the equalization of the saints in the common possession both of the gifts of the Spirit and the goods of life."
Also today, the message of Muenzer is alive and well on planet Earth. Compare George Orwell's Animal Farm and his Nineteen Eighty-Four, and even Ron Sider's 1984 Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger.
Huebmaier the Anabaptist and the road to revolution
Muenzer was apparently much encouraged by his fellow South German, Balthasar Huebmaier of Wausthut (or Waldshut). He had been a Roman Catholic priest who had studied under Luther's implacable opponent, Dr. John Eck. Huebmaier himself had persecuted Jews -- and helped promote the burning down of their synagogue in Regensberg.77
According to the Baptists Vedder and Estep,78 "foot washing was practised by Huebmaier even before believer's baptism was introduced." Yet by Easter 1525, after not baptizing but merely 'dedicating' most infants (yet still baptizing them when parents demanded it), Huebmaier introduced rebaptism in Waldshut. He himself rebaptized some three hundred Christians. This he did by sprinkling or pouring, but not by submersion.79
Now those who practise infant baptism, averred Huebmaier, "rob us of the true baptism.... One must not baptize infants.... If so, I may baptize my dog or my donkey; or I may circumcise girls.... I may make idols out of St. Paul and St. Peter -- I may bring infants to the Lord's Supper!"80
To Huebmaier,81 "infant baptism is a deception invented...by men.... The sprinkling of infants...is no baptism, nor is it worthy of such a name."
1527 saw the publication of his work The Reason and Cause Why Every Man Who Was Christened in Infancy Is Under Obligation to be Baptized According to the Ordinances of Christ Even Though He Be One Hundred Years Old.82 And in his last polemic writing (On Infant Baptism),83 he not only condemned infant baptism but even declared that it actually does the infant harm.
Moreover, Huebmaier was also an anti-pacifistic Anabaptist. See his work On the Sword (translated by the Baptist Vedder).84 Huebmaier made common cause even with the revolutionistic Anabaptist Thomas Muenzer.
Bullinger charged Huebmaier with a restless spirit of innovation. The latter certainly was extremely brazen. Boldly, Huebmaier had claimed even Luther in support of his views.
So Luther retorted that "Balthasar Huebmoer [Huebmaier] quotes me, among others, by name -- in his blasphemous book on rebaptism -- as if I were of his foolish mind. But I take comfort in the fact that neither friend nor foe will believe such a lie --since I have sufficiently in my sermons shown my faith in infant baptism." In addition, Luther classed the Anabaptists with the Jewish fanatics at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. He also compared them to the Donatistic circumcellions who later ravaged the African Church.85
The Anabaptists and the 1525 Peasant War in Germany
Matters exploded early in 1525, upon the publication of the Twelve Articles of all the Peasants (allegedly and indeed apparently authored by Huebmaier). As the Lutheran theologian Charles M. Jacobs has pointed out:86 "The social ferment out of which the Peasants' War arose, had its beginning far back of the Reformation. It had been in progress for a full century before the Reformation began.... Heretical ideas of many kinds had combined.... The hope of the coming millenium glowed most brightly in the hearts of those who had the least to hope for this side of it....
"This view of it was zealously spread by radical...preachers of religious revolution. The best know of these men, were Thomas Muenzer and Balthasar Huebmaier.... [Now] Muenzer, Huebmaier and others were preaching religious revolution.... The Twelve Articles...were adopted originally by the peasants...from January or February 1525....
"On the basis of extensive research, Wilhelm Stolze [Peasant War and Reformation 1926] has suggested that they were written by Huebmaier.... A valuable edition of the most important sources, is that of Boehmer: Documents for the History of the Peasant War and the Anabaptists, Bonn, 1910."
Also the Dutch Christian Encyclopaedia has linked Huebmaier to the Peasant War.87 Indeed, the Schaff- Herzog Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge88 even mentions his acquaintance with the monster Muenzer.
Now of the 1525 Twelve Articles of all the Peasants, the Fourth condemned the "custom hitherto that no poor man has had the power to be allowed to catch game, wild fowls, or fish in running water.... This seems to us altogether improper." Further, the Tenth Article communistically demanded what it called "the common fields" -- which, it alleged, "once belonged to a community. We would take these back again into the hands of our communities!"89
Revolutionary insurrection spread rapidly across the whole of Southwestern and Central Germany. Soon, all was in uproar. Palaces, castles, convents and libraries were all put to the torch by Muenzer's Anabaptists. Ten years later, they even ruled -- from the City of Muenster.
As Karl Marx's colleague the famous communist Friedrich Engels remarked,90 "the peasants and plebeians...united in a revolutionary party whose demands and doctrines were most clearly expressed by Muenzer.... The millenium and the day of judgement over the degenerated church and corrupted world proposed and described by the mystic, seemed to Muenzer imminently close....
"Under the cloak of Christian forms, he preached a kind of pantheism...and at times even approached atheism.... There is no heaven in the beyond.... There is no devil but man's evil lusts.... His political program approached communism.... Even on the eve of the  February Revolution, there was more than one modern communist sect that had not such a well-stocked theoretical arsenal as was Muenzer's in the sixteenth century....
"By 'the kingdom of God' Muenzer understood a society in which there would be no class differences or private property and...authority independent of or foreign to the members of the society.... A union[!] was established to implement all this.
"Muenzer set to work at once to organize the union. His sermons became still more militant and revolutionary.... He depicted the previous oppression in fiery colours, and countered it with his dream vision of the millennium of social[istic] republican equality. He published one revolutionary pamphlet after another and sent emissaries in all directions. 'All the world must suffer a big jolt' [proclaimed Muenzer]. 'There will be such a game, that the ungodly will be thrown off their seats and the downtrodden will rise!'" Thus the classic communist Friedrich Engels.
Proclaimed Muenzer:91 "All things shall be common, and occasionally they shall be distributed according to each one's necessity.... Whatever prince, count or lord will not submit to this, and being forewarned -- his head shall be stricken off or he shall be hung!"
Muenzer then collected together eight thousand peasants, and ransacked the cloisters and the houses of the rich throughout Thuringia. However, he was solidly defeated at the Battle of Frankhausen in 1525, and beheaded shortly thereafter.
Muenzerite Anabaptists still continued to help spread the sedition
The death of Muenzer was by no means the end of the bloodshed. From Thuringia, the peasant revolt now spread to Swabia. There, the preaching of Melchior Hofmann -- later the leading Anabaptist -- inspired the peasants to make their demands, as laid down in the Twelve Articles.
Without waiting for the nobility to reply, the peasants revolted. In eight days, one hundred and seventy-nine castles and twenty-eight cloisters were burnt down. Many of the nobility were butchered. But the princes finally arose against the fanatics, and the revolt ended in the bloody death of nearly one hundred thousand peasants.
Friedrich Engels was by no means the only leading communist to praise these Anabaptists (in his 1850 book The Peasant War in Germany). Marx's other associate, Karl Kautsky, did the same --in his 1894 book Communism in the Middle Ages and in the Time of the Reformation, and also in his 1897 other book Communism in Central Europe in the Time of the Reformation. Ever since, communist text-books world-wide have been doing exactly the same.
In the same year of the Peasant War, Luther published his 1525 essay Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants. Clearly referring to the Anabaptist Thomas Muenzer and his supporters, Luther insisted92 that the Peasant War was "the devil's work...and in particular...the work of the archdevil who rules at Muhlhausen....
"The peasants are not content to be themselves the devil's own, but they force and compel many good people against their wills to join their devilish league and so make them partakers of all of their own wickedness and damnation.... How many martyrs could now be made -- by the bloodthirsty peasants and the murdering prophets!"
Luther on the antinomian and antipaidobaptistic Muenzerites
Luther later asked:93 "What was Muenzer seeking, except to become a new Turkish emperor? He was possessed of the spirit of lies, and therefore there was no holding him back. He had to go at the other work of the devil, take the sword and murder and rob, as the spirit of murder drove him -- and he created such a rebellion, and such misery."
Then Luther again warned94 against "poisonous and dangerous preachers who take the side of one party alone and call the lords names -- in order to tickle the people and court the peasants like Muenzer, Carlstadt and other fanatics.... If Muenzer and Carlstadt and their comrades[!] had not been allowed to sneak and creep into other men's houses and parishes whither they had neither call nor command to go -- that whole great calamity [of the Peasant War] would not have happened."
Luther further contrasted the Biblical basis of the Lutherans with the pseudo-spiritualistic fanaticism of Thomas Muenzer's Anabaptists. "They devised the slogan: 'Spirit! Spirit! The Spirit must do it! The letter killeth!'" -- exclaimed Luther. "Thus Muenzer [derisively] called us Wittenberg theologians, 'men learned in the Scriptures' -- and [deludedly called] himself, 'the man taught of the Spirit'.... There you see how the devil had armed himself -- and built up his barricades!"95
Indeed, Luther soon regarded96 Revelation 8:8 as a picture of those "who boast their spirits above all the Scripture and move -- like this 'burning mountain' -- between heaven and earth." Such, he insisted, "in our day, do Muenzer and the fanatics." The average German Anabaptist, wrote Luther, wished to have "nothing to do with baptism" (meaning infant baptism). Yet that was just one of the many errors of these Anabaptists. For -- added Luther -- "another rejects the sacrament; still another teaches that there will be another world between this one and the last judgment; and some assert that Christ is not divine."97
All the Anabaptists rejected infant baptism. Indeed, many of them further rejected even adult baptism -- whenever administered by the Romanists, or even by the Protestants. Clearly, the Anabaptists were not interested in the Reformation of Christ's Church.
However, with their new and sectarian "gathered church" concept -- the Anabaptists were indeed interested in revolution against what they regarded as a Christless social order. Consequently, in 1525 Luther now rightly called them "the new false prophets"98 of Germany.
Luther's antirebaptismal work Concerning Rebaptism
In his own work Concerning Rebaptism (1528), Luther thrashed the Anabaptists. They had over-emphasized the subjective and downgraded the objective side of the rite. Yet, Luther retorted, important as faith is -- the Word, and not faith, is the basis of baptism. Any would-be baptizer who regards faith on the part of the baptizee as essential for the validity of the baptism -- can never consistently administer baptism. For he can never be certain that faith really is present.
It is possible, conceded Luther, that some might conceivably doubt the validity of their own infant baptisms. For they might well have no irrebutable evidence that they even then already truly believed. They might then conceivably wish to request (re-)baptism -- when adults.
That request, however, should not be granted. Instead, insisted Luther, the one making this request should be told that even if he were thus to be 'baptized' a second time -- Satan might well soon trouble him again, as to whether he then too really had faith. Then he would have to be 'baptized' yet again -- a third time -- and so on, ad infinitum, for just as long as any such doubts kept recurring.
"For it often happens that one who thinks that he has faith," explained Luther, "has none whatever -- and that one who thinks that he has no faith but only doubts, actually believes. We are not told 'he who knows that he believes' [shall be saved]..., but 'he that believes [and is baptized] shall be saved!' [Mark 16:16]....
"The man who bases his baptism on his faith -- is not only uncertain.... He is...godless and hypocritical.... For he puts his trust in what is not his own -- viz., a gift which God has given him -- and not in the Word of God alone." Consequently, even though at the time of baptism there be no faith -- the baptism, nevertheless, is still valid.99
The condemnation of Anabaptism in the Lutheran Symbols
The 1530 Augsburg Confession (later endorsed also by John Calvin), declared100 that the Lutheran churches "condemn the Anabaptists...who imagine that the Holy Spirit is given to men without the outward Word, through their own preparation and works.... They condemn the Anabaptists who allow not the baptism of children....
"They condemn the Anabaptists...who teach that those who have once been holy, cannot fall again.... They condemn the Anabaptists who...contend that some men may attain to such a perfection in this life that they cannot sin.... They condemn the Anabaptists who forbid...civil offices [to Christians].... They condemn the Anabaptists who think that there shall be an end of torments to condemned men and the devils."
Also in the Formula of Concord, the later Lutherans declared101 that "the Anabaptists are divided into many sects -- of which some maintain more, some fewer, errors. Nevertheless, in a general way -- they all profess such a doctrine as can be tolerated neither in the Church; nor by the police and in the commonwealth; nor in daily [domestic and social] life."
The Formula then mentions "Anabaptist Articles which cannot be endured in the Church." It claims that "this 'righteousness' of the Anabaptists consists in great part in a certain arbitrary and humanly-devised sanctimony, and in truth is nothing else than some new sort of monkery."
These intolerable Anabaptist Articles include the one "that infants, not baptized, are not sinners before God -- but just and innocent." Concerning "baptism," continues the Lutheran Formula of Concord, "in the opinion of the Anabaptists, they [infants] have no need" of baptism or of salvation. "Infants [say the Anabaptists] ought not to be baptized until they attain the use of reason, and are able themselves to profess their faith....
"They [the Anabaptists] neither make much account of the baptism of children, nor take care to have their children baptized -- which conflicts with the express words of the divine promise (Genesis 17:7 sqq.). For this only holds good to those who observe the covenant of God and do not contemn it."
The Anabaptists again quite wrongly further teach "that a godly man ought to have no dealings at all with the Ministers of the Church who teach the Gospel of Christ according to the tenor of the Augsburg Confession, and rebuke the preachings and errors of the Anabaptists." Thus, they 'shunned' saints!
The Formula also condemns "Anabaptist Articles which cannot be endured in the Commonwealth. I. That the office of the magistrate is not, under the New Testament, a condition of life that pleases God. II. That a Christian man cannot discharge the office of a magistrate with a safe and quiet conscience. III. That a Christian man cannot with a safe conscience administer and execute the office of a magistrate if matters so require against the wicked, nor subjects implore for their defence that power which the magistrate has received of God. IV. That a Christian man cannot with a safe conscience take an oath, nor swear obedience and fidelity to his prince or magistrate. V. That the magistrate, under the New Testament, cannot with a good conscience punish criminals with death." Anabaptism spurns the Bible's death penalty!
The Formula next condemns "Anabaptist Articles which cannot be endured in daily life. I. That a godly man cannot with safe conscience hold or possess any property, but that whatever means he may possess he is bound to bestow them all as common good. II. That a Christian man cannot with a safe conscience either keep an inn, or carry on trade, or forge weapons. III. That it is permitted married people who think differently in religion to divorce themselves, and to contract matrimony with some other person who agrees with them in religion." Anabaptism hates capital, weapons, and marital fidelity!
The Formula further condemns the following "Errors of the [Anabaptist] Schwenkfeldians. I. That all those who affirm Christ according to the flesh to be a creature, have no true knowledge of the heavenly King and His reign. II. That the flesh of Christ through its exaltation has in such wise received all the divine attributes, that Christ as He is man is altogether like to the Father...and that the flesh of Christ pertains to the essence of the Blessed Trinity. III. That the ministry of the Word...is not that instrument whereby God the Holy Ghost teaches men.... IV. That the water of baptism is not a means whereby the Lord seals adoption in the children of God."
Switzerland disturbed by the Anabaptist heresies
In the years culminating in 1525, the Anabaptists had torn Germany apart. Ominously, a similar situation was now threatening to develop in Switzerland too. For the rumblings of the Peasant War in Germany soon reached especially the German-speaking areas also of Switzerland.
Zwingli was rightly alarmed. The Anabaptists were radical revolutionists. Their baptismal views, he felt, were relatively unimportant. But their social views -- as reflected in their demand that Christians get themselves rebaptized -- made Luther's previous controversy even against Rome now seem peripheral.
Schaff has shown102 that "radicalism was identical with the Anabaptist movement, but the baptismal question was secondary. It involved an entire reconstruction of the Church and of the social order. It meant revolution.... Nothing is more characteristic of radicalism and sectarianism, than an utter want of historical sense and respect for the past.... It rejects even the Bible as an external authority, and relies on inward inspiration....
"The radical opinion...rejected Luther's theory of forensic, solifidian justification." The radical Anabaptists replaced sola fide (by faith alone) with sola revolutione (by revolution alone). "They hoped at first to carry Zwingli with them, but in vain.... They then charged him with treason to the truth, and hated him worse than the pope.... The demand for rebaptism virtually unbaptized and unchristianized the entire Christian world, and completed the rupture with the historic Church." Thereby, the Anabaptists existentialistically cut the continuous cord connecting the present to the past generations --and to the future.
Unlike the communists, modern antipaidobaptists are understandably embarrassed by the German Thomas Muenzer. Instead, they hasten to claim their descent rather from the 'milder' Anabaptists -- such as Conrad Grebel and his Swiss circle. Thus, as regards all of the Anabaptists, the modern British Baptist Hulse has claimed103 that to be "the first baptism -- when Grebel baptised Blaurock in the home of Manz on January 21 1525." However, Hulse was silent about an adulatory letter from Grebel to Muenzer some four months earlier, already written on September 5th 1524.
It was addressed104 "to the sincere and true proclaimer of the Gospel, Thomas Muenzer at Allstedt in the Hartz, our faithful and beloved brother with us in Christ." Grebel started off: "Dear Brother Thomas." Soon thereafter, it further stated: "Thy book against false faith and baptism was brought to us, and we were more fully informed and confirmed, and it rejoiced us wonderfully that we found one who was of the same Christian mind with us....
"On the matter of baptism, thy book pleases us well, and we desire to be further instructed by thee. We understand that even an adult is not to be baptized without Christ's rule of binding and loosing.... All children who have not yet come to the discernment of the knowledge of good and evil and have not yet eaten of the tree of knowledge...are surely saved by the suffering of Christ the new Adam....
"As to the [Protestant and Non-Anabaptist] objection that faith is demanded of all who are to be saved -- we [Non-Protestant Anabaptists] exclude children from this and hold that they are saved without faith[!].... We do not believe that children must be baptized.... Infant baptism is a senseless, blasphemous abomination[!] -- contrary...even to the papacy....
"Thou knowest this ten times better, and hast published thy protests against infant baptism.... I have already begun to reply to all (excepting thyself) who have hitherto misleadingly and knowingly written on baptism and have deceived concerning the senseless blasphemous form of baptism -- as, for instance, Luther.... I, C[onrad]. Grebel, meant to write to Luther in the name of all of us, and to exhort him to cease from his caution --which he uses without Scripture."
Then, in a "Postscript or Second letter," Conrad Grebel continued: "Dearly beloved Brother Thomas!" Condemning again "the idolatrous caution of Luther," Grebel then stated that especially the Zwinglians "rail at us as knaves from the pulpit in public, and call us 'Satan changed into angels of light' [cf. Second Corinthians 11:14]....
"Establish and teach only...unadulterated baptism! ... Thou art better informed than a hundred of us.... Ye are far purer than our men here, and those at Wittenberg.... [Signed:] Conrad Grebel..., Felix Manz...and seven new young Muenzers against Luther."
Zwingli's first condemnation of the Anabaptists' views on baptism
When first contacted by Anabaptists in Zurich, even as early as 1525 the Protestant Reformer Zwingli never countenanced the rebaptism of those already baptized in infancy. To the contrary, even then he was already declaring:105 "I leave baptism untouched.... We must practice infant baptism, so as not to offend our fellow men."
Zwingli first enjoyed some little friendship with the incipient Anabaptists in Switzerland. They seemed allies against Romanism, and initially supported his reforms. But when he clung to paidobaptism, they opposed him.
For the Swiss Anabaptists at length began not only to get themselves 'rebaptized' -- but also stedfastly to refuse baptism to their own covenant infants. So Zwingli later condemned their views in his 1525 Christian Introduction of the Zurich Council to the Pastors and Preachers (in the section Concerning the Abrogation of the Law).
Now Zwingli had invited the Anabaptists to have private discussions with him. In vain. So a public disputation followed -- by order of the magistrate -- on January 17th 1525.
In his accompanying letter to Vadian, Zwingli wrote: "The issue is not baptism, but revolt!" Still, Zwingli rightly believed that John the baptizer had baptized not just God-professing adults but also their babies.106 He further believed that First Corinthians 7:14 implies those babies' eligibility also for visible church membership.107 So he rightly launched a vigorous verbal attack against the Anabaptists.
Exclaimed Zwingli: "Their rebaptism is a clear sign that they intend to create a new and different Church. Biblical baptism, however -- just like circumcision -- can be performed once only. Once in the covenant, a man remains there. The New Testament knows only one baptism [Ephesians 4:4-6]. Neither Christ nor the holy Apostles ever repeated it -- or taught that it needed to be repeated."108
Zwingli further pointed out that "the soul is cleansed by the grace of God, and not by any external thing whatever." Consequently, "baptism cannot wash away sin." Furthermore, Zwingli rightly saw that "the children of Christians are not less the children of God than their parents are -- or than the children in Old Testament times were." So, seeing they "belong to God -- who will refuse them baptism?"109
The antitrinitarian Anabaptist leaders Jan Denck (a pantheistic universalist) and Ludwig Haetzer (an adulterer and accused bigamist)110 then denounced Zwingli. He was, they said111 -- worse than the pope. The Anabaptists had stubbornly rejected the baptism of covenant infants. So Zwingli now finally -- and publically -- condemned their views.112
The Reformer Bullinger was an eye-witness at that great debate. It took place in the Zurich Council Hall on January 17th 1525. The Anabaptists argued that infants cannot believe. But Zwingli showed that infant baptism had replaced infant circumcision (Genesis 17 cf. Colossians 2:11-13), and that the infants of Christians are themselves 'holy' (First Corinthians 7:14). He published his arguments (five months later) in a book. That bore the very appropriate title: On Baptism, Rebaptism, and Infant Baptism.
Zwingli won that debate, hands down. Another disputation was held in March, and a third in November -- with the same result. As Bullinger later declared, the Anabaptists just could not answer Zwingli.113
The formal birth and constitution of Switzerland's Anabaptists
Within four days of being trounced by Zwingli in the great debate of 17th January 1525, at one of their sectarian meetings the ex-priest Blaurock defiantly asked his colleague Grebel to rebaptize him in the home of Manz. Blaurock then in turn rebaptized all the others present. Thus was Swiss Anabaptism formally launched.
The Baptist Hulse has well described114 this situation. "This idea crystallised in the first baptism, when Grebel baptised Blaurock in the home of Mantz on January 21 1525.... Evening gatherings in the homes of the dissenters continued, and represented the first informal beginnings of gathered Baptist churches in the area. In the course of the week following the first baptism, thirty-five were baptised by affusion (pouring) at Zollikon."
What a concession from the Baptist Hulse! The members of "the first...Baptist churches" -- Hulse has assured us -- were "baptised by affusion" alias pouring, and not by submersion. Subsequently too, Blaurock baptized by sprinkling; and Manz by pouring.115 As Richard Nitsche has shown, in his History of the Anabaptists in Switzerland at the Time of the Reformation: "We hardly encounter a single formal submersion, such as indeed occurred later."116
Blaurock himself then lashed out. According to the 1525 Anabaptist Hutterite Chronicle,117 Blaurock insisted that both Luther and Zwingli had "let go of the true baptism of Christ" -- and had "followed instead the pope, with infant baptism..., into a false Christianity.... Luther and Zwingli defended...this false teaching [pedobaptism] -- which they really learned from the father and head of Antichrist."
It will be recalled that Grebel had rebaptized Blaurock in the home of Manz. Fortunately, Manz had rightly told his Swiss Anabaptist colleagues that John the baptizer had sprinkled [and not submersed]. Consequently, the three of them now did the same. Unfortunately, however, they did not follow John's sprinkling of also the babies of believers. Nor did they follow John (who baptized but once and for all) -- in their henceforth frequent 'rebaptisms' of those already baptized.
Manz himself later recounted these dramatic events among the Swiss Grebelites. He then wrote:118 "Just as John baptized..., so they -- were poured over with water."
However, having thus upheld the right mode of baptism, Manz then wrongly prescribed the wrong age for that ordinance. It should, he insisted, be received not merely in adulthood -- but also specifically at age thirty. For he bizarrely decreed that "infant baptism...is also against the example of Christ Who...was baptized at thirty years.... Christ has given us an example, that as He has done -- so also ought we to do."
Yet according to the Baptist Hulse,119 after "Grebel baptised Blaurock in the home of Manz," the latter Anabaptist himself was subsequently killed when only twenty-nine. Consequently, in getting himself (re-)baptized before his early death, Manz rejected his own inane injunction that baptism "ought" to be received precisely when thirty.
We have already referred120 to the Anabaptist hymnwriter Haetzer and his colleague the pantheistic universalist Denck, both of whom hated Zwingli even more than they did the pope. However, Denck himself has been described by the famous church historian Rev. Prof. Dr. J.H. Kurtz as 'the pope of the Baptists.'121 And Haetzer was not only antitrinitarian, but also a repeated adulterer and a bigamist.
According to the New International Dictionary of the Christian Church,122 in 1523 Denck became involved in the trial of the three impious painters of Nuremberg, where "the ideas of Thomas Muenzer and Andreas Karlstadt influenced him greatly.... About October 1525, he was forced to leave Nuremberg, and he became a wanderer.... He was rebaptized by Huebmaier...[and became] a leader of the Anabaptists.... He opposed the doctrines of predestination, the bound will, justification by faith, the sufficiency of Christ's atonement, the authority of the Scriptures...and the ministry."
Also in the New International Dictionary, the Scottish Baptist J.G.G. Norman has stated123 that Haetzer "came to Zurich, and wrote advocating an iconoclasm like that of Carlstadt.... Tending to antitrinitarian spiritualism, he was accused of adultery.... He composed hymns which were highly prized." Indeed, to this the English Baptist Hulse has added: "Haetzer, Huebmaier and Blaurock, all ex-priests..., were other influential characters involved in the Anabaptist movement."124
G.H. Williams has explained125 how "Haetzer in Worms in 1527...was engaged with Denck in translating.... He attacked the Magisterial Reformation for disparaging the apocryphal books.... The clearest evidence of Haetzer's final antitrinitarian spiritualism, is a stanza from one of the many hymns that he composed and which were cherished....
"There survives the following explicitly antitrinitarian utterance placed in the mouth of God: 'I am He who created all things.... I am not three persons, but I am one! And I cannot be three persons, for I am one!'"
Williams continued: "Haetzer was exposed in the house of Georg Regel to his besetting temptation, for which he earlier had been asked to leave Basel. This time, however, it was adultery with the mistress herself of the little Anabaptist maid he had earlier taken to wife.... He was clearly guilty."
The Anabaptists, rebaptizing defiantly, expelled from Switzerland
From the above, it is very clear that both Zwingli and Zurich would be well rid of the likes of Haetzer and his Anabaptists. The latter had been trounced in three successive public debates against Zwingli -- respectively in January, March and November 1525. After the first debate, they had: defiantly started rebaptizing Christians in and around Zurich; created public disturbances; and threatened the very maintenance of law and order.
So the City Council of Zurich then decided against them. Yet it still followed Zwingli's clement advice. Anabaptist parents with unbaptized children, should be given eight days to get them baptized -- or face banishment from the city and canton (yet with full benefit of their goods) as obvious seditionists.
The great church historian Schaff has rightly described126 what then ensued. "The Anabaptists refused to obey, and ventured on bold demonstrations. They arranged processions and passed as preachers of repentance in sackcloth and girdles through the streets of Zurich...abusing 'the old dragon' (Zwingli) and his horns [Revelation 12:9 & 13:11 & 20:2], and exclaiming: 'Woe, woe unto Zurich!'"
Schaff continued: "The leaders were arrested.... A commission of ministers and magistrates were sent to them, to convert them. Twenty-four professed conversion, and were set free.... Fourteen men and seven women were retained...but made their escape April 5 . Grebel, Manz and Blaurock were rearrested, and charged with communistic and revolutionary teaching.
"After some other excesses, the magistracy proceeded to threaten those who stubbornly persisted in their error.... Six executions in all took place in Zurich [not for rebaptism but indeed for revolutionism], between 1527 and 1532.... The foreigners were punished by exile, and met death in Roman Catholic countries.... [The German Anabaptist] Huebmaier, who had fled from Waldshut [or Wausthut in Germany] to Zurich [in nearby Switzerland], was tried before the magistracy...and was sent out of the country."
Zwingli's various writings against the errors of the Anabaptists
According to Zwingli, "the Anabaptists have their wives in common and meet at night...for lewd practices." He accused them openly: "As often as you [Anabaptists] confess Christ, you make a confession which is worse than that of the demons. For they had experienced His power in such a measure that they sincerely confessed Him to be the Son of God. But you, when you confess Him, do so hypocritically."127
Again, insisted Zwingli:128 "Give up the oath in any state, and at once -- and in keeping with the Anabaptists' desire -- the magistracy is removed.... [Then,] all things follow as they would have them -- what confusion and up- turning of everything!"
In 1527, Zwingli wrote his refutation of the Anabaptist Balthazar Huebmaier's little book Concerning the Christian Baptism of Believers.129 In that same year, Zwingli also published his own Polemic against the Catabaptistic Catastrophe. There, he showed that rebaptism amounts to recrucifying Christ [Hebrews 6:1-6].
In that latter work, he rightly remarked that "the Hebrews' children, because they with their parents were under the covenant, merited the sign of the covenant [circumcision]. So also Christians' infants -- because they are counted within Christ's Church and people -- ought in no way to be deprived of baptism, the sign of the covenant."130
Zwingli thus saw that the Church "distributes the sacrament [of baptism] -- to those who according to human judgment are to be regarded as elect."131 He therefore insisted that Christ-professing people (and their infants) are to be regarded as saved -- before their baptisms. For "by the time the sacrament is administered, [even] the Anabaptist does not need it." This is so, because baptism certifies "something already given and accomplished in the heart" of a person "who knows that God has forgiven his sins long ago."
While conceding (as above) that some Anabaptists were indeed Christians, Zwingli did not accept that all of them were. For Zwingli also insisted that many Anabaptists were more immoral than even the weakest paidobaptists. Indeed, precisely their revolutionary rebaptisms helped lead on to the communism of the Anabaptists (both as to goods and as to wives) -- and also to their revolutionary and epilepsy-like "babbling under the claim of inspiration."132
Zwingli's antirebaptismal Questions Concerning Rebaptism
Zwingli also published a work about Questions Concerning the Sacrament of Baptism. Indeed, in his Confession of Faith, he declared133 that "specifically the children of Christians belong without exception to the Church of God's people and are Members of His Church.... However, the children [of Israel] just as much as the [adult] Jews themselves belonged to that Church. No less do our children belong to the Church of Christ, than was formerly the case with the children of the Jews....
"All who descend from them according to the flesh, were reckoned to the Church. Yet if ours were not counted together with the parents, Christ would appear to be mean and stingy toward us --if He had denied us what He gave to the ancients.... Hence, in my opinion, those who damn the children of Christians -- are acting godlessly and arrogantly. So many open testimonies of Scripture speak against them, that the Gentile Church would become not merely just as large but larger than that of the Jews." Behold Zwingli's optimism -- versus the pessimism of the Anabaptists!
Continued Zwingli: "Were John and Paul not chosen -- even when they were still children -- and indeed, from the foundation of the world? However, the word 'Church' is taken quite generally -- namely for all who pass as Christians; that is, for those who relate themselves to Christ.... [In Old Testament times,] Isaac, Jacob, Judah and all descendants of Abraham were members of this Church -- even in their childhood; yes, even those children whose parents turned to Christ through the preaching of the apostles at the start of the [New Testament] Church....
"That was also the case of the young children of the first Church. For this reason, I believe and acknowledge that they were marked with the sacrament of baptism.... For the promise is not given to our children more narrowly but rather more extensively and more richly than it was to the children of the Hebrews in olden times. These are the foundations according to which the children are baptized and the Church is to be commanded. The attacks of the Anabaptists have no power against this....
"Isaac was circumcised as a child, even though he did not [then] make a profession of faith.... Whereas we are prepared --without the sacrament -- so that we may receive the sacrament. The Spirit works with His grace, before the sacrament. The sacraments serve as general testimonies of that grace which already previously inhabits each one in particular. Thus, baptism is conferred in front of the congregation -- to him who already has the promise before he receives baptism.
"From this, it is acknowledged that he is a member of the Church.... Our children are no less regarded as belonging to the Church than were those of the Hebrews. When members of the Church bring their child, it is baptized. For as a child of Christian parents it is regarded as belonging among the members, according to the promise. By baptism the Church thus openly takes in him who was previously already accepted by grace.
"Consequently, baptism does not bring grace; but the Church testifies that he who is entitled to baptism, already has receiv-ed grace.... The sacrament is the sign of something holy, namely of the grace already received.... The Anabaptists err thoroughly, inasmuch as they refuse baptism to the children of believers -- and err in many other ways too.... But now, by God's grace, this pest in our midst has much abated."
Zwingli's antirebaptismal Declaration of Christian Faith
Finally, in Zwingli's Declaration of Christian Faith, he declared134 that "the sacraments...are for us signs and symbols of holy things, not the things themselves which they imply. For who could be so simple as to regard the sign as the thing signified?
"The sacraments are to be honoured.... For they signify the holiest things -- both those things which have happened, as well as those things we should do.... Thus, baptism indicates that Christ has cleansed us with His blood; and that, as Paul teaches, we 'put Him on' or are to live according to His example. Romans 13:14 & Galatians 3:27....
"Would the sacraments then have no power? No, they have a big power! Firstly, they are holy and honourable. For they were constituted and received by Christ the High Priest. For He not only instituted but also Himself received baptism....
"Secondly, they testify about an event.... Because baptism now indicatively proclaims the death and the resurrection of Christ, these must have been actual events.... Thirdly, they represent the state of things which they indicated. This is why they also receive their names.... Fourthly, they signify high things....
"Fifthly, the signs are similar to the things signified. For in each sacrament, one can measure two things. The one is the external sign, like the water in baptism.... The other and the more important, is the essential in the sacrament.... In baptism, through the water of grace, the really essential matter is that we are inwardly cleansed and washed from sins by the blood of Christ; that we are a congregation of Christ; that we are incorporated into Christ; that we are buried with Him in His death; and that we are raised with Him to a new life, etc.....
"Sixthly, the sacraments offer support and help to faith.... The sacraments thus support faith.... The hearing and the feeling are all attracted to the operation of faith.... For the faith of the Church or of those baptized, acknowledges that Christ died and rose and triumphed for His Church. One hears and sees and feels that -- during baptism....
"Seventhly, it represents the condition of an oath.... The Anabaptists...hold all things in common.... [They say that] a man could have...more than one wife, in spirit.... They have distantiated themselves from us, and they never belonged to us.... That anabaptistic pest crawls particularly into places where the pure doctrine of Christ begins to emerge.... From this...it can clearly be seen that it is sent by Satan -- in order to strangle healthy seed while the latter is germinating."
Early Anabaptists outside of Switzerland and Germany
Anabaptism now spread further, also outside of Germany and Switzerland. In 1526, Denck rebaptized the Austrian Hans Hut --a sword-swaying visionary and former follower of Muenzer.135 According to the American Baptist Vedder,136 Hut declared that shortly before the end of the age "all the 'godless' will be destroyed -- and that, by 'true Christians.'"
Going to Nicolsburg and joining the Anabaptists there, Hut "placed in an intensely eschatological framework the expendable role of the magistrate and the pre-eminence of agapetic communism.... He had been anticipating Christ's second advent three and one half years, from the outbreak of the Peasants' War.... Hut their fiery spokesman...had apparently preached that Christ would usher in His Kingdom during the approaching Pentecost [of 1528]...and had in this pitch of eschatological excitement exhorted them 'to sell house and goods.'" Thus the sympathetic Dr. G.H. Williams of Harvard.137
"In Nikolsburg," explained the Baptist Estep,138 "Jacob Wiedemann, an Anabaptist preacher who held that community of goods should be a cardinal principle..., joined forces with Hut.... Growing division finally compelled the Lichtenstein barons to expel Wiedemann and his party from their lands. From this group...the Hutterite expression of sixteenth-century Anabaptism developed....
"Old Jacob...dominated the Bruederhof [alias 'The Court of the Brethren'] in a rather highhanded manner. He directed the young women of the Bruederhof to marry the eligible young men available, threatening to secure heathen wives for them if they failed to follow his admonition.... Among other things, he accused the elders of unequal distribution of goods and hypocrisy."
In Moravia, the Austerlitz Anabaptists adopted a twelve-point 'communist manifesto' in 1529. There they resolved: to "receive all gifts from God [and] hold them in common"; to worship "at least four or five times a week"; to discourage their own practice of "two or three standing up in meeting to speak at once"; and to be "ever watching for the imminent advent of the Lord."139
By 1532, the Hutterite Peter Riedemann had started producing his Anabaptist Confession of Faith. He who would not forsake private property, insisted Riedemann, could not be a disciple of Christ. Christian community of goods was practised, and all shared alike.140 Foreshadowing the modern Moonies, Riedemann's Anabaptist Confession of Faith also provided for wives to be selected not by their husbands but instead by the community's elders.141
All this was perfected in 1537 by Ulrich Stadler. In his Cherished Instructions on...the Community of Goods, that Anabaptist Bishop insisted:142 "There is one communion... All are baptized.... In this community everything must proceed equally, all things be one and communal.... 'Common builds the Lord's house, and is pure. But mine, thine, his, own -- divides the Lord's house, and is impure. Therefore, where there is ownership...one does not wish to be one with Christ.... He is outside of Christ and His communion, and has thus no Father in heaven....
"As the sun with its shining is common to all, so also the use of all creaturely things. Whoever appropriates them for himself and encloses them, is a thief.... Whoever is...unhampered and resigned in the Lord for everything, [is ready] to give over all his goods and chattels -- yea, to lay it up for distribution among the children of God.... Men should be ordained who take care that everything proceeds equally in the whole house of the Lord.... They also should be fatherly with all the little children of God, and also do all the buying and selling....
"Wherever...each sets up his [own] kitchen, there it can[not] be said in truth that there is the one heart...which must however (and always should be) among the children of God.... 'Thine' will not be disclosed in the house of the Lord, but rather equal love.... The free unencumbered community-minded and yielded hearts must still be and remain precisely those who have everything in common with the children of God....
"It is true abandon (Gelassenheit) to yield and dispose oneself with goods and chattels in the service of the saints. It is also the way of love.... We learn it in Christ, to lose oneself...and become poor and to suffer want, if only another may be served -- and further, to put aside all goods and chattels, to throw them away in order that they may be distributed to the needs.... A brother should serve, live and work for the others; none for himself!" Per contra, however: Ephesians 5:28-29 & First Timothy 5:7-8.
53 M. Luther: The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520), Kok, Kampen, 1959, pp. 12.
66 The Paulicians rejected infant baptism, and always acquired instruction before receiving the sacrament. F.C. Coneybeare: The Key of Truth [a Paulician document], Oxford, 1898, pp. 91 & 118. See too H.W. Robinson: Baptist Principles 63.
67 W.M.S. West: The Anabaptists and the Rise of the Baptist Movement, in A. Gilmore's op. cit., pp. 223f & 228f. Also H.C. Vedder's A Short History of the Baptists, American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1907, p. 130: "A moral certainty exists of a connection between the Swiss Anabaptists and their...Petrobrusian predecessors, sustained by many significant facts."
81 B. Huebmaier's Discussion of Mr. Ulrich Zwingli's 'Little Table Book on Infant Baptism', 1526 (in Huebmaier's Works, trans. G.D. Davidson, 1939), pp. 132-33 & 92-93. Cited in Estep's op. cit. pp. 158f & 175f.
83 Original title: B. Huebmaier's (1527) On Infant Baptism; Oecolampadius etc.; a Discussion Held by the Preachers at Basle with Several Anabaptist Authorities. The latter phrase is the title of a 1525 work by Oecolampadius, to which Huebmaier was now replying. See Estep's op. cit. pp. 165f & 176 n. 32.
108 O. Farner: Hulrych Zwingli, Zwingli Press, Zurich, 1943, I pp. 324 & 328; W. Koehler: Hulrych Zwingli, Koehler & Emelang, Leipzig, 1943, p. 64; J. Courvoisier: Zwingli, a Reformed Theologian, Epworth, London, 1964, p. 66.
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