ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Who Were the Anabaptists? Part 1

Updated on July 4, 2020
extraordinaryman profile image

Barry is the founder and dean of Mindanao Grace Seminary, Philippines.

The Anabaptists

When we talk about the Anabaptists, it is important to realize we are not talking about an organized entity or denomination. Rather the word is used to describe some of those groups who broke away from the original Protestants. It is also important to note that they did not exist prior to the Reformation. Also, unlike many of the other groups that came out of the Reformation, the Anabaptist did not immediately have set, articulated views of doctrines. While they did reject the Roman Catholic Church, they were also reacting to the church and state established by the Protestant Reformers.

Anabaptist roots are found in Zurich, Switzerland. Ulrich Zwingli was the city chaplain and reforms were progressing under him. However, there were some who were not satisfied with the rate or the degree of reforms. Zwingli was sympathetic to their desires but also saw the need to move cautiously. Those who wanted more reforms and faster reformation were pressing hard on the city council. They demanded not only a church free from government interference, but an end to tithes, taxes and compulsory military service. Refusing to back down, they were told they could no longer advocate for their views because they were causing division.

Their Beliefs

These groups are called the “radical reformers” and have often been referred to as the “left-wing” of the Reformation because they have the most radical departure of any others in reaction to Catholicism. The Radicals were composed of some 40-50 groups that were very diverse. They made up only about 2% of the Protestants in the 1500s. Although they held a wide diversity of views, they had at least three things in common.

1) The separation between church and state.

2) Calls for religious liberty and religious tolerance

3) Extreme separation from the world.

Anabaptists of Zurich

There were three main leaders in Zurich, Switzerland: Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, and George Blaurock. It was in the home of Felix Manz, that George Blaurock asked Conrad Grebel to baptize him. Upon studying their Bibles, they realized that infant baptism was not found in the New Testament and that the sacrament was only administered to adults. The baptism was not performed in a church, nor by a minister but rather Grebel poured water over Blaurock. (1) As early as 1524 they preached against infant baptism.

They believed that the Reformation had not gone far enough and that the pace at which reform was moving far too slow. Zwingli was at first sympathetic to their cause but urged them to be patient. He realized that he needed the backing of the government to continue the reforms and that the Reformation had caused instability, not only ecclesiastically but also politically. Eventually, the Anabaptist grew tired of waiting and broke with the state church and began meeting in their homes. It was these home meetings and their refusal to acknowledge the state church as legitimate that got them branded not only as heretics but also as traitors to the state.

Anabaptist Persecutions

Why were some of them imprisoned and killed? Historical context is extremely important. It is vital to understand that at this time, there was no separation of church and state. The concept of separation of church and state was at least a century away. As I said in the article about Calvin and Servetus, as was the king so were the people. If you were not a Catholic it was assumed you were a Protestant, and vice versa. The Pope and the Church would often use their power to influence the king of a country and demand his loyalty, even to the point of waging war against their enemies. Anyone opposed to the religion of the kingdom was also guilty of treason. We may ridicule this but that does not change the reality.

If the king was Protestant then the country would be Protestant. This, however, does not mean that there was automatic religious tolerance. The Protestant countries had a state church, just as the Roman Catholic countries were loyal to the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. It is for this reason that the Anabaptist were persecuted.

To reject the state church was to also reject the state and the king. Those who did not conform to the laws of the state, including religious laws, were viewed as radicals and something like anarchists. They were seen as a threat because of their refusal to obey the laws. It is for this reason that both the Roman Catholic countries as well as the Protestant ones persecuted the radicals. It was not so much for theological reasons but because of their refusal to conform. Their nonconformity was viewed as an act of treason. I do not say this to defend the persecutions of the Anabaptists. I simply want to accurately portray the state of the world at that time.

More on the Anabaptist

Footnotes

1- This is not an insignificant point. It should be noted that they baptized themselves and they did so by pouring and not by immersion.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)