Modern views as given in various encyclopedias
The Catholic Encyclopedia: "Anabaptists - A violent and extremely
radical body of ecclesiastico-civil reformers which first made its appearance in
1521 at Zwickau, in the present kingdom of Saxony, and still exists in milder
The Reformed Churches: Article 36 of the Belgic Confession, written in 1561, states: "Wherefore we detest the Anabaptists and other seditious people, and in general all those who reject the higher powers and magistrates, and would subvert justice, introduce community of goods, and confound that decency and good order, which God hath established among men." (See www.prca.org)
The Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia: "Anabaptists name applied,
originally in scorn, to certain Christian sects holding that infant baptism is
not authorized in Scripture, but that baptism should be administered only to
believers. Prominent in Europe during the 16th cent., they were persecuted
everywhere. Their chief leaders were Thomas MüNZER and JOHN OF LEIDEN.
MENNONITES and Hutterites are descended from them."
The ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA: "Anabaptist also called Rebaptizer, member
of radical, or left-wing, movement of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation.
Its most distinctive tenet was adult Baptism."
The Canadian Mennonite Encyclopedia: "[Anabaptism] was identified by insistence on discipleship as the essence of Christianity, on the church as a brotherhood, and on an ethic of love and nonresistance. This became the normative description of Anabaptism. In this view, evangelical Anabaptism arose with the Swiss Brethren, and by transmission became part of Netherlands Anabaptism and of the Hutterites. Thus was Anabaptism given unity and clearly distinguished from Catholicism, from Protestantism, and from other 16th-century dissenting groups...."
"Despite the variety of viewpoints among 16th-century Anabaptists, despite important differences of nuance even where Anabaptists appear to be similar, one may hazard to identify some themes held in common following the crystallization of the movement between 1527 and 1540. (1) All shared a basically synergistic view of salvation (human and divine "cooperation"). Justification was seen as progression in holiness; the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount was the guide to it. (2) Baptism was considered to be the sign of lay emancipation from clerical control and the spiritual enfranchisement of lay people (priesthood of all believers). (3) Anabaptists developed a Gemeindechristentum centered on the congregation, in contrast to the clericalized territorial churches, both Catholic and Protestant..."
"Most significant is the integrative rewriting of the history of
Anabaptism in the Netherlands. Melchior Hoffman is acknowledged as its
progenitor, as the person who gave the movement its basic apocalyptic stamp. The
differences that appear along the "peaceful" to
"revolutionary" spectrum can be accounted for by differing nuances in
the era's widespread apocalyptic expectation (Klaassen, 1986). A clear line
stretches from Hoffman to Rothmann, Menno Simons, and David Joris on apocalyptic
anticipation. Very similar formulations of apocalyptic views on secular
government and on the incarnation are found in Hoffman, Rothmann, and Menno
Simons (Voolstra, 1982; Stayer, 1972, 1978, 1986). The work of these scholars
has therefore shown that in some important respects there was a single movement
from Hoffman to Menno."
This page was last updated on 06/20/2008