Anabaptist: Christianity and God

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The term “radical,” defined as “back to one’s roots,” that pertains to the

religious movements of the Mennonites, Anabaptists, and Hutterites is really a

matter of personal opinion. If a religious cult’s identity is to maintain a

proclaimed moral higher ground or its theological opinion of biblical text is

different than the mainstream, what makes that radical? I will elaborate on their

historical views and their surviving present day cultures. In addition, I will

discuss why the term “radical” plagues them.

“Back-to-their-roots” was a movement against the life penetrating

control of the religious canon of mainly the Catholic Church. Not only the

Anabaptist and associated sects but also the Quakers, Puritans, Pietists, Baptists,

and The Church of England wanted segregation from control of the dominating

religious canon supported by the government of Rome. Heavy taxation by the

Catholic Church and Roman rulers for protection and Church growth was

oppressing the lay. The richest and largest landowner in the 16th century was

the Catholic Church. The wealthiest people were the politicians, professionals,

and priests that supported the Church. Both the Catholic Church and soon to be

extinct Roman Empire were fraught with corruption and profiting off the people

in the name of GOD.

The Church rationalized their activities using New Testament texts such

as: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the

Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He

purchased with His blood” (Acts 20:28 NKJV) Indeed, within this verse there

would seem to be a validation for the impositions the Church and governments

imposed upon the population. Without leaders in any formalized organization,

how would the people learn and grow in spirit? It should be kept in mind that the

populace at large were uneducated, most being quite illiterate. They depended

on “the organization” to “direct them in the paths of righteousness”.

Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, explains that the Church is the

body of Christ, made up of all those who believe. “ But there are many members

but one body, and the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor

again the head to the feet “I have no need of you.” (I Cor 12:20-21 NKJV) “And

if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it: or if one member is

honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ and

members individually.” (I Cor 12:26-27 NKJV) Paul clearly states that all are

equal in Christ regardless of social status, political status or appointment.
In getting back to their roots, i.e., the teachings of the original Jesus

movement, the Anabaptists renounced the Catholic Church as their religious

governor. They rejected the influential pressure to accept changes in the

original teachings of the apostles and chose to separate from the Catholic

Church. The Catholic Church of the 16th century certainly did not have the

prospering goodwill of the lay foremost in mind. Their greed and political

pressure not only created radical breakaway movements but also encouraged

entire new protestant denominations that are still going strong today.

The term Anabaptism carries broad and deep implications. The Catholic

Encyclopedia defines the Anabaptist movement as “those who insisted on the

re-baptism of persons previously baptized by heretics or by clergy who had fallen

away from the faith under persecution”. (Forell 368) The Anabaptists not only

stressed re-baptism of those baptized by the reputed, but the purpose of

baptism and its tie to the spiritual knowledge of sin and faith in God.

Infant baptism was one of the major controversies that lead to these

breakaway movement’s. Spiritual bankruptcy,...
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