"The evangelical and non-revolutionary Anabaptists of Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands, were somewhat of a trial to the leading reformers because of their radical views on the nature of the church and of the Christian ethic."
Does that quote suggest there were non-evangelical and/or revolutionary Anabaptists as well?
Were Anabaptists part of the Reformation?
Why did they withdraw from and reject the Roman Catholic Church?
So were they just another Protestant group?
From where did they come?
How far back do they date?
What are the high and low points of their history?
The evangelical and non-revolutionary Anabaptists of Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands, were somewhat of a trial to the leading reformers because of their radical views on the nature of the church and of the Christian ethic.
These Anabaptists felt that Luther and Zwingli had stopped short of going all the way with the Scriptures in correcting the tradition of the church. It was fine, said the Anabaptists, that required fasts, compulsory clerical celibacy, the mass, the papacy, the concept of meritorious good works, and other accretions of church history which violated Scriptural principles, had been rejected and abolished by the reformers.
But why, asked the Anabaptist leaders -- such as Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz in Switzerland, Michael Sattler and Pilgram Marpeck in Germany, and Obbe and Dirk Philips in the Netherlands -- do the great reformers not go all the way with the Scriptures and abolish the state and people's church, infant baptism, and any office or activity which violates Net Testament agape love? (For the Anabaptists this meant withdrawing from both the military and the magistracy -- both of which institutions involved the imposition of the death penalty.)
These issues involved a major problem in the interpretation of the Bible. What really is the relation of the Old Testament to the New? To what portions, if any, of the Old Testament may the church appeal? The reformers took the position that the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament were done away, such as clean and unclean foods, animal sacrifices, the institution of the priesthood, and the like.
The Anabaptists agreed, but also thought that Christians should not justify compulsion in matters of faith by an appeal to the Old Testament, nor infant baptism, nor participation in warfare. The old covenant, they insisted, has been replaced by its perfect fulfillment (Hebrews 8:6,7), the New Testament. It is therefore an unwarranted and impossible procedure for the church to cast aside clear New Testament directives in order to return to the preparatory Old Testament to find justification for such non-Christian institutions and practices as the state church, infant baptism, participation in warfare, and the use of force and bloodshed in matters of conscience.
Excerpted from God's Word Written by J. C. Wenger
Published by Herald Press, copyright 1968 -- second printing