What is an Anabaptist?

Pssst! The spelling is not antibaptist. smile
Anabaptist n. New Latin anabaptista, "one who is rebaptized," from Late Greek anabaptizein, "to baptize again."

The term anabaptist was used to describe and define certain Reformation-era Christians who rejected infant baptism in favor of believer's baptism.

Since many of them had been baptized in their infancy, they chose to be rebaptized as believing adults. Hence, their enemies called them anabaptists -- "re-baptizers."

Being labeled anabaptist was neither complimentary nor safe. In fact, for a time it was a sure death sentence.

Even though we now embrace that term as part of our identity, it really is an inaccurate term to describe the original Anabaptists. They never considered that any rebaptism took place -- they outright rejected and refuted the entire concept of infant baptism. To them, infant baptism would have been an oxymoron. They would have considered infant and baptism mutually exclusive.

The differences between the Anabaptists and the Magisterial Reformers lay much deeper than any outward sign, including that of baptism. The Anabaptists were earnestly concerned with the restitution of the true church on an Apostolic model. The Anabaptists considered the state churches beyond reformation.

Here are a few additional tidbits about the Anabaptists:

In her study, Anabaptists: Separate by Choice, Marginal by Force, Elizabeth Scott notes:

Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia (copyright 1993, 1994) notes in part:

During the 16th-century Reformation in Europe, the Protestant Anabaptist, or Christian Brethren, movement flourished in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and other countries. The basic belief of the Anabaptists was in adult baptism, but they also supported the separation of church and state and voluntary church membership. While there was no direct development from the Anabaptists to the growth of the Baptist churches in England, it is very likely that the latter were influenced in their beliefs and attitudes by the continental Brethren.

Many of the denominations that emerged after the Reformation were attempts to revive the church by returning to 1st-century conditions described in the New Testament. Such was the aim of Anabaptists, Baptists, Quakers, Methodists, Moravians, and others.

Would you like to visit a faithful Anabaptist congregation? Here on my site I provide an Anabaptist church locator to help you find out if there is one in your area.

Additional reading:

Who Are the Mennonites?   |   Anabaptist History   |   Anabaptist Doctrine   |   More Anabaptist Beliefs

Books for your consideration:

The Anabaptist Story

Martyrs Mirror

An Introduction to Mennonite History

War, Peace, and Nonresistance

More Anabaptist-related books on Amazon
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