Anabaptist Vision by Harold S. Bender

By Harold S. Bender

"Judged by means of the reception it met by the hands of these in energy, either in Church and nation, both in Roman Catholic and in Protestant nations, the Anabaptist circulation used to be probably the most tragic within the heritage of Christianity; yet, judged via the rules, which have been positioned into play by means of the lads who bore this reproachful nickname, it has to be reported probably the most momentous and demanding undertakings in man’s eventful non secular fight after the reality. It accrued up the earnings of previous hobbies, it's the non secular soil out of which all nonconformist sects have sprung, and it's the first undeniable statement in sleek historical past of a programme for a brand new kind of Christian society which the fashionable global, specifically in the USA and England, has been slowly realizing—an totally loose and self sufficient non secular society, and a kingdom within which each guy counts as a guy, and has his percentage in shaping either Church and State." those phrases of Rufus M. Jones represent the most effective characterizations of Anabaptism and its contribution to our smooth Christian tradition to be present in the English language.

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There may be some excuse, however, for a failure on the part of the uninformed student to see clearly what the Anabaptist vision was, because of the varying interpretations placed upon the movement even by those who mean to appreciate and approve it. There are, for Page 12 instance, the socialist writers, led by Kautsky, who would make Anabaptism either "the forerunner of the modern socialism" or the "culminating effort of medieval communism," and who in reality see it only as the external religious shell of a class movement.

54 Conrad Grebel, the Swiss, said in 1524: True Christians use neither worldly sword nor engage in war, since among them taking human life has ceased entirely, for we are no longer under the Old Covenant. . 55 Pilgram Marpeck, the South German leader, in 1544, speaking of Matthew 5, said: Page 32 All bodily, worldly, carnal, earthly fightings, conflicts, and wars are annulled and abolished among them through such law . . which law of love Christ . . Himself observed and thereby gave His followers a pattern to follow after.

Jones2 constitute one of the best characterizations of Anabaptism and its contribution to our modern Christian culture to be found in the English language. They were brave words when they were written thirty-five years ago, but they have been Page 4 abundantly verified by a generation of Anabaptist research since that time. 3 There can be no question but that the great principles of freedom of conscience, separation of church and state, and voluntarism in religion, so basic in American Protestantism and so essential to democracy, ultimately are derived from the Anabaptists of the Reformation period, who for the first time clearly enunciated them and challenged the Christian world to follow them in practice.

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