The world history knows a lot of different variations of religious opinion. The existence of various forms and ideas about God impresses. Ordinary people do not know much about the variations of the religious points of view, they believe in God and follow the rules established by the church they got used to attend.
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Still, it is useful to know that Christianity is a religion which gave “birth” to different descendants and branches. The Anabaptist is a religion which has rejected conventional Christian ideas and seceded from it having created its own ideas and beliefs.
The main idea of this paper is to provide the reader with the main information about Anabaptism foundation and the leaders who supported the movement. Moreover, this paper is aimed at representing the reader with the comparative analysis of the leaders of the movement with the leaders of other representatives in the Reformation Movement, such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli.
The Main Idea of the Anabaptist Movement
The movement called the Anabaptism was born on January 21, 1525. A number of people gathered in the house of Felix Manz which is located near Grossmunster, Zurich. The main purpose of their gathering was pray, but after the procedure one of the participants of the meeting stood up, it was George of the House of Jacob and demanded from Conrad Grebel to baptize him one more time. This procedure was called the baptizing with “true Christian baptism with faith and knowledge”.
Thus, the main idea of the Anabaptist movement is to baptize people one more time in another, new religion. The central event which was a starting point for the movement birth was “a black-garbed Austrian monk”, Martin Luther, who dared to confront Rome and brought a manuscript, the Ninety-Five Theses, to the very citadel of the Roman Catholic Church on the 31st of October, 1517. This document, the Ninety-Five Theses, is considered to be the beginning of the Reformation Movement.
Martin Luther criticized the religion and most of the Catholic canons. Thus, the Anabaptist movement was the part of the Reformation Movement in the 16th century. It should be mentioned that the meeting in Grossmunster, Zurich where the Anabaptist movement was formed is considered to be crucial in the whole Reformation period as that group of Christians dared to create a church of the Swiss Brethren which symbolized a complete break with Rome.
To understand the movement better, the definition of Anabaptist should be considered. An Anabaptist is a person who took part in the movement occurred in the 16th century and was a part of the Reformation. An Anabaptist believed that infants should not be baptized, that the church should be separated from the state, and that life is simpler than people usually think.
Leaders in the Movement and the Places They Worked in along with Their Teachings and Beliefs
The main leader of Anabaptist movements is considered to be Conrad Grebel, a person who founded the movement, the new religion. Moreover, it should be mentioned that the ideas of Anabaptist movement were formed in different countries and different leader supported each variation.
Thus, Conrad Grebel and Felix Mantz were the leaders of the Anabaptist movement in Swetzelend. They believed that “every man wants to be saved by superficial faith, without fruits of faith… without love and hope, without right Christian practices”. At the same time they believed that it was possible only in case if they live their faith. David Joris was the leader of the Anabaptists in South German–Austrian area.
He proclaimed that personal cleaning is the only way to be awarded. Moreover, he interprets “sin chiefly as latent guilt about sexuality”. Melchior Hoffman was a leader of Anabaptist movement in the Netherlands. The proclaimed the nearest date of the end of the world and the return of the Christ. One of the main problems in Anabaptist movement was the fact that it was confused with many other movements in Reformation period.
Strong and Weak Sides of the Anabaptist Movement
Analyzing the situation in the world and the movement in particular from the point of view of Anabaptism’s strong and weak sides, it should be concluded that due to the religion imperfection it was rather weak. But, considering the fact of its ability to become so widespread and survive till now it was strong. To specify the mentioned information, it should be mentioned that the main desire of the movement was “the reinstitution of the church”.
This movement was one of the few who managed to create a church in the 16th century (when the Reformation movement was in full play) and the appearance of the ideas of the movement in different parts of the world almost simultaneously. It is the strong part. Nevertheless, there was one main weak side of the movement, some leaders could not agree on the main statements of the religion they tried to implement.
The Comparative Analysis of the Beliefs in the Anabaptist Movement and Those of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli
As it was mentioned before, Anabaptist movement descend from the ideas proclaimed by Martin Luther, still, the main statements of this person and the religion Anabaptists proclaimed are different in some content. Here is the comparison of the ideas declared by the leaders of Anabaptist movement and Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli. Ulrich Zwingli believed that faith God is the only way to be saved and protected. According to Zwingli, all newborns had to be baptized which was not agreed by Manz, Grebel and Blaurock.
Martin Luther said that he was sinful before God and stated that only faith and belief may save his soul. Anabaptists, on the contrary, did not pay much attention to faith and claimed that surface faith was enough. Anabaptists believed that soul sleeps and waits for the day when it will be revive. John Calvin, along with Martin Luther, did not believe in this nonsense and were sure that dead people are dead. They also stated that dead remembered nothing.
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Considering the movement from the point of view of the modern time, it may be concluded that it exists. The work which was conducted in the 16th century was rather effective as the descendants of the movement, born that time, continues its existence. The Mennonites is one of the main schools which exist today. There is a tendency to unite the descendants of the Anabaptist movement is an ethical group. The ideas these organizations proclaim have already changes, still, they remain important for people in the 21st century.
At the same time, it is not so easy to understand the main principle of the modern Anabaptists as the traditions of the movement vary “from pacifists to militants, from politically engages to withdrawn, and positioned on nearly all points of the theological spectrum on many major doctrines”. Furthermore, Langmead concludes that Anabaptists want to create a church which is going to live separately from the whole world. Those who remain devoted to this religion should refuse from everything they have and live under the authority of Jesus.
Personal Reflection on the Teachings and Beliefs of the Anabaptist Movement
Frankly speaking, my personal opinion about this movement is rather negative. I do not support the ideas they proclaim about the unnecessary to have a deep faith. Moreover, having fighting for the idea during the time of the Reformation Movement in the 16th century I cannot see the results of their struggle. What have they achieved? Having conducted a research, I may conclude that having remained till now, this Anabaptist movement does not have specific statements, the principles and rules they follow.
I suppose that the different and variety of approaches to this religion was formed in the times of the movement creation. Anabaptist movement was born in different parts of the world almost simultaneously. Still, there was no connection between Anabaptist Movement in those parts. This division was one of the main reasons why one and the same religion has so many ideas and points to believe in today.
In conclusion, Anabaptist movement has been considered from different perspectives. We managed to follow the birth of this movement. It was found out that the formation of the religion and the creation of the church was a great step, valuable for the whole Reformation Movement in the 16th century. Then, the leaders and the places have been discussed.
It is important to understand that being the decadent of the philosophy proclaimed by Martin Luther, Anabaptist movement was considered absolutely different. The ideas proclaimed by the leaders of the Anabaptist movement were analyzed and compared with the ideas stated by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli. It should be stated that the movement remained till now, but the ideas it tries to deliver to people are not effective, in my personal opinion.
Why should church be separated from the state? I am not sure that it is so significant. Moreover, infants should be baptized as in this case God protects them. I suppose, this feature is the most crucial. But, no matter what religion one supports, belief in God is what unites most of religions and people.
- William Roscoe Estep, The Anabaptist Story: an Introduction to Sixteenth-Century Anabaptism (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996) 13.
- Estep, 9.
- Estep, 14.
- Thomas N. Finger, A Contemporary Anabaptist Theology: Biblical, Historical, Constructive (Westmont: InterVarsity Press, 2004) 233.
- Finger, 38.
- Benjamin W. Redekop and Calvin Wall, Power, Authority, and the Anabaptist Tradition (Baltimore: Redekop JHU Press, 2001) 65.
- Roger Haight, Christian Community in History, Volumes 1-2, (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005) 223.
- Carter Lindberg, The European Reformations Sourcebook, (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2000) 113.
- Lindberg, 55.
- Lindberg, 164.
- Ross Langmead, The Word Made Flesh: towards an Incarnational Missiology, (New York: University Press of America, 2004) 63.
Estep, William Roscoe. The Anabaptist Story: an Introduction to Sixteenth-Century Anabaptism. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996. Print.
Finger. Thomas N. A Contemporary Anabaptist Theology: biblical, Historical, Constructive. Westmont: InterVarsity Press, 2004. Print.
Haight, Roger. Christian Community in History, Volumes 1-2. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005. Print.
Lindberg. Carter. The European Reformations Sourcebook. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2000. Print.
Langmead, Ross. The Word Made Flesh: towards an Incarnational Missiology. New York: University Press of America, 2004. Print.