Anabaptist Vision by Harold S. Bender

By Harold S. Bender

"Judged via the reception it met by the hands of these in energy, either in Church and country, both in Roman Catholic and in Protestant nations, the Anabaptist stream was once the most tragic within the historical past of Christianity; yet, judged by way of the rules, which have been placed into play by means of the lads who bore this reproachful nickname, it has to be suggested essentially the most momentous and critical undertakings in man’s eventful spiritual fight after the reality. It amassed up the earnings of previous routine, it's the non secular soil out of which all nonconformist sects have sprung, and it's the first simple assertion in smooth heritage of a programme for a brand new form of Christian society which the trendy global, in particular in the USA and England, has been slowly realizing—an totally loose and self sustaining spiritual society, and a kingdom during 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 glossy Christian tradition to be present in the English language.

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If a church is yet at one with the world we cannot recognize it is a true church. 44 In a sense, this principle of nonconformity to the world is merely a negative expression of the positive requirement of discipleship, but it goes further in the sense that it represents a judgment on the contemporary social order, which the Anabaptists called "the world," as non-Christian, and sets up a line of demarcation between the Christian community and worldly society. A logical outcome of the concept of nonconformity to the world was the concept of the suffering church.

They preferred to make a radical break with 1,500 years of history and culture if necessary rather than to break with the New Testament. May it not be said that the decision of Luther and Zwingli to surrender their original vision was the tragic turning point of the Reformation? Professor Karl Mueller, one of the keenest and fairest interpreters of the Refmation, evidently thinks so, for he says, "The aggressive, conquering power, which Lutheranism manifested in its first period was lost everywhere at the moment when the governments took matters in hand and established the Lutheran Creed," 25 that is to say, when Luther's mass church concept was put into practice.

J. McGlothlin, Die Berner Täufer bis 1532 (berlin, 1902), 36. 35. J. J. Simler, Sammlung alter und neuer Urkunden (Zurich, 1757), I, 824. Page 41 36. Karl Rembert, Die Wiedertäufer im Herzogtum Jülich (Berlin, 1899), 564. 37. Ernst Müller, Geschichte der Bernischen Täufer (Frauenfeld, 1895). 88. Müller speaks (p. 89) of the mandate of 1585 as conceiving of "das Táuferwesen" as a just judgment of God on the church and the people of Berne. 38. Sebastian Franck, Chronica, Zeitbuch und Geschichtbibel (Strassburg, 1531), folio 444v.

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