Did some Anabaptists step over the line here. No doubt some of them did. The Anabaptist at Muenster did speak evil of authorities and they did incite rebellion. They also took up the sword. Within the congregations of the Anabaptists we can also discern some early communists, people who believed in an imposed single statum society and believed the Anabaptists should side with the peasants in th peasant uprisings of the 1500's. Across the channel in England such people were called "levellers". The Puritans and Pilgrims were facing similar Church-State problems in that same time. As we might well expect there were some anarchists who joined or tried to join the Anabaptist congregations.
Image from the video, "The Radicals".
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The Anabaptist Legacy of the Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites for the End-Time Witness
Gavin Finley MD
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Anabaptist origins: Gutenbeg's printingThe Anabaptists were Biblical Christians who emerged into prominence during the Biblical revival of the 1500's. Bible translators had been at work since the 1300's when John Wycliffe, "the morning star of the Reformation", had done his work of translation and sent out his young itinerant ministers, the ones who came to be called "Lollards". God's message was now beginning to go out to nations in the West. Gutenbergís printing presses with the finely engineered movable type had come out of Germany in 1450. They were now printing scripture portions, pamphlets, and tracts for the common man and in great numbers.
presses and the Bible translators helped
spark the Biblical Revival of the 1500's:
The Word Word of God breaths new Life into the human soul. And new higher levels of faith inspires new hopes and dreams. It also causes reactions. Voices of opposition are immediately raised from those halls of power that guard the status quo. The conversation among the people was starting to generate some heat as well as shed forth new light. In 1517 an angry Martin Luther nailed his protest to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral. After being questioned at the Diet at Worms Luther was called to Rome to stand trial for heresy. He would quite surely have been burned if had gone there. But on the way he was kidnapped by the German princes.
Luther was held in seclusion in a castle under guard where he went on to translate the Bible into the common language of the Germans. Similar Biblical awakenings were sparking reform over in France, Bohemia, the Netherlands, and across the channel in England. God's covenant people were now able to read God's Holy Scriptures, or at least portions of them, and evaluate what God was saying to them for themselves. This new Biblical discussion was unchecked by ecclesiastical control of the conversation. So it sent shock waves throughout Western Christendom. The Nicolaitan Church-State power structure guarding the status quo was shaken to its foundations.
Rome struck back with the a vengeance. The Counter Reformation was convened at the Council of Trent. The Roman Catholic powers held intense meetings every year from 1545 to 1563. In 1540 the Pope Paul III gave the Jesuits, named the "Society of Jesus", a papal commission to establish the order, and a blank check. Ignatius Loyola was licensed to kill, to assassinate, to incite wars, to do whatever was necessary to restore power to the papacy of Rome. The dogs of religious war were let loose. And wars within nations and between nations were soon raging throughout Christendom.
The persecutions of good Christian Bible believing people in those times were awful. The Council of Trent launched its counter-reformation and the Church ordained campaign of terror that came out of that was on a scale not seen since the Spanish Inquisition. Germany and Switzerland, the cradle of the Reformation, were subjected to a terrible century of bloodshed. And the Anabaptists were right in the middle of it.
The Biblical awakening of the 1500's did indeed upset the status quo. But the good news was that it brought in a wonderful revival of personal Biblical faith. That personal faith meant people were self-governing in their behaviors and therefore better citizens. But the pagan powers were not interested in this. They wanted to keep the people ignorant, in the dark, and putty in their hands. The Anabaptists were prominent in the Biblical revival of those days. They soon came to be specially targeted for their beliefs. They were branded as "heretics" and came under severe persecution for their practice of what was jeeringly referred to as "re-baptism". Hence the name, "Anabaptists".
These "people of the Book" rose to prominence during the Reformation. But that was not the beginning of their story. Their origins went back a lot further, into the remote past. The trail of the Anabaptists goes back all the way to the First Century, to the Acts of the Apostles, and to Jesus Himself. They had a simple walk of faith with Christ. People of personal faith had always been present. They knew Jesus Christ, . . . personally. These people had been in existence all through the Dark Ages. But who was going to tell their story? Certainly not the medieval Roman Church. And so when the Bible came out during those tumultuous years of the 16th Century these people simply proliferated and rose to prominence on the scene. The profusion of printing presses was now making it impossible for the Church to kill their story. Writings about the Anabaptists could not be prevented from going abroad to the people. Nor could the many written records of their witness be blotted out. And the many Biblical tracts, now coming off the printing presses in great numbers, could not all be apprehended by the Church and burned. These were treasured and passed around, sparking revival throughout the land.
As we look carefully at their extraordinary history we can begin to see that the Anabaptists were ahead of their time. They faced the very same types of challenges that will be seen at the end of the age. We shall be looking into that very important matter further down in this article. Their witness was unto death. Millions of them died at the hands of both the Catholics and the Reformers. It was a holocaust; a holocaust we have never heard of. We can search hard and long but not see their story written in our high school or college history books. Dominionist Christianity has vaunted itself as the victor. And we can well see in Christian broadcasting humble Pilgrim Christian believers who are consecrated and devoted in their faith are not given much airtime. And as we know, the victor gets to write the history books.
This may be disappointing to us. Carnal Dominionist Christianity is taking the stage and beginning to dominate the Western Church. As a consequence we are now seeing the Great Falling Away spoken of by our Apostle Paul in 2Thes. 2:3 beginning to take hold of people. But we must be patient. This state of affairs will not last. We serve a God who enters into the affairs of proud men. Very often He turns things around and puts the first last and the last first.
So those Biblical Christians who emerged in the 1500's and came to be called Anabaptists were not a new phenomenon. They were an upwelling of a people of primitive simple faith who had been in existence all along. When they were arrested and asked who was their leader and where and when their movement began the Anabaptists affirmed that they had no leader but Jesus. Their testimony was that they were a continuous stream of Christian believers going all the way back to Jesus and the Apostles in the first Century.
The histories of the Anabaptists and other people of simple Christian faith are hard to find. Their story is not featured in college curricula. Nor is it on display or in Christian bookstores, retail businesses that are bound to sell whatever is popular. But the Mennonites and to a lesser extent the Amish have these histories of the Anabaptists. And a good website put up by the Mennonites can be viewed HERE. But the stories of those faithful medieval Christians who preceded the Anabaptists were intentionally never written about by the Roman Church. People in high places knew better than to talk about these people or bring up their issues for discussion. Such conversations could get one into trouble. Privileged positions could be lost. The priests were under episcopal oversight and had taken vows of obedience to those higher up the pyramid. And so being subject to the Nicolaitan hierarchy they were afraid to tell the story of these "heretics" in any other than a brief and derogatory way. They could get into trouble. And so when accounts of faithful Christian witness were written about they tended to "get lost". Revisionists combing through the records in later centuries found these accounts and blotted out the record. But are the stories of the exploits of the Anabaptists and their predecessors on record in the annals of the God of heaven? Oh yes. A Day of Reckoning is coming, complete with 3-D HD video records of their wonderful witness. And on Judgment Daythe books will be opened to tell their story in vivid detail.
The Anabaptists and the religious and politicalDuring the 1500's Bibles and Bible portions were coming onto the market. The Anabaptists happened to be people who treasured and read God's Word. When they opened their Bibles they soon began to read about baptism as it was performed by the Apostles. So understandably they began to question Church tradition. They began to remember the ancient paths. They began to baptize older children and adults upon profession of faith just as the Holy Scriptures show us we are to do. When they did baptize converts they were arrested and brought up for questioning by the ecclesiastical authorities.
issues related to infant baptism vs. adult baptism.
What was the problem, we might ask? Well it seemed that adult baptism was something strictly forbidden by the Church. These Anabaptists, some of them non-ordained peasants, people who honored each other with titles like, "brother" and "sister" were baptizing converts. Converts to what? What sort of converts were these new followers of Christ? They were Bible believing Christians, they were evangelicals, people who had come into a personal faith in Jesus. The Anabaptists through baptism were openly and publicly initiating people into a new higher level of Christianity.
The Roman Church-State powers had always been against this. And their pagan roots in Rome provides the explanation as to why they killed Anabaptists with extreme prejudice. But why were the Reformers against adult baptism? Were they not for Biblical reform of the Church?
That is a very interesting question. But it seemed the matter came down to politics. Yes, the Reformers could depend upon protection by the secular princes of the principality in question. Protestants in Germany had the German princes protecting them under the Protestant banner raised by Martin Luther. But who controlled the banking and the credit over the land? Was it the German princes? Apparently not. This over-arching financial power went back to the Crusades and the Knights Templar. 400 years had passed. But apparently the banking throughout Western Christendom was still in the hands of Rome. So Rome through the power of banking still had a hold over much of Europe including lands controlled by the Reformers. The banking elites, more centralized than we might have expected them to be. So they could make life easy or difficult for the Reformers depending on how "cooperative" they were.
These continuing secret dealings with Rome over money matters were not disclosed. But as we can well imagine, the Reformers were now seeking to establish temporal power to go toe-to-toe with Rome. They too needed to number their people in their land. They too needed to get their names on the rolls. They would need these lists for conscripting young men for military service. And they would need a complete listing of citizens when it came time to collect taxes. Ah, yes. The real issue in the case of infant baptism came down to money and to power.
The religious hierarchies in both camps were facing internal warfare. Both Rome and the Reformist Church powers were involved in a civil war in central Europe. Then there was the famine that comes from disruption of agriculture. But these were not the only challenges. During this period of history the Roman Turks were attacking Western Christendom from the east. They powers needed warm bodies to fight the infidel Turks. And they needed money for their war machine.
In perilous times Church-State entities always need to "get a handle" on the people. And if infant baptism was the chief means towards this end then the princes cared not whether it was Scriptural or not. So both Roman and Reformed factions came to the same conclusion. It was simply a matter of political expedience to continue the tradition. This "re-baptism" practiced by the Anabaptists was throwing a spanner into the works. It was something that had to be stopped. They were at war. Wars cost money and they cost blood. So in order to levy taxes over the people and to conscript young men they had to know who was who and where they lived. They had to have power over their people.
There was a hidden pagan agenda at work as well. Under the medieval Roman Church the common people were kept common. The people who lived in Europe during their Dark Ages were kept in spiritual darkness by denial of access to the Holy Scriptures. The Jews had their Yeshivas. And the Moslems had their Korans. But the poor peasants in Christendom had no access to the Bible. And during those earlier centuries of Europe's Dark Ages the Islamic powers were riding high. They occupied Spain and they also dominated trade in the Med.
Throughout the Dark Ages the written Word of God had been locked up in the monasteries. The people had been kept illiterate. And the written Scriptures had been very deliberately kept away from the people. The inspired books had been agreed on way back during the first Century at the time of the Apostles. God's wonderful Message in the Bible calls people to a simple personal walk with God and without all the ritualistic trappings brought in by pagan sources. But what good was that if the people were kept illiterate and the Holy Scriptures were locked up in the Latin language? Translations into the common languages of Europe was strictly forbidden.
The "dumbing-down" of people in Western Christendom was not a new phenomenon back in the 1500's. And it is not a new phenomenon today. People in the West have been "dumbed down" ever since the Council of Nicaea 1700 years ago. The history of the Dark Ages that followed Nicaea clearly shows us the result of this policy. In the absence of Godís Holy Word medieval "commoners" were spiritually deprived and spiritually impoverished. So this kept "quiet" and kept them "manageable". Spiritual deprivation also kept them as peasants. The poor people had no other recourse but to listen to what Biblical truths they could glean from the local friar. And that was not much. Under the Nicolaitan religious hierarchy the true Word of God was hidden. God's true Word was hard to find. So when the Church promised that infant baptism would save the soul of an infant what else could a new parent do but believe "the authorities"? Without the Holy Scriptures they had no other recourse but to take what they were told by the Church as Godís truth.
In the medieval era simple Biblical truth was veiled. The simple Gospel was cloaked in a raft of iconic medieval trappings. The simple communion between God and His people consisted of the breaking of bread, symbolizing His body broken for us and in drinking of the cup of wine symbolizing the atoning blood of Christ shed for our salvation. In the Christian communion the Christian believers identified themselves with Christ in the fellowship of His sufferings. This simple meeting of God with His people in the communion had been removed by Rome way back at the Council of Nicaea. The true Biblical communion was replaced with a magic show where God's people were pushed to the back becoming just recipients of a wafer administered to them by a priest. Now they were not participants in the communion. The "communion" was a misnomer. It was now performed separately and exclusively by an elitist priesthood, a man dressed in religious garb facing an altar performing a ritual and with his back turned to a people who were now pushed out of the picture. The priest, presumptuously assuming the place of Christ between God and His people interposed himself vicariously as "vicar" in the gnostic chasm between a pure heaven above and a corrupted earth below. Then in the ritual he proceeded to crucify Christ afresh and offer up the "body of Christ" to the pagan god of the sun. The wafer, representing the body of Christ, was placed in a sunburst monstrance lifted up to the sun god. Roman Catholic lore declared that this ceremony performed in the mass was the only way receive "grace". They claimed that only they had the secret knowledge or "gnosis" to bring down this grace from heaven. And only when performed by their priests could "grace" and any hope of salvation be meted out to a person. Theirs was the only gateway through which "grace" could come.
To Bible believing Christians this Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation was blasphemy. And they said so. And in their millions Bible believing Christians have been labeled as heretics and have died for saying so. Has this story been featured in our college courses? No, it has not. Will we see this featured on the "History Channel"? No, we will not.
The Biblically enlightened Anabaptists of the 1500's were beginning to stagger out of the dark woods of medieval darkness. And this state of imposed ignorance was changing, and fast. Many were now coming into the new evangelical faith. It was very simple and not complicated. It was based upon the personal faith in Christ as Savior and Lord as set forth in the Holy Scriptures.
As Anabaptists began to walk out in this new liberty of conscience they began to see that infant baptism was more than just a questionable ritual. It was baggage carried into the medieval Church from pagan sources. And now that war was all around them that very same infant baptism was pathway to bondage. It was being exposed as a church tradition with a built in political agenda. That agenda was to document people for the state. Infant baptism was cunningly crafted to ensure the continuation of a pervasive and all-knowing clerical power linked to the secular princes.
The Reformation and the Reformation wars.The Reformation brought an end to the Church-State unity of the medieval era. After Luther was captured and held by the German princes a terrible religious war broke out. It raged through the valleys and across the countryside of German states. The disruption of seed-time and harvest brought the resulting famine that often accompanies wars. The German states and the Swiss city-states were now being ravaged by two warring armies and the countries fragmented with no settled borders. To top it all off the Turks were making their move on Christendom from the east.
And the role of infant baptism in documentation of citizens.
Biblical Christins were in the middle of this. The religious dispute had now given way to a full-fledged civil war. The Anabaptists correctly saw that infant baptism was a rite of passage imposed upon the people by a collusion of Church and State They also knew that it was without scriptural foundation. If a parent wished to commit their newborn baby to God before a congregation then who could complain about that? But to call this "baptism" and to regard it as a necessary rite mandated by the Church and absolutely necessary for the salvation of the child was a travesty. The Anabaptists saw it as just another example of ecclesiastical bondage. So infant baptism, a flawed doctrine with a political agenda, was something the Anabaptists were ready to dispense with. Similarly the tradition of baptizing stillborn infants, supposedly to release them from a spiritual dead-zone called "limbo" was another pagan superstition that had become a doctrine of the Church. To Biblical Christians this was just one more reason that reform was in order.
Baptism of stillborn infants had been a practice of priests from medieval times. It was crafted to exploit distraught mothers and not based on anything written in Holy Scripture. Bible reading Anabaptists knew that infants were innocent before God. They knew that when an infant died they went immediately taken into the Presence of God. They knew from their reading of the Gospels that these departed ones were innocent and in God's Presence. They knew that Jesus had taken the little ones on His knee and said, "Allow the little ones to come to me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." For a priest to tell grieving parents that without their official baptism the stillborn infant would become a firefly flitting around forever in the darkness of the forests at night was a wicked thing to do and to perpetuate such an evil superstition was unconscionable. It was just another fairy tale perpetuated from pagan realms. It was a cynical ploy crafted by the religious powers to ensure that people would always be kept be running to their priests at all the great junctures of life and death.
The Anabaptists knew better and they they were not afraid to share their beliefs from the Bible. They saw infant baptism as a pagan ritual. But what was more; it was supplanting the real baptism, a baptism of an adult or an older child upon profession of faith. Infant baptism as they saw it was another case of the established Church stepping over the line. It was an obfuscation and an unauthorized replacement of the true Biblically based baptism. True baptism as ordained by God Almighty was supposed to be undertaken by an older child or adult as a witness before others. It was not supposed to be a ritual imposed upon a passive infant who was not yet personally able to be involved with the proceedings. In a real baptism an older person knew what was going on. The new believer was actively submitting himself to baptism before others as a testimony to His Lord Jesus. He was a vitally involved and fully consenting to the proceedings. Baptism was more than just a rite. It was a show and tell ordained by God and enacted before others. In baptism they were demonstrating their commitment and their resolve to follow Christ. True baptism was not something to be tampered with by churchmen or by anyone else. It was very important for the early development of a new Christian. It was ordained by God to strengthen the new convert. Baptism was to be identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. True baptism was not to be supplanted by another non-Biblical Church tradition of men. And for a Church to impose this non-Biblical pseudo-baptism on a person when they were helpless to consent to it was a travesty. True adult baptism was a testimony to a covenant, even a blood covenant. How was a wet infant expected to be involved with these weighty matters of covenant? Baptism as it was shown forth in the Bible was a testimony before men by a man, woman, or an older child as they entered into covenant with God and embarked on their new life in personal fellowship with God. As the Anabaptists saw it infant baptism was a plot of the enemy to spoil all that.
Infant Baptism, and the political issue of citizenshipDuring the Reformation in Germany and in Switzerland the issue of infant baptism was at the center of a maelstrom of controversy. The Anabaptists were doing something different, something Biblically correct. But it was not authorized by the religious elites. They found that they were being targeted for grievous persecution. They were not being politely asked why they were baptizing adults. No. Instead they were targeted and subjected to deadly persecution. The Catholic powers were ready to imprison innocent people, bring them under a summary judgment, and execute them over the issue. And the Reformers, for strange hidden reasons, were following suit.
when it becomes ownership of a Christian soul by the State.
For the Anabaptists this was astounding. Why would churchmen be against a directive of God and clearly written in the Bible? They soon came to discover that the issue was more than the Biblical mandate for baptism upon confession of faith. And it was more than their rejection of infant baptism as a religious ritual. They were living in a nation divided and engaged in constant war. And so they were now beginning to see that infant baptism had a hidden political agenda. It was a rite that the church used to force the political allegiance of the people.
The Roman Catholic Prior gets a visit from the state official coming to collect taxes. The rolls of names are held by the Church and based upon infant baptisms. A host of Anabaptist names are missing from the rolls. There is war and famine and revenues are down. The Turks are closing in on Vienna. The times are desperate. The duke is furious. The image above is from the video "The Radicals".
How was infant baptism a political matter that involved the state and allegiance to the princes of the land? Infant baptism was in fact a rite of citizenship. After the infant was baptized there were the official book entries. These were written into the records by churchmen on behalf of the state. So after the wetting of the infant came the documentation of the infant. His name was entered into the rolls of the state. This was an ecclesiastical record to be sure. But in the Church-State marriage of Charlemagne and the Roman Church in 800 A.D. central Europe was governed under the politico-religious umbrella of the the so-called "Holy Roman Empire". Infant baptism had been entrusted to a religious shepherding authority, the Church. The principalities and powers, the hierarchies, the princes of this evil world, both angelic and human were using infant baptism as the basis for establishing citizenship. Church rolls provided accurate records of individuals for the state.
Those Church rolls of people in the land were generally very accurate and complete.
That is, until the Anabaptists came along!
Citizenship was one thing. Ownership of souls was often not too far away from that. Infant baptism was a portal for documentation of a soul. Was that list of names for the purpose of ensuring proper and complete ministry of citizens by the Church? Or was the list for ownership of souls by the state and temporal power that was protecting the Church. That is was burning question back the and even more-so today. Because out of the entries for infant baptism's came the rolls for taxation. Lists of citizens also formed the basis for the blood covenant matter of military service. Ahhh! Now we are getting into the REAL politics of the matter.
Here is how the issue of infant baptism, citizenship, and ownership of souls by the state played out in those former tumultuous times. In the case of the Catholics the baptized infant entered into the ownership of Rome. In the case of Ulrich Zwingli's Reformers the ownership of the child was by the Swiss Canton of Zurich. Both of these political powers were at war with each other. And back in the 1500ís central Europe was in a state of bloody turmoil. And so by this act of infant baptism the parents were unwittingly committing their newborn infant to take a certain side. And as the awful reality of unending warfare began to sink in parents realized that with infant baptism they were also committing their newborn baby to a lifetime of war!
As the Reformation wars dragged on the Anabaptists found that they were on the outer. The saw that they were being pushed to the fringes of society. Some of them moved from place to place. Some lived in the forests and in caves. They met in secret. And as they met to worship and deliberate they dug further into the Bible. They prayed to God for His guidance. They sat around their dinner-tables, they sang and they read the Scriptures. They talked about the way of holiness and sought to understand the principles laid out in the Bible. And they joined with one another in fellowship over meals in a closeness that became legendary.
As time went on the Anabaptists began to see all sorts of problems with all the alliance of a compromised Church with secular State. They saw that through infant baptism they were giving their children to the State. Their sons would grow up to be conscripted for the shameful civil war; a war that seemingly would never end. They remembered what God had told ancient Israel when they came to Him asking for a king to rule over them. The Israelites wanted to be like all the other nations. God had told them what the king would take their sons for war and tax them in all sorts of ways. But if they really wanted human kings and princes over them then that was what they would get. In the middle of the bloody religious wars of the 1500's the Anabaptists began to question the role of the sword. They began to ask whether Christians should take up the sword.
The Anabaptists had rejected the mass and then infant baptism.The Anabaptists considered all these matters. They remembered what Jesus said about those who take up the sword dying by the sword. They ended up rejecting infant baptism outright. They affirmed that the Biblical baptism was the real baptism. And in that baptism they belonged to Christ. They were now citizens of Christ's kingdom. They would pay taxes to the state like everyone else. They were obligated to render unto Caesar the things that were Caesar's just as Jesus had said they were to do. But they would not take up the sword for the state or give their sons into the army. Nor would they ask the state for anything. They had cut their allegiance to the Church and to the State. For this they were persecuted to the death.
That made them heretics to Rome.
Then they rejected the way of the sword.
That made them traitors to the State.
Why wouldn't the Anabaptists give their sons for military service? The answer is quite simple. The matter of military service was a blood covenant matter. Blood covenant is also the basis of a Christian's commitment God, to husband or wife, and to children, relatives, and friends. The latter have been called "blood-kin". One might think that military service would not be a problem for Biblical Christians. But during the 1500's Christians were not guranteed any security by the state. It kept changing hands. Their sons were being conscripted or drawn in by fear. And they ended up just killing other Christians. And God was supposed to be in all this?
At the very same time the Reformation wars were raging within Western Christendom was being attacked from without. The Ottoman Turks were invading from the east. They were even encroaching on Vienna.
During the Reformation wars the Anabaptists had seen enough bloodshed. They had seen what happens when Christians take up the sword against their fellows. The way of the sword was being imposed on them by a collusion of Church and State. They recognized that it was a blood covenant matter. And when it came to blood covenant they would now open up their Bibles and ask God to show them what to do. It seemed that the Holy Roman Empire and its Roman Church was anything but holy. And Zwingliís Reformers were not much different.
The Anabaptists pondered all these matters. They would sit down with other people of like precious faith and review the allegiances being imposed upon them by manís authority. Then they would open up their Bibles and would check the limits of their allegiances to "the magistrates". They would check them out against Godís higher authority. The Scriptures in Titus 3:1,2 had brought this directive from God through the Apostle Paul."Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers,
to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers,
but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.
The consensus of the main bulk of Anabaptists, especially those who took the Biblical guidance offered by Michael and Margaretta Sattler was that Christian believers were not to speak ill of personages in authority. But they were to respect them and stand for principle come what may, even if the magistrates ordered them to be executed. This discussion of Biblical principles and obedience or non-obedience to Church traditions was entirely appropriate. It was the Biblically correct and the responsible road to take.
All this unauthorized and unsupervised discussion of Church-State issues was "over the top" for the Church-State powers. For this the Anabaptists were banished. They were told that they had no right to baptize or establish another Church. They were told they had no authority whatsoever to interpret Holy Scripture for themselves. Anabaptist ministers were not ordained by the Church. So by their judgment laymen had no right to make personal judgments before God without clerical oversight and Church approval. Their thinking and their conversation was to be subject to Church and State. Furthermore they were told to report all their innermost thoughts to the priest in the Catholic confessional. The Anabaptists politely disagreed. They continued in accordance with their Biblical awakening in outright rejection of all this.
Central Europe in the time of the Anabaptists was in a state of absolutely horrific religious turmoil. Families saw their sons conscripted into one army and then another. One year their valley might be in Catholic hands. They were expected to billet the soldiers, to feed and shelter these imposing strange men inside their homes in a time of famine. They would be questioned about their beliefs and their sons expected to serve in the Catholic army now dominating the valley. The next year their region might be in the hands of a Reformist army. People trying to live a peaceful life lived under the continuous threat of terror, from one side or the other. At any time an army of brutes might come into their valley and take over. Which army would it be? A Catholic army? A Reformation army? It mattered little. Either way their lives would be thrown into another wave of tragedy and grief. As the years went on the lives of people were overcome by a wall of deep sadness.
The Reformation wars, (and there were many), went on for over a hundred years). Back and forth it went, decade after decade. All the bloodshed across the land went on and on. And the tears of bereaved wives, mothers and children seemed to fall without end. More and more sons lost. And for what did they die? For whose glory?
Finally, finally, the Anabaptists had had enough. They said they were DONE. They would not make war any more. Of course they faced death for their non-compliance. But it did not matter. They were unmoved. They would not relent even under imprisonment or the threat of death. They had come to the end of themselves. Here they would make their stand. They had surrendered up their life for Christ and for Him alone. They would live for Him. And if necessary they would die for Him.
Amazingly people joined the Anabaptists well knowing that they were going to die. For "sold-out" people such as this that matter was settled. And for the Amish and for the Mennonites, that situation still applies to this day.
Why has this story of the Amish holocaust not been told? Why is it not featured in our history books? And why have the Amish and Mennonites been left alone to live their lives peacefully on their farms? Did their witness unto death push back the powers of darkness? We can be sure that it did. And while it was a shameful chapter in the history of both Catholic and Reformation churches it shone the Light of God on a pathway of blood covenant commitment our establishment Western Church has not been willing to take. But there might be something else involved as well. I am not sure if this is true. But I have been told that the Amish Church fathers have been told by the powers that be that they would be left alone if they remained quiet and kept their mouths shut about what happened back in the 1500's. So, for whatever reason, the history of this witness has been kept under wraps.
Will it be under wraps forever? No, not at all. We are going to hear a lot about it as we come into the latter days.
The brief overview above is just a rough thumbnail sketch of their story. But I pray it will suffice to begin the conversation. Because the full story here is yet to be told. And the testimony of their lives will be a great blessing to the saints as they undergo similar trials in the latter days.
Are there any other reasons why this awesome story of the Anabaptists has not been told? I am not sure if this is true. But I have been told that the Amish Church fathers were told by the powers that be that they would be left alone and not bothered on their farms if they remained quiet and kept their mouths shut about what happened back in the 1500's. So, for whatever reason, the history of their witness unto death has been kept under wraps.
Will it be kept a secret forever? No, not at all. Because great and important truths cannot be hidden forever. They have a tendency to come out into the light of day when the time is right. We are definitely going to hear a lot about the Anabaptists and their blood covenant commitment as we come into the latter days.
So what is the lesson we can gain from the Anabaptists? In times to come Biblical Christians will finally come to the same resolve the Anabaptists reached. That resolve is one of total 100% commitment to Jesus Christ, even to the point of death. And when the end-time Church takes the stand as the Anabaptists did back in the 1500's there will be pure testimony and with it will come a spiritual breakthrough. And at the end of the story there will be a flow of glory the likes of which has never been seen before.
On this matter of ownership of human souls you might Google this question. "Why are the names inscribed on our birth certificates written in capital letters?" There is a big story there. I was only recently made aware of this. Jesus was asked about the question of taxes. He held up a coin with Caesar's profile inscribed on it and said, "Render unto Caesar, (the state), the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."
So being a "sovereign citizen" and not paying taxes is out of the question isn't it? Apparently we owe some allegiance to Caesar for some things and we owe allegiance to God for others. But what is due to whom? And how much can the state ask of a man or woman? Just what did Jesus mean for us to understand here? Does it come down to whether the ruler is coming in the name of God and Country, (Like Hitler did and our British sovereign does and the American Declaration of Independence sets forth.) This is certainly something to ponder.
This leads on to the next question. Who owns and is worthy of the worth-ship, the worship, of the souls of people as individuals who live within the geographical borders of these principalities? That would be a matter for the individuals concerned, wouldn't it? And is there not often a struggle going on here within human hearts with respect to our ultimate eternal allegiance? There certainly is. And as we pilgrim on and we make new discoveries we often need to set new priorities.
Christians are a peculiar people. They are "the people of the Book". The New Covenant with God's call to holiness or being "set apart" for Him can be and has always been a problem for kings and rulers. But emperors must have their religious clothes in order to please the masses. The masses are usually not too keen on this business of consecration to God. So nominally Christian kings and national rulers will shop for nominally Christian religious clothing. Politicals will select compromised crowd pleasing ministers of religion to be their paid ecumenical state churchmen. Kings, rulers, and politicians need their religious side-kicks to help them stay in power. When difficult times come they will need them. They will need them to help moderate the conversation and control the masses when they begin to get out of hand. This is the whole purpose of the Harlot Religious system that will rule the New World Order during the first 3.5 years of the final 7 years of this age. These will be the years before the Antichrist is "revealed" as the 666 Beast at the midpoint of the 7 years.
State licensed religion is invariably one of compromise. And as we have seen ever since the Council of Nicaea the state sanctioned religion we see throughout history is usually a pretty seedy affair. The bigger the nation, the empire, or the "world order" the more it will seek to "reach-out", "celebrate diversity", and make allowances for evil. The hired or "licensed" minister will "feel the call", (feel the pressure), to speak of "unity" and "peace" based not on unity in Christ but unity based upon ecumenical compromise. This matter of "compliance" of individual Christian citizens when a state entering into a time of turmoil can get to be very problematical. Biblical Christians in Nazi Germany suffered for their faith along with the Jews. When autocrats and tyrants rise up and use the iron fist to establish or extend their rule Christians suffer. We see this happen every time. It matters not whether it be a fascist state or a communist collective.
What is especially irksome to kings trying to garner allegiance for themselves is that the New Covenant God is making covenant with individuals inside their kingdom. And at the turning points of history individuals Christian believers will often find themselves getting cross-wise with the state. They wake up one morning to find that they have been marginalized. They are being persecuted because of their belief. Out of this discomfiture will come the witness that causes the paradigm shift. This is how the Kingdom of God advances on earth.
We may not like this. But we have no other choice. It is the story of the saints down through time. This is how God extends His Kingdom. The Kingdom of God advances one soul at a time and often through trials and tribulation. As the poet Cecil Spring Rice affirms,
And thereís another country, Iíve heard of long ago,So this question as to whom we owe our allegiance is a big deal. And what sort of allegiance issues will present themselves in the latter days?
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.
In Revelation chapter 17 John saw the harlot religious system of the early 70th Week riding the end-time political entity, the New World Order Beast. Will this be an updated version of the same debauched Church-State system of the former times? Apparently it will be mandatory for the new world citizen to give his allegiance to a compromised ecumenical religious system that will be given rule over his region.
How about the 666 era that follows? In order to engage in commerce people will have to accept some sort of marking in their bodies by something called the "Mark of the Beast". Every person in the civilized world who wants to engage in commerce and not just barter away their property will have to take the Mark in order to use the 666 economic system. This will happen at the mid-point of the final 7 years of this age. What are we and others who reject the 666 economic-worship system to do then? Are we or at least our women and children to migrate on, yet again? Will God make some sort of provision for His covenant people in those days?
Apparently so. See this article on The Flight to Mystery Bozrah.
At that time the Antichrist will be fully revealed for who he really is. Jesus told us about this guy in John 5:43. He said that that the prince who is coming will most certainly NOT represent "God and country". Jesus said that when this godless narcissistic fellow rises up on the world scene he would come not in the Fatherís name, as Jesus did, but he would come "in his OWN name". So he comes in the spirit of Lucifer, the angel of "self". This man will use his 666 economic system to demand worship for himself. Indeed, the worship of men is what he seeks above all else. But the worship he ends up getting will only be a low grade worship. Because he can only get this worship directed to himself by coercion. This man will be Satan's god-man. The Antichrist will be a pretender to the true coming Messiah.
This matter of Christian allegiances will be extremely important in a future time. Because in the Fall season of some future year this world will be ushered into the New World Order. Our allegiance or non-allegiance to the harlot system during those first 3.5 years will be the cause of much searching of the hearts. And the Queen of Hearts will be imposing her rule once again.
Our allegiance and our commitment to Christ alone will be the burning issue in those times to come, just as it was in medieval times under the medieval Church. And as we see history unfold our political alliances will become more egregious and problematical. As Christian believers continue to play politics it is clear that by our compromise we are actually empowering the principalities and powers of darkness. We are painting ourselves into a political corner. And as the Hegelian dialectic takes us down the road of compromise we will discover that we have less and less room to maneuver. Like Hosea's wife Gomer with her lovers, we will ultimately give ourselves over to an ever more abominable political prince.
Was the story of Gomer a prophecy of things to come? Will Gomer go up for auction in a future marketplace of the bodies and souls of men? Will Gomer ultimately be purchased by her true Husband? Eventually the saga of Godís covenant people will come into shrp focus as the quintessential case of "Beauty and the Beast", even the 666 beast of the latter days.
These may be somber issues to discuss. But we must "Keep calm and carry on" here. As we come into the latter days all is not lost. Through it all God is observing our situation. He is calling upon us to repent. He is waiting for us to turn to Him. He also has some options to present to us, . . . . . if we are interested. Many mysteries are yet to unfold.
The issue of ownership of souls is a crucial, if hidden, matter. And the Anabaptists were people who came to grips with it. And in a time to come many will give themselves over to the economic and worship apparatus of 666. The matter of who owns a person will be front and center in times to come. Who will be the prince who will kiss and awaken Sleeping Beauty? Will it be the Prince of Peace? Or will it be the prince of darkness?
So here are the big questions that will arise in times to come. Are we happy to be numbered, marked, and owned by the state? Judging by all the tattooing going on in Western Christendom today perhaps most of us will not have a problem taking the Mark of the Beast. How about sporting some big ear tags with numbers on them like the cows have? Will the mark of the Beast be visible of invisible? Apparently the mark will be readable by some means or another on a personís forehead and/or forearm. But is this just a small thing? Are we going to be happy to be owned and marked by the godless blaspheming global ruler who is to come? Will we gladly worship the Antichrist when he is revealed at the midpoint of the 70th Week as the 666 Beast? Will he make us happy? And let's just suppose he does provide for our rich lifestyle in which we say "I am rich, increased in goods, in need of nothing!" Just how long will that material and fleshly party and our earthly happiness last?
Jesus said that,
"As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be when the Son of Man comes.500 years ago the Anabaptists faced this matter of being owned by a state. Countries are ruled over by the principalities and powers of this world system. These are the angelic rulers pushing men and nations into the way of the sword. The Anabaptists were thrown into a horrible civil war combined with wars abroad. The human toll mounted up terribly in a string of conflicts that seemed to go on forever. The bloodshed and the blood-guiltiness was beyond telling.
For they ate, drank, gave in marriage and were given in marriage.
Until sudden destruction came and engulfed them all."
Finally the people of the covenant decided they would go with God and give their allegiance to Christ alone. When they did come to this resolve they immediately began to suffer deadly persecution. As we can see, this very same issue of "Whom shall we serve?" will be main point of contention when the future 666 economic system of the Antichrist is mandated and along with it the attendant worship of Antichrist. This 666 system will be instituted across large portions of this earth in a time yet to come. At that time every person is going to have to decide if they are going to bow down to this latter day Haman. They are going to have to decide whose side they are on. This matter of who owns a man or a woman or who owns an infant child is a crucial blood covenant matter. For a fuller understanding of the amazing and inspiring history of the Swiss-German Anabaptists see "The Radicals", on YouTube or Download the mp4 video file or purchase DVD here.
Here is the "take-home" lesson for us as Biblical Christians today. The Anabaptists in the German and Swiss provinces of the 1500's were being forced to submit to an imposed citizenship to a warring countryside that kept changing its leadership. They were forced to swear oaths of allegiance to one compromised corrupted unholy Church-State system and then another. As Biblical Christian believers they were being forced against their conscience to give their sons into military service to Roman Catholic armies for a season and Reformist armies the next. Back and forth it went in decades of unending unholy bloody mayhem. To both Catholics and Reformers their pacifism and their lack of patriotism was seen as treason. They were persecuted unto the death. Many were ready to leave the country and migrate out, to the west. Some of them brought down by such loss and grief that they were ready to embrace the ultimate radical Christianity. They would joyfully embrace the cross of Christ and if they had to leave their loved ones as a witness to Christ and His Kingdom then they would do so. They took solace in knowing they would see their families again. They would go on to a better resurrection and to a better place.
The Anabaptists were pushed into this by their extreme politico-religious circumstances.
These are the same politico-religious circumstances all Christian believers the world over will face in times to come.
These were not a perfect people. And they did make mistakes back then and now. But their conscientious objection to the imposed allegiance of a compromised Church and State came out of their devotion to Christ. Their resolve was born out of a revived conscience now aware of the Biblical call to holiness. Their hope was now the blessed hope of eternal salvation. And their commitment was now to the coming Kingdom of God as they saw it laid out in Holy Scripture. Accordingly the Anabaptists resolved that
1. They would pay their taxes, butFor them this was an entirely appropriate response. Indeed, it was the only choice they could make given the unconscionable political constraints they were being subjected to.
2. They would not swear oaths of allegiance to a state, and
2. They would not take up the sword.
So how about us?
How shall we respond if similar circumstances occur in our nation in a time to come?
How shall we respond if similar challenges are brought to bear upon us and our faith is tested?
Shall we too make a 100% blood covenant commitment to our Messiah?
Shall we consecrate ourselves to His Kingdom, to His Congregation, as they did?
Christians in the West are in the luke-warm Laodicean Church mode right now. We are people who live in a culture dominated by the merchant church of contract and compromise. We have the very best ministers that money can buy. And the stuff of Mammon is guarded by sword, the gun. At present we have not yet attained the high grade blood covenant Christianity of Christians in places like China and Indonesia and in the Suffering Church abroad. We have not experienced the tribulations they encounter daily nor are we here in the pampered West seeing the miracles they are seeing. The "greater works" Jesus promised are still up there in our future. And the best wine is to be poured out at the end. The prophet Joel saw the peak of the Holy Spirit outpouring coming to a glorious climax toward the end of the age, after the Great Tribulation, and in the days of the cosmic signs of a darkened sun, a bloody moon, and stars falling in an epic meteor shower even as the angelic rulers are brought down. See Joel 2:28,29,30,31,32. This age will end climatically and gloriously with the Second Coming of Messiah. And He will deliver, and save, and set things straight. God's covenant people are destined to become that cross-linked royal priesthood and holy nation Moses and the Apostle Peter spoke about. And so, all that being understood, are we not to expect some trials, some heckling of the linen, and some refining of the silver and the gold?
We can take some encouragement here. Our God is sovereign over all of holy history.
The Holy Scriptures tell of a great End-Time Revival.
And the promised end-time glory will surely be seen.
God's glory will flow from God's covenant people, even as gold in the crucible.
So as we look into their history we can see that the Anabaptists, by force of historical circumstances, were ahead of their time. Their doctrine of separation, (another word for "holiness"), and their total commitment to Christ and to His Kingdom became the standard back then.
This very same standard will be seen again as we come into the latter days!
Our God will "raise up a banner for the nations." (See Isaiah 62:10)
"And unto HIM will the gathering of the people be". (See Genesis 49:10)
The commitment of the Elect in those coming days will be total.
There will be no compromise.
The Anabaptists, the Mennonites, the
They left us a good and Godly example.
They rejected the sword of the flesh.
They turned away from the kingdoms of this world.
This was the legacy our brothers and sisters left us.
Amish, and the Hutterites are to blessed.
And they would not compromise their faith.
And they embraced the Sword of the Spirit.
And they gave themselves to the Kingdom of Christ.
It will be the standard lifted up in the latter days.
They left us a good and Godly example.
They rejected the sword of the flesh.
They turned away from the kingdoms of this world.
This was the legacy our brothers and sisters left us.
Some helpful related links.