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Spiritual Warfare discuss Were the anabaptists heretics? in the The Christian Walk forums; Im having a discussion over baptism with another brother of mine. I was told to read John McArthurs article on Infant Baptism. In the article ...

  1. #1
    Bladestunner316's Avatar
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    Were the anabaptists heretics?

    Im having a discussion over baptism with another brother of mine. I was told to read John McArthurs article on Infant Baptism. In the article John wrote something that kinda stung me the wrong way and I wanted a solid answer from anyone here who might know.

    He says:
    In fact, after the Reformation, if somebody was rebaptized, who was baptized as an infant, they were labeled an "Anabaptist" and persecuted.

    It was not uncommon for that persecution to reach a fever pitch so that after the Reformation, you had Protestant people who believed in infant baptism persecuting people who believed in believersí baptism. It became a serious issue, even to the point where some people who believed in adult immersion after confession of faith in Christ and were rebaptized, were killed. So, this was a heated issue. We can be glad it isnít quite that furious today, but it is still an issue of immense importance in the church, because as I said, you have baptized non-Christians and unbaptized Christians. In both cases you have a problem, a serious problem.
    Is this true? Offhand from my poor memory this seems to be misconstrued to make paedo-baptisers appear even more wrong then need be.
    Nathan Olaf Brandal

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    panta dokimazete is offline. Panting Donkey Machete
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    From the Wiki - so caveat emptor...

    Persecutions and migrations

    Much of the historic Roman Catholic and Protestant literature has represented the Anabaptists as groups who preached false doctrine and led people into apostasy. That negative historiography remained popular for about four centuries. The Roman Catholics and Protestants alike persecuted the Anabaptists, resorted to torture and other types of physical abuse, in attempts both to curb the growth of the movement and bring about the salvation of the heretics (through recantation). The Protestants under Zwingli were the first to persecute the Reformation Anabaptists. Felix Manz became the first martyr in 1527. On May 20, 1527, Roman Catholic authorities executed Michael Sattler. King Ferdinand declared drowning (called the third baptism) "the best antidote to Anabaptism". It has been said that a "16th century man who did not drink to excess, curse, or abuse his workmen or family could be suspected of being an Anabaptist and thus persecuted."[2] Estep estimates that thousands died in Europe in the sixteenth century.

    Thieleman J. van Braght's Martyrs Mirror describes the persecution and execution of thousands of Anabaptists, such as Dirk Willems, in Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and other parts of Europe between 1525 and 1660. Continuing persecution in Europe was largely responsible for the mass immigrations to North America by Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites.
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    Puritan Sailor's Avatar
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    Most of the Anabaptists were heretical in their views on the Trinity and soteriology. In that day that meant death. The rebaptism issue is historically brought to the fore, but I'm not convinced that was the main cause for their persecution. It certainly marked these groups apart and perhaps became associated with their other heresies in the popular mind. I think looking back most of us would disagree with persecuting them, but we didn't live back then. It's not an excuse, but we just need to understand the times. Also remember that some of the Anabaptists were militant, not pacifists. I'm sure some of the persecutors failed to make that distinction when they wanted to suppress heresy.
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    R. Scott Clark's Avatar
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    There are older threads on this.

    Virtually all the Anabaptists denied the doctrine of justification on the grounds that justification sola gratia sola fide leads to immorality.

    Several of the Anabaptist leaders held a docetic Christology, that Jesus had a "heavenly flesh."

    Some of them did move toward and/or embrace heretical views of the Trinity.

    By denying infant baptism they placed themselves outside all forms of the established churches (Roman or Protestant).

    Many of them held an ontological dualism (material is bad; immaterial is good) so that the material world was perceived to be evil per se. Their radicalism lead them to a radical form of separatism.

    They were widely perceived as a threat to the social oder and, indeed, they gave evidence more than once of being just that.

    Judged by the catholic, ecumenical creeds, yes, several Anabaptist leaders were heretics. The Belgic Confession Art 29 describes the Anabaptist congregations as "sects" who falsely call themselves churches.

    rsc

    Quote Originally Posted by Puritan Sailor View Post
    Most of the Anabaptists were heretical in their views on the Trinity and soteriology. In that day that meant death. The rebaptism issue is historically brought to the fore, but I'm not convinced that was the main cause for their persecution. It certainly marked these groups apart and perhaps became associated with their other heresies in the popular mind. I think looking back most of us would disagree with persecuting them, but we didn't live back then. It's not an excuse, but we just need to understand the times. Also remember that some of the Anabaptists were militant, not pacifists. I'm sure some of the persecutors failed to make that distinction when they wanted to suppress heresy.

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    Bladestunner316's Avatar
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    Thank you. From what I got MacArthur was saying is that they were persecuted for baptizing adults.
    Nathan Olaf Brandal

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    R. Scott Clark's Avatar
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    As I said in another thread, the number of Anabaptists who were killed is often over-stated. It is hip to identify with them as an oppressed minority.

    Something like 3,000 Anabaptists were killed. In the 16th century something like 50-60,000 Reformed folk were killed.

    Seems to me that the Reformed were the oppressed minority!

    rsc

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    As I recall, Nathan, there were people in my former (original) Continental Reformed church who were excommunicated for rebaptism. The grounds were along the line of denying the efficacy of the Spirit's witness through the ecclesiastical sacrament of baptism (or something like that; I'm trying to say as an adult now what I was hearing as a child back then.) I remember a friend of my wife's, before we were married and when we were seeing each other regularly, whose father was excommunicated for those reasons. We talked about it a lot whenever we had leisure to do so. And some of what I said above comes from that, but mostly from what we were taught when I was in my teens.

    In summary it works like this: baptism is a once-and-for-all thing that the Church conveys by her authority from Christ. She must be responsible in who she baptizes, of course, but once baptized always baptized, assuming that the baptism was done in proper manner according to the confessional standards. To repeat it is to deny the first one, and that is considered a very serious offence.

    There may have been examples of what McArthur is talking about. Unfortunately the Protestants as a whole were not as unified in doctrine and practice as would have been desirable. But the term 'Protestants' is a pretty general term too. It included everyone who broke from the RCC, and was not confined to the Reformed only.
    JohnV

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    Puddleglum is offline. Puritanboard Junior
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    Quote Originally Posted by R. Scott Clark View Post
    There are older threads on this.

    Virtually all the Anabaptists denied the doctrine of justification on the grounds that justification sola gratia sola fide leads to immorality.
    How much have groups like the Mennonites inherited that?
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    LadyFlynt is offline. Inactive User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puddleglum View Post
    How much have groups like the Mennonites inherited that?
    All of it...they still believe that way. Except there are certain Brethren churches that are now calvinistic (as in very much like the SBC).


    It's true, the issues with anabaptist persecution had to do with alot of other issues aside from believer's baptism (though they would have you think otherwise). Also, as much as they try to disassociate themselves with the incident, look at the case in Munster where they took over a city. It was only AFTER that incident that Menno started preaching and enforcing "nonresistance".
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    R. Scott Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnV View Post
    ...Unfortunately the Protestants as a whole were not as unified in doctrine and practice as would have been desirable. But the term 'Protestants' is a pretty general term too. It included everyone who broke from the RCC, and was not confined to the Reformed only.
    It is used that way sometimes, but most Reformation scholars distinguish between magisterial Reformers and the radicals. The Anabaptists, the rationalists, and mystics are usually described as radicals.

    Sometimes (Lutherans I think) define Protestant very narrowly to refer only to those who were present at Diet of Spire (1529). Most often, however, it is used to refer to the confessional Protestants, i.e., Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican.

    rsc

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    Bladestunner316's Avatar
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    Can I ask another question to go along with this. Im confused why MacArthur says people were persecuted solely for adult baptism(not rebaptism) just plain old adult baptism.

    I honestly dont think that the reformers-puritans did not baptize adult converts?

    Blade
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    LadyFlynt is offline. Inactive User
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    I would think they would if the person was an adult convert (ie., not baptised as an infant). Did they not baptise the NAs amoung others? Therefore, the issue was not the baptising of an adult...it was the rebaptising of an adult.
    JC - PCA - PA...homesick for SC
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    Indicabo tibi o homo quid sit bonum, et quid Dominus requirat a te: Utique facere iudicium, et diligere, misericordiam, et sollicitum ambulare cum Deo tuo. Michaeas 6:8

    "Who says you can't go back, been all around the world and as a matter of fact. There's only one place left I want to go, who says you can't go home" Bon Jovi

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