Why is an Anabaptist a heretic and a Baptist not?

Discussion in 'Baptism' started by kvanlaan, Jul 7, 2009.

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  1. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not suggesting that Baptists are heretics, but most Reformed work that I've read tends to place Anabaptists in that light, while reformed baptists who practise the same baptism rites are not. Could someone please explain?
  2. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    Read Zwingli's "Tricks of the Catabaptists" for more info on the nature of the Anabaptists. There are some modern baptists that fit this bill, but many do not:

    Online Library of Liberty - V.: REFUTATION OF THE TRICKS OF THE BAPTISTS BY HULDREICH ZWINGLI. * - Selected Works of Huldrich Zwingli

  3. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    There were many more problems that just baptism with the Anabaptists, often amounting a a denial of justification by faith, a denial of a substitutionary atonement, a denial of the validity of the Old Testament and its teachings, of civil authority, carnal institution, etc. They also typically emphasized an immediate working of the Holy Spirit in believers.
  4. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    A very good question. In teaching our own congregation I sought to point out several of the more serious errors and misdeeds of the Continental Anabaptists in the 16th century while at the same time acknowledge several things that they were right about. This was a difficult balance to maintain. If you wish, you may hear it at

    SermonAudio.com - The Anabaptists
  5. puritan lad

    puritan lad Puritan Board Freshman

    Historically, Simon Mennos and his followers denied the humanity of Christ. They believed He was "Celestial Flesh".

    As a result, if you go to a Brethren or Mennonite Church even today, you aren't very likely to hear much about Christ's redemptive work. Instead, you'll hear sermons about the "good example" that Christ came to teach us (and that usually involves some liberal politics as well).
  6. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    Here are some other beliefs according to a European History book I have...

    "They believed Christ intended to the Lord's Supper to be completely symbolic... Furthermore, they didn't practice the Lord's Supper in churches but in believer's homes as a literal supper."

    "the belief that Christians should not be a part of the temporal world led to the development of Anabaptist communities. Anabaptists tried to convert entire cities, like Zurich, into Anabaptist settlements..."

    "many Anabaptists believed that, as Christians who were instructed not to be a part of the world, they were not bound by civil authorities."

    also they were Pacifists.
  7. Sven

    Sven Puritan Board Sophomore

    You need to first understand the differences between Anabaptists and baptists. Anabaptists were the "radical wing" of the Reformation. There were several different versions of anabaptists during the Reformation, but they generally held to these distinctions:
    1. Only Adults are to be baptized and those baptized in infancy are to be rebaptized.
    2. The Church is a voluntary society, and its purity is maintained by having only believers be a part of it. Unbaptized children are excluded from Church membership.
    3. Christians cannot be civil magistrates; government is worldly.
    4. Christians cannot go to war.
    5. Christians cannot make oaths of any kind.

    Other distinctions include their view of the discontinuity between Old and New Testaments, their view of the Spirit speaking separately from the Word, and their view that Christians must be separate from society. There is a wide variety of belief in Anabaptism. Some held to erring views of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ. The most common Anabaptists today are the Mennonites, the Amish, and the Hutterites.

    Reformed and Southern Baptists come from a different tradition. They come from the English Baptists who held similar views with the Puritans, excepting infant baptism. Contrary to Anabaptists they hold to the view that the Church is made up of the elect, and will always be a mix of wheat and tares while on earth, Christians can and should take up roles as civil magistrates, it is lawful for Christians to be soldiers and go to war, there are such things as lawful oaths. Reformed Baptists hold to a continuity between Old and New Testaments, and hold that the Spirit speaks with the word not separate from it. If you have the time read William Estep's The Anabaptist Story to get a history of the Anabaptists. Read also History of English Calvinistic Baptists by Roger Oliver for a history of Calvinistic Baptists.
  8. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    The anabaptists became the Mennonites, Amish, and Hutterites. They were totally against serving in the military. They are culturally and doctrinally far more separate than evangelical Baptists.

    We had some casual contacts with Mennonites back in the 70s-80s in the Pennsylvania area between Philly suburbs and the Lancaster County Amish area. There was a huge "renewal" at the time ( usually charismatic but not always) and a number of the Mennonite churches saw many conversions, and came into a more gospel focus instead of legalism ( ie women could wear slacks and so forth). We had some ex- mennonites at our church who were evangelical in every way except for the strong pacifism position.

    The Amish in PA had some revival years ago. Sadly, the Amish misunderstand the word "hope" to be like wishful thinking as we use the word in English. In Greek the word hope is something sure, and fixed and certain. They (always or often, not sure) taught that you could only hope (uncertainly) to go to heaven and could not be sure. During the revival a lot got born again and started to teach assurance of salvation, and it led to terrible friction within their churches. No doubt the fact that the hope lies entirely on the finished work of Jesus Christ, and not some long list of Amish rules, added to the problem.

    I would say classic Amish teaching today as well as old order Mennonite doctrine is a works based religion and indeed heretical, unlike Baptists. But among them there are many regnerated ones, such as in the RCC.
  9. Sven

    Sven Puritan Board Sophomore

  10. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    A history and comparison of the beliefs of the Anabaptists, the Magisterial Reformation, and the spiritual fathers of modern day Reformed Baptists are provided here:

    The Anabaptists and the Reformation

    The article says that the Anabaptist errors include,

    1. Practical denial of original sin (Christ's sacrifice removes it for all)
    2. Free-will in salvation (Semi-Pelagianism)
    3. Soul sleep until resurrection

    These and others are rejected by Reformed Baptists.
  11. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    Anabaptists were unfortunately lax in their study of theology, which led to all kinds of heresies and misunderstandings of Scripture. Among these, as mentioned, were the "celestial flesh" issue, and the Lord's Supper issue. The Anabaptists, though, despite these shortcomings, were admirable examples of how God's people ought to live--something even their enemies recognized, albeit grudgingly.

    Modern "Anabaptist" groups are typically farther from what the original Anabaptists taught, introducing even more self-contradictions into their doctrine than their forefathers had. In addition--and this applies especially to the Amish and other more legalistic groups--they often tend towards legalism, thinking that works will result in the working of the Holy Ghost, rather than the other way around.
  12. Jen

    Jen Puritan Board Freshman

    There were different streams of Anabaptism. The Anabaptists standing in the Biblicist tradition weren't all that bad -- Bucer and Capito, for example, were on good terms with Michael Sattler (of the Schleitheim Confession). On the other hand, the Socinians were Anabaptists, too. So discussions on Anabaptism do need to be nuanced to take this into account.
  13. Curt

    Curt Puritan Board Graduate

    Many Baptists are confused about their own lineage. (Many Presbyterians are bedazzled by the various crossing lines in historical charts about theirs). The fact is that there is no direct line between the Reformation-era Anabaptists and modern Baptist belief and practice.

    There are, of course, Baptists today who slip into some of the errors mentioned in posts above.
  14. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    It should also be noted, however, that this was a point of dissension between Zurich and Strasbourg; and also that Capito's (over?)-friendliness extended even further than the likes of Sattler -- even Schwenckfeld lived in Capito's house until 1531, and after that yet was able to remain in Strasbourg until 1534.

    Also, the second entry you linked above was quite a nice and helpful summary.
  15. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    This may be more than any of you want to pursue but you could also see

    Spiritual and Anabaptist Writers, Documents Illustrative of the Radical Reformation, Westminster Press

    The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Dissent and Nonconformity) by Leonard Verduin and Franklin H. Littell
  16. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    I would agree with much that has been written already in this post. My addition would be to note that in today's atheological climate, much of broad evangelicalism with its semi-pelagianism is closer to the teachings of the Anabaptists than to the Reformed tradition, even among those who claim a Presbyterian lineage!!!

    A conversation with two of my colleagues at work yesterday revealed how deeply offensive the notions of the doctrines of grace are to the prevailing ethos of "democratic America."

    The charismatic tendency in much of evangelicalism bears much in common with the Anabaptists of the 16th century AND the "Zwickau Prophets," of whom Luther wrying commented that they had swallowed the Holy Spirit/heavenly dove "feathers and all."

    The stress on free will and individual decision coupled with forming a church based on individualized choice are also Anabaptist themes.

    Our difficulty is in determining how much of the current practice relates to the historical movement of Anabaptists and how much of it is merely coincidental with some of the errors shared by both groups.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2009
  17. Karnes

    Karnes Puritan Board Freshman

    Some Baptists still hold to relation to the Anabaptists (ie. President of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary edited not sure if names are allowed), but then again not too many want to be associated with him or his ability to misquote Spurgeon totally out of context.

    After Hubmaier in Regensburg, Melchior Hoffman (lunatic, new revelations), and John of Leyden seizing the town of Muster the Anabaptists had a bad name and were not much to be associated with.

    "God opened the eyes of governments by the revolution at Munster and no one thereafter would trust Anabaptists who claimed to be innocent.” Heinrich Bullinger

    The English Baptist were separate and a little later if I am not mistaken depending how far and how inclusive you take the dissenters.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2009
  18. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I would put that one near the top of the list of problems with Anabaptists. Word against Spirit.
  19. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    It would seem that those who believed in Christ's "celestial flesh" should not be reckoned among God's people given the teaching of 1 John 4:2ff.
  20. Spriles

    Spriles Puritan Board Freshman

    I live in Southern Manitoba, a Mennonite hot bed. About 30% of all churches here are Mennonite. I can say that most Mennos up here are evangelical in every way save for the strong belief in pacifism.
  21. Sven

    Sven Puritan Board Sophomore

    That should be Menno Simons, not Simon Mennos.
  22. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Here is a helpful article written by a close friend, showing the relationship that Reformed Baptists have to paedobaptists and Anabaptists The Anabaptists and the Reformation
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