Posts Tagged Anabaptists

The Early Anabaptists: A People Of The Spirit

Posted by on Friday, 13 July, 2012

Stuart Murray, author of the book, “The Naked Anabaptist“, discusses how the early Anabaptist movement was a Spirit-filled movement, and could even be considered an early charismatic movement.

[Being a charismatic believer myself, while also holding to the Anabaptist tradition, this research really resonates with me!]

Show: Church Matters
Full Podcast: Episode 51: The Anabaptist Has No Clothes
Date: 4/29/11
Hosts: Dan Dyck and Janet Plenert
Guest: Stuart Murray

 

Download

Stuart Murray

Notes: The extent to which the early Anabaptists were a people of the Spirit; They could be in part described as an early charismatic movement; It’s certainly a movement that’s paid considerable attention to being led by the Spirit as they worshiped, as they read scripture, and in any spheres of life; Those parts of the story appear to have been airbrushed out of Mennonite history

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 12

Posted by on Friday, 9 March, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called “The Anabaptist Vision“…

[Part 12 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Jarrod McKenna, John Hirt, and Thorwald Lorenzen

 

Download

Transcript:

Jarrod McKenna: What does it mean that we’re living in an age where Christianity is no longer the dominant religion? And while some are lamenting that, saying ‘That’s awful, and don’t you realise that this is a Christian country and that’s why only Christians should be welcome here?’ Some of us are saying, ‘Hang on a sec., maybe we were never supposed to be in control. Maybe that was never our role.’ It’s certainly not what Jesus called us to and maybe instead of responding to refugees by this kind of Christendom lens which says, we’re in control, we’ve got to make sure history turns out right, responding in a way which is faithful to Jesus, where we welcome the stranger, we welcome the outcast, we welcome the refugee, but not just the refugee, that we respond personally to those issues.

Gary Bryson: Jarrod McKenna. Anabaptism it seems, not only resonates with contemporary concerns of peace and justice, but offers Christians of all denominations an opportunity to centre their faith in openness and tolerance towards others. It’s a great testament to the Anabaptist confession of faith, that despite many years of cruel persecution and withdrawal, tolerance remains one of their greatest legacies. Final words on this Encounter from John Hirt and Thorwald Lorenzen.

John Hirt: What can we learn from the Anabaptist tradition as a third way today with regard to the way that the world is run? The Anabaptists were also about reconciliation. They wanted people to be reconciled to each other. Obviously for them in the beginning, this was necessary because they were getting slaughtered all over the place without a chance to express their loyalty to the things that are good and right within any given state, and so they wanted people to talk and to converse and the Swiss even say that much of their great democracy, their confederation of democracy is owed to Anabaptist beginnings. If we’re about reconciliation, then we cannot be about viewing hatred and enmity as the form of social orthodoxy, the way in which much of the world seems to be divided today, it’s us and them. [But] not according to the New Testament, not according to the Anabaptists. We are the people among whom Christ has come to reconcile us all to God. Ephesians Chapter 1, Verse 10. In the fullness of time to bring all things into unity. This is one of the texts that they love. So the way that Anabaptist theology would play out in the world today in its non-violence, it would be, how can we be reconciled to each other and how can we not begin by hating the other, or making the other into someone who is differentiated by me in terms of, they’re the evil empire, they’re the other. No, no, no, this person is my brother, this person is my sister. The Anabaptist line, ‘I would die for the right for a Jew to be a Jew or for a Turk to be a Turk’. You can’t have that kind of notion in your head and go and want to rape and plunder and declare war on someone, it’s just against the whole tradition.

Thorwald Lorenzen: Where do we see the presence of Christ today? And here the Anabaptists would say, we see it first of all in our conscience, in our commitment of faith. Then we see it in the community, and then the community needs to be open in love and compassion and mission. And therefore, our commitment to each other, our commitment to Christ, naturally flows into a commitment for peace and justice in the world. But on the other hand we have to realise we cannot simply copy what they did in the 16th century to our century. We should not use radical in the sense that we need to be different, we need to be faithful to what we have committed our conscience to. And that makes us committed at the centre, but very open and accepting at the margin.

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 7

Posted by on Monday, 5 March, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called “The Anabaptist Vision“…

[Part 7 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Chris Marshall and John Hirt

 

Download

Transcript:

Gary Bryson: At the core of all this is the idea of discipleship then, isn’t it, what you might call the hermeneutics of obedience, the belief that knowing the truth of scripture is contingent upon obedience to Jesus’ call to discipleship?

Chris Marshall: Well, what the Protestant Reformation rediscovered in particular was the role of faith. Luther’s personal conversion really, was a discovery of the fact that we are justified by faith, and that’s fine, there’s no problem with that. But the feature that I think the Anabaptists made more central was not faith or grace or the sacraments – I mean all of which they accepted – but what they saw as central was discipleship, was the image in the gospels of following Jesus, and not just following Jesus in terms of beliefs about Jesus, but actually following him in terms of an emulation of his lifestyle, his values, or his commitments. And so discipleship has always I think been more important in the Anabaptist tradition than theology really, than belief. Not that beliefs aren’t important, but the key issue is; is one committed to obey Jesus when he talks about these very hard things like violence. An understanding I think captured in a saying by one of the early Anabaptist leaders which was that no-one can claim to know Christ unless he follows him in life, that the knowledge of Christ really is dependent on a commitment to follow him. It’s only as one obeys the teaching of Jesus and as one is committed to obeying the teaching of Jesus does one truly understand the teaching of Jesus.

Now in our own day I think in the kind of world that we live in today, that understanding, that knowledge is not something that we acquire in a purely abstract, reflective, rationalistic way, but it is actually influenced by what we do. That’s something that we are far more comfortable with in the world. I think the Anabaptists saw it 500 years ago.

Gary Bryson: Another development of the time was what we today might call radical congregationalism, based on the authority of the gathered church, and the rejection of hierarchy. This was a distinctive feature of early Anabaptism, and remains so today.

Chris Marshall: The Catholic church was centred around the Majesterium which is the hierarchy of the church, its theologians, its bishops, its Pope and so on. The Protestant churches to some extent broke from that, but the role of the minister or the scholar leader was still pretty important. In the Anabaptist communities it really was the gathered community of believers who saw themselves as brothers and sisters and who didn’t accept a kind of clerical limitation on ministry. This is not unique to the Anabaptists, there have been many congregational movements that have sprung up since the Reformation. But this was a novelty at the time.

John Hirt: It’s problematic really. I mean you could just have the pooling of ignorance. It could be, ‘what I think is right at the time’. You end up with what people call the plain reading of the text, and at the worst, the Anabaptists’ interpretation via the gathered community could be a very literalist interpretation, and because they were a scattered as well as a gathered community – they literally were forced to live in Täuferhöhlen, ‘teufel’ in the German means devil, but they had to live in caves, and if you go in and around Zürich , you can actually go to these cave places where they were forced to live. They were pretty much peasant people who for the main were uneducated, and so, often, without wanting to aggrandise or adorn them too much, they could come up with pretty mad interpretations of the text, and they always needed, if you will, to come back to their scholars. And when their scholars were burned and drowned and murdered in the most dreadful ways, they really missed out a lot. But through it all, it has to be said that the wisdom of God and the commitment to discipleship shone through even where they weren’t in the presence of sound theologians. The gathered community was visited, if you will, with the wisdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 5

Posted by on Saturday, 3 March, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called The Anabaptist Vision

[Part 5 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Mark Hurst and Chris Marshall

 

Download

Transcript:

Gary Bryson: The early Anabaptists were often forced to live in caves and in the wilds of mountains and forests. Many thousands died in the persecution that followed the turmoil of the Reformation.

Mark Hurst: This movement very quickly became a missionary movement, and spread across Europe, and at that time where you had State churches, you didn’t need to have evangelism because everybody was a Christian, and if you had these people coming around saying ‘No, you need to convert to this’, they also then became a problem for the State authorities.

Gary Bryson: The Reverend Mark Hurst is a Mennonite missionary based in Sydney. He and his wife Mary have for many years been the pastoral workers for the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand.

An important figure in the development of Anabaptism was Menno Simons, the man who gave his name to the Mennonites.

Mark Hurst: Menno Simons was a Catholic priest in the 1500s, and in his local area there was the Peasant Rebellion going on, and he observed that, and even in his writings he was saying that he spent most of his time drinking and playing cards and his faith hadn’t really been internalised, but when he saw people dying for their faith in the Peasant Rebellion, it caused him to look again at what he believed, and he had a conversion experience and he actually joined these Anabaptists.

And then he had very pastoral gifts, and he quickly became one of the leaders in the Anabaptist movement at that time. They labelled Anabaptists as Mennoists, or Mennonites, as followers of Menno, but it was really a derogatory name given to them, just like you would have Calvinists or Lutherans, the Anabaptists that were part of the movement that Menno was involved with became called Mennonites. But Menno spent the last 25 years of his life in hiding and on the run, he had a price on his head. So he travelled around meeting with Anabaptist groups but always having to do that hiding and moving from house to house.

Gary Bryson: Persecuted in Europe, many Anabaptists fled to the New World, where its various branches make up what is known today as the historic peace churches. These include Mennonites, Hutterites and the Amish, along with the Quakers, who developed their tradition separately from the Anabaptists.

So how can we understand the distinctive theological features that make up Anabaptism? Well, like all Christian traditions, the Anabaptists are said to be Christocentric – focused on following the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ. For the Anabaptists though, this has both an ethical and discipleship dimension.

Chris Marshall is St John’s Associate Professor in Christian Theology at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Chris Marshall: As well as the kind of ethical Christocentrism, a feeling that Jesus teaches us how to live, and we must take literally what he says, also there is the kind of hermeneutical Christocentrism which is that when we read the Bible, and we try to work out what in the Bible is still God’s word for today, because the Bible’s a very diverse document and has lots of violent bits in it, how do we decide how the Bible is relevant for today, that one of the key tests is it must be consistent with the way of Christ. So what we read in Scripture that is not consistent with the way of Christ, no longer has authority for today. What we read in any part of Scripture that is consistent with the way of Christ, continues to be God’s word for today.

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 4

Posted by on Friday, 2 March, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called The Anabaptist Vision

[Part 4 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Thorwald Lorenzen and John Hirt

 

Download

Transcript:

Gary Bryson: What sort of people were they in the main? What sort of social backgrounds did they come from?

John Hirt: Well they were mostly, I mean apart from their few scholars, they were just very ordinary people, particularly the first few folk, I mean in that first grouping, we now call them Swiss Brethren, so they were farmers, they were ordinary village folks around Switzerland. If they had intellectuals, they never lasted long because they were slaughtered, and that’s why the history of the Anabaptists hasn’t really been written until pretty much modern times. If it ever was written, it was only written by the power elite, by people who weren’t sympathetic to the Anabaptists. So they were ordinary folk who decided they were going to take Jesus seriously and that meant in the countryside, or wherever they were, they started to form their own worship. So this is their own church meetings.

They really stressed the idea of the priesthood of all believers. They had some interesting little ways of putting this. They had three ‘no holies’. One was no holy person. So this was in reaction to the magisterial church, whether it be a bishop or the pope. There was no holy person. All people who follow Jesus are deemed to be holy, so the priesthood of all believers, this is the gathered community of faith, so no holy person was the first one. No holy time. All time, according to Anabaptist theology, is holy, there is no separation between sacred and secular. So all time is God’s time in which you are called to be obedient and faithful. There’s no holy time; well of course this had to do with the Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation that when the bell is rung, suddenly this becomes the body and blood of Christ in the time of the Eucharist. Well the Anabaptists said ‘No, all time is holy’. And their last concept was no holy thing. And of course this was to do with the wafer, the body of Christ. Well it doesn’t mean they didn’t believe that they weren’t holy elements in life, but these were reacting statements if you will, to what they understood to be the problem with particularly the Roman Catholic part of the church. So no holy thing meant again, that all of life is sacred, and that all of life, because it’s sacred, is part of what they referred to in their own way as the cruciformity of God, what one of the great contemporary theologians in Anabaptist theology, John Howard Yoder refers to as ‘the cruciformity of the cosmos’. Because Christ died for all, for all things, not just for human beings, but for all things, Christ has saved and redeemed all, and therefore he’s harkening back to this notion of the Anabaptist concept, there’s no one thing that’s holy; everything is holy, everything is valuable and precious in God’s sight.

Thorwald Lorenzen: The authority question is quite clear. The authority is the Bible but not in a fundamentalist way. The Bible read through the story of Jesus. So the New Testament is given precedence over the Old Testament. This was important in regard to the reformers, because the reformers, when they have conversation with the Anabaptists, they would say ‘You must first affirm the authority of the whole scriptures, because they stood for infant baptism and for the institution of war from the Old Testament. So there was a clear commitment to the story of Jesus as it is reflected in the Bible, but since they lived in a situation of persecution, both the New Testament, and their situation, demanded an intentional commitment to each other. So the two scriptural verses which are important are the church as the gathered community, and where two or three are gathered in the name of Christ, then he is in their midst. Those were the two verses which shaped their understanding of church.