A long time pastor friend challenged me recently to take on the virtues of the Anabaptists, and even consider planting an Anabaptist church. He warned me that the road won’t be easy, that I would be a minority amongst Christian believers, and that I would be heavily persecuted. I wondered if he was being serious, since his suggestion sounded like one of those “do as I say, not as I do” moments–in contrast with all his many years of pastoral ministry. Nonetheless, giving his words some thought, I decided to revisit some Anabaptist heritage.

What does it mean to be Anabaptist? On February 24, 1527, Swiss and Swabian Baptists agreed on these seven articles of Anabaptist life (from Wilhelm Moeller’s History of the Christian Church: A.D.–1517-1648, Reformation and Counter-Reformation):

  1. Rejection of infant baptism: baptism presupposes penitence, belief, spiritual life and personal desire;
  2. Amongst the brethren the ban is enforced in the degrees of admonition prescribed in Matthew 18;
  3. In the breaking of bread in memory of the death of Christ the union of the brethren in the body of Christ, which takes place by baptism, is represented;
  4. The brethren sever themselves from all abominations, above all from the worship of the papists as well as from that of the anti-papists (the Reformation churches), both of which are “bondage of the flesh”
  5. The community chooses for itself pastors for purposes of instruction and admonition, for pronouncing the band and superintending the breaking of bread;
  6. The use of the sword is a divine ordinance, which is necessary for the world; but the “perfection of Christ” knows only the band, not the sword: Christians do not draw the sword, do not sit in judgment, and consequently do not accept any office of authority;
  7. Disciples of Christ abstain from the oath in every form.