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The Story Of The Rebaptizers Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
June 22, 2023 1:00 am

The Story Of The Rebaptizers Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 22, 2023 1:00 am

Reformation divisions arose quickly. By forsaking practices like infant baptism, the Anabaptists were branded as rebels, to be martyred by the hundreds. In this message, Pastor Lutzer identifies the three streams of Anabaptism: Mennonites, Hutterites, and Amish. The movement still shapes our view of the relationship between church and state.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. When you broke from the Catholic Church during the early days of the Reformation, you had to pick where you went next very carefully. Sects arose quickly, each of which had their own take on how church should be done.

The Anabaptists paid perhaps the greatest price as thousands were killed. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, do you believe it was God's intention for the Reformation to turn as ugly as it did?

Dave, I want to commend you for saying so accurately what happened. You see, after the Reformation, once Christendom broke apart, people felt free to go in different directions. And of course, today we have so many different denominations. And we must understand why those different denominations do exist. But in answer to your question, did God will that it turn that ugly? Of course not. At least his revealed will is one of desiring unity, how wonderful it is for the people of God to be unified.

And during the Reformation, Christians were anything but unified. Let me ask you a question, those of you who listen to Running to Win consistently, are you blessed as a result of this ministry? It is because other people have invested in this ministry. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.

Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. Now here's what you do. Go to That's And when you're there, click on the endurance partner button. Or if you want more info, simply call us at 1-888-218-9337. The growth of this ministry is a great encouragement to us, but it's because of people just like you.

I encourage you to become an endurance partner. On January the 5th, 1527, Montz was sentenced to death, quote, because contrary to the Christian order and custom, he had become involved in Anabaptism because he confessed, having said that he wanted to gather those who wanted to accept Christ and follow him and unite himself with them through baptism so that he and his followers separated themselves from the Christian church and were about to raise up and prepare a sect of their own because he had condemned capital punishment since such doctrine is harmful to the unified usage of all Christendom and leads to offense, insurrection, et cetera. Manse, and here's the decree, shall be delivered to the executioner who shall tie his hands, put him into a boat, take him to the lower hut. There strip his bound hands over his knees, place a stick between his knees and arms, and thus push him into the water and let him perish in the water. Thereby he shall have atoned to the law and justice. His property shall also be confiscated by my lords because the city hall in Zurich said that anyone who's baptized as an adult must be put to death by drowning fire or sword. So for Manse, they chose drowning.

So according to the sentence, he was taken bound from the prison, passed the fish market to the boat. All along he witnessed to the members of the dismal procession and to those standing on the banks of the Lamont River, praising God that even though he was a sinner, he had the privilege of dying for the truth. Further, he declared that believers baptism was the true baptism according to the word of God and the teaching of Christ.

And this brings tears to my eyes. The voice of his mother could be heard above the throng and the ripple of the waves in treating him to remain true to Christ in this hour of his temptation. Well, a few moments later, of course, the cold, dark water of the Lamont River covered him and he was drowned.

And I told you before, Swingley was there on the shore saying of his friend, if he wishes to go under the water, why indeed let him go under. The drowning was considered to be the third baptism. First baptism, you've baptized as an infant. Second baptism, you're baptized as an adult upon profession of faith. Third baptism, we will drown you and you will die. You can go today to the Rath house there at the Lamont River, close to the Lamont River, and you can stand there as I have done and given a lecture on Felix Montz being representative of the thousands and thousands of people killed because they believe that one should be baptized upon profession of faith. Montz didn't write much, but he did write a hymn. With gladness I will sing now my heart delights in God who showed me such forbearance that I from death was saved.

I praise the Christ in heaven who all my sorrow changed. George Blaurock was severely beaten that day but lived to spread the faith two and a half years more until he was burned at the stake in Tyrol. Thus while Luther and Swingley were teaching the church and opening the scriptures to people, the Anabaptists were convinced that the lifestyle of the church needed radical improvement. They called for strict morality and this is what people said of the Anabaptists. This is what Swingley said of the Anabaptists, though he approved of their being killed. At first contact their conduct appears irreproachable, pious, unassuming, attractive. Even those who are inclined to be critical will say that their lives are excellent.

I'd say that's high praise. And this is what a Catholic said of them. He observed in them no lying, deception, swearing, strife, harsh language, no intemperate eating and drinking, no outward personal display but rather humility, patience, uprightness, meekness, honesty, temperance, straightforwardness in such a measure that one would suppose that they had the Holy Spirit of God. But then they went on to say, but you know that's just like the devil to create such godliness in people who are heretics and therefore deceive others and therefore let us make sure that they are exterminated. Why was the ancient law of Justinian revived to put these heretics to death?

Well, I've already told you they were a threat to the medieval order. We can't put ourselves in those shoes, can we? Because the whole notion of the separation of church and state here in America is an article with which we just grew up.

We don't understand. Christendom had certain boundaries and everyone within those boundaries had to march according to the Christian drumbeat. And now you have these offbeats who say that the others aren't really Christians and that we're the true Christians and we're proving it to be baptized. And then we're pacifists. And people said, pacifists? How are we going to fight the Turks? How are we going to fight if we got all these pacifists? And here you have Anabaptism spreading only one way, to take care of it, to kill them.

Whole villages of men, women and children were killed. But the Anabaptists insisted that a child could not be made a Christian even if an ocean of water were poured on its head. Infant baptism is therefore no baptism at all, but they called it the dipping in a Romish bath. Consequently, these radicals objected being called Anabaptists. They were not rebaptizers because what they were saying is we had water sprinkled on us when we were infants, but that's not baptism.

Zurich, they contended, was an unweeded field that could not possibly be considered as the new Israel, as Swingley had hoped, since the weeds and the tares grow together. There must be a purging if the true believers are to form churches. God will make the final separation, but we are to be a pure church, they argued. Thus they withdrew from political life also. Now, if you look at an Anabaptist hymnal, what you find is all of the people who are martyred for their faith.

Because over against the names of the authors, you always have notations in these hymnals. Drowned 1525, burned 1526, beheaded 1527, hanged 1528, and on and on it goes. Sometimes whole congregations were killed alive. After recording the deaths of 2,173 of the brethren, a chronicler says, no human being was able to take away out of their hearts what they had experienced. The fire of God burned within them. They would die 10 deaths rather than forsake the divine truth.

And I've told you before, maybe I even consider today that more of them were killed during the 1600s, excuse me, the 1500s. That's called the 16th century, then died in the early centuries in the persecution at Rome. One writer said they had drunk of the water which is flowing from God's sanctuary, yea, the water of life. Their tent they had pitched not here upon earth, but in eternity. Their faith blossomed like a lily. Their loyalty is a rose and their piety and candor is the flower of the garden of God. The angel of the Lord battled for them and they could not be deprived of the helmet of salvation. Therefore they have borne all the torture and agony without fear. The things of this world they counted only as shadows. They were thus drawn to God in that they knew nothing, sought nothing, desired nothing, loved nothing but God alone. Therefore they had more patience in their suffering than their enemies in tormenting them.

Wow. The reason that the rebaptizers have had a bad name and I'm going to skip over this is because there was a radical movement in northern Germany. At a place called Munster, there were some radical Anabaptists who did very stupid things. They ran around half naked saying that the kingdom of God was come and they were establishing the millennial kingdom on earth and on and on they went and they were radicals of the worst order.

Luther called them schwarmer which in German means like bees buzzing around and the only thing that you can do is to get rid of people like that. So the Protestants even worked with the Catholics to go there and to simply wipe them all out, kill them. Now that's why when you mention Anabaptists they are generally badly spoken above. Oh those radicals over there. Well it's true there were radicals but that was a minority considering the impetus of the movement. Now let me tell you that Menno Simons was a founder of the Mennonites and the Anabaptists could not find a home in Germany.

They were stamped out in Holland and Switzerland a few survived and so forth. What I want to do is to give you now three branches that have come from the Anabaptists. The first is the Mennonites. Menno Simons, he was an Anabaptist in the Netherlands and he began preaching pacifism. They were much more Arminian in their theology than Calvinistic.

They also believed that one should withdraw from the world. In Canada there are certain communities like in southern Manitoba where you have whole towns today that are basically Mennonite and when I taught in a Bible college in Canada in the late 60s about a third of the student body were Mennonites and they're all wonderful students, wonderful Christians, but they were all very pacifistic. One day I was sitting on a plane riding with a Mennonite pastor and I told him that I believed that it was necessary at times to go to war and he told me lovingly, I mean he did it with a smile, but he meant it very sincerely that I was on my way to hell.

It was not merely, not merely that we had a disagreement over a minor point, this was the point at which I could either prove my salvation or disprove it and clearly I was disproving it. So that's the strong Mennonite. Now the Mennonites are changing and they are evolving if we can use that and they are not nearly as pacifistic as they once were, but the Mennonites are actually the fruit of the Anabaptist movement where you withdraw from society to a certain extent. The other is Jacob Hutter, the Hutterites. He lived in Austria and in parts of Italy and Czechoslovakia and he died for his faith by the way and you know Hutter in German a Hutt is a hat and so he was a hat maker, but he began this movement and as a result of that he had some disagreements and he began what we call today the Hutterites, but you don't know too much about the Hutterites. The Hutterites primarily I think live in Canada. We used to visit the Hutterite colonies up there. They are the fruits of the Anabaptist movement, but now we get to the horse in Lancaster.

You knew that we were going to get there, the Amish. The Amish are a branch off the Swiss Mennonites, the Anabaptist movement. They had a founder by the name of Jacob Ammann born in Switzerland and he became a spokesman for the Anabaptists in the area.

He began teaching social avoidance and the washing of feet. They avoid those who have been excommunicated from their fellowship as well as society in general. They live contrary to most Americans who emphasize the individual.

They emphasize the community. The fear of being excommunicated and shunned keeps them being tempted by the outside world. They do not believe in evangelism because that would be seen as consorting with those who are shunned. And what you have among them is extreme, extreme separation from the world.

They believe that you should only have about a fourth grade education and therefore they are in conflict with the state all the time over educational matters. But in addition to that, if you've ever been to Lancaster, you know that they only have horses. They do not have automobiles because that is modern and that is worldly. For years they did not have electricity because after all that's very modern too. Of course we smiled because I thought to myself, well you know the wheel on your wagon is kind of a modern invention.

There was a time when the wheel hadn't been invented so you are picking up some ideas here from the world. And so we look at them and we think that they are a strange breed. Now basically the Amish today try to base their beliefs on a very literal reading of the Bible. Unfortunately in many instances the gospel has been lost because it has become a religion of works. But they are the fruit of the Anabaptist movement. So remember the Hutterites, the Amish, and the Mennonites all were Anabaptist.

Now let's discuss some issues here. What does it mean for the church to be separate from the state? You see the Hutterites and the Mennonites and those that withdrew the Anabaptist, they would say we do not need the state to promote the church. We do not need in God we trust on our coins as the official imprimatur of the state. We do not have to swear to the constitution or to say that the pledge of allegiance is under God. Let the state be the state. And they would say the church can survive very well without the state.

Well we look at how they are surviving. Now I may have mentioned to you that the Amish do not evangelize because that would mean that they are having contact with people who should be shunned. So they're not doing a very good job of evangelization. But isn't it interesting this whole relationship of church and state for 2000 years the church has battled this. What about Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State saying that the church does not need the state to survive. Doesn't the church have enough authority and power to be able to do it on its own.

Does it need to be propped up by the civil government of the United States. I'm only raising these questions so that you see their relevance and how the church has always battled this. Where you get to the magisterial reformers as they are called because they were reformed within Christendom. I'm talking now about Luther and Calvin and Swingley.

You find there that there is a very much appreciation for the state and sometimes too much input from the state. And there was no clear break between church and state. But then when you get to the Anabaptists you see this clearer line.

This pulling back. By the way, most Anabaptists would not even become police officers because of their pacifism. Their view was that the state was instituted by God because man is sinful therefore let sinful man run the state we will run the church.

You say well that's extreme. I agree with that. I'm only raising the issues of the relationship between the two. Second issue that comes to mind is can the church be strong even as the state becomes pagan? Can you have a strong church and a pagan state? Or are our fortunes as a church so closely tied to our fortunes of the state that whether we are a strong church or a weak church is going to be determined by whether or not we get the right person for president in order to make sure that we have a strong church? Well you say yes we do want to have a Christian president. We want to have a good president.

We want to have a president that is favorable to us. Yes I understand that but what if we don't get that? Can we still be a strong church? What is the relationship between church and state? What about that statement that I maybe read far too quickly about the Anabaptists?

They had no confidence whatever in the state but an overwhelming sense of confidence in the church because the church was ordained by God. Wow issues to be debated. Well this is Pastor Lutzer. In a time of confusion it is very important for us to think about issues even as I have been preaching about the history of the church. But let me ask you a question would you like to help us get the gospel of Jesus Christ to even more people? I'm holding in my hands a letter from someone who says running to win has helped me through some tough times and encouraged me through good times to stay focused on my faith in Christ. My humble support is the least I can do. Let me ask you a question today have you ever considered supporting the ministry of running to win? You know it's because of people just like you that this ministry continues to grow. Of course you need more information if you'd like to consider becoming an endurance partner here's what you can do go to that's rtwoffer of course rtwoffer is all one word and when you're there click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thank you in advance for helping us as we continue to enable people and encourage them as we are running the race of life all the way to the finish line.

Right now you can go to 1-888-218-9337. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. A listener named JT from Illinois asks would it be acceptable for a Christian to enter the military on a non-combat basis what about on a combat basis what's acceptable to the Lord? Well you know JT I do believe that it is acceptable for a Christian to enter the armed forces.

In Romans chapter 13 the text not only exhorts us to be obedient to the state but shows that the sword is used to keep peace and to promote freedom and the context there is one of approval as long as the state does that and I don't agree with those folks who say that the Sermon on the Mount negates the fact that sometimes war is inevitable and Christians should join and fight for their country but what is very important also JT is a Christian should not violate one's conscience and I would say that I certainly do want to honor conscientious objectors but if you do not have a conscience that would be troubled by going to battle I would say that indeed you can and be a fine Christian serving the Lord. Some wise counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thanks Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. Next time on Running to Win we finish up our look at Christians Killing Christians the story of the Anabaptists. We'll trace the eventual rise of freedom of religion and explore why the idea of martyrdom is foreign to believers in our day. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-22 03:23:46 / 2023-06-22 03:32:23 / 9

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