Radical Anabaptists Essay

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THE RISE OF THE RADICAL ANABAPTISTS Travis T. Judkins History of the Christian Church 502 March 7, 2011 During the 16th century Reformation in Europe three specific groups are commonly identified: the Roman Catholics, the Lutheran and Reformed Protestants, and a third group which has been called by historians “the Radicals.” Within this “radical” group three sub-groups can also been recognized: the Anabaptists, the Spiritualists, and the Socinians.[1] This paper is concerned with the rise of the “Radical Anabaptists.” The term “Anabaptist” simply means “baptized again” or “re-baptizers” (Wiedertaeufer).[2] “Radicals” referred to the manner in which they desired reinstitution of a new church. As Schaff says, “Radicalism was identical with the Anabaptist movement, but the baptismal question was secondary. It involved an entire reconstruction of the Church and of the social order. It meant revolution.”[3] The Reformers desired to reform the existing church, the “Radicals” desired to create a new church based on their theological convictions.[4] Some contend (incorrectly in this writer’s opinion) that the Anabaptists began with Thomas Müntzer (1490-1525). Müntzer was the spiritual revolutionary of the Peasant’s War that occurred in 1525, a leader in the social revolution of his time. He was a student of medieval realism, well studied in church history and the German mystics, and read many Reformation tracts and books. In 1520 he took on a pastorate in the Saxon city of Zwickau, where he lobbied for a role in the government council so that he could affect, first hand, the freeing of the city from ecclesiastical authority. There is no evidence of a “conversion experience” for Müntzer. Müntzer’s conversion seems more akin to a type of Gnostic experience that gave one faith - not on the regenerating power of the Spirit of God
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