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Ananpaptist Voice. Beginning of Our Church History

Ananpaptist Voice. Beginning of Our Church History

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Published by: Charles Cobalt Forsythe on Jun 22, 2010
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http://www.anabaptistchurch.org/chronicle2.htmTHE BEGINNING OF OUR CHURCH HISTORYChronicle of the Hutterian Brethren, Volume IGOD HAS LOVED THE HUMAN race from the very beginning and did not create it for destruction. In order to forestall the damage caused by the devil's deceit, God in his mercy begangradually to fan the fire of divine truth and with great wisdom brought light out of darkness. Hispurpose was to show many people the way of truth that leads to eternal life if they turn to Godand leave their sinful and corrupt ways.Pope Leo X [1513-1521] played no small part in provoking this confrontation. He gained secretinformation about the emperor and all the kings and princes through their confessors. Then hesent his delegates and peddlers throughout Germany, with his full authority to sell the grace of God and forgiveness of sins for money, confirming this in letters of indulgence authenticated withhis own seal. This was against the teaching of Christ, as is also shown by the story of the apostlePeter when he refused to accept money from Simon the Sorcerer. The pope's practices broughtthe corruption of the Roman court to a climax. Doctor Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk,brought it all to light and made it obvious to everyone.In 1517, the thirty-second year of the rule of the emperor Maximilian I, Martin Luther beganteaching and writing at Wittenberg, in Saxony, warning people to be on their guard against suchpeddling and other Babylonian trickery. The pope summoned him to Rome, but instead hepresented his views in writing to the legate of the pope at the Imperial Diet in Augsburg. When hedid not receive an answer, he returned home on the advice of his well-wishers.Then Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland set out to storm the papacy. About the time that the emperor Maximilian died, on January 12, 1519, and Charles V was elected emperor, Zwingli began toteach and write against the loathsome evil of Babylon, the shameless harlot.These two, Luther and Zwingli, exposed all the deception and villainy of the pope, bringing it tothe light of day as if they would strike everything to the ground with thunderbolts. But they putnothing better in its place. They began to cling to worldly power and put their trust in human help,and were soon just as bad - like someone mending an old kettle and only making a bigger hole.They left behind a shameless people, whom they had taught to sin.To speak in a parable, they struck the jug from the pope's hand but kept the broken pieces intheir own.And so it had to be as Jesus said, "A man that is not faithful in small things will not be trustedwith great, but what he thought he had will be taken from him." Now the two named above rapidlywon a large following of people who accepted their teaching as the truth. Some gave their livesfor it, believing that they had found salvation in Christ. This can be seen in the two young monks,Johannes and Heinrich, who were burned at Brussels in the Netherlands in 1523.It was the same with Kaspar Tauber, a rich citizen of Vienna, Austria, who because of his faithwas condemned and burned by his fellow citizens in 1524. There were others besides, of whomnothing further is known, and we count them blessed according to Christ's teaching in James5:11, for they suffered and fought a good fight. But however wonderful the beginning, Luther andZwingli and their followers were soon divided into two wicked camps because of the sacraments,and they showed all the signs of a new Babel. There was no change in their lives, only boastingand the kind of knowledge that made them despise others. Eating meat, taking wives, and revilingpopes, monks, and priests (who of course richly deserved it) was the extent of their service toGod.Martin Luther and his followers taught that the body of the Lord Christ is in the bread of theLord's Supper and his blood in the wine, and that these bring forgiveness of sins.Zwingli and his followers taught that the Lord's Supper was a memorial of the salvation andgrace of Christ. It was not a sacrifice for sin, because that had been offered by Christ on thecross. Both of them baptized infants and rejected the true baptism of Christ, which is sure to bringthe cross with it. They followed the pope in the practice of infant baptism, taking over from him theleaven that gives rise to all kinds of evil, the very gateway to false Christianity. While reviling himover other points, they ignored the fact that he had just as little scriptural foundation for infantbaptism as for purgatory, the mass, the worship of saints, letters of indulgence, and the like.
Luther and Zwingli defended their teaching with the sword and wanted to force people to their beliefs, although faith is a gift of God and is not subject to human control. Originally Zwingli hadwritten and taught that there is not one clear word in the Scriptures to justify infant baptism.I. The Beginning of the Church in Switzerland, Germany, and Moravia, 1519-1536BECAUSE GOD WANTED ONE united people, separated from all other peoples, he broughtforth the Morning Star, the light of his truth, to shine with all its radiance in the present age of thisworld. He wanted in particular to visit the German lands with his Word and to reveal thefoundation of divine truth, so that his holy work could be recognized by everyone. It began inSwitzerland, where God brought about an awakening. First of all, a meeting took place amongUlrich Zwingli, Conrad Grebel (a member of the nobility), and Felix Mantz. All three were men of learning with knowledge of German, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. They started to discuss matters of faith and realized that infant baptism is unnecessary and, moreover, is not baptism at all.Two of them, Conrad and Felix, recognized from the Lord and believed that people should betruly baptized in the Christian order appointed by God, because Christ himself says, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved."Ulrich Zwingli (who shrank from the cross, disgrace, and persecution that Christ suffered)refused to agree - he said it would cause an uproar. But Conrad and Felix said this was noreason to disobey the clear command of God.At this point a man came from Chur, a priest named Georg from the house of Jakob, later known as Georg Blaurock. During a discussion on questions of faith, Georg shared his ownviews. Someone in the meeting asked who had just spoken. "It was the man in the blue coat(blauer Rock)" So he was given this name because he had worn a blue coat.This same Georg had come because of his extraordinary zeal. Everyone thought of him as aplain, simple priest; but he was moved by God's grace to holy zeal in matters of faith and heworked courageously for the truth.He, too, had first approached Zwingli and discussed questions of faith with him, but he hadgotten nowhere. Then he was told there were other men even more on fire than Zwingli. Heinquired eagerly about them and met with them (that is, with Conrad Grebel and Felix Mantz) totalk over questions of faith. They came to unity on these questions. In the fear of God they agreedthat from God's Word one must first learn true faith, expressed in deeds of love, and onconfession of this faith, receive true Christian baptism as a covenant of a good conscience withGod, serving him from then on with a holy Christian life and remaining steadfast to the end, evenin times of tribulation.One day when they were meeting, fear came over them and struck their hearts. They fell ontheir knees before the almighty God in heaven and called upon him who knows all hearts. Theyprayed that God grant it to them to do his divine will and that he might have mercy on them.Neither flesh and blood nor human wisdom compelled them. They were well aware of what theywould have to suffer for this. After the prayer, Georg Blaurock stood up and asked ConradGrebel in the name of God to baptize him with true Christian baptism on his faith and recognitionof the truth. With this request he knelt down, and Conrad baptized him, since at that time therewas no appointed servant of the Word. Then the others in their turn asked Georg to baptize them,which he did. And so, in great fear of God, together they surrendered themselves to the Lord.They confirmed one another for the service of the Gospel and began to teach the faith and tokeep it. This was the beginning of separation from the world and its evil ways.Soon after this, more people joined them, including Balthasar Hubmaier of Friedberg, LudwigHaetzer, and other scholars of German, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, well acquainted with theScriptures, as well as priests, preachers and others. Soon they gave witness with their blood.Felix Mantz was drowned at Zurich for the sake of the true faith and baptism, thus giving his lifein steadfast witness to the truth.Later, Wolfgang Uliman was condemned to death and burned at Waldsee in Switzerland. Histen companions, including his own brothers, were executed with him. Valiantly and resolutely theygave their lives as a witness that their faith and baptism were founded on divine truth.Melchior Veit, Georg Blaurock's traveling companion, was burned at Ettach for the sake of hisfaith.
So the movement spread through persecution and great tribulation. The church increaseddaily, and the number of the Lord's people grew quickly. This the enemy of divine truth could notendure, so he used Zwingli as a tool. Zwingli began to write and preach with fanaticism thatbaptism of adult believers was false and should not be tolerated. This was contrary to his earlier confession, when he himself had taught that not one clear word from God justified infant baptism.But now, because he wanted to please men and the world rather than God, he opposed trueChristian baptism. He persuaded the authorities to use the imperial law to behead as Anabaptiststhose who were truly dedicated to God, those who out of conviction had made the bond of a goodconscience with him.Finally Zwingli succeeded in having twenty men, widows, pregnant women, and young girlsthrown into misery in a dark tower. They were to be shut up with only bread and water and seeneither sun nor moon for the rest of their lives, condemned to remain in the dark tower - the livingand the dead together - to suffocate in the stench, to die and rot, until not one of them was left.There were some who did not take one bite of bread in three days so that the others would havesomething to eat.At the same time severe mandates were issued at Zwingli's instigation: from now on, anyperson in the district of Zurich who was baptized should be thrown into the water and drownedwithout any trial or judgment. This shows the spirit Zwingli belonged to, and his followers stillbelong to it.1526However, God's cause cannot be changed, and God's decisions are not controlled by humanpower. Therefore he inspired the men named above to go out to proclaim the Gospel andfoundation of truth.One of them, Balthasar Hubmaier, went to Nikolsburg in Moravia and began to preach. Thepeople accepted his message, and in a short time many were baptized.Hans Hut also went to Nikolsburg, and several more ministers and teachers were appointed topreach the Word of God, namely Oswald Glait, Hans Spittelmaier, Christian Rotmantel, Klein Utz(Little Utz) and Gross Utz (Big Utz), Hans Werner, Andreas Mosel, and Strutzel, some of whomhad been preachers before. These and others gathered at the castle in Nikolsburg to consider whether to wear and use the sword and whether to pay war taxes. They also discussed other problems. But they could not reach a common understanding and parted in disunity.Hans Hut was held prisoner in Nikolsburg Castle because he would not agree with its lord,Leonhard von Liechtenstein, on retaining the use of the sword. One of Hans Hut's well-wishers,concerned for his safety, took a net meant for snaring hares and lowered him through a windowand over the wall by night.The next day the people in the town protested loudly against Lord Leonhard and his followersfor keeping Hut in the castle by force. Balthasar Hubmaier was moved to speak publicly in thehospice with his friends because they had previously been unable to agree about the sword andpaying taxes.During this time the movement grew rapidly, and people were gathering in such numbers thatKing Ferdinand was informed of it. He responded by summoning Lord Leonhard vonLiechtenstein (who lived at Nikolsburg, had been baptized, and was called a brother) to appear before him in Vienna with his brother, Lord Hans, and all their preachers. And they complied.Straightaway, Balthasar Hubmaier and his wife were taken prisoner and sent from Vienna toKreuzenstein Castle. In prison, Hubmaier remembered that he had unjustly opposed Hans Hut onseveral points. He realized he was guilty of giving far too much to worldly freedom in regard toretaining the sword. This moved him to write to Nikolsburg, particularly to his fellow worker Martin,provost at Kanitz, asking him and the others to change anything that was not right. He added, "If Hans Hut were here now, we would soon be united."Brother Balthasar Hubmaier was taken from Kreuzenstein back to Vienna to be questioned onmany articles of faith. Finally he was condemned to death and burned, and a short time afterwardhis wife was drowned. Two songs composed by Balthasar Hubmaier are still known in the church,besides writings that show how powerfully he defended true baptism and opposed infant baptismwith proofs from Holy Scripture. (It is a great pity that we no longer have these writings, and that

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