Distinctive Anabaptist Affirmations
A Selective Summary of Distinctive Anabaptist Beliefs with Commentary
Page 1 of 6Anabaptism descends from a Reformation movement birthed during the 16
century. Somehistorians identify early Anabaptism with a so-called Radical Reformation. Others posit that allReformation movements supported radical departures from the institutional church, but Protestants,unlike Anabaptists, eventually softened their initial radicalism.These statements imply that Anabaptists held some positions not held by Protestants. Thesedistinctive positions lead some historians to conclude that Anabaptists were neither Roman Catholicnor Protestant, but represented a “Third Way.” The distinctive beliefs and practices of this “ThirdWay” are prevalent in contemporary evangelicalism, especially among Baptists. The current groupsthat most closely identify with Anabaptists are Mennonites, Brethren, and Amish.The following text lists brief, succinct summaries of common, distinctive Anabaptist affirmations.Following the list, notes clarify, expand, and interpret the listed items.Distinctive Anabaptist Affirmations:1.
Rule of Christ: Christ has inaugurated the messianic kingdom or reign.2.
Voluntary faith: Faith is a gift from God that individuals must exercise consciously and freely.3.
Faith and works: Works are inseparable from faith. Faith without works is not biblical faith.4.
Undivided allegiance to the King: Believers reject any thought, word, or action that compromisestheir allegiance to Christ.5.
Believers baptism: Only believers may receive baptism.6.
Believers church: Only believers may be covenant members of a local assembly.7.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are signs: They represent and commemorate the Gospel.8.
Social responsibility: Disciples help and comfort the weak, needy, and helpless, especially other disciples. They also instruct, encourage, correct, discipline, and restore one another.9.
Peace, nonresistance, and nonretaliation: Disciples neither resist evil nor retaliate against itsmanifestations. Instead, they make peace.10.
Truth-telling: Disciples tell the truth and do not take oaths. Notes on Distinctive Anabaptist Affirmations:1.
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek. TheHebrew word
in Greek. Both words mean “anointed one,” and refer tothe practice of anointing an individual to designate his rightful claim to reign as king.The promise and goal of the messianic reign was and is
, both collectively—between Godand peoples, and among peoples and peoples—and individually—between God and individuals, and between individuals and individuals.
denotes wholeness or complete-positive-peacecharacterized by harmony and based on reconciliation, the integration of forgiveness and friendship.Forgiveness removes debts, including personal offenses, and results in the absence of enmity andstrife. Friendship imputes right standing, and results in restoration, the immediate and growing presence of healing and well-being, holiness and communion.In addition to “reconciliation,” the biblical authors use other metaphors to describe God’s actionthrough the Messiah to achieve
for people. Each of them, like reconciliation, reflects the