The wordanabaptism is used in this article to describe any of the 16th century "radical" dissenters. Today the descendants of the 16th century European movement (particularly theAmish,Hut teri tes,Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Brethren in Christ
Though the majority opinion is that Anabaptists began with the Radical Reformers in the
16th century, certain people and groups may still legitimately be considered their
forerunners. Peter Chelcicky, 15th centuryBohe mianRe former, taught most of the
beliefs considered integral to Anabaptist theology. Medieval antecedents may include the
1. Some followed Menno Simons in teaching that Jesus did not take the flesh from
his mother, but either brought his body from heaven or had one made for him by
the Word. Some even said that he passed through his mother, as water through a
pipe, into the world. In pictures and sculptures of the 15th century and earlier, we
often find represented this idea, originated byMarcion in the 2nd century. The
Anabaptists were accused of denying theIncarnat ion of Christ: a charge that
Menno Simons repeatedly rejected.
4. Civil government (i.e. "Caesar") belongs to the world. The believer, who belongs to God's kingdom, must not fill any office, nor hold any rank under government, which is to be passively obeyed.
5. Sinners or unfaithful ones are to be excommunicated, and excluded from the
sacraments and from intercourse with believers unless they repent, according to 1
Corinthians 6:1-11 and Matt.18:15 seq. But no force is to be used towards them.
Research on the origins of the Anabaptists has been tainted both by the attempts of their enemies to slander them and the attempts of their friends to vindicate them. It was long popular to simply lump all Anabaptists as Munsterites and radicals associated with the
Leyden), and Thomas Muentzer. Those desiring to correct this error tended to over-
correct and deny all connections between the larger Anabaptist movement and this most
The modern era of Anabaptist historiography arose with the work of Roman Catholic
scholar Carl Adolf Cornelius' publication of Die Geschichte des M\u00fcnsterischen Aufruhrs
in 1855 (The history of the Muensteri riot). Baptist historian Albert Henry Newman
(1852\u20131933), who Bender said occupied "first position in the field of American
Anabaptist Historiography," made a major contribution with his A History of Anti-
2. Anabaptists began through several independent movements (polygenesis), and
3. Anabaptists are a continuation of New Testament Christianity (apostolic
Waldensians(France/Ger many/Italy )
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