Devils’ Door Concluded – The Anabaptists
by Neville Doherty
THE name Anabaptists, signifies re-baptizers, and was
applied indiscriminately to all who denied the validity of sprinkling
for baptism, and especially of infant baptism, or sprinkling, rather.
(A.T. Jones, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, June 17, 1884, p.
One of these
early Anabaptist was a Dutchman by the name of Menno Simons. Of him
The teachings of Luther found a congenial soil in the
Netherlands, and earnest and faithful men arose to preach the gospel.
From one of the provinces of Holland came Menno Simons. Educated a
Roman Catholic, and ordained to the priesthood, he was wholly
ignorant of the Bible, and he would not read it, for fear of being
beguiled into heresy. When a doubt concerning the doctrine of
transubstantiation forced itself upon him, he regarded it as a
temptation from Satan, and by prayer and confession sought to free
himself from it; but in vain. By mingling in scenes of dissipation he
endeavored to silence the accusing voice of conscience; but without
avail. After a time he was led to the study of the New Testament, and
this with Luther’s writings caused him to accept the reformed
faith. He soon after witnessed in a neighboring village the beheading
of a man who was put to death for having been rebaptized. This led
him to study the Bible in regard to infant baptism. He could find no
evidence for it in the Scriptures, but saw that repentance and faith
are everywhere required as the condition of receiving baptism (“The
Great Controversy,” p. 238.2, 1888 ed.).
punishment, rather than quieting the conscience through fear of
death, instead only served to awaken the desire to investigate the
truth in the heart of many like Menno throughout Europe.
And in order to
quell this new “heresy,” the flames of persecution were
lit across all Europe. But what is saddest of all, is that this
persecution came not only from Catholics, but from Catholics and
Roman Catholics and Protestants alike persecuted the
Anabaptists, resorting to torture and execution in attempts to curb
the growth of the movement. The Protestants under Zwingli were the
first to persecute the Anabaptists, with Felix Manz becoming the
first martyr in 1527. On May 20, 1527, Roman Catholic authorities
executed Michael Sattler. King Ferdinand declared drowning (called
the third baptism) "the best antidote to Anabaptism". The
Tudor regime, even the Protestant monarchs (Edward VI of England and
Elizabeth I of England), persecuted Anabaptists as they were deemed
too radical and therefore a danger to religious stability. The
persecution of Anabaptists was condoned by ancient laws of Theodosius
I and Justinian I that were passed against the Donatists, which
decreed the death penalty for any who practiced rebaptism. Martyrs
Mirror, by Thieleman J. van Braght, describes the persecution and
execution of thousands of Anabaptists in various parts of Europe
between 1525 and 1660. Continuing persecution in Europe was largely
responsible for the mass emigrations to North America by Amish,
Hutterites, and Mennonites (Wikipedia, “Anabaptists”).
became the persecutors. How tragic! These men and women whose only
crime was that they believed in the truths of the Bible were burned,
tortured, etc., all because they wouldn’t follow Church dogma.
And this was all done in the name of Christianity, and it was all to
protect the evil doctrine of Original Sin, from which comes Infant
Baptism. This isn’t true Christianity! Jesus Christ never
compelled by force. His way is the way of Love, and it works by
persuasion not persecution. To compel by force is the method of
Satan, not of Christ.
persecutions, one historian tells us:
It is a fact recognized by many recent historians, that
the persecution of the Anabaptists surpassed in severity the
persecution of the early Christians by pagan Rome (“Mennonites
in Europe,” by John Horsch, p. 300).
One of the more
well known of those who suffered under this persecution was a man by
the name of Miguel (Michael) Servetus:
Another, and the most notable of all the victims of
Calvin’s theocracy, was Servetus, who had opposed the Catholic
doctrine of the Trinity, and also infant baptism; and had published a
book entitled “Christianity Restored,” in which he
declared his sentiments. He had been condemned to death by the
Catholics for heresy, but he escaped from their prison in Dauphiné,
in France, and in making his way to Italy, passed through Geneva, and
there remained a few days. He was just about to start for Zurich,
when at the instigation of Calvin he was seized, and out of the book
before mentioned, was accused of blasphemy. The result, as everybody
knows, was [that] he was burned to death. Dr. Alexander says further,
“The heresy of Servetus was not extirpated by his death; but
none of his followers were visited with severer penalties than
banishment from Geneva. The trials of several of these, with the
conferences and controversies connected with them, occupied much of
Calvin’s time for several years.” (A.T. Jones, Advent
Review and Sabbath Herald, June 17, 1884, p. 387.2)
What was his
crime? He “opposed the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, and
also infant baptism”. Who condemned him to death? The
“Catholics”. Who finally burnt him at the stake?
“Calvin’s theocracy”. Who was he? A protestant who
challenged certain unscriptural doctrines. Does that surprise you?
What about this statement?
But however bitter the opposition between Lutherans and
Calvinists, and amongst the Lutherans themselves, and again, between
all of these on one hand and the Catholics on the other, they could
call a truce upon all their differences, and unite, all, Catholics,
Lutherans, Zwinglians, and Calvinists, in one common onset against
Anabaptists. (Ibid, p. 387.5).
Protestants united together? Why? What did these Anabaptists believe
that was so terrible?
Before the period of the Reformation, there were,
scattered throughout almost all the countries of Europe, and
persecuted everywhere, lineal descendants, in point of doctrine, of
the Albigenses and the Waldenses, who did not practice infant baptism
(sprinkling), but held to the genuine doctrines of baptism, the sleep
of the dead, and some to the true Sabbath. Of course, these doctrines
caused them even then to be considered abominable heretics; but when,
unfortunately, in the early days of the Reformation, some of the name
ran into wild fanaticism, all of the name were classed together in
it; and the severest of penal laws of those severe times, were
enacted against all who could be classed as Anabaptists (Ibid).
Here are some
more beliefs of these Anabaptists: The Bible as the sole rule of
faith and practice; the authority of the Scriptures; Freedom of
religion; liberty of conscience; Separation of church & state;
Pacifism or non-resistance; Separation or nonconformity to the world;
Voluntary church membership and believer's baptism; Evangelistic
zeal; Priesthood of all believers.
wrong with these beliefs? Don’t we still believe these same
things? How many of you have been re-baptised? I for one.
One last very
touching story before we close:
Dirk Willems of Holland was re-baptized when he became a
believer, thus rejecting the infant baptism practiced at that time.
This action, plus his continued devotion to his new faith and the
re-baptism of several other believers in his home – led to his
subsequent arrest and martyrdom.
An officer came to arrest him at the village of Asperen.
Running for his life, Dirk came to a frozen pond. After making his
way across in great peril, he realized that his pursuer had fallen
through the ice, and into the freezing water.
Turning back to save the drowning officer, Dirk dragged
him safely to shore. The man wanted to release Dirk, but a
burgomaster, having appeared on the scene – reminded him that
he was under oath to deliver criminals to justice. Dirk was bound off
to prison, interrogated, and tortured in an unsuccessful effort to
make him renounce his faith. He was tried and found guilty of having
been re-baptized, of holding secret meetings in his home, and of
allowing baptism there – all of which he freely confessed.
"Persisting obstinately in his opinion", Dirk was burned at
the stake near his hometown on 16 May 1569, by these blood-thirsty,
ravening wolves – enduring it with great steadfastness
(“Mennonites in Europe,” by John Horsch).
showed the spirit of Christ! What a testimony of the true beliefs of
the Anabaptists, and what a rebuke for those who killed him.
What more can be
said? Such was the end result of that evil Dogma of Original Sin. How
many innocent lives have been lost? How many more will be lost
because of the evil heresies of Original Sin?
What do we face
as God’s remnant people? Do we face the same fate as these
Anabaptists? Yes! If we would be faithful like they were, we will
face the same thing, persecution and even death! We, like them, do
not believe in the Trinity, we also don’t believe in Infant
Baptism or Original Sin. We believe in the true Bible Sabbath of the
4th Commandment, and don’t believe in the many, many other
“unscriptural errors” of the other churches.
We will be the
targets of a world-wide campaign of hatred and persecution, simply
for believing something different. Are you ready for that?
There is so much
more that could be shared but we need to end here. The Bible says the
“And after these things I saw another angel come
down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened
with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying,
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation
of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every
unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of
the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have
committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are
waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard
another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that
ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her
plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath
remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and
double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she
hath filled fill to her double” (Revelation 18:1-6).
God is calling
His people to come out of this system. It is our commission to
proclaim this message to the world to make ready a people to meet
Jesus when He comes. Amen.
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