What Makes Anabaptists Different?

We are back with another series where
we’re going to be talking about Anabaptism in general but then also how
the Bruderhof fits into it. I’m Maureen and Rich dragged me aboard here to talk
about Anabaptism today because I work at Plough Publishing house that’s the publishing arm
of the Bruderhof movement and we’re publishing a series of books on
Anabaptism history and Reformation. For all you Melinda fans I got to break the
news to you she has stepped up into a new career as head chef here at Fox Hill
community doing a fantastic job it’s just delicious so come on by and visit
and try out her culinary skills I can recommend it. Thanks for coming on
Maureen we consider ourselves Anabaptists even though we aren’t
descended directly from the Anabaptist movement of the radical reformation of
the sixteenth century although we do have folks within our communities who do
have that heritage. Going 500 years back. The term Anabaptism is quite obscure the
only reference I can think of in popular culture is in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22
where the chaplain says it isn’t necessary to call me Father
I’m Anabaptist. The people who founded the Bruderhof in 1920 only started to
identify with the early Anabaptist expression of faith a number of years
after they began living in community that came about through a pretty amazing
series of events which we can talk about another time. Let’s get to the basics
first how about so Anabaptism is an umbrella term comprising Amish
Hutterites Mennonites German Baptists Church of the Brethren and the Bruderhof.
There are about 4 million Anabaptists all over the world today in developed in
developing countries the majority being Mennonites the very small minority being
members of the Bruderhof. Well there’s nothing wrong with being small is there?
No I guess not Anabaptist, actually it’s a Greek
word meaning rebaptised because people who had been baptized as infants were
baptized again as consenting adults. It was not a name the members of the
movement particularly liked because they believed there was only one kind of
baptism when a person consciously requests it repents of their sins
changes their life and publicly makes a confession of faith in other words no
infant baptism. They prefered to call themselves simply Christian Brothers or
evangelicals meaning those who hold to the gospel. Yeah evangelical kind
of has a different flavor nowadays but back then it meant you know you just
people who were faithful to what Jesus taught. Held true right
The term Anabaptist has negative connotations going back to Emperor
Justinian’s time AD 529 when rebaptism became a heresy punishable by death
but baptism is the first point of the so called Schleitheim Confession which was
put together in 1527 and covers the major points that all Anabaptists agreed
to. At the time it was a really big deal because it meant rejection of the
institutional church which was closely intertwined with the state. And while
we’re on the Schleitheim Confession it’s interesting to note that today some of
the other six points in the confession for example unconditional non-violence
aren’t held to buy all Anabaptist congregations and we might even talk a
bit more about that in a in a future video how that happened. But meanwhile
let’s talk a little bit more about what made or makes Anabaptists different
from other Christians. The most basic distinction is something they have in
common with early Christianity a separation from the dominant culture
from institutional religion and from the state itself because of their
determination to take the teachings of Jesus completely at face value. They
believe that the church Jesus founded could only be a completely voluntary
Church that came about through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and
nothing else and that’s why they did not get on so well with other reformers who
believed that the state must be Christianized or conversely that the
church could be institutionalized. The voluntary Church that the Anabaptists
envisioned was a community of heart and life that meant community of mutual help
which implies an informal commitment to voluntary sharing or a more formal
community of goods and we’ll have more on this distinction later. The
voluntary church was also distinguished by a complete rejection of the use of
force even for self-defense, faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman,
and detachment from the state i.e. no service in public office as a judge a
police officer or anything of the kind the early Anabaptists were
remarkably fearless in sharing and living out their convictions which cost
many of them their lives and it’s interesting to note that the
Anabaptists were the only movement that took no part whatsoever in violent
religious persecution of other denominations during the Reformation and
Counter Reformation. There are further distinctions between the Anabaptist
groups that formed at that time and one of the more controversial ones was the
practice of community of goods and that was by the group known as the Hutterites
which is something we also do here at the Bruderhof. This means we don’t claim
ownership of anything material items are there to be shared so everyone’s needs
are met not surprisingly it was a hotly contested idea Martin Luther himself
said that such community is against human nature which is kind of the point
and therefore he said it was condemned to founder. Probably the most surprising
thing about the early Anabaptists in particular was their radical dissent
from the status quo they held the self-indulgent clergy in contempt they
rejected the idea of priestly mediation to access God and they also emphasized
the priesthood of all believers. So no go-betweens. No go-betweens it really
makes you think more Occupy Wall Street than horse and buggy
Maybe we should occupy Wall Street with horses and buggies. Or with bulls and
buggies well that’s all for this video if you
have questions you’d like us to address in this series go ahead and drop them in
the comments and please subscribe to our channel and ring the bell to be notified
when we post a new video.


  1. Thank you Rich and Maureen for this vid.
    I did not know you are anabaptists just like me.
    Could you tell more about your connection to the hutterites?

  2. Im a Saint saved by the Grace of God. Im a Christian and hold to alot of wat you teach. It makes sense to share everything. Im sick bedbound 20-23 hours a day and to poor to afford medical treatments and my suffering is worse because of it. If i was in a community it would make my suffering perhaps 90% less. Im on about 25% more morphine and other pills than i should be on and at times in agony still. Im persicuted even by false Christians for speaking the truth in love. Family r lost and so are my friends from my lost life. My situation is bad and it helps me grow closer to God. He is praised no matter what and id burn on the stake like the Saints long ago if i had to. My spines damaged and its only going to get worse the specialist says who went over my MRIs with me. No matter what God is praised hes changed me to live Holy and to walk in love and in the Light. Soon to See Jesus and rejoice in God who is forever praised

  3. The bible also says to do works, and that Christ founded a church, not a book, with men who were meant to spread the word. It never says faith alone.

  4. Not to be rude: Adult Baptism is not as young as 500 years: it goes back to the New Testament, and its predecessor: The Jewish Mikveh or ritual bath, which is total immersion, not that most liberal Jewish folks know about it or actually do it!

  5. I do have a question and I hope you could address it. I do wonder why Christians centre Jesus in their teaching compared to God. Are there Christians that are monotheists. I would be interested to know.

  6. Hello, I have a question about your statement at 4:51 claiming that Anabaptists had no part in persecutions. How would you explain the Munster rebellion of 1534? There is a popular podcast on the subject by Hardcore History (Episode 48 – Prophets of Doom) that specifically mentions Anabaptists as having been the instigators.

    Being Anabaptist myself, I understand that there were many different groups during that period claiming to be Anabaptist and not all of them adopted the entire confession. However, my understanding is that this happening significantly dampened the acceptance of Anabaptism throughout Europe for hundreds of years afterwards.

Leave a Reply

(*) Required, Your email will not be published