Radical Reformation, or the Anabaptists

I recently came across a great, informative and interestingly-taught sermon series that provides a brief intro to my strand of the Christian Church, the Anabaptists. The Radical Reformation happened in the era of the Protestant Reformation, and the “Anabaptists”, or “re-baptizers” (so branded by other Christians) frequently found themselves tortured, drowned, burned, and otherwise killed or imprisoned by Catholics and Protestants alike. The pastor is Bruxy Cavey, of a Brethren in Christ church in Canada.

Two notes in advance:

  • The sermons are given with the expectation that further processing will happen in “home church” groups, with notes provided to aid discussion.
  • Don’t look at the notes before you listen to the sermons. That’s not what they’re for, and the sermons provide significant context. Just don’t.

The series

  • Radical Reformation #1 – Anabaptists & Us (audio, notes): “This episode kicks off our discussion of Anabaptist beliefs and behaviours with a magical mystery whirlwind tour of the history of the Radical Reformation.”
  • Radical Reformation #2 – Anabaptists & Scripture (audio, notes): “Anabaptists didn’t follow the Bible. They followed Jesus. And that’s why they studied the Bible.”
  • Radical Reformation #3 – Anabaptists & Church (audio, notes): “The Radical Reformers saw the church, not as an institution, but as a family. And that opened the door for more participation from all ages, stages, and statuses.”
  • Radical Reformation #4 – Anabaptists & Peace (audio, notes): “Anabaptists have always rejected the way of violence in favour of Jesus’ way of peace… except when they haven’t. This week we discuss the Munster Rebellion and other Anabaptist failures.”
  • Radical Reformation #5 – Anabaptists & Mission (audio, notes): “How did Anabaptists go from early evangelistic zeal to living in isolationist communities in the country? This week we address this and other challenging questions.”

As with anything, don’t consider posting to be unqualified endorsement or concurrence–but the series is worth your time.

Reflections welcome in blog comments. Or probably welcome. I reserve the right to play the “get off my lawn” card–or, since posts are moderated, to bar the gate. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Radical Reformation, or the Anabaptists”

    1. Welcome to my backyard! But is that a sprinkler I hear starting up? :->

      I think generally, a reformer starts out with goals quite different from rebellion or revolution–Luther didn’t start out trying to create a new “wing” of the Church, and the radical reformers didn’t start out trying to go head-to-head with their teacher! But would-be reform can indeed morph into “burn it all down”.

      One thing this post didn’t mention is the Catholic reformation–in part because I don’t remember much about it. But the Teaching Company’s History of Christianity in the Reformation Era has an interesting survey of the various reformations going on in those years.

      Buuuuttt…your observation actually raises an interesting question. 🙂 My impression is that there was a bit of a tiff between Rome and Constantinople prior to the era in question, and that none of the participants in our little festival of wars and torturous executions was actually in communion with Constantinople at the time. It seems to leave the question of rebellion a bit ambiguous, depending on one’s framework. 😉

      Seriously, though–though I have no plans of ending up in the EO church, I’ve been rather impressed recently by the thoroughness with which Protestants and Anabaptists have severed their connections with ancient worldviews, and with traditions, doctrines, and history from early in the life of the Church. Even in my relative ignorance, I appreciate the Orthodox for keeping some of those roots alive.

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