Time line with focus on Anabaptist-Mennonite events
In historical context
**Reformation events normal type (including proto-reformation events)
**Wider global events indented
**Anabaptist-Mennonite events bold-face
1218 d. Peter Waldo, France - love of Bible, lay preaching, poverty
1321 - d. Dante
1327 d. Meister Eckhart - German mystic
1342 d. Marsilius of Padua - advocated separation of church and state (Italian philosopher)
1384 d. John Wyclif, England - authority of Bible, separation of church and state
1415 d. John Hus - Prague - reform of corrupt church
1431 Joan of Arc (French prophetic warrior) executed in England
1436 Printing press, Gutenberg - Europe (moveable clay type appeared in China in 1041 C.E.)
1466 d. Donatello (sculptor)
1481 Inquisition begins in Spain
1492 Expulsion of Jews from Spain and defeat of the Moors
1492 Columbus expedition
1500 The Italian Renaissance: da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Machiavelli
1505 Portuguese establish trading posts in east Africa (including trade in slaves)
1506 Pope Julius lays the cornerstone for a grand rebuild of St. Peter’s basilica - indulgences are sold to help fund the project. (Tuchman p. 97)
1509 Watch invented by Peter Henle
1513-1521 Pope Leo X uses papacy as an opportunity for hedonism (Tuchman p. 104)
1516 Ottoman Turks conquer Syria, Egypt, Arabia; Establishment of Jewish ghetto in Venice (a benign event)
1517 Martin Luther, nails 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church: biblical authority over papal authority; against indulgences; priesthood of all believers; justification by faith; sparks the Reformation
1519 Ulrich Zwingli - reform preacher in Zurich (German Switzerland)
1519 d. da Vinci
1519 Magellan crosses the Pacific
1521 Martin Luther outlawed; while in protective custody, translates Bible into German
1523 January, Zwingli disputation, town council of 200 of Zurich supported him against the Catholic Bishop
1523 October, Zwingli argued for replacing the mass with the Lord’s supper; town council felt this was too rapid change - Zwingli agreed to wait; students Conrad Grebel, Felix Mantz, Simon Stumpf and others didn’t think the council had authority over the Bible, didn’t want to wait
1524 repeated dialogues - students come apart from Zwingli, send letters to other
1524 Menno Simons ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood
1525 Introduction of potato from South America to Europe
1525 January 17 final debate, student leaders banished from Zurich
1525 January 21, first rebaptisms (ana-baptist - ana = again) on Neustadtgasse, Zurich; exile of first Anabaptists, tax protest, no political sponsor (separation from political process); Conrad Grebel, George Blaurock, Felix Mantz, Hans Brötli, Wilhelm Reublin were all in the Zurich group and may have been part of the first baptisms
1525 January 21, Hans Denck is banished from Nürnberg; wrote “No one may truly know Christ except one follows him in life. And no one can follow him, except he first know him.”
1525 Luther dubs radical reformers “Schwärmer” which means “enthusiast” or “rabble rouser” even “anarchist” (Dyck p. 31)
1525 May, Battle of Frankenhausen, the climax of the peasants’ revolt, in which Thomas Müntzer died
1525 Hans Hut at Battle of Frankenhausen, captured by peasants, then by Lords, released, became fiery Anabaptist evangelist until his death two years later
1526 Diet of Speyer establishes right of princes to establish national churches (supports Luther)
1527 Rome sacked by imperial troops, pope imprisoned
1527 Schleitheim Confession - first “official” statement of the Anabaptist tradition
1527 Hutterian Brethren founded with leader Jakob Hutter
1528 Pilgram Marpeck designs dams for Strasbourg
1530s migration of Anabaptists and Mennonites begins; Anabaptists in England - indirect connections with Quakers, Baptists, and Congregationalists; migration to the Vistula delta
1532 Pizarro begins destruction of Incan culture
1534 King of England declared head of English reform church
1534-5 Jan Matthijs at Münster, apocalyptic, violent Anabaptism
1536 Menno Simons declares for the Anabaptists. Because of his stable leadership, these Anabaptists were called Menists, Mennonists, then Mennonites
1539 d. Karbir Nanak, found of Sikh religion
1541 Calvin begins “holy experiment” in Geneva
1545-1563 Council of Trent - Roman Catholic reform council in response to the Reformation
1564 d. Michelangelo
Later developments among Mennonites
1555-1595 “Golden age” of Hutterian Brethren in Moravia
1575-1650 “Golden age” of Anabaptism in the Netherlands
1683 October 6 First Mennonites arrive in the United States, at Germantown, just north of Philadelphia (this first congregation is still meeting); migration of Mennonites and Amish to the U.S. was predominantly in eastern Pennsylvania until 1824, when westward movement to Ohio, Illinois, Indiana began
1694 Some Anabaptists organize with the leadership of Jacob Ammann; split from Mennonites over application of the “ban”; come to be called “Amish Mennonites” or just “Amish”
1700s Wealthy Anabaptists in Krefeld (near Düsseldorf - lower Rhine)
1788 First Mennonites arrive in Chortiza, Ukraine, southern Russia, a region taken some 25 years earlier from the Turks
1870s Russian Mennonites begin to emigrate to the U.S. and Canada, settling in the great plains region
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective
1995 Summary statement
1. We believe that God exists and is pleased with all who draw near by faith. We worship the one holy and loving God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit eternally. God has created all things visible and invisible, has brought salvation and new life to humanity through Jesus Christ, and continues to sustain the church and all things until the end of the age.
2. We believe in Jesus Christ , the Word of God become flesh. He is the Savior of the world, who has delivered us from the dominion of sin and reconciled us to God by his death on a cross. He was declared to be Son of God by his resurrection from the dead. He is the head of the church, the exalted Lord, the Lamb who was slain, coming again to reign with God in glory.
3. We believe in the Holy Spirit , the eternal Spirit of God, who dwelled in Jesus Christ, who empowers the church, who is the source of our life in Christ, and who is poured out on those who believe as the guarantee of redemption.
4. We believe that all Scripture is inspired by God through the Holy Spirit for instruction in salvation and training in righteousness. We accept the Scriptures as the Word of God and as the fully reliable and trustworthy standard for Christian faith and life. Led by the Holy Spirit in the church, we interpret Scripture in harmony with Jesus Christ.
5. We believe that God has created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, and that God preserves and renews what has been made. All creation has its source outside itself and belongs to the Creator. The world has been created good because God is good and provides all that is needed for life.
6. We believe that God has created human beings in the divine image. God formed them from the dust of the earth and gave them a special dignity among all the works of creation. Human beings have been made for relationship with God, to live in peace with each other, and to take care of the rest of creation.
7. We confess that, beginning with Adam and Eve, humanity has disobeyed God, given way to the tempter, and chosen to sin . All have fallen short of the Creator's intent, marred the image of God in which they were created, disrupted order in the world, and limited their love for others. Because of sin, humanity has been given over to the enslaving powers of evil and death.
8. We believe that, through Jesus Christ, God offers salvation from sin and a new way of life. We receive God's salvation when we repent and accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. In Christ, we are reconciled with God and brought into the reconciling community. We place our faith in God that, by the same power that raised Christ from the dead, we may be saved from sin to follow Christ and to know the fullness of salvation.
9. We believe that the church is the assembly of those who have accepted God's offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the new community of disciples sent into the world to proclaim the reign of God and to provide a foretaste of the church's glorious hope. It is the new society established and sustained by the Holy Spirit.
10. We believe that the mission of the church is to proclaim and to be a sign of the kingdom of God. Christ has commissioned the church to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe all things he has commanded.
11. We believe that the baptism of believers with water is a sign of their cleansing from sin. Baptism is also a pledge before the church of their covenant with God to walk in the way of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Believers are baptized into Christ and his body by the Spirit, water, and blood.
12. We believe that the Lord's Supper is a sign by which the church thankfully remembers the new covenant which Jesus established by his death. In this communion meal, the church renews its covenant with God and with each other and participates in the life and death of Jesus Christ, until he comes.
13. We believe that in washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus calls us to serve one another in love as he did. Thus we acknowledge our frequent need of cleansing, renew our willingness to let go of pride and worldly power, and offer our lives in humble service and sacrificial love.
14. We practice discipline in the church as a sign of God's offer of transforming grace. Discipline is intended to liberate erring brothers and sisters from sin, and to restore them to a right relationship with God and to fellowship in the church. The practice of discipline gives integrity to the church's witness in the world.
15. We believe that ministry is a continuation of the work of Christ, who gives gifts through the Holy Spirit to all believers and empowers them for service in the church and in the world. We also believe that God calls particular persons in the church to specific leadership ministries and offices. All who minister are accountable to God and to the community of faith.
16. We believe that the church of Jesus Christ is one body with many members, ordered in such a way that, through the one Spirit, believers may be built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
17. We believe that Jesus Christ calls us to discipleship , to take up our cross and follow him. Through the gift of God's saving grace, we are empowered to be disciples of Jesus, filled with his Spirit, following his teachings and his path through suffering to new life. As we are faithful to his way, we become conformed to Christ and separated from the evil in the world.
18. We believe that to be a disciple of Jesus is to know life in the Spirit . As the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ takes shape in us, we grow in the image of Christ and in our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit is active in individual and in communal worship, leading us deeper into the experience of God.
19. We believe that God intends human life to begin in families and to be blessed through families. Even more, God desires all people to become part of the church, God's family. As single and married members of the church family give and receive nurture and healing, families can grow toward the wholeness that God intends. We are called to chastity and to loving faithfulness in marriage.
20. We commit ourselves to tell the truth , to give a simple yes or no, and to avoid the swearing of oaths.
21. We believe that everything belongs to God, who calls the church to live in faithful stewardship of all that God has entrusted to us, and to participate now in the rest and justice which God has promised.
22. We believe that peace is the will of God. God created the world in peace, and God's peace is most fully revealed in Jesus Christ, who is our peace and the peace of the whole world. Led by the Holy Spirit, we follow Christ in the way of peace, doing justice, bringing reconciliation, and practicing nonresistance, even in the face of violence and warfare.
23. We believe that the church is God's holy nation, called to give full allegiance to Christ its head and to witness to every nation, government, and society about God's saving love.
24. We place our hope in the reign of God and its fulfillment in the day when Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. He will gather his church, which is already living under the reign of God. We await God's final victory, the end of this present age of struggle, the resurrection of the dead, and a new heaven and a new earth. There the people of God will reign with Christ in justice, righteousness, and peace for ever and ever.
The Schleitheim Confession
Schleitheim (near the Swiss-German border)
“Brotherly union of a number of children of God concerning seven articles”
(drafted primarily by Michael Sattler, who was arrested and executed soon after the meeting)1
The cover letter
May joy, peace, mercy from our Father, through the atonement of the blood of Christ Jesus, together with the gifts of one Spirit - who is sent by the Father to all believers to [give] strength and consolation and constance in all tribulation until the end, Amen, be with all who love God and all children of light, who are scattered everywhere, wherever they might have been placed by God our Father, wherever they might be gathered in unity of spirit in one God and Father of us all; grace and peace of heart be with you all. Amen.
Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord; first and primordially we are always concerned for your consolation and the assurance of your conscience (which was sometime confused), so that you might not always be separated from us as aliens and by right almost completely excluded, but that you might turn to the true implanted members of Christ, who have been armed through patience and the knowledge of self, and thus be again united with us in the power of a godly Christian spirit and zeal for God.
It is manifest with what manifold cunning the devil has turned us aside, so that he might destroy and cast down the work of God, which in us mercifully and graciously has been partially begun. But the true Shepherd of our souls, Christ, who has begun such in us, will direct and teach the same unto the end, to His glory and our salvation, Amen.
Dear brothers and sisters, we who have been assembled in the Lord at Schleitheim on the Randen make known, in points and articles, unto all that love God, that as far as we are concerned, we have been united to stand fast in the Lord as obedient children of God, sons and daughters, who have been and shall be separated form the world in all that we do and leave undone, and (the praise and glory be to God alone) uncontradicted by all the brothers, completely at peace.2 Herein we have sensed the unity of the Father and of our common Christ as present with us in their Spirit. For the Lord is a Lord of peace and not of quarreling, as Paul indicates (1 Cor. 14:33). So that you understand at what points this occurred, you should observe and understand [what follows]:
A very great offense has been introduced by some false brothers among us, whereby several have turned away from the faith, thinking to practice and observe the freedom of the Spirit and of Christ. But such have fallen short of the truth and (to their own condemnation) are given over to the lasciviousness and license of the flesh. They have esteemed that faith and love may do and permit everything and that nothing can harm nor condemn them, since they are "believers."
Note well, you members of God in Christ Jesus, that faith in the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ is not thus formed: it produces and brings forth no such things as these false brothers and sisters practice and teach. Guard yourselves and be warned of such people, for they do not serve our Father, but their father, the devil.
But for you it is not so; for they who are Christ's have crucified their flesh with all its lusts and desires (Gal. 5:24). You understand me well, and [know] brothers whom we mean. Separate yourselves from them, for they are perverted. Pray the Lord that they may have knowledge unto repentance, and for us that we may have constance to persevere along the path we have entered upon, unto the glory of God and of Christ His Son. Amen.
The Seven Articles
Article I. Notice Concerning Baptism
Notice Concerning Baptism. Baptism shall be given to all those who have been taught repentance and the amendment of life and [who] believe truly that their sins are taken away through Christ, and to all those who desire to walk in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and be buried with Him in death, so that they might rise with Him; to all those who with such an understanding themselves desire and request it from us; hereby is excluded all infant baptism, the greatest and first abomination of the pope. For this you have the reasons and the testimony of the writings and the practice of the apostles (Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:6; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:36; Acts 16:31-33; 19:4). We wish simply yet resolutely and with assurance to hold to the same.
Article II. We have been united as follows concerning the ban
We have been united as follows concerning the ban. The ban shall be employed with all those who have given themselves over to the Lord, to walk after [Him]3 in His commandments; those who have been baptized into the one body of Christ, and let themselves be called brothers or sisters, and still somehow slip and fall into error and sin, being inadvertently overtaken. The same [shall] be warned twice privately and the third time be publicly admonished before the entire congregation according to the command of Christ (Mt. 18).4 But this shall be done according to the ordering of the Spirit of God before the breaking of bread.5 so that we may all in one spirit and in one love break and eat from one bread and drink from one cup.
Article III. Concerning the breaking of bread …
Concerning the breaking of break, we have become one and agree thus: all those who desire to break the one bread in remembrance of the broken body of Christ and all those who wish to drink of one drink in remembrance of the shed blood of Christ, they must beforehand be united in the one body of Christ, that is the congregation of God, whose head is Christ, and that by baptism. For as Paul indicates (1 Cor. 10:21), we cannot be partakers at the same time of the table of the Lord and the table of devils. Nor can we at the same time partake and drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils. That is: all those who follow the devil and the world, have no part with those who have been called out of the world unto God. All those who lie in evil have no part in the good.
So it shall and must be, that whoever does not share the calling of the one God to one faith, to one baptism, to one spirit, to one body together with all the children of God, may not be made one loaf together with them, as must be true if one wishes truly to break bread according to the command of Christ.6
Article IV. We have been united concerning the separation that shall take place …
We have been united concerning the separation that shall take place from the evil and the wickedness which the devil has planted in the world, simply in this; that we have no fellowship with them,7 and do not run with them in the confusion of their abominations. So it is; since all who have not entered into the obedience of faith and have not united themselves with God so that they will to do His will, are a great abomination before God, therefore nothing else can or really will grow or spring forth from them than abominable things. Now there is nothing else in the world and all creation than good or evil, believing and unbelieving, darkness and light, the world and those who are [come] out of the world, God's temple and idols. Christ and Belial, and none will have part with the other.
To us, then, the commandment of the Lord is also obvious, whereby He orders us to be and to become separated from the evil one, and thus He will be our God and we shall be His sons and daughters (2 Cor. 6:17).
Further, He admonishes us therefore to go out from Babylon and from the earthly Egypt, that we may not be partakers in their torment and suffering, which the Lord will bring upon them. (Rev. 18:4 ff.).
From all this we should learn that everything which has not been united with our God in Christ is nothing but an abomination which we should shun. By this are meant all popish and repopish works and idolatry, gatherings, church attendance,8 winehouses, guarantees and commitments of unbelief, and other things of the kind, which the world regards highly, and yet which are carnal or flatly counter to the command of God, after the pattern of all the iniquity which is in the world. From all this we shall be separated and have no part with such, for they are nothing but abominations, which cause us to be hated before our Christ Jesus, who has freed us from the servitude of the flesh and fitted us for the service of God and the Spirit whom He has given us.
Thereby shall also fall away from us the diabolical weapons of violence - such as sword, armor, and the like, and all of their use to protect friends or against enemies - by virtue of the word of Christ: "you shall not resist evil" (Mt. 5:39).
Article V. We have been united as follows concerning shepherds in the church of God.
We have been united as follows concerning shepherds in the church of God. The shepherd in the church shall be a person according to the rule of Paul,9 fully and completely, who has a good report of those who are outside the faith. The office of such a person shall be to read and exhort and teach, warn, admonish, or ban in the congregation, and properly to preside among the sisters and brothers in prayer, and in the breaking of bread, and in all things to take care of the body of Christ, that it may be built up and developed, so that the name of God might be praised and honored through us, and the mouth of the mocker be stopped.
He shall be supported, wherein he has need, by the congregation which has chosen him, so that he who serves the gospel can also live therefrom, as the Lord has ordered (1 Cor. 9:14). But should a shepherd do something worthy of reprimand, nothing shall be done with him without the voice of two or three witnesses. If they sin they shall be publicly reprimanded, so that others might fear.10
But if the shepherd should be driven away or led to the Lord by the cross11 at the same hour another shall be ordained to his place, so that the little folk and the little flock of God may not be destroyed, but be preserved by warning and be consoled.
Article VI. We have been united as follows concerning the sword.
We have been united as follows concerning the sword. The sword is an ordering of God outside the perfection of Christ. It punishes and kills the wicked and guards and protects the good. In the law the sword is established12 over the wicked for punishment and for death and the secular rulers are established to wield the same.
But within the perfection of Christ only the ban is used for the admonition and exclusion of the one who has sinned, without the death of the flesh, simply the warning and the command to sin no more.
Now many, who do not understand Christ's will for us, will ask; whether a Christian may or should use the sword against the wicked for the protection and defense of the good, or for the sake of love.
The answer is unanimously revealed: Christ teaches and commands us to learn from Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart and thus we shall find rest for our souls (Mt. 11:29). Now Christ says to the woman who was taken in adultery (Jn. 8:11), not that she should be stoned according to the law of His Father (and yet He says, "What the Father commanded me, that I do") (Jn. 8:22) but with mercy and forgiveness and the warning to sin no more, says: "Go, sin no more." Exactly thus should we also proceed, according to the rule of the ban.
Second, is asked concerning the sword: whether a Christian shall pass sentence in disputes and strife about worldly matters, such as the unbelievers have with one another. The answer: Christ did not wish to decide or pass judgement between brother and brother concerning inheritance, but refused to do so (Lk. 12:13). So should we also do.
Third, is asked concerning the sword: whether the Christian should be a magistrate if he is chosen thereto. This is answered thus: Christ was to be made King, but He fled and did not discern the ordinance of His Father.13 Thus we should also do as He did and follow after Him, and we shall not walk in darkness. For He Himself says: "Whoever would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt. 16:24). He Himself further forbids the violence of the sword when He says: "The princes of this world lord it over them etc., but among you it shall not be so" (Mt. 20:25). Further Paul says, "Whom God has foreknown, the same he has also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son," etc. (Rom. 8:30). Peter also says: "Christ has suffered (not ruled) and has left us an example, that you should follow after in his steps" (1 Pet. 2:21).
Lastly, one can see in the following points that it does not befit a Christian to be a magistrate: the rule of the government is according to the flesh, that of the Christians according to the spirit. Their houses and dwelling remain in this world, that of the Christians is in heaven. Their citizenship is in this world, that of the Christians is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). The weapons of their battle and warfare are carnal and only against the flesh, but the weapons of Christians are spiritual, against the fortification of the devil. The worldly are armed with steel and iron, but Christians are armed with the armor of God, with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and with the Word of God. In sum: as Christ our Head is minded, so also must be minded the members of the body of Christ through Him, so that there be no division in the body, through which it would be destroyed.14 Since then Christ is as is written of Him, so must His members also be the same, so that His body may remain whole and unified for its own advancement and upbuilding. For any kingdom which is divided within itself will be destroyed (Mt. 12:25).
Article VII. We have been united as follows concerning the oath.
We have been united as follows concerning the oath. The oath is a confirmation among those who are quarreling or making promises. In the law it is commanded that it should be done only in the name of God, truthfully and not falsely. Christ, who teaches the perfection of the law, forbids His [followers] all swearing, whether true or false; neither by heaven nor by earth, neither by Jerusalem nor by our head; and that for the reason which He goes on to give: "For you cannot make one hair white or black." You see, thereby all swearing is forbidden. We cannot perform what is promised in the swearing, for we are not able to change the smallest part of ourselves (Mt. 5:34-37).
Now there are some who do not believe the simple commandment of God and who say, "But God swore by Himself to Abraham, because He was God (as He promised him that He would do good to him and would be his God if he kept His commandments). Why then should I not swear if I promise something to someone?" The answer: hear what the Scripture says: "God, since he wished to prove overabundantly to the heirs of His promise that His will did not change, inserted an oath so that by two immutable things we might have a stronger consolation (for it is impossible that God should lie") (Heb 6:7 ff.). Notice the meaning of the passage: God has the power to do what He forbids you, for everything is possible to Him. God swore an oath to Abraham, Scripture says, in order to prove that His counsel is immutable. That means: no one can withstand and thwart His will; thus He can keep His oath. But we cannot, as Christ said above, hold or perform our oath, therefore we should not swear.
Others say that swearing cannot be forbidden by God in the New Testament when it was commanded in the Old, but that it is forbidden only to swear by heaven, earth, Jerusalem, and our head. Answer: hear the Scripture. He who swears by heaven, swears by God's throne and by Him who sits thereon (Mt. 5:35). Observe: swearing by heaven is forbidden, which is only God's throne; how much more is it forbidden to swear by God Himself. You blind fools, what is greater, the throne or He who sits upon it?
Others say, if it is then wrong to use God for truth, then the apostles Peter and Paul also swore.15 Answer: Peter and Paul only testify to that which God promised Abraham, whom we long after have received. But when one testifies, one testifies concerning that which is present, whether it be good or evil. Thus Simeon spoke of Christ to Mary and testified: "Behold: this one is ordained for the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign which will be spoken against" (Lk 2:34).
Christ taught us similarly when He says: Your speech shall be yea, yea; and nay, nay; for what is more than that comes of evil. He says, your speech or your word shall be yes and no, so that no one might understand that He had permitted it. Christ is simply yea and nay, and all those who seek Him simply will understand His Word. Amen.16
The cover letter (conclusion)
(This text was available at the Internet site, but not in Yoder’s book. It was frequently circulated with the original Confession and may have been penned by Sattler as well.)17
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord: these are the articles which some brothers previously had understood wrongly and in a way not conformed to the true meaning. Thereby many weak consciences were confused, whereby the name of God has been grossly slandered, for which reason it was needful that we should be brought to agreement in the Lord, which has come to pass. To God be praise and glory!
Now that you have abundantly understood the will of God as revealed through us at this time, you must fulfill this will, now known, persistently and unswervingly. For you know well what is the reward of the servant who knowingly sins.
Everything which you have done unknowingly and now confess to have done wrongly, is forgiven you, through that believing prayer, which is offered among us in our meeting for all our shortcomings and guilt, through the gracious forgiveness of God and through the blood of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Watch out for all who do not walk in simplicity of divine truth, which has been stated by us in this letter in our meeting, so that everyone might be governed among us by the rule of the ban, and that henceforth the entry of false brothers and sisters among us might be prevented.
Put away from you that which is evil, and the Lord will be your God, and you will be His sons and daughters (1 Cor. 6:17).
Dear brothers, keep in mind what Paul admonished Titus (Tit. 2:11-14). He says: "The saving grace of God has appeared to all, and disciplines us, that we should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live circumspect righteous and godly lives in this world; awaiting the same hope and the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, to redeem us from all unrighteousness and to purify unto himself a people of his own, that would be zealous of good works." Think on this, and exercise yourselves therein, and the Lord of peace will be with you.
May the name of God be forever blessed and greatly praised, Amen. May the Lord give you His peace, Amen.
Done at Schleitheim, St. Matthew's Day [February 24], Anno 1527.
(This text appears in the Internet text but not in Yoder’s booklet. It is apparently an addendum to the main articles.)
Since the almighty eternal and merciful God has made His wonderful light break forth in this world and [in this] most dangerous time, we recognize the mystery of the divine will, that the Word is preached to us according to the proper ordering of the Lord,18 whereby we have been called into His fellowship. Therefore, according to the command of the Lord and the teachings of His apostles, in Christian order, we should observe the new commandment (1 Jn. 2:8), in love one toward another, so that love and unity may be maintained, which all brothers and sisters of the entire congregation should agree to hold to as follows:
1.The brothers and sisters should meet at least three or four times a week, to exercise themselves,19 in the teaching of Christ and His apostles and heartily to exhort one another to remain faithful to the Lord as they have pledged.
2.When the brothers and sisters are together, they shall take up something to read together.20 The one to whom God has given the best understanding shall explain it,21 the others should be still and listen, so that there are not two or three carrying on a private conversation, bothering the others. The Psalter shall be read daily at home.22
3.Let none be frivolous in the church of God, neither in words nor in actions. Good conduct shall be maintained by them all also before the heathen (1 Tim. 2:8).
4.When a brother sees his brother erring, he shall warn him according to the command of Christ (Mt. 18:15) and shall admonish him in a Christian and brotherly way, as everyone is bound and obliged to do out of love.
5.Of all the brothers and sisters of this congregation none shall have anything of his own, but rather, as the Christians in the time of the apostles held all in common, and especially stored up a common fund, from which aid can be given to the poor, according as each will have need,23 and as in the apostles time permit no brother to be in need.
6.All gluttony shall be avoided among the brothers who are gathered in the congregation; serve a soup or a minimum of vegetable and meat, for eating and drinking are not the kingdom of heaven.24
7.The Lord's supper shall be held, as often as the brothers are together,25 thereby proclaiming the death of the Lord, and thereby warning each one to commemorate, how Christ gave His life for us, and shed His blood for us, that we might also be willing to give our body and life for Christ's sake, which means for the sake of all the brothers.
The Internet “Schleitheim” site:
-Translated and edited by John Howard Yoder (The footnotes are his, except where I note “vkr”; they are excerpted from his booklet, which contains many more notations.)
-HTML conversion courtesy of John K. Swartzendruber
-The Schleitheim Text © Herald Press
“The Schleitheim Confession” translated and edited by John Howard Yoder. Herald Press, 1973
C.J. Dyck. Mennonite History, pp. 55-57
John Allen Moore. Anabaptists portraits, pp. 104-110
1 Dyck, p. 57 vkr
2 Beginning with the parenthesis "(the praise and glory be to God alone)," the closing phrases of this paragraph refer not simply to a common determination to be faithful to the Lord, but much more specifically to the actual Schleitheim experience and the sense of Unity (Vereinigung) which the members had come to in the course of the meeting. "Without contradiction of all the brothers" is the formal description and "completely at peace" is the subjective definition of this sense of Holy Spirit guidance. Zwingli considered the very report that "we have come together" to be the proof of the culpable, sectarian, conspiratorial character of Anabaptism (Elenchus, Z, VI, p.56).
3 Nachwandeln, to walk after, is the nearest approximation in the Schleitheim text to the concept of discipleship (Nachfolge) which was later to become especially current among Anabaptists.
4 This reference to Mt. 18 is the only Scripture reference in the earliest handwritten text. "Rule of Christ" or "Command of Christ" is a standard designation for this text. Cf. J. Yoder: "Binding and Loosing," Concern 14, Scottdale, 1967, esp. pp. 15 ff. Other Scripture allusions identified in parentheses have been supplied by later editors. This abundant citation of scriptural language without being concerned to indicate the source of quotation is an indication of the fluency with which Anabaptists thought in biblical vocabulary; it is probably also an indication that they thought of those texts as expressing a meaningful truth rather than as "proof texts."
5 At this point Walter Köhler, the editor of the printed version, suggests the text Mt. 5:23. If "the ordering of the spirit" relates specifically to "before the breaking of bread" and means to point to a Scripture text, this could be a likely one; or 1 Cor. 11 could also possibly be alluded to; but "ordering of the spirit" is not the usual way in which the Anabaptists refer to a Bible quotation. The phrase can also mean a call for a personal and flexible attitude, as the Spirit leads, i.e., in the application of the concern for reconciliation.
6 Most ecumenical debate about the validity of sacraments focuses upon either the sacramental status of the officiant or the doctrinal understanding of the meaning of the emblems. It should be pointed out that the Anabaptist understanding of close communion refers not to the sacrament but to the participants. It is invalidated not by an unauthorized officiant or an insufficient concept of sacrament, but by the absence of real community among those present.
7 Note the shift from "world" to "they." "The world" is not discussed independently of the people constituting the unregenerate order.
8 Kirchgang, literally meaning church attendance, has no congregational dimension to it but refers to the conformity to established patterns of those who, while perhaps sympathizing with the Anabaptists, still avoided any public reproach by regularly being seen at the state church functions.
9 1 Tim. 3:7. Interpreters are not clear where the focus of Art. V lies. Its first thrust is a call for the shepherd to be a morally worth person, i.e., a critique of the practice of his being appointed on the grounds of his education or social connections without regard to moral stature. Zwingli's translation moves the accent by translating "the shepherd should be one from the congregation," i.e., not someone from elsewhere. As Zwingli knew, the Anabaptists also rejected the naming of a minister to a parish by a distant city council, and he let that knowledge influence his translation. Previous to 1527, the only generally practiced leadership model was the itinerant. Schleitheim shows the consolidation of the local small congregation with its own leaders from its midst.
0 0The change in number here from "a shepherd" to "if they sin" is explained by the fact that this sentence is a quotation from 1 Tim. 5:20.
1 1"Cross" is already by this time a very clear cliché or "technical term" designating martyrdom.
2 2"Law" here is a specific reference to the Old Testament. Significantly the verb here is not verordnet but merely geordnet: conveying less of a sense of permanence or of specific divine institution than "ordained" does. It should be noted that in this entire discussion "sword" refers to the judicial and police powers of the state. There is no reference to war in Art. VI; there had been a brief one in IV.
3 3Two interpretations are possible for "did not discern the ordering of His Father." This may mean that Jesus did not respect, as being an obligation for Him, the service in the state in the office of king, even though the existence of the state is a divine ordinance. More likely would be the interpretation that Jesus did not evaluate the action of the people wanting to make Him King as having been brought about (ordered) by His Father.
4 4Here the printed version adds Mt. 12:25: "For every kingdom divided against itself will be destroyed."
5 5Zwingli's translation fills in the argument here: "If it is bad to swear, or even to use the Lord's name to confirm the truth, then the apostles Peter and Paul sinned: for they swore."
6 6This concludes the Seven Articles.
7 7Moore, p. 109 vkr
8 8May mean either: "In the providence of God the Word is preached to us," whereby "Ordnung" would refer to the workings of God in bringing about Reformation and gospel preaching; or "the Word of God is preached according to the divine pattern" with the emphasis on the rediscovery of the true divinely willed church order. The following "whereby" may accordingly refer either to the preaching or to the proper ordering.
9 9Sich üben: perhaps includes an element of rote learning of gospel narrative and teaching, since literacy and the possession of Bibles was still rare.
0 0"Read" includes exposition, "Readings" had been one of the earliest names given to the study meetings held in Zurich and St. Gall prior to the foundation of Anabaptist congregations.
1 1"The one to whom God has given the best understanding shall explain it" may mean that, for every particular passage, whoever understands its meaning should speak up. Then we would have a picture of a meeting with no settled leadership, with no controlling role for the "shepherd" who was called for by Schleitheim Article V. Then one might infer, as does Jean Seguy, that this text testifies to a time before the Schleitheim decisions, when congregations functioned without a named leader. It is, however, also possible that "the one to whom God has given the best understanding" may be a circumlocution for the already recognized leader in the local group.
2 2This "reading" may well be rote recitation. This reference to the Psalter is one of the very rare early Anabaptist references to noncongregational devotional exercises. It may be a further trace of an inheritance from monasticism.
3 3The common fund is seen here as a special purse for specific needs, not as a total communism of consumption such as was established not much later in Moravia. It is significant that the non-Hutterian Anabaptists also considered themselves to be following the economic example of the early Jerusalem Christians.
4 4Rom. 14:17. The assumption that the congregation would frequently gather around a simple meal may be linked to their avoidance of social clubs and guilds (above, Art. IV).
5 5The Lord's Supper, specifically identified as such, is evidently distinguished from the rest of the meal, even though both were practiced as often as the brothers met. (Cf. Art. 1.)
Today, we're going to start with some personal reflection and story-telling, and as time permits, try to "catch-up" a bit with some Anabaptist and Mennonite history.
See you at 4p, if possible, or you may simply participate on line. For on-line connection, add comments to this blog about your own experience of church, how you got started, if you ever quit, what makes a connection for you.
See also the Anabaptist and Mennonite history materials which I will add to the site.
Hi friends! Here's the outline of our class for the Sundays of Lent.
The physical class will take place at 4p on Sundays. Class will run for 45 minutes, followed by the Lenten Evensong (which is not part of the membership class process).
4p - 4:45p - Membership "physical" class
5p - 5:45p - Lenten Evensong
Week by week schedule
February 22 - introduction to membership, shared church story-telling
March 1 - Anabaptist/Mennonite history
March 8 - What is church; family systems and church
Marcy 15 - The moebius strip of spirituality & Circle of Trust practice
March 22 - First Mennonite history and practices
March 29 - What does it mean to be a First Mennonite member & stories