Radical Reformation

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The Radical Reformation represented a response to perceived corruption both in the Roman Catholic Church and in the expanding Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther and many others. Beginning in Germany and Switzerland in the 16th century, the Radical Reformation gave birth to many radical Protestant groups throughout Europe. The term covers radical reformers like Thomas Müntzer (circa 1489–1525) and Andreas Karlstadt (1486–1541), the Zwickau prophets (1521–1522), and Anabaptist groups like the Hutterites (founded circa 1527) and the Mennonites (founded circa 1536).

Magisterial Reformation

The Magisterial Reformation is a phrase that "draws attention to the manner in which the Lutheran and Calvinist reformers related to secular authorities, such as princes, magistrates, or city councils", i.e. "the magistracy". While the Radical Reformation rejected any secular authority over the Church, the Magisterial Reformation argued for the interdependence of the church and secular authorities, i.e. "The magistrate had a right to authority within the church, just as the church could rely on the authority of the magistrate to enforce discipline, suppress heresy, or maintain order."

Protestantism Division within Christianity, originating with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church

Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than also by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.

Martin Luther Saxon priest, monk and theologian, seminal figure in Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther,, was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.

Contents

In parts[ which? ] of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, a majority sympathized with the Radical Reformation despite intense persecution. [1] Although the surviving proportion of the European population that rebelled against Catholic, Lutheran and Zwinglian churches was small, Radical Reformers wrote profusely and the literature on the Radical Reformation is disproportionately large, partly as a result of the proliferation of the Radical Reformation teachings[ when? ] in the United States. [2] [ page needed ]

Lutheranism form of Protestantism commonly associated with the teachings of Martin Luther

Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teaching of Martin Luther, a 16th-century German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Characteristics

Unlike the Catholics and the more Magisterial Lutheran and Reformed (Zwinglian and Calvinist) Protestant movements, some of the Radical Reformation abandoned the idea that the "Church visible" was distinct from the "Church invisible." [3] Thus, the Church only consisted of the tiny community of believers, who accepted Jesus Christ and demonstrated this by adult baptism, called "believer's baptism".

Huldrych Zwingli Protestant Reformation leader in Switzerland, Swiss Reformed Church founder

Huldrych Zwingli or Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly center of Renaissance humanism. He continued his studies while he served as a pastor in Glarus and later in Einsiedeln, where he was influenced by the writings of Erasmus.

Church visible

Church visible is a term of Christian theology and ecclesiology referring to the visible community of Christian believers on Earth, as opposed to the Church invisible or Church triumphant, constituted by the fellowship of saints and the company of the elect.

The invisible church or church invisible is a theological concept of an "invisible" Christian Church of the elect who are known only to God, in contrast to the "visible church"—that is, the institutional body on earth which preaches the gospel and administers the sacraments. Every member of the invisible church is saved, while the visible church contains some individuals who are saved and others who are unsaved. According to this view, Bible passages such as Matthew 7:21-27, Matthew 13:24-30, and Matthew 24:29-51 speak about this distinction.

While the magisterial reformers wanted to substitute their own learned elite for the learned elite of the Catholic Church, the radical Protestant groups rejected the authority of the institutional "church" organization, almost entirely, as being unbiblical. As the search for original Christianity was carried further, it was claimed that the tension between the church and the Roman Empire in the first centuries of Christianity was normative,[ clarification needed ] that the church is not to be allied with government sacralism, that a true church is always subject to be persecuted, and that the conversion of Constantine I was therefore the Great Apostasy that marked a deviation from pure Christianity. [4]

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided into a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Non-Anabaptist Radical reformers

Though most of the Radical Reformers were Anabaptist, some did not identify themselves with the mainstream Anabaptist tradition. Thomas Müntzer was involved in the German Peasants' War. Andreas Karlstadt disagreed theologically with Huldrych Zwingli and Martin Luther, teaching nonviolence and refusing to baptize infants while not rebaptizing adult believers. [5] Kaspar Schwenkfeld and Sebastian Franck were influenced by German mysticism and spiritualism.

Thomas Müntzer early Reformation-era German pastor who was a rebel leader during the German Peasants War

Thomas Müntzer was a German preacher and radical theologian of the early Reformation whose opposition to both Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic Church led to his open defiance of late-feudal authority in central Germany. Müntzer was foremost amongst those reformers who took issue with Luther's compromises with feudal authority. He became a leader of the German peasant and plebeian uprising of 1525 commonly known as the German Peasants' War. He was captured after the battle of Frankenhausen, and was tortured and executed.

German Peasants War conflict

The German Peasants' War, Great Peasants' War or Great Peasants' Revolt was a widespread popular revolt in some German-speaking areas in Central Europe from 1524 to 1525. It failed because of the intense opposition by the aristocracy, who slaughtered up to 100,000 of the 300,000 poorly armed peasants and farmers. The survivors were fined and achieved few, if any, of their goals. The war consisted, like the preceding Bundschuh movement and the Hussite Wars, of a series of both economic and religious revolts in which peasants and farmers, often supported by Anabaptist clergy, took the lead. The German Peasants' War was Europe's largest and most widespread popular uprising prior to the French Revolution of 1789. The fighting was at its height in the middle of 1525.

Andreas Karlstadt German theologian

Andreas Rudolph Bodenstein von Karlstadt, better known as Andreas Karlstadt or Andreas Carlstadt or Karolostadt, or simply as Andreas Bodenstein, was a German Protestant theologian, University of Wittenberg chancellor, a contemporary of Martin Luther and a reformer of the early Reformation.

Early forms of Anabaptism

Some early forms of the Radical Reformation were millenarian, focusing on the imminent end of the world. This was particularly notable in the rule of John of Leiden over the city of Münster in 1535, which was ultimately crushed by the combined forces of the Catholic Bishop of Münster and the Lutheran Landgrave of Hesse. After the Munster rebellion, the small group of the Batenburgers continued to adhere to militant Anabaptist beliefs. Non-violent Anabaptist groups also had millenarian beliefs.

Millennialism, or chiliasm, is a belief advanced by some religious denominations that a Golden Age or Paradise will occur on Earth prior to the final judgment and future eternal state of the "World to Come".

John of Leiden Anabaptist leader, King of Munster

John of Leiden, was an Anabaptist leader from Leiden, in the Holy Roman Empire's County of Holland. In 1533 he moved to Münster, the capital city of the Holy Roman Empire's Prince-Bishopric of Münster, where he became an influential prophet and a leader of the Münster Rebellion. He turned Münster, the city, into a millenarian Anabaptist theocracy, and proclaimed himself "King of Münster" in 1534. In 1535, the insurrection was suppressed after a siege of the fortified city, and John was captured, tortured and executed.

Münster Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Münster is an independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is in the northern part of the state and is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region. It is also capital of the local government region Münsterland. Münster was the location of the Anabaptist rebellion during the Protestant Reformation and the site of the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia ending the Thirty Years' War in 1648. Today it is known as the bicycle capital of Germany.

The early Anabaptists believed that their reformation must purify not only theology but also the actual lives of Christians, especially their political and social relationships. [6] Therefore, the church should not be supported by the state, neither by tithes and taxes, nor by the use of the sword; Christianity was a matter of individual conviction, which could not be forced on anyone, but rather required a personal decision for it. [6]

Many groups were influenced by biblicism (like the Swiss Brethren), spiritualism (like the South German Anabaptists) and mainly absolute pacifism (like the Swiss Brethren, the Hutterites and the Mennonites from Northern Germany and the Netherlands). The Hutterites also practiced community of goods. In the beginning most of them were strongly missionary.

Later forms of Anabaptism

Later forms[ clarification needed ] of Anabaptism were much smaller, and focused on the formation of small, separatist communities. Among the many varieties to develop were Mennonites, Amish, and Hutterites. Typical among the new leaders of the later Anabaptist movement, and certainly the most influential of them, was Menno Simons (1496–1561), a Dutch Catholic priest who early in 1536 decided to join the Anabaptists. [7]

Simons had no use for the violence advocated and practiced by the Münster movement, which seemed to him to pervert the very heart of Christianity. [7] Thus, Mennonite pacifism is not merely a peripheral characteristic of the movement, but rather belongs to the very essence of Menno's understanding of the gospel; this is one of the reasons that it has been a constant characteristic of all Mennonite bodies through the centuries. [7]

The Anabaptists of the Radical Reformation continue to inspire community groups such as the Bruderhof and movements such as Urban Expression in the UK. [8] [9]

Other movements

In addition to the Anabaptists, other Radical Reformation movements have been identified. Notably, George Huntston Williams, the great categorizer of the Radical Reformation, considered early forms of Unitarianism (such as that of the Socinians, and exemplified by Michael Servetus as well as the Polish Brethren), and other trends that disregarded the Nicene christology still accepted by most Christians, as part of the Radical Reformation. With Michael Servetus (1511–1553) and Faustus Socinus (1539–1604) anti-Trinitarianism came to the foreground. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Anabaptism A Christian movement and set of beliefs that started as a result of the Reformation in Western Christianity.

Anabaptism is a Christian movement which traces its origins to the Radical Reformation. The movement is generally seen as an offshoot of Protestantism, although this view has been challenged by some Anabaptists.

Hutterites ethno-religious group since the 16th century; a communal branch of Anabaptists

Hutterites, also called Hutterian Brethren, are an ethnoreligious group that is a communal branch of Anabaptists who, like the Amish and Mennonites, trace their roots to the Radical Reformation of the early 16th century.

Schleitheim Confession

The Schleitheim Confession was the most representative statement of Anabaptist principles, by a group of Swiss Anabaptists in 1527 in Schleitheim (Switzerland).

Menno Simons Dutch theologian, founder of the Mennonites

Menno Simons was a former Catholic priest from the Friesland region of the Low Countries who became an influential Anabaptist religious leader. Simons was a contemporary of the Protestant Reformers and it is from his name that his followers became known as Mennonites.

Conrad Grebel co-founder of the Swiss Brethren movement

Conrad Grebel, son of a prominent Swiss merchant and councilman, was a co-founder of the Swiss Brethren movement.

Felix Manz Swiss martyr

Felix Manz was an Anabaptist, a co-founder of the original Swiss Brethren congregation in Zürich, Switzerland, and the first martyr of the Radical Reformation.

Theology of Anabaptism Christian religion

Theology of Anabaptism is the beliefs of the Anabaptist movement. Anabaptism has a reputation of de-emphasizing theology in deference to living righteously. The various branches of the Anabaptist movement take slightly different approaches to theology.

Balthasar Hubmaier German Anabaptist leader

Balthasar Hubmaier was an influential German Anabaptist leader. He was one of the most well-known and respected Anabaptist theologians of the Reformation.

George Blaurock Swiss founder of Anabaptism

Jörg vom Haus Jacob, commonly known as George Blaurock, was an Anabaptist leader and evangelist. Along with Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz, he was a co-founder of the Swiss Brethren in Zürich, and thereby one of the founders of Anabaptism.

Zwickau prophets three reformers of religion, in Germany, in the 16th century

The Zwickau Prophets were three men of the Radical Reformation from Zwickau in the Electorate of Saxony in the Holy Roman Empire, who were possibly involved in a disturbance in nearby Wittenberg and its evolving Reformation in early 1522.

David Joris Anabaptist leader, painter

David Joris was an important Anabaptist leader in the Netherlands before 1540.

Protestant Reformers occupation

Protestant Reformers were those theologians whose careers, works and actions brought about the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.

Swiss Brethren branch of Anabaptism

The Swiss Brethren are a branch of Anabaptism that started in Zürich, spread to nearby cities and towns, and then was exported to neighboring countries. Today's Swiss Mennonite Conference can be traced to the Swiss Brethren.

Wilhelm Reublin was a leading figure of the Swiss Brethren movement. Reublin was born in 1484 in Rottenburg am Neckar. In 1521, after studying theology in Freiburg and Tübingen, Reublin became the pastor at St. Alban in Basel and began to advocate reform. St. Alban was soon the center of the evangelical movement in Basel. In the Fall of 1522 Reublin was expelled from the city for his Reformation sermons and moved to Witikon in 1524, where he became the local pastor and preached against infant baptism. Reublin was with Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz in Zürich in January 1525 at the birth of the Anabaptist movement. Reublin took part in a disputation on 17 January 1525 after which Grebel, Mantz and Reublin were given eight days to leave the canton.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Protestantism:

A Seeker is a person likely to join an Old Order Anabaptist community, like the Amish, the Old Order Mennonites, the Hutterites, the Old Order Schwarzenau Brethren or the Old Order River Brethren. Among the 500,000 members of such communities in the United States there are only an estimated 1,200 to 1,300 outsiders who have joined them.

Brethren is a name adopted by a wide range of mainly Christian religious groups throughout history which do share historical roots. The largest movements by this name are the Schwarzenau Brethren, Anabaptists, Moravian Brethren, and Plymouth Brethren.

References

  1. Horsch, John (1995). Mennonites in Europe. Herald Press. p. 299. ISBN   978-0836113952.
  2. Euan Cameron (2012) [1991]. The European Reformation (2 ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-873093-4.
  3. Maseko, Achim N. (2008), Church Schism & Corruption, South Africa: Lulu.com, p. 236, ISBN   9781409221869
  4. Justo L. Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought (Abingdon: Nashville, 1975)
  5. Hein, Gerhard. "Karlstadt, Andreas Rudolff-Bodenstein von (1486–1541)". Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  6. 1 2 Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, 88.
  7. 1 2 3 Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, 96.
  8. "Why the Bruderhof is not a cult – by Bryan Wilson | Cult And Sect | Religion And Belief". Scribd. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
  9. "Eberhard Arnold: Founder of the Bruderhof". www.eberhardarnold.com. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  10. Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, 101.

Further reading