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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. 62 Today's Swiss Mennonite Conference can be traced to the Swiss Brethren.:
In 1525, Felix Manz, Conrad Grebel, George Blaurock and other radical evangelical reformers broke from Ulrich Zwingli and formed a new group because they felt reforms were not moving fast enough.
Rejection of infant baptism was a distinguishing belief of the Swiss Brethren. On the basis of Sola scriptura doctrine, the Swiss Brethren declared that since the Bible does not mention infant baptism, it should not be practiced by the church. This belief was subsequently rejected by Ulrich Zwingli. Consequently, there was a public dispute, in which the council affirmed Zwingli's position. This solidified the Swiss Brethren and resulted in their persecution by all other reformers as well as the Catholic Church.
Because of persecution by the authorities, many Swiss Brethren moved from Switzerland to neighboring countries. The Swiss Brethren became known as Mennonites after the division of 1693, a disagreement between groups led by Jacob Amman and Hans Reist. Many of the Mennonites in France, Southern Germany, the Netherlands and North America, as well as most Amish descend from the Swiss Brethren.
In 1527 Michael Sattler authored the Schleitheim Articles, the first Anabaptist confession of faith. 17,22–23 It contained seven articles on the following topics::
Most Swiss Brethren accepted these seven articles.
George Blaurock (Bonaduz, c. 1491 – 1529) was a co-founder of the Swiss Brethren movement. He was educated at the University of Leipzig and served as a priest, but departed from the Catholic Church before he arrived in Zürich around 1524, for he had already taken a wife. Though he came to see Huldrych Zwingli, he soon became attached to the reformer's more radical followers. After a break with Zwingli in January 1525 and acting against a Zürich city council ruling, Blaurock asked Conrad Grebel to baptize him upon a confession of faith in Christ. Grebel did so, and afterwards Blaurock proceeded to baptize the others who were present. Blaurock worked closely with Felix Manz until Manz was martyred in Zürich in 1527. On that same day, Blaurock was severely beaten and permanently expelled from Zürich. He kept moving, laboring at Bern, Biel, the Grisons, and Appenzell. After his arrest and fourth banishment in 1527, Blaurock left Switzerland never to return. He conducted a very successful ministry in Tyrol. In August 1529 he was arrested by Innsbruck authorities and tortured for information. On 6 September 1529, Blaurock was burned at the stake near Klausen.
Conrad Grebel (c. 1498 – 1526) was a co-founder of the Swiss Brethren movement. He was probably born in Grüningen about 1498. His family moved to Zürich around 1513. Grebel spent about six years in three universities, but without finishing his education or receiving a degree. In 1521 he joined a group gathered around Zürich reformer Huldrych Zwingli to study the Greek classics, the Latin Bible, the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. Core members of the group broke with Zwingli because they thought the reform process was proceeding too slowly. At a gathering in January 1525 George Blaurock asked Grebel to baptize him upon a confession of faith. Afterward, Blaurock baptized Grebel and the others, initiating a wave of rebaptisms that would spread throughout the Swiss cantons. Grebel died of the plague in 1526. 7:
Margret Hottinger (before 1515 – 30) was a charismatic and respected leader during the initial years of the movement. 117,254–8 She joined early in 1525, at the time when George Blaurock evangelized and baptized in Zollikon. Her father and brothers were rebaptized early in 1525 also; Klaus Hottinger, an uncle, had been executed the previous year for his reformation activities. Hottinger was arrested along with other Anabaptist leaders including Blaurock, Grebel, Mantz, and Sattler in November of the same year. While Sattler and some others were released after swearing an oath promising to stop advocating rebaptism, Hottinger and the others refused and were imprisoned under harsh conditions. Hottinger relented after six months and signed a recantation, but before the year was out she was evangelizing in St. Gall. Hottinger and her family remained active in the area of Zürich even after most other Anabaptists had fled to Moravia because of intense persecution. Finally they too set out for Moravia in 1530, but were captured en route near Waldsee. Hottinger was drowned because she refused to recant, her father Jakob was beheaded and her brother Felix was released because of his young age.:
Balthasar Hubmaier (c. 1480 – 1528) was one of the most well-known and respected Anabaptist theologians of the Reformation. He was born in Friedberg, Bavaria around 1480. In 1524, he married Elizabeth Hügline of Reichenau. He attended Latin School at Augsburg, received both a bachelor's and a master's degree from the University of Freiburg in 1511 and a doctor's degree from the University of Ingolstadt under Johann Eck in 1512. 329 After serving as the university's vice-rector, he left a pastorate of the Catholic Church at Regensburg in 1516 and then went to Waldshut in 1521. He was rebaptised there in 1525 by Wilhelm Reublin. He succeeded in establishing Anabaptism as the official religion for a short period first in Waldshut and then in Nikolsburg. :181 On 10 March 1528 Hubmaier was executed by burning for heresy.:
Felix Manz (c. 1498 – 1527) was a co-founder of the Swiss Brethren movement. Manz was the illegitimate son of a canon of the Grossmünster in Zürich. His knowledge of Hebrew, Greek and Latin indicate a liberal education. Manz became a follower of Huldrych Zwingli and when Conrad Grebel joined the group in 1521, he and Manz became friends. They questioned the mass, the nature of church and state connections, and infant baptism. The Zürich city council declared Zwingli the victor of a January 1525 disputation and ordered the group to desist from arguing and submit to the decision of the council. Instead, the group gathered at the home of Felix Manz and his mother. Conrad Grebel rebaptized George Blaurock, and Blaurock in turn rebaptized the others. Manz proceeded to use his language skills to translate religious texts into the language of the people, and worked enthusiastically as an evangelist. Manz was arrested on a number of occasions between 1525 and 1527. While he preached with George Blaurock in the Grüningen region, they were taken by surprise, arrested and imprisoned in Zürich at the Wellenburg prison. The Zürich council had passed an edict that made adult rebaptism punishable by drowning. On 5 January 1527, Felix Manz became the first casualty of the edict, and the first of the Swiss Brethren to be executed at the hands of Protestants.
Hans Reist (fl. 1670 – 1704) was a central figure in the dispute that resulted in the formation of the Amish branch.Reist favored a milder form of church discipline and was strongly opposed by Jakob Ammann who advocated a strict form of the ban. The disagreement was fierce and the ill feelings generated by the exchange between Reist, Ammann, and other leaders resulted in an unrepairable breach. Reist is recognized as a leader of the Swiss Brethren group that later adopted the name Mennonite.
Wilhelm Reublin (1484 – c. 1559) was a prolific Swiss Brethren missionary who eventually left the movement. Reublin was born in 1484 in Rottenburg am Neckar. In 1521, after studying theology in Freiburg and Tübingen, he pastored at St. Alban in Basel then in Witikon. 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. Reublin proceeded to Hallau, where he establish a large Anaptist congregation. From Hallau Reublin successfully evangelized in other areas for the young Anabaptist movement. On Easter 1525 he baptized theologian Balthasar Hubmaier in Waldshut, where another center of the Anabaptism was developing. Michael Sattler was baptized by Reublin in Rottenburg. Other places evangelized by Reublin include Schaffhausen, Strasbourg, Reutlingen and Esslingen. By 1535 Reublin had left the Swiss Brethren.
Michael Sattler (c. 1490 – 1527) was particularly influential for his role in developing the Schleitheim Confession. Born in around 1490 in Staufen, Germany, Sattler became a Benedictine monk in the cloister of St. Peter and most likely became prior by the time he left, around 1525. He then married Margaretha, a former Beguine. That year they traveled to Zürich, which was then embroiled in controversy over infant baptism, and was expelled from the city in November. He became associated with the Anabaptists and was probably rebaptised in the summer of 1526. He was involved in missionary activity around Horb and Rottenburg, and eventually traveled to Strasbourg. In February 1527 he chaired a meeting of the Swiss Brethren at Schleitheim, at which time the Schleitheim Confession was adopted. In May, 1527, Sattler was arrested by Roman Catholic authorities, along with his wife and several other Anabaptists. He was tried and sentenced to be executed as a heretic. Before execution by fire, his tongue was cut out, and red hot tongs were used to tear two pieces of flesh from his body.Margaretha was executed by drowning.
Jakob Ammann (fl. 1696 – before 1730) was an elder who became the founder of the Amish Mennonites.Ammann advocated the strictest form of the ban, insisting that there be no contact with an excommunicated member, even among family members. He had firm views on clothing style, opposed trimmed beards and introduced foot washing. He traveled among the Swiss Anabaptist communities in the Cantons of Switzerland, Alsace and the Palatinate promoting his views and excommunicating any who opposed him. Because of his unbending convictions and harsh rhetoric, an irreparable breach developed between the two groups that continues centuries later in North America. Ammann later regretted his contribution to the split and asked for forgiveness, but by 1700 the rift was too great.
In Appenzell a congregation of 1500 formed soon after the movement was driven from Zürich. Zwingli complained that the canton was too tolerant of Anabaptists. Increased enforcement of anti-Anabaptist decrees drove most congregations out by 1530, although some persisted into the 17th century. 116:
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.
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.
The Mennonites are members of certain Christian groups belonging to the church communities of Anabaptist denominations named after Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland. Through his writings, Simons articulated and formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. The early teachings of the Mennonites were founded on the belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus, which the original Anabaptist followers held to with great conviction despite persecution by the various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. An early set of Mennonite beliefs was codified in the Dordrecht Confession of Faith in 1632, but the various groups do not hold to a common confession or creed. Rather than fight, the majority of these followers survived by fleeing to neighboring states where ruling families were tolerant of their belief in believer's baptism. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic peace churches because of their commitment to pacifism.
Jakob Ammann was an Anabaptist leader and namesake of the Amish religious movement.
The Schleitheim Confession was the most representative statement of Anabaptist principles, by a group of Swiss Anabaptists in 1527 in Schleitheim, Switzerland.
The Swiss Mennonite Conference is an Anabaptist Christian body in Switzerland.
Conrad Grebel, son of a prominent Swiss merchant and councilman, was a co-founder of the Swiss Brethren movement.
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 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 was an influential German Anabaptist leader. He was one of the most well-known and respected Anabaptist theologians of the Reformation.
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.
Ludwig Haetzer was an Anabaptist.
The Radical Reformation represented a response to perceived corruption both in the 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 and Andreas Karlstadt (1486–1541), the Zwickau prophets (1521–1522), and Anabaptist groups like the Hutterites and the Mennonites.
Michael Sattler was a monk who left the Roman Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation to become one of the early leaders of the Anabaptist movement. He was particularly influential for his role in developing the Schleitheim Confession.
The theology of Huldrych Zwingli was based on an interpretation of the Bible, taking scripture as the inspired word of God and placing its authority higher than what he saw as human sources such as the ecumenical councils and the church fathers. He also recognised the human element within the inspiration noting the differences in the canonical gospels. Zwinglianism is the Reformed confession based on the Second Helvetic Confession promulgated by Zwingli's successor Heinrich Bullinger in the 1560s.
The Groffdale Conference Mennonite Church, also called Wenger Mennonite, is the largest Old Order Mennonite group to use horse-drawn carriages for transportation. Along with the automobile, they reject many modern conveniences, while allowing electricity in their homes and steel-wheeled tractors to till the fields. Initially concentrated in eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, their 10,000 members resided in eight other states as of 2008/9.
Klaus Hottinger was a shoemaker born in Zollikon. A disciple of Zwingli, he took part in the famous "Affair of the Sausages" of 1522 which marked the public beginning of the Reformation in Switzerland. In 1523 he overthrew a wooden crucifix at Stadelhofen on the outskirts of Zurich. He was as a consequence banished from the canton in November 1523. He was executed in Lucerne on 9 March 1524, despite Zurich's effort to intervene on his behalf, and thus became the first martyr of the Swiss Protestant movement.
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 Weaverland Conference, also called Horning Church or Black-bumper Mennonites is a Christian denomination of Old Order Mennonites who use cars.
The Reformation in Zürich was promoted initially by Huldrych Zwingli, who gained the support of the magistrates of the city of Zürich and the princess abbess Katharina von Zimmern of the Fraumünster Abbey, and the population of the city of Zürich and agriculture-oriented population of the present Canton of Zürich in the early 1520s. It led to significant changes in civil life and state matters in Zürich and spread to several other cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy, and thus initiated the Reformation in Switzerland.