Editor's note: This is a portion of the essay titled "The Problem of Baptist Succession" - (pages 41-44). The footnotes from the complete essay are the same, so you will note they begin with # 201.
From the Introduction to this essay we understand that Pastor Rone prepared this work to be presented at one of two summer gatherings at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, which took place in 1953 and 1954. A group of Baptist historians and theologians met to discuss the doctrine of the church. Rone's explanation for his work is given: ". . . permit me to express my heart-felt thanks to Dr. Duke K. McCall, President of this institution, which is my Alma Mater, and to the special Faculty Committee appointed by him, for the distinct and undeserved honor conferred upon me in being asked to take part in this important study on 'The Doctrine Of The Church.'"
A book was published in 1958 as a "Symposium of Baptist Thought" entitled What is the Church?, edited by Duke K. McCall. Wendell Rone's paper was not published in the book. It is presented here as it was scanned from a manuscript copy. -- Jim Duvall
By Wendell H. Rone
The Anabaptist movement on the Continent of Europe originated with no particular man and in any one place. It seems to have been a movement which sprang up and flourished from about 1520 A. D. to 1570 A. D in many places and under many leaders. The name ANABAPTISTS or Rebaptizers (Wiedertaufer), originated with their enemies, the Pedobaptists (those who practice infant baptism), but was rejected by them, because they knew and practiced no other baptism but that of believers. Hence, they said that infant baptism was no baptism at all.
Swiss Anabaptism sprang up in those hectic times of the early Zwinglian Reformation around Zurich about 1523 A. D. The leaders were Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, George Blaurock, and Ludwig Hatzer. For a time they were a part of Zwingli's movement, but differences of opinion relative to infant baptism and the relation of the Church and the State led to a rupture
and an independent course for the Anabaptists. They soon came to be considered by both Reformers and Roman Catholics as the radicals of the Reformation."The Reformers aimed to reform the old Church by the Bible; the Radicals attempted to build a new Church from the Bible. The former maintained the historic continuity: the latter went directly to the apostolic age, and ignored the intervening centuries aa apostasy. The Reformers founded a popular State-Church, including all citizens with their families; the Anabaptiiti organized on the voluntary principle select congregations of baptized believers, separated from the world and from the State.... The Radicals made use of the right of protest against the Reformation, which the Reformers so effectually exercised against popery. They raised a protest against Protestantism. They charged the Reformers with inconsistency and semi-popery; yea, with the worst kind of popery. They denounced the State-Church as worldly and corrupt, and its ministers as mercenaries. They were charged in turn with pharasaical pride, with revolutionary and socialistic tendencies. They were cruelly persecuted by imprisonment, exile, torture, fire and aword, and almost totally suppressed in Protestant as well as in Roman Catholic Countries. The age was not ripe for unlimited religious liberty and congregational self-government. The Anabaptists perished bravely as martyrs of conscience."201Anabaptist opinions spread rapidly, or rose simultaneously, at Berne, Basle, St. Gall, Appenzell, all along the Upper Rhine, in South Germany, and Austria. Other leaders in the movement were Hubmaier, Denck, Hans Hut, and Reublin. The Anabaptists were driven from place to place, and were forced to travel as fugitive evangelists. Nevertheless, they preached repentance and faith, baptized converts, organized congregations, exercised a rigid discipline, and were earnest and zealous, self-denying and heroic, but restless and impatient.202 The Reformers testify, as well as their Catholic enemies, to their uprightness of character.203 A great variety and confusion of opinion prevailed among many groups who have been styled as Anabaptists, such as the the Munster (1534) insurrectionists, while some held to soul-sleep between death and the resurrection, a rabid millenialism, final restorationism, communistic and socialistic views, with wild
201 Philip Schaff, History Of The Christian Church, Eerdman Edition, 1950, Vol. VIII, pp. 71-72.
202 Ibid., pp. 73-75.
203 Ibid., pp. 79-81; John T. Christian, History of The Baptists, Vol. I, Baptist Sunday School Board, Nashville, 1922, pp. 97-104.
excesses of immorality occurring here and there.204 But the great body of Swiss and Moravian Anabaptists were free of these excesses and distinguished for their simple faith and strict morality.205
Two main ideas seemed to be present in early Anabaptism - that of a pure Church of believers only and the baptism of such believers only. This naturally led to the repudiation of infant baptism. While baptism was done in some instances by sprinkling and pouring,206 it is equally evident that a total immersion was taught and practiced.207 They are also credited with the following characteristics:a. An unswerving devotion to religious liberty.Space forbids a detailed study of the German and Dutch Anabaptists, the Mennonites, and others, in Germany, the Netherlands, England, and elsewhere. The books referred to in footnote 208 will allow the reader a great variety in reading more about these interesting people.
b. The separation of Church and State.
c. The immediate and direct accountability to God of every soul.
d. The right of the individual to intrepret the Scriptures.
e. The supremacy of the Scriptures as a rule of faith.
f . The re-baptism of all who came for membership and had been baptized in infancy. They considered the first baptism the same as no baptism at all.
g. They utterly rejected Baptismal Regeneration.
h. Simple congregational Church government.
i. A rejection of all priestly and hierarchical notions of the ministry.
j. Pacifism, non-interference in government, and pietism. 208
204 Ibid., p. 79.
206 Ibid., p. 78.
207 Philip Schaff, op. cit., Vol. VIII, p. 578; John T. Christian, op. cit., pp. 105-152.
208 John T. Christian, op. cit., pp. 83-170; A. H. Newman, op. cit., Vol. II pp. l48-200; Henry C. Vedder, op. cit., pp. 129-198: A.C. Underwood, op. cit., pp. 21-27; Philip Schaff, op. cit., Vol. VII, pp. 606-611; Vol. VIII, pp, 70-85; Robert G. Torbet, op. cit., pp. 35-55; Franklin H. Littell, The Anabaptist View Of The Church. American Society of Church History, 1952; W. A. Jarrell, op. cit., pp. 182-233; Thomas Armitage, op. cit., pp. 327-424; J. H. Kurtz, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 390-405.
These works give in greater detail material concerning one or more of the above characteristics of Anabaptists.
That there were many characteristics among the Biblical Anabaptists which parallel beliefs and practices among modern Baptists is undeniable. On the other hand, they held to some things that have been either discarded or were never held at all by Baptists. Their kinship with medieval parties of an evangelical nature is a view which refuses to be cast aside.
The entire essay is here.
[From Wendell H. Rone - Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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