November 29, 2009

What In The World Is An Anabaptist?

So I was perusing about many of my favorite websites and blogs the other day and came across a great little article on the Young Anabaptist Radicals website about the traditions history and beliefs. It's kind of an interactive article actually as it asks for input from other Anabaptist's. I wouldn't have thought much of it, except that earlier that same day I had a long discussion with some friends about the Anabaptist Tradition who had never heard a thing about it. To their eyes it was just some relished folk tale of mid 16th century reformation fall out with the Amish & Mennonite communities (bonnets and all) as a modern result. So with that in mind I thought perhaps it's time we shed a little light on the subject, not simply because I profess the tradition as my own, but more importantly because I actually think there is a strong misunderstanding of who the Anabaptist's were and are and the fact that history seems to have dismissed us all together. The article is in no way comprehensive, but it's a good place to start. If you are interested in the radical reformation or the Anabaptist tradition the link to the article is bellow.

{Dirk Williams - Anabaptist Martyr & Saint}


"No story of an Anabaptist martyr has captured the imagination more than the tale of Dirk Willems.
Dirk was caught, tried and convicted as an Anabaptist in those later years of harsh Spanish rule under the Duke of Alva in The Netherlands. He escaped from a residential palace turned into a prison by letting himself out of a window with a rope made of knotted rags, dropping onto the ice that covered the castle moat.

Seeing him escape, a palace guard pursued him as he fled. Dirk crossed the thin ice of a pond, the “Hondegat,” safely. His own weight had been reduced by short prison rations, but the heavier pursuer broke through.

Hearing the guard’s cries for help, Dirk turned back and rescued him. The less-than-grateful guard then seized Dirk and led him back to captivity. This time the authorities threw him into a more secure prison, a small, heavily barred room at the top of a very tall church tower, above the bell, where he was probably locked into the wooden leg stocks that remain in place today. Soon he was led out to be burned to death.

Some inhabitants of present-day Asperen, none of them Mennonite, regard Dirk as a folk hero. A Christian, so compassionate that he risked recapture in order to save the life of his drowning pursuer, stimulates respect and memory."

Chances are if you read my blog it's because we already share some similar sentimentality about the world and if that be the case there is a good chance you already read and hold to a lot of Anabaptist thought perhaps without even knowing it. But this is a history we should never forget as it reminds us that throughout all of Christian History, no mater how off the straight and narrow the church has run, there has always been a ragtag group of outcasts forming communities of love and hospitality declaring Jesus Christ as Lord of ALL. We are not alone and we never have been!!!

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