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So begins a new series on this blog by our friend Ruth Tucker. Now to Ruth:
Here is the first installment of a series on the history of Christianity. My thanks to Scot for jumping at the idea. There is no other field of history that features more crazy characters and captivating controversies. Thus, virtually all of my writing has found its footing in this discipline.
Anabaptists - Shrift - Church - Historians - Reason
Anabaptists have gotten short shrift by church historians. One reason is that there is no well-known individual who singularly changed the course of the Christian faith—no Paul, no Augustine, no Aquinas, no Luther or Wesley. Yet the Anabaptists played an unparalleled role in the course of the Christian Church. They “gathered up the gains of earlier movements,” writes Rufus Jones, from “the spiritual soil out of which all nonconformist sects have sprung,” heralding “a new type of Christian society . . . an absolutely free and independent religious society . . . shaping both Church and State.”
Reason enough for me to break tradition and begin Part 2 of my church history text, not with the Magisterial Reformers but rather with the Anabaptists, the so-called Radical Reformers. Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church gives this movement its due. Martin Luther and other Reformers did not challenge the Constantinian and Catholic marriage of church and state.
Anabaptists - Passionate—and - Radical—convictions - Boars - Reformer
Anabaptists paid dearly for their passionate—and radical—convictions. They are “hunted down like wild boars,” lamented German Reformer Katherine Zell. Indeed, my Reformed forbearers in Zwingli’s Zurich drowned them in the River Limmat. If they insist on being [re]baptized by immersion, we’ll baptize them, so the saying went. It was an act of utter viciousness, often referred to as the cruelest joke of the Reformation. Others were burned at the stake. Their crime: separating themselves from the state-sponsored church into...
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