This is not going to be a normal kind of sermon. They are more historical reflections.
We’ve had two sessions already where we contrasted the Catholic, Protestant and Anabaptist views of a number of issues.
First I’ll review the areas we talked about to give a few more reflections on each.
One’s conclusion about some of the practical side of these things will depend which kind of Anabaptist you are: literalist, middle of the road, and spiritualist. Our approach to issues as one of these affects our views.
Scripture: Anabaptists said all Scriptural interpretation must be tested against the life of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the life it demonstrates. They believed that NT superseded the OT.
A major issue amongst Anabaptists even today is the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the text of Scripture.
In the OT/NT discussion, we may struggle to know what the value of the OT is.
Anabaptists rejected the view that all people in one area are Christians and must belong to the same Church; taught that Class distinctions are wrong; that all people are equal.
The Church is made up of all that have responded in faith to Christ and follow Him.
All Christians are called to literally follow the Sermon on the mount as demonstrated in the life of Christ; that peace was a way of life; that any violence, verbal physical, or sexual, is wrong.
This sort of violence sometimes exists within our churches as well as in the world. We have tended to be passive in these things. It is easy to focus on not going to war and forget the positive commitment to love.
The Anabaptists were passionate missionaries, because they did not believe that everyone in society was saved, and that those that were not were going to hell.
We tend to be less so. We probably feel less compulsion… we don’t have the
Except for the literalists, the Anabaptists believed in the Church as the community of saints. By communal worship, and visible expressions of love it was maintained. “Four Marks” of Anabaptist: Baptism, Discipleship, the Supper, and Mutual Aid.
For this to work, believers have to be fully committed to following the Lord, and serving/supporting each other.
Since the Church is not a democracy, leaders are responsible to lead and formulate positions based on congregational discussions and Scripture.
However, the clergy/laity distinction should be discussed carefully. Laity are not less spiritual than the ordained.
The Anabaptists believed in water baptism where one confessed ones sins, the Lordship of Christ, and pledged themselves to the community. Excommunication was considered a natural part of Church discipline.
The Lord’s Supper also testifies to one’s seriousness about following Christ.
I think there is evidence in the ante-niceness fathers that both adults and infants baptized. I’m not trying to promote infant baptism, however. I’m just acknowledging the historical record.
It would be helpful for us as parents to have a conversation about how to handle the spiritual life of children before the age of accountability.
Anabaptists generally said there is no sacramental value in Communion and Anabaptists. I have some concerns about that.
I do not believe the Lord’s Supper is merely a memorial. I believe that outward things/symbols serve a purpose that connect us to God.
God is present and communicates Himself in a mysterious way and I don’t think we need to define exactly how that works.
I do struggle with the view of communion that it must only be for us. It can make it feel like believers not from our Church are not worthy to commune with us. It can be easy to lapse into a feeling of superiority.
Anabaptists perhaps thought the Church was more perfect than it actually was. With that thinking, the use of the ban (excommunication) may have been excessive. I think that’s wrong, I believe that’s unhealthy.
Desisting from sin… some of us have had sins/weaknesses that have continued for some time, perhaps years. When there is a failure to be honest, we also cannot enter into the level of holiness and maturity that we should.
What does it mean to be saved:
Catholic view, sacraments…
Protestant view, forensic justification…
Anabaptists believed, however, regeneration is a substantial reordering of the heart through faith and repentance that will lead to a changed life.
I’ve heard things said about salvation in our circles that sound very Protestant. I think our thinking is so influenced by Protestant generalizations that there is a loss of our understanding of death and resurrection with Christ.
The grace and mercy must be extended, and the Church body needs to help us into it.
I believe the Anabaptist view of salvation is more Biblical than other views, although there are ditches.
16th century Anabaptists did not focus on this interest. Most people at that time did dress modestly and the Anabaptists did not dress differently.
There was though some struggles between some Anabaptist groups, of course.
What we want to do, is to encourage deeper relationship with Christ for each person, starting with the inner life in Christ. But, everyone needs other people— it is not just me and God.
This is the tradition we have inherited. It has blessings, as well as ditches.