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Nearly 20 years ago I underwent a transition from dogmatic "Calvinist" to closet "Anabaptist." I explained this transition in a lengthy privately-circulated study. I hope to give it renewed circulation now that few seem to consider themselves "dogmatic" Reconstructionists. For a time it appeared that the skirmish between Anabaptists and Reconstructionists would escalate into a tremendous battle. It seems to have fizzled. It may be because the logical conclusions of the conflict were frightening to both sides. I believe those logical conclusions must be considered and adopted. I hope this paper moves both sides to a "paradigm shift."
"Anabaptist" (literally, "re-baptizer") is a label which conveys "unstable, revolutionary heretic." I now believe many if not most of those who were called "Anabaptists" were in fact more consistent to the ideals of the Protestant Reformation than the more well-known reformers (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli).
The birth of the Anabaptists in Switzerland is particularly illuminating. In Zurich, Zwingli and friends came to the conclusion that the Roman Catholic Mass and doctrine of justification were idolatrous -- an extremely weighty yet warranted charge. Those Reformers -- led in Zurich by Conrad Grebel -- who would later be called "Anabaptists" believed they (as Pastors) should stop celebrating the Mass in their churches and begin administering the sacraments in accord with Reformation theology. Zwingli and those who would be called the "magisterial reformers" hesitated. They held that the Civil Magistrate had the power and right to tell the Church which form of sacraments should be administered. They believed Reformation should wait until ordered by the State.
Between Grebel and Zwingli, who best represented the genius of the Protestant Reformation?
I concluded the "Anabaptists" did.
Both Zwingli and Grebel believed in "the doctrines of Grace." Both were Biblicists. But the Church had become a hostage of the State. Not just the Lord's Table, but Baptism had become a civil sacrament, by which one became a citizen in the Holy Roman Empire, or some other territory. It more symbolized membership in the Empire than in the Covenant Community. The Radical Reformers rejected this statist sacralism and began performing unauthorized Christian baptisms, even on those who had already been baptized. Doing so showed their allegiance to God over man, and the primacy of the Faith over politics.
The reason why America is a republic instead of a monarchy
rests largely with the Anabaptists.
The Magisterial Reformers, coveting the accreditation of the State, distanced themselves from these more zealous reformers by calling them "Anabaptists," a slander which was designed to curry favor with the State and eliminate the Radical Reformers by executing them (baptisms unauthorized by the State were crimes punishable by death). Calvin dedicated his Institutes of the Christian Religion to that great defender of liberty and the Faith, the King of France, in a calculated effort to divert persecution from the Magisterial Reformers onto the Anabaptists. It was slander rooted in statism.
Between Grebel and Calvin, who best represented the genius of the Protestant Reformation?
I concluded the "Anabaptists" did.
The "Five Points of Calvinism" would have triumphed without Calvin.
The "Federal Reserve Board" would not have.
Recent scholarship shows that the Anabaptists were the progenitors of ideas which are now widely accepted by all Reconstructionists, ideas such as a "separation of church and state" in which the State has no power to coerce churches in their internal worship, administration of sacraments, discipline, or preaching of the Word. Many Anabaptists believed that the State was obligated to enforce the laws of the Mosaic Judicials, a position today called "Theonomy," and expressly repudiated by Calvin and the Magisterial Reformers.
Liberty is the legacy of the "Anabaptists"; usury the legacy of the "Reformers."
I hope that this study will convince the reader to realign his theological loyalties, even if it means being called an "Anabaptist." In addition, I hope the reader will be willing to be called "Anarchist," "Pacifist," a defender of "Patriarchy" and "Theocracy," and of course a "Berean," one who puts the Word of God ahead of the word of man (Acts 17:11)
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