When it comes to the Anabaptist Faith as a religion, it’s important to understand the rich history of the denomination, the meaning of the name Anabaptist, and what led to its movement. Let’s dive in.
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What is Anabaptist, and What’s the History of their Faith?
The history of the Anabaptists originates as a Christian movement that goes back to the Radical Reformation in Europe. The Anabaptists have a dramatic narrative, including heavy persecution during the 16th and 17th centuries by Roman Catholics and Protestants. Within the religious context during this time, large numbers of Anabaptists suffered martyrdom.
Thankfully, many Anabaptists survived persecutions, and, eventually, some immigrated to North America. The largest group of Anabaptist immigrants were Mennonites, but today, there are about four million Anabaptists worldwide, including Mennonites, Amish, German Baptists, Hutterites, and many more.
What Does Anabaptist Mean?
What is Anabaptist? The name Anabaptist quite literally means “one who baptizes again” or “re-baptizer” since Anabaptists believed that the baptism of infants was inauthentic and that baptism should follow a conscious commitment to follow Jesus.
They were named this by their persecutors, and, at first, the early members of this movement did not accept the name. They believed that infant baptism was not part of scripture and that baptizing confessed believers was their first true baptism.
All in all, Anabaptist beliefs tie into the meaning of the name Anabaptist. They are Christians who believe that, instead of being baptized in infancy, Anabaptists should delay baptism until they confess their faith in Christ.
What Do Anabaptists Believe?
Some of the most important beliefs of the Anabaptist faith entail:
- Voluntary church membership: Early in history, citizens were required to be members of the established church in their area. Anabaptists' beliefs include the idea that church membership should be a personal and voluntary decision to commit to a gathering of believers and that the government should not just decide it.
- Separation of Church and State: In early history, government and religion were the same. While we may take this separation for granted today, it was quite unique for the Anabaptists to believe that government officials shouldn’t determine someone’s beliefs or where they should go to church.
- Pacifism: Anabaptists called for the way of Jesus to be placed above self and group interest. The Anabaptists interpret Jesus’ command to love one’s enemies (Matthew 5:43-45) as a literal command. In order to truly follow Jesus’ word, they need to reject the sword in responding to their enemies.
Anabaptist denominations and congregations do vary, but a commonality of the Anabaptist faith is that their beliefs do not only rely on a "me and my God'' relationship. Instead, Anabaptist beliefs are nurtured best in community with other Christians; that integrity combined with true faith will pervade and affect all human relationships. We are all human, created in the image of God, and necessary for the full expression of God's kingdom here on earth.
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Luke 6:38 (NIV)
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The Anabaptist Faith is rich in history and community. What is Anabaptist? Read More About AHow Anabaptist Health Share Plans Are In-Line with the Christian Community.