Thursday, 13 December 2012

Who are the Amish? Part 6

Michael Sattler and the Schleitheim Confession

Michael Sattler was probably the leading Anabaptist after the deaths of Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz. However, his leadership was short-lived, as he was martyred a few months after Manz. His influence however continued long after his death, as he was responsible for drawing up the Schleitheim Confession, setting out the basic tenets of Anabaptism.
He was born in Stauffen, in Germany in about 1490; the exact date is unknown. He probably became prior at the Benedictine Monastery of St Peter’s near Freiberg. He became dissatisfied with the way the monks lived their lives and left the monastery in the early 1520s. Already he was having theological differences with the established church. Shortly after he left the monastery, he married a former nun, named Margaretha. In 1525, he arrived in Zurich where he joined the Anabaptists. He was however expelled from the city on 18th November that same year, following the third disputation.

In 1527, he and a group of other Anabaptists met at Schleitheim to discuss the basic beliefs of Anabaptism. The result of that meeting was the first draft of the Schleitheim Articles. It was considered that Michael Sattler was the actual author, though the discussion obviously contributed to the consensus. This was not a complete Confession of faith, but a series of articles, seven in number, setting out the beliefs that the Anabaptist church needed to clarify:
  1. Baptism
  2. The ban
  3. The breaking of bread, or communion
  4. Separation from the world
  5. The role of ministers/pastors
  6. The use of the sword
  7. The swearing of oaths
In the late summer of 1527, Luther published a refutation of these seven articles, in a treatise called “Refutation of Anabaptist Tricks”.

The Articles were completed and published in April 1527. In April 1527, Sattler and his wife were arrested, tried and convicted of heresy. They were sentenced to torture and death:
As a result of his conviction, on May 20, 1527, Sattler was taken to the town marketplace in Rottenburg and tortured. A piece was cut from his tongue, although not enough to keep him from speaking, and glowing tongs ripped pieces from his flesh. At the marketplace he prayed for his persecutors. He was then taken outside the city and tied to a ladder and a sack of gunpowder was tied around his neck. He prayed, "Almighty, eternal God, thou art the way and the truth; because I have not been shown to be in error, I will with thy help on this day testify to the truth and seel it with my blood." He was then pushed into a large fire. As the ropes around his hands were burned away, Sattler gave a signal to his group to show them he was confident about his fate and prayed, "Father, I commend my spirit into thy hands." Two days after his execution, Margaretha Sattler was executed by drowning, often called "the third baptism" by authorities.”  [[]

His trial was recorded for posterity and can be read here
The Schleitheim Confession remained in use until it was absorbed into the Dordrecht Confession in 1632. The full text of the seven articles, also called the ‘Brotherly Agreement’ can be found here

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