Monday, 3 December 2012

Who are the Amish? Part3


 
Zurich today


Three Valiant Men

Conrad Grebel, George Blaurock and Felix Manz are three names frequently found together in Anabaptist histories. These three men were part of the group who opposed Zwingli at the second disputation and said he was not moving the reformation forward either fast enough or far enough. They objected to him leaving matters of church practice for the Zurich city council to decide. Of these, Conrad Grebel is the one considered to be the ‘father of the Anabaptists’.
Conrad Grebel
(click on the name for a full biography)
Grebel had joined a group in order to study the Scriptures with Huldrych Zwingli. They studied the Bible in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. It was at this study group that Grebel met Felix Manz and they became firm friends.

Because Zwingli was not willing to make changes that were not agreed by the city council, around fifteen of the men in the study group met together separately from Zwingli, for prayer and Bible study of their own. They wanted the do away with the mass entirely, restore a New Testament church and baptise consenting, believing adults rather than infants. They believed in the separation of church and state, saying that the state should not be dictating to the church how to behave or what to believe.
On January 18th 1525, the city council issued a decree

“...exiling those who refused to baptise their infants. On January 21sr, the council published a mandate restraining Grebel and Manz from holding further Bible study meetings” [http://www.reformedreader.org/history/anabaptiststory.htm]
On the same day, the group of fifteen men met at the home of Felix Manz. According to the new decree, this meeting was now illegal. The men met to pray and seek counsel from God’s word. Grebel had a baby daughter, Isabella, who he had no intention of presenting for baptism. Together, the men pledged to uphold the standard of the Scriptures and to live as disciples of Christ, no matter what it cost them.

Felix Manz
(click on the name for a full biography)
Manz was one of those who were minded not only to reform the church, but recreate it in the image of the New Testament church. Wanting to fellowship with other likeminded people, he followed Zwingli, where he met Conrad Grebel. However, Zwingli’s reforms did not go far enough. He and several others grouped together to try to press for more radical reforms. He began to publish some of the writings of another reformer, Karlstadt, in Zurich in 1524.

The issue of infant baptism and a territorial church was a thorny problem. Zwingli had been ordered by the Zurich city council to meet weekly with those who opposed infant baptism ‘until the matter was resolved’. After two meetings, it became clear there was little or no common ground and Zwingli called a halt t the meetings. The council called a meeting for 17th January 1525 where they decided in favour of Zwingli and the retention of infant baptism.
Like Grebel and the other men who had been meeting privately, Manz did not accept the decision. He too met with the others on 21st January for prayer. Determined to follow Christ no matter what it cost him, for the next two years he carried out his decision and finally paid the ultimate price:

At 3pm on January 5th 1527, he was taken bound from his last imprisonment to be drowned in the cold waters of the river Limmat, which flows through the heart of the city of Zurich. He could hear the supportive and encouraging voices of his mother and his brother who stood nearby on the shore. His last words were ‘Into Thy hands, O God, I commend my spirit[http://www.anabaptists.org/history/manz.html]
His hands were tied together; he was forced to sit with his knees bent as his persecutors pressed his arms over his legs and a stick through the knees to prevent him getting free. As they threw him into the cold waters to drown (something they sneeringly called ‘the third baptism’) they shouted ‘If it’s water you want, then you shall have it.’

Felix Manz was the first Anabaptist to die at the hands of the persecutors.
The third man was

George Blaurock
(click on the name for a full biography)
After the fifteen men had spent some time in prayer together at the home of Felix Manz, George Blaurock stood and requested Conrad Grebel to baptise him on confession of faith and in the full knowledge of what this might mean. Grebel asked the others present if anyone objected to him carrying out Blaurock’s wish. No-one did and so Blaurock knelt on the floor as Grebel baptised him, by pouring water over him in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It was this act of baptising Blaurock that earned Grebel the title of ‘father of the Anabaptists’. [http://cat.xula.edu/tpr/people/grebel/]. He was also dubbed by Zwingli, the ‘ringleader’ of the revolt against the Zwinglian doctrines.
After Blaurock had been baptised, he then baptised all the others at the meeting. These were the first baptisms were carried out on those who, on professing faith, rejected their infant baptism and sought believers’ baptism.

On 21st January 1525 therefore, Anabaptism was born.


A few days later, January 21, 1525, a dozen or so men slowly trudged through the snow. Quietly but resolutely, singly or in pairs, they came by night to the home of Felix Manz, near the Grossm√ľnster. The chill of the winter wind blowing off the lake did not match the chill of disappointment that gripped the little band that fateful night.

The dramatic events of the unforgettable gathering have been preserved in The Large Chronicle of the Hutterian Brethren. The account bears the earmarks of an eyewitness, who was probably George Blaurock, a priest who had recently come to Zurich from Chur.

And it came to pass that they were together until anxiety came upon them, yes, they were so pressed in their hearts. Thereupon they began to bow their knees to the Most High God in heaven and called upon him as the Informer of Hearts, and they prayed that he would give to them his divine will and that he would show his mercy unto them. For flesh and blood and human forwardness did not drive them, since they well knew what they would have to suffer on account of it.

After the prayer, George of the House of Jacob stood up and besought Conrad Grebel for God's sake to baptize him with the true Christian baptism upon his faith and knowledge. And when he knelt down with such a request and desire, Conrad baptized him, since at that time there was no ordained minister to perform such work.

After his baptism at the hands of Grebel, Blaurock proceeded to baptize all the others present. The newly baptized then pledged themselves as true disciples of Christ to live lives separated from the world and to teach the gospel and hold the faith.

Anabaptism was born, With this first baptism, the earliest church of the Swiss Brethren was constituted. This was clearly the most revolutionary act of the Reformation. No other event so completely symbolized the break with Rome. Here, for the first time in the course of the Reformation, a group of Christians dared to form a church after what was conceived to be the New Testament pattern. The Brethren emphasized the absolute necessity of a personal commitment to Christ as essential to salvation and a prerequisite to baptism.”

 

 

 

 

 

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