I was sitting here thinking and in my preceding blog post, I essentially cut myself off as well from using the Anabaptist and Neo-Anabaptist designations (if my words are valid in any fashion). Therefore, I am from this point on coining an already coined name (I have a Facebook group that utilizes this name) to use to communicate my theology and praxis. I shall forever be known as a:
What is a Radix-Anabaptist?
First let us look the name, the prefix radix in the classification Radix-Anabaptism is the Latin term for “root” and we also get the English word “radical” which is radicalis meaning “of or having roots”. Both of these terms are linked to Anabaptism. The era and movement as it relates to them is known as the Radical Reformation. The Anabaptists is also known by the moniker Radical Reformers. Stephen J. Nichols testifies in The Reformation How a Monk and Mallet Changed the World, “Our instinct is to see it as meaning extreme, and indeed some in this broad movement were extreme. But the word radical is from the Latin word radix, meaning “root.” These Radical Reformers differed from the Magisterial Reformers, such as Luther and Zwingli and others. The Radical Reformers thought their counterparts had failed to get at the root of the problem in their reforms of Roman Catholicism” (56-7). Conversely, Stephen J. Nichols gets to the important aspect in The Reformation: A Brief History where he writes, “The term “radical,” derived from the Latin term for “root” (radix), also describes the Anabaptists’ desire to return to the “roots” of Christian society” or a return to the doctrines and practices of the first-century Ekklesia (131).
The meaning of Anabaptist or Anabaptism should be familiar with the reader so there is no point in addressing that at this time. Nevertheless, in light of this a Radix-Anabaptist is someone that is not concerned with acquiring a few choice doctrines and adding it to the Protestant Evangelical paradigm. They are interested in going to the root or source of Anabaptism namely those that begun the movement during the 16th century Reformation.
A Radix-Anabaptist is someone that esteems the beliefs and praxis of the 16th century Anabaptists to the degree that they will apply their doctrinal formation as a grid in which to set the parameters of one’s own as long as they coincide with scriptural testimony. This does not mean rigidly sticking to what the originals taught; one can be selective and nuance certain areas. Take for instance I am an Open Theist, which in the opinion of Dr. Roger E. Olson it is a form of Arminianism. From all that I have read on Anabaptistica they were Arminians and they held to libertarian free will. I have a nuanced belief but I am still within the context of Anabaptist thought. That does not necessitate that someone has to be an Open Theist it just means that a person has the room to work within soteriological models that harmonize with Arminianism.
An additional instance is Ecclesiology; it is well known that the Anabaptists held conventicles, viz. they met in small inconspicuous groups for worship, study and fellowship. While these assemblies were illegitimate in the eyes of the religious and civil authorities at the time, regardless of the cause, this allows a Radix-Anabaptist to pursue various forms of house or organic ecclesiastical expressions.
The demurral may arise addressing how many feel that there were no early Anabaptists set doctrines or practices in which to follow. I would have to dispute this notion. When you look at any survey of Anabaptist doctrine touching on each branch throughout Europe during the 16th century, there are core themes or distinctives that arise frequently. Yes, some may have added things here in there as they evolved into the initial Mennonites (among other groups) and became more settled in the land and began their de-evolution towards Protestant Evangelicalism.
Some works written by historians and scholars affirm the above and erect a framework of the entirety of Reformation era Anabaptist thought. They are:
- From Anabaptist Seed: Exploring the historical center of Anabaptist teachings and practices by C. Arnold Snyder
- Anabaptism in Outline: Selected Primary Sources (Classics of the Radical Reformation) by Walter Klaassen
- Early Anabaptist Spirituality: Selected Writings (Classics of Western Spirituality) by Daniel Liechty
- The Theology of Anabaptism by Robert Friedmann
- Anabaptism: Neither Catholic Nor Protestant by Walter Klaassen
- The Anabaptist Story by William R. Estep
- The Anabaptist Vision by Harold S. Bender
- Becoming Anabaptist: The Origin and Significance of Sixteenth-Century Anabaptism by J. Denny Weaver
Others could be included in this list but these should suffice for delineation purposes.
I am glad I gave some thought to this concern because it has firmly established the direction of my studies and writings from this point going forward.