Just recently, someone posted an article that seems to have received the accolades of many but in all honesty, there are a number of things that are inaccurate. The goal of this blog post is not to address every point made but instead to inform readers (I may address some of the significant topics mentioned individually in later blog posts). The author (Hannah Heinzekehr) of the blog post approaches the issues with far too many presuppositions. The first being that ‘change’ in this instance is a good thing. Well change is not always a positive thing especially when change alters the distinctives that a movement initially had which is the case here.
In addition, the author seems to find a direct correlation between Mennonites and Anabaptism proper. I would have to contend with this argument for the following reasons. The Anabaptist movement never had originally any notion of defining itself through uterine kinship. Nor whether one can trace their surname to a certain period in history it is also not defined by a certain type of dress or food that is prepared and eaten yet these are things that many associate with Mennonites in some fashion.
When one goes back to the initial formation of the movement, they will see something very different from what is present in the majority of Mennonite churches and especially what is labeled as of late Neo-Anabaptism. This is not surprising when you have a movement that was fundamentally destroyed within the span of a few generations following its initiation. Yes, there were people that went by anyone of the names that we associated with Anabaptistica at that juncture but they had lost their zeal and tenacity that was intrinsic to those that came before. A generations in Anabaptist terms was relatively short, one source estimated that the life expectancy of the average Anabaptist was confined within the span of a few years. There was never any intent for there to be a denomination among many, as far the Anabaptists was concerned they were the visible manifestation of the Body of Christ on the earth.
One of the arguments articulated is that “there was no one clear-cut and monolithic Anabaptist movement, even in the 16th century.” I would have to say that this is accurate to a degree; there is more to the story than this. Yes, it has become very popular to adhere to a polygenetic origin for the Anabaptists especially for those that desire to propagate ‘progressive’ or ecumenical designs under the Anabaptist banner. Yet, the truth of the matter is there are no concrete connections between the Swiss and German/Austrian Anabaptists but “there are striking similarities in doctrine and practice. The similarities suggest for more contact and communication between Swiss and South German Anabaptists then the documentation prove.” Yes, some of these assemblies may very well have sprung up through the influence of the writings authored by the Magisterial Reformers and others that was active during that period in history but at some point, we see a convergence of thought.
No one while deny that the initial appearance of what has become known as Anabaptism began with the small group in Zollikon and St. Gallen that went by the designation “Brothers in Christ”, it was not until later they became known as the “Swiss Brethren”. Their evangelistic activities triggered the conjunction of thought amongst the scattered groups (Matt. 28:19-20). The work Profiles of Anabaptist Women: Sixteenth-Century Reforming Pioneers corroborates this fact. There in fact “was a common core of theological beliefs and church practices that bound together all Anabaptists as sisters and brothers of a related movement.” Even though they were regional divergences and various aspects received greater emphasis depending on the group these teachings could be traced back to the Swiss Brethren. Even though these companies went by different designations, they genuinely had a desire for unity to acquire that monolithic harmony that the ekklesia is depicted as existing in scripture (Cf. Rom. 15:5-6).
The author of the blog did not take into account historic events such as the Martyrs’ Synod. In Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany the hub of Anabaptist, activity during the 16th century on August 20, 1527 a conference was held hosting some 60 delegates from the various Anabaptist sets. This was done in an effort to put their dissimilarities aside (which was relatively small in light of how much they held in common) in order to engage in a united evangelism campaign within and outside of their native lands. Sadly the majority if not all who attended was captured shortly and put to death thus the name we have at present. There were many other attempts at achieving accord but they were generally unsuccessful by the certain celebrity personality lack of compromise at the summits.
Even the Mennonites are guilty of this outside of the conferences towards the end of the 16th century some elders started to ‘ban’ whole groups for believing differently.
…Mennonite elders…had much more authority, say than Swiss Brethren leaders. This was expressed especially in their power of pronouncing the ban, which called for the shunning of the excluded, even one’s own children, parents or spouse. The aspiration for congregations “without spot or wrinkle” unfortunately soon led zealous Mennonite elders to ban one another. This was more the fault of Menno’s fellow elders Leonard Bowens and Dirk Philips than of Menno himself, but he did not effectively stand in their way. Not only did the Mennonites ban the Swiss Brethren congregations of the south with which they had much in common, they soon began to splinter internally.
Now this practice began earlier on in the history of the movement, this point segues neatly into the next regarding the various confessions of faith. Two differing groups that fall under the umbrella category of Anabaptism devised the Dordrecht Confession of Faith and the Schleitheim Articles or Confession. A Dutch Mennonite Conference held at Dordrecht, Holland, embraced the Dordrecht Confession on April 21, 1632. Whereas the Schleitheim Articles was adopted by, the Swiss Brethren at a conference held on February 24, 1527 in Schleitheim Switzerland. Two different bodies whose views and goals differed, the Swiss more radical (radix), and the Mennists or Mennonites more settled in the land. There was over a hundred years of time between the two groups so one can hardly see this as an evolution of thought.
The ironic thing is the author also mentions the Münster Rebellion, but the Mennonites have more in common with the fringe Münsterites than the Swiss Brethren among other groups do. Upon examination one will discover that Menno Simons the one in which the Mennonites took their name was initially “a Melchiorite, that is, a follower of Melchior Hoffman, and that he called the Münster Anabaptists “brothers” but broke decisively with them over the use of force to bring in the kingdom of God.” The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology adds after “the fall of Münster, Menno rallied the peaceful Melchiorites as well as the surviving Münsterites disillusioned with violence. Menno replaced Hofmann’s near end time with the idea of a time of peace that had already begun with Jesus.” Simons also demonstrated his attachment with Hofmann by accepting and propagating “the aberrant “celestial flesh” Christology”.
More can be touched on but this should suffice. 16th century Anabaptists was hardly “just a crew of people gathering together, and discerning what scripture had to say to them in light of their current cultural context and the gathered community of voices who were represented”. They were one of the great manifestations of first century Christianity to date. It is not fair to judge those men and women that sacrificed all and even underwent martyrdom in obedience to their Lord in such a manner. They were far from lost infants groping in the dark in an attempt to become ‘enlightened’ with all our impressive contemporary knowledge of what it means to be a Christian. Their precious lives should not be reduced to a talking point for privileged individuals to forward their agendas. If anything we should learn from them and follow their example as they had faithfully followed Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).
 C. Arnold Snyder, Following in the Footsteps of Christ: The Anabaptist Tradition (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2004), 20.
 C. Arnold Snyder and Linda A. Huebert Hecht, Profiles of Anabaptist Women: Sixteenth-Century Reforming Pioneers (Waterloo, Ont: Published for the Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion by Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1996), 4.
For a complete list, see my previous post entitled Core Beliefs and Practices of the 16th Century Anabaptists. https://radixthinking.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/core-beliefs-and-practices-of-the-16th-century-anabaptists/
 Thomas A. Brady, Handbook of European History, 1400-1600: Late Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformations: Visions, Programs and Outcomes, Edition ed. (Leiden: Brill Academic Pub, 1995), 2:273.
 Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic [u.a.], 2001), 56.