Historic Anabaptism and the Orthodox God: Follow Up

Found an interesting comment today that encapsulates the heart of the Anabaptist position regarding orthodoxy.  The Dutch Mennonite elder Tieleman Jansz van Braght (1625-1664) in his work the Martyrs Mirror: The Story of Seventeen Centuries of Christian Martyrdom From the Time of Christ to A.D. 1660 during the course of his analysis of the Council of Nicea he presented the epitome of the Anabaptist’s position on the historic orthodox creed.

This is the great Council which is extolled as orthodox and Christian by nearly all so-called Christians. Be this as it may, we see no reason to praise it so highly, seeing that we must honor the precepts of God’s holy Word alone, whereas the rules of that council were made by fallible men. Yet, so far as these men have laid down precepts that accord with the precepts of God’s holy Word, or, at least, do not militate against them, so far we accept, or, at least, do not oppose them.[1]

Scripture was the Anabaptist’s standard for determining those in the Body of Christ. Scripture was the means for defining the nature of God. The Christological narrative that they found in scripture was the foundations for their principal teachings and praxis. The above principal would apply across the board to include Niceno–Constantinopolitan, Chalcedon and Athanasian or any other historic ecumenical statement of belief that originated leading to or during the “Constantinian shift” or “reversal”.




[1] Thieleman J. van Braght, Martyrs Mirror (Scottdale, PA and Waterloo: Herald Press, n.d.), 156, accessed June 30, 2014, http://www.homecomers.org/mirror/martyrs019.htm.


8 thoughts on “Historic Anabaptism and the Orthodox God: Follow Up

  1. Correct, Scripture is their standard… which is why Thieleman AGREED with the Nicean creed… note in the quote you gave it says, “laid down precepts that accord [agree] with the precepts of God’s Holy Word”. The point of the quote was not to diminish the truths in the creed but to diminish the men and the council that put forward the creed. This is the Anabaptist movement, really, to move the focus away from the institutions and towards the truth but NOT to discard those creeds and statements that such institutions came up with if they are found to be truthful.

    So, any criticism originating from this quote to say, “We shouldn’t recite the ancient creeds or subscribe to the teachings they represent” is a misrepresentation of the people who died for those self-same beliefs as documented in that very book, The Martyr’s Mirror.

  2. Robert

    Even if he saw it is as truth from his perspective it was just truth to him. He also said “we see no reason to praise it so highly” and he said “the rules of that council were made by fallible men”. This is in contrast to the fact that “we must honor the precepts of God’s holy Word alone”. So as I mentioned in the end it is God’s word that is the standard. Those councils is subjective at best because notice he said “so far we accept”, thus indicating that particular group at that particular point accepted it but that does not mean that some later generation would not feel differently.

    I do not care how you frame it historic Anabaptism was not about orthodoxy, it was about “trust”, “obedience” and “love”. And according to Anabaptist scholars the identifiers of historic Anabaptism was that they baptized adults. Even when you touch on teachings, orthodoxy was not even on the list of what they frequently taught.

    Neo-anabaptism can be defined in any contemporary Protestant fashion that people like but they cannot change what history demonstrates regarding its original form.

    • The “it” the quote refers to is not the creed… but the council… and while he notes the fallibility of men, he does, as I pointed out, praise the truth of the creed.

      Sorry, AO… but total rejection of church tradition is NOT Anabaptism… take it from an Anabaptist who was born and raised in the tradition, a tradition that was NOT influenced by the “fads” of the 90’s and early naughts… sorry, dude… but in this case, I think you’ve taken it too far.

  3. Robert

    Was those men on the council inspired of God by the Spirit?

    And why are you basing your complete argument on this quote when I wrote more and provided more documentation in the previous article? It is best to take the two articles together and if that is not enough I can point to other scholarship on the matter. And your form of Anabaptism is not the one I study or deal with, if it is beyond the 16th-17th century I do not study it. So there is no point in arguing with you regarding your contemporary brand when that is not the focus.

    • Yes, those men on the council were inspired by the Spirit… I do not know evidence to the contrary.

      And I did read your previous article… and I disagree with it, also, pretty much wholesale… there is nothing that sys that 16th-17th century Anabaptists did not believe the same as the ancient creeds… they simply did not use the creedal forms… AND… for that matter, as has been pointed out to you MANY times, there IS no monolithic group called “Anabaptists” in the 16th-17th centuries… there were MANY people who were given that name by their opponents and so anything in that time period that references a person or persons as Anabaptist, especially if the reference is from OUTSIDE of the community, must be suspect…

      As for your insult about my “contemporary brand”… you know, dude… you are really pushing it here… tell me, do you have an ancestor who was imprisoned in Switzerland in the 17th century for being an Anabaptist? Do your ancestors have, as their history, fleeing persecution in Europe as Anabaptists? Can you trace your family history and the history of all the congregations you attended as a child to the 17th century European Anabaptists? I don’t think so… “Contemporary”? I don’t think so, man… watch your step, you are on thin ice in those accusations.

      • Okay I am done here with the Nicea council being inspired of God answer.

        And Robert don’t get mad at me get mad at your fellow Mennonite scholars. They are the ones that make a distinction.

        Also save your threats, if you get mad at me for what yout own group and history testifies to then maybe we do not need to associate.

      • Not sure what “distinction” you are making… any Mennonite scholar I associate with has no problems with the orthodoxy of the Nicean council… if the scriptures back it up, who cares the source?

        I’m not mad about the history, I’m mad… furious in fact… at your implication that, somehow, I’m not a “good” Anabaptist… your purist, fundamentalist Anabaptism is in no way in keeping with the rich tradition from which I came… yes, there were such biblicists back then… look at Munster and the Peasant’s Revolt…. but the thing is, they grew, they changed, they were inspired and corrected… 500 years is a LOOONG time and, in the light of 500 years of history, we can look back and say what was good… and what wasn’t. Your implication that, somehow, I don’t know what it means to be an Anabaptist is an insult not just to me, but to an entire generation of my family who fled death, torture, and imprisonment for daring to follow Jesus outside of the boundaries of the state church. THIS is what has me angry, your judgmentalism and elitism that, somehow, because you study 16th century Anabaptists, you have it right. Spare me your lofty stance, dude… you have no clue.

        And there are no threats… just a warning that you approaching areas where there are a LOT of people who are going to get REALLY up in your face… myself included… if you don’t back off and consider that, yes, there are WONDERFULLY spiritual ANABAPTIST Christians who don’t subscribe to your purist ideals.

  4. Note, these are my opinions… not anyone elses, not from any group… all me, dude… And, I’m even handed… I disagree with you VEHEMENTLY and I’m insulted by your implications about my history… but, please note, your article here IS on schedule to be posted to MennoNerds.com tomorrow at 7 PM…. the “prime time” slot… So, none of your thinly veiled accusations of folks out to “get” you, either.

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