Anabaptist Q&A

Rich and Maureen answer questions people asked over the course of their series on Anabaptism.

 

Video transcript:

RICHARD
This is the video where we answer questions folks asked over the course of the Anabaptism series. At the beginning I want to correct a statistic I gave in the video What Makes Anabaptists Different. I said there are about 4 million Anabaptists in the world today. A viewer sent me a different statistic from the Mennonite World Conference that says it’s more like 2.1 million.

MAUREEN
So you were just a couple million off?

RICHARD
Yeah no biggie. Well, let’s get to the questions. First one: “When will there be a video on core doctrines on the nature of God and the definition of Salvation?” Sorry to say there’s probably not going to be a video on those topics. Talking about the nature of God seems pretty presumptuous to me and as to who’s going to be saved … well that’s God’s call and not ours. This probably answers one of the other questions, “Do you think the pope or Roman Catholics are saved?” All I can say is I really hope everyone is saved.

MAUREEN
Agreed. I like to focus on the parts of the Bible that I do understand. There’s plenty to keep you busy for a lifetime there. Next question “Thank you Rich and Maureen for this vid. I did not know you are Anabaptists just like me. Could you tell more about your connection to the Hutterites?”

How long do you have? Real quick: the founders of the Bruderhof were extremely inspired by the writings of the Anabaptists of the Radical Reformation and the Hutterites in particular. When they found out they were still living in community in the USA, they visited them and united with them. Differences arose over time mostly in regards to whether community life together should be based on inherited tradition or should be open to new expressions and ways of doing things.

RICHARD
Traditions are wonderful until they become stifling and restrictive. Next question “Hello, I have a question about your statement at 4:51 claiming that Anabaptists had no part in persecutions. How would you explain the Munster rebellion of 1534? There is a popular podcast on the subject by Hardcore History (Episode 48 - Prophets of Doom) that specifically mentions Anabaptists as having been the instigators. Being Anabaptist myself, I understand that there were many different groups during that period claiming to be Anabaptist and not all of them adopted the entire confession. However, my understanding is that this happening significantly dampened the acceptance of Anabaptism throughout Europe for hundreds of years afterwards.” Ah yes the Munsterites. It’s true they gave Anabaptism a very bad name but I would say they were an aberration and not representative of true Anabaptism. It’s true that radical so–called Anabaptists tried to establish community of goods in the city of Munster between 1532 and 1535. They claimed to be Anabaptists because they baptized adults. However, they lost the plot by taking up arms (nonviolence is a key tenet of Anabaptism) and promoting polygamy (also a total non-starter). Great question and we should have mentioned the Munster rebellion.

MAUREEN
Question: “Aren't the Quakers (Friends Church) Anabaptists too?” The Society of Friends or Quakers were founded over 100 years after the Radical Reformation by George Fox in England. Many of their beliefs are similar to Anabaptism (non-resistance, simplicity, refusing to take oaths, rejection of institutional Christianity) but it doesn’t appear that they were influenced by earlier Anabaptists.

RICHARD
“Thank you for producing this series. I'm finding it to be quite interesting. Most of the Anabaptists I know (Mennonites) prefer to give some sort of deference to the Bible when making decisions of lifestyle and ethics. I hear the Bruderhof speak of the need to hear from God's Spirit, but I don't hear as much about the Bible (Besides Acts 2 and 4). Could you address the role of the Bible in Bruderhof life and thought? Thank you!” The Bible is central to our life together and decision making. It’s read daily both individually and in worship meetings and we believe that we can be led to understand the Bible through God’s grace and the working of the Holy Spirit.

MAUREEN
“Can I ask about your position on oath swearing? When you first mentioned it, I presumed you meant cursing and that the position on not becoming a judge or juror is based on not passing judgement. Is the act of oath swearing itself also seen as wrong? If so, then what's the foundations for this and how does this impact on other legalities (e.g. marriage or community land purchase)” In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says “Do not swear at all … let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’, ‘no’. So we don’t take oaths. Fortunately, we’re not the only ones who take this position so in the case of the legal matters like the one you mentioned there’s the option of affirming rather than swearing.

RICHARD
“I was wondering. Why is it that Anabaptists were persecuted so viciously, given that they embraced Jesus and were therefore on the same side as the persecutors? Jews didn’t embrace Jesus, so I understand (ahem) why we were persecuted; I get why Protestants and Catholics didn’t get along; why did Protestants mistreat other Protestants? Was it for being insufficiently Protestant-y?” Tough question. I believe it’s because they were seen as a threat to the status quo. People in power tend to want to stay in power and the type of society Anabaptists envisioned would have decreased their power substantially. Maybe that’s simplistic but I think that’s actually the root of most conflict. That’s why Jesus is so revolutionary. Whoever wants to be great should be a servant. The last shall be first. And so on.

MAUREEN
Thanks to everyone for the great questions. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to our channel and check out our website at bruderhof.com. See you next time.