In the early 1500’s, surviving as bands of outlaws in Switzerland, Moravia and the Netherlands, the Anabaptist groups had little opportunity to coordinate their evangelistic efforts or to give united expression to their beliefs. On one important occasion, however, in 1527 they did attempt to agree upon a common basis of fellowship at Schleitheim on today’s Swiss-German border, near Schaffhausen. There the Anabaptists met in the first "synod" of the Protestant Reformation. The "Brotherly Union" adopted at Schleithein proved to be a highly significant document. We call it the Schleitheim Confession. During the next decade, most Anabaptists in all parts of Europe came to agree with the beliefs it laid down.
First among these convictions was what the Anabaptists called "discipleship". The Christian’s relationship with Jesus Christ must go beyond inner experience and acceptance of doctrines. It must involve a daily walk with God, in which Christ’s teaching and example shape a transformed style of life.
A second Anabaptist principle, the principle of love, grew logically out of the first. They would neither go to war, defend themselves against their persecutors, nor take part in coercion by the state. They also expressed this love ethic in their communities by mutual aid and redistribution of wealth.
The third Anabaptist principle is what we have come to call the "congregational" view of church authority, toward which Luther and Zwingli inclined in their earliest reforming years. All members were to be believers baptized voluntarily upon confession of personal faith in Christ. Each believer was both a priest to his fellow believers and a missionary to unbelievers. Decision making rested with the entire body.
A fourth major conviction was the insistence upon the separation of church and state. The church is distinct from society, even if society claims to be Christian.
[tags]Anabaptists, BlogRodent, church-history, ChurchRodent, history, Jesus, Reformation, Schleitheim-Confession[/tags]