Where in Church History?

I am writing some papers for my church history class about different ecclesiastical movements. It got me to wondering which part or which movement I would like to play a role in if I was able to live in a different time. Only two really stick out to me. The first is the early Christian movement with the apostles and first disciples of Jesus. The Second is the beginning of the Anabaptist movement.

The Anabaptists held that Christians should practice love and charity to all, only baptize believing adults, keep the church and the state separate, and should abstain from military and government service. Sounds a lot like that fledgling movement in the first century.

One more thing that intrigues me, although I will admit isn’t quite as alluring, is the way the Anabaptists endured all kinds of torture that came from every direction. One of the most cruel, at least for the sake of its irony, in light of the fact that Anabaptist means re-baptizers, was that both the Magisterial Reformers and the Catholics drowned these radical reformers and called it their third baptism.

This picture shows one of my favorite stories from the Anabaptist movement that beautifully depicts the way Christians should love even their worst of enemies.

No story of an Anabaptist martyr has captured the imagination more than the tale of Dirk Willems.
Dirk was caught, tried and convicted as an Anabaptist in those later years of harsh Spanish rule under the Duke of Alva in The Netherlands. He escaped from a residential palace turned into a prison by letting himself out of a window with a rope made of knotted rags, dropping onto the ice that covered the castle moat.

Seeing him escape, a palace guard pursued him as he fled. Dirk crossed the thin ice of a pond, the “Hondegat,” safely. His own weight had been reduced by short prison rations, but the heavier pursuer broke through.

Hearing the guard’s cries for help, Dirk turned back and rescued him. The less-than-grateful guard then seized Dirk and led him back to captivity. This time the authorities threw him into a more secure prison, a small, heavily barred room at the top of a very tall church tower, above the bell, where he was probably locked into the wooden leg stocks that remain in place today. Soon he was led out to be burned to death.

Some inhabitants of present-day Asperen, none of them Mennonite, regard Dirk as a folk hero. A Christian, so compassionate that he risked recapture in order to save the life of his drowning pursuer, stimulates respect and memory.

Both the picture and this version of the story came from Here.

So where would you like to be in church history if you could live in a different time? Which one of these movements can teach us the most about where we are in our time?

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7 Comments on “Where in Church History?”

  1. calelivingston Says:

    Man, I think it must have been God’s providence for me to be born into an Anabaptist family/church body. It’s completely amazing to me that I would grow up, originally not knowing the Anabaptist history, and find out that it’s exactly what I have come to believe on my own. I guess there will is nothing new under the sun! Anyway, it’s cool to know that there’s others out there that are on the same page of belief as me.

  2. rogueminister Says:

    Indeed. Isnt the Anabaptist history so moving and fascinating. I grew up in a fellowship that had its origins in a similar movement, but has lost sight of that vision. I am currently doing some research about how the American Restoration Movement and the Anabaptist Movement resemble each other a great deal.

    It is certainly encouraging to know that others are thinking about the same things.

    • Taylor Francis Says:

      I am currently an MDiv student and am considering a thesis on the similarities between the churches of Christ (or the Restoration Movement in general) and the early Anabaptists. I’d love to visit with you about this… please write me…
      Taylor

  3. Marco Funk Says:

    I’m an Anabaptist pastor in a rural Canadian town. I was born and raised in this faith and I love it dearly. I long for a day when Christians everywhere will enjoy much closer fellowship than we now do. In regards to your question, I would love to have been born fifty years ago so I could have studied under one of my favorite authors (John H. Yoder).

    • rogueminister Says:

      Brother, thanks so much for sharing. I too long for a day when Christians can come together in the name of Jesus to love and be loved. I am also a big fan of Yoder. One of my favorite profs from undergrad was in Yoder’s last group of Ph.D. students so I got to study vicariously through him. If you like Yoder, you would probably like his work too. He, Lee Camp, has one book out currently called Mere Discipleship which is excellent. Thanks again for stopping by.

    • rogueminister Says:

      I also noticed that you have my buddy Tripp York on your reading list. Good stuff!


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