Founding Beliefs

Grossmunster (8 Kb): "16th Century Anabaptism," slide 5
Grossmunster, the Main Church in Zurich

From the very beginning, Anabaptists have insisted on having different beliefs from those around them. In the 16th century this got them into considerable trouble, and they were persecuted for their convictions. From then on, the Anabaptists' (and their Mennonite descendants') religious beliefs have been a major reason why they have migrated from place to place.

"Whosoever boasts that he is a Christian, the same must walk as Christ walked."

Menno Simons (1539) in Klaassen, p. 99.

Anabaptists did not only experience differences with those outside their church, however. Mennonites and their Anabaptist predecessors have never all thought or believed exactly the same things. The Roman Catholic church had the Pope, the Lutherans had Martin Luther, and the Calvinists had John Calvin. These people provided the main arguments and beliefs for people within their movements. Unlike these groups, the Anabaptists did not have a central authority. As a result, there have also been plenty of internal divisions between Anabaptist groups based on strong convictions of what should or should not be done, allowed, etc.

Martin Luther (21 Kb): "16th Century Anabaptism," slide 2
Martin Luther after posting his 95 Theses

Although our main focus is on Mennonites, early Anabaptist views cannot be understood without noting the "issues of the day" which surrounded them. The section entitled "Luther's Beliefs" provides some helpful background by briefly summarizing the main questions Martin Luther raised to begin the Reformation. The other topics discuss some of the beliefs which distinguished Anabaptists from other religious groups during the Reformation.

Created 1998 by Derek Suderman