By admin | October 14, 2008
Submitted by Prof. Renihan
The www.baptisttheology.org website has done us all a favor by placing three lectures by Dr. Abraham Friesen, retired history professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, on the topic of the anabaptists and the reformers on their website. These are a valuable addition to our knowledge base.
In the second lecture, Dr. Friesen makes a very important point. Many have probably heard of the first Anabaptist Confession, the Schleitheim Confession of 1527. It is brief, and only mentions seven matters: Baptism, the Ban, Breaking of Bread, Separation, Pastors, the Sword, and the Oath. Apart from these seven topics, nothing else is addressed. This is, at first glance, very unusual for a Confession of Faith. There is no mention of the doctrine of God, of the Trinity, of the person and work of Christ, of soteriology etc. One wonders why these things are absent.
Dr. Friesen points out that the reason for this is quite simple. These men agreed with the magisterial reformers on the unmentioned doctrines, and thus saw no reason to expand their confession by adding them. He proceeds to draw from two latter works–1575 and 1585 Confessions–which explicitly state this fact.
Much could be said about Anabaptism, especially in its earliest stages. Suffice to say here that if Dr. Friesen is correct–and I think that he is, then the first anabaptists were sound in most of their theological conclusions. While later on they went in various directions, in their beginnings they were quite orthodox.
I hope to post more on this issue at some point in the future.
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