QUOTES FROM EARLY ANABAPTISTS
Menno Simons; "You see dear reader, I admonish and advise you if you seek God with all your heart, and do not want to be deceived, do not depend upon men and the doctrine of men no matter how venerable, holy, and excellent they may be esteemed…. Put your trust in Christ alone and in His Word, and in the sure instruction and practice of His holy apostles, and by the grace of God you will be safe from all false doctrine and the power of the devil, and will walk with a free and pious mind before God.”
True evangelical faith, cannot lie dormant, it clothes the naked, it feeds the hungry, it comforts the sorrowful, it shelters the destitute, it serves those that harm it, it binds up that which is wounded, it has become all things to all creatures.
The regenerated do not go to war, nor engage in strife. They are children of peace who have beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning forks, and know no war.
“We do not teach and practice community of goods but we teach and testify the Word of the Lord, that all true believers in Christ are of one body (I Cor. 12:13), partakers of one bread (I Cor. 10:17), have one God and one Lord (Eph. 4). Seeing then that they are one, . . . it is Christian and reasonable that they also have divine love among them and that one member cares for another, for both the Scriptures and nature teach this. They show mercy and love, as much as is in them. They do not suffer a beggar among them. They have pity on the wants of the saints. They receive the wretched. They take strangers into their houses. They comfort the sad. They lend to the needy. They clothe the naked. They share their bread with the hungry. They do not turn their face from the poor nor do they regard their decrepit limbs and flesh (Isa. 58). This is the kind of brotherhood we teach.”
“It avails nothing, that Christ died, and that we are called by His name, if we do not possess a sincere, regenerating, vigorous faith in Jesus Christ; pure, unfeigned love; willing obedience; and a pious and irreproachable life.”
“But for Christ’s sake we are in grace; for his sake we are heard; and for his sake our failings and transgressions, which are committed involuntarily, are remitted. For it is he who stands between his Father and his imperfect children, with his perfect righteousness, and with his innocent blood and death; and intercedes for all those who believe on him and who strive by faith in the divine word, to turn from evil, follow that which is good and who sincerely desire, with Paul, that they may attain the perfection which is in Christ, Phil. 3:12.”
The Anabaptists believed that churches do not have the right to make rules about things on which the holy writings are silent. Conrad Grebel, who frequently mentioned the "example and commands" of the writings (Beispiel und Geboten), wrote:
Whatever we have not been taught by clear teaching and example we should take as something completely forbidden, just as if it were written: "Do not do this." If the apostles did not do it, we should not do it either
Dirk Philips wrote:
Whatever God has not commanded, that he prohibits us to command. Therefore all worship and practice that is not instituted by a direct command of God is wrong, no matter how many human arguments defend it.17
Menno Simons wrote:
Beware of all innovations and teachings that do not come from the Word of Christ and his apostles. . . . Point to Christ and his Word at all times. Let all those who would introduce anything more than what Christ teaches in his Word be anathema. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11).18
I have taught no other baptism, no other supper, no other ordinance than that which was implied by the unerring mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ and the example of his holy apostles. . . Put your trust in Christ alone and in his Word. Put your trust in the sure instruction and practice of his holy apostles. Then by the grace of God you will be safe from every false teaching and the power of the devil. You will walk with a free mind before God.
Dirk Philips, wrote:
The Gospel of Jesus is the real truth, and the only foundation on which everything must be built (1 Cor. 3:11). Beside this truth and this foundation there is nothing that will stand before God.
Conrad Grebel 1524:
Do your utmost in preaching the Word of God without fear. Set up and defend only the institutions that are of God. Count as precious only that which is good and right, only that which can be found in the pure, clear Scriptures. Then reject, hate, and curse all proposals, all words, all opinion, and all institutions of all men, including your own.
Let no one tear you from the order that is laid down in the Scriptures, the order sealed by the blood of Jesus and witnessed to by many of his followers.
Gerrit Roosen, author of the confession of faith of the Anabaptists in northern Germany, and of the Christliches
Gemüthsgespräch was a leader among European Anabaptists in the seventeenth century.
On December 21, 1697 he wrote: I am truly sorry that you have been disturbed by people who exalt themselves and make rules about things not clearly laid down in the Gospel. If the apostles had told us exactly how and with what the believer is to clothe himself, then we would have a case to work on. But we dare not contradict the Gospel by forcing men’s consciences about certain styles of hats, clothes, shoes, stockings or haircuts. Things are done differently in every country. We dare not excommunicate people just because they do not line up to our customs. We dare not put them out of the church as sinful leaven, when neither Jesus nor the apostles bound us in matters of outward form. Neither Jesus nor the apostles made rules or laws about such things. Rather, Paul said in Col. 2 that we do not inherit the kingdom of heaven through food and drink. Neither do we inherit it through the form and cut of our clothes.
Jesus did not bind us in outward things. Why does our friend Jakob Amman undertake to make rules, then exclude those from the church who do not keep them? If he considers himself a servant of the Gospel but wants to live by the letter of outward law, then he should not have two coats. He should not carry money in his pocket nor shoes on his feet. If he does not live according to the letter of Jesus’ law, how can he force the brothers to live by the letter of his own laws? Oh that he would follow Paul who feared God, who treated people gently and who took pains not to offend the conscience of the weak.
. . . Paul did not write one word about outward forms of clothing. But he taught us to be conformed to those of low estate and imitate only that which is honourable. We are to do that within the manner of the land in which we live. We are to shun styles and proud worldliness (1 John 2). We should not be quick to change our manner of dress. Fashion deserves rebuke. New articles of dress should not be accepted until they become common practice in the land, and then only if they are becoming to Christian humility. I do not walk in the lust of the eyes and worldliness. All my life I have stuck to one style of dress. But suppose I should have dressed myself according to another custom, the way they do it in another land? Should I then be excommunicated? That would be illogical and against the Scriptures.
The Scriptures must be our guide. We dare not run ahead of them. We must follow them, not lightheartedly, but in carefulness and fear. It is dangerous to step into the place of God’s judgement and bind on earth what is not bound in heaven.