Radical Reformation

Radical Reformation

The Radical Reformation was a 16th century response to what was believed to be both the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church and the expanding Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther and many others. Beginning in Switzerland, the Radical Reformation birthed many Anabaptist groups throughout Europe.


Unlike the Roman Catholics and the more Magisterial Evangelical (Lutheran), Reformed (Zwinglian and Calvinist) Protestant movements, the Radical Reformation generally abandoned the idea of the "Church Visible" as distinct from the "Church invisible." Thus, the Church only consisted of the tiny community of believers, who accepted Jesus Christ and demonstrated this by adult baptism, called "believer's baptism".

While the reformers wanted to substitute their own learned elite for the learned elite of the Roman Catholic Church, the Anabaptists rejected church authority almost entirely. It was unavoidable that as the search for original and purely scriptural Christianity was carried further some would claim that the tension between the church and the Roman Empire in the first centuries of Christianity was somehow normative, that the church is not to be allied with government, that a true church is always inviting persecution, and that the conversion of Constantine I was therefore the great apostasy that marked the end of pure Christianity. [Justol L. Gonzalez, "A History of Christian Thought" (Abingdon: Nashville, 1975)]

Early forms of Anabaptism

Some early forms of the Radical Reformation were millenarian, focusing on the imminent end of the world. This was particularly notable in the rule of John of Leiden over the city of Münster in 1535, which was ultimately crushed by the forces of the Catholic Bishop of Münster and the Lutheran Landgrave of Hesse. After the fall of Münster, several small groups continued to adhere to revolutionary Anabaptist beliefs.

The largest and most important of these groups, the Batenburgers, persisted in various forms into the 1570s. The early Anabaptists believed that the Reformation must purify not only theology but also the actual lives of Christians, especially in what had to do with political and social relationships. [Gonzalez, "A History of Christian Thought", 88.] Therefore, the church should not be supported by the state, neither by tithes and taxes, nor by the use of the sword; Christianity was a matter of individual conviction, which could not be forced on anyone, but rather required a personal decision for it. [Gonzalez, "A History of Christian Thought", 88.]

Later forms of Anabaptism

Later forms of Anabaptism were much smaller, and focused on the formation of small, separatist communities. Among the many varieties to develop were Mennonites, Amish, and Hutterites. Typical among the new leaders of the later Anabaptist movement, and certainly the most influential of them, was Menno Simons (1496-1561), a Dutch Catholic priest who early in 1536 decided to join the Anabaptists. [Gonzalez, "A History of Christian Thought", 96.]

Menno Simons had no use for the violence advocated and practiced by the Münster movement, which seemed to him to pervert the very heart of Christianity. [Gonzalez, "A History of Christian Thought", 96.] Thus, Mennonite pacifism is not merely a peripheral characteristic of the movement, but rather belongs to the very essence of Menno's understanding of the gospel; this is one of the reasons that it has been a constant characteristic of all Mennonite bodies through the centuries. [Gonzalez, "A History of Christian Thought", 96.]

Other Radical Reformation movements

In addition to the Anabaptists, other Radical Reformation movements have been identified. Notably, George Huntston Williams, the great categorizer of the Radical Reformation, considered early forms of Unitarianism (such as that of the Socinians, and exemplified by Michael Servetus), and other trends that disregarded the Nicene christology still accepted by most Christians, as part of the Radical Reformation. With Michael Servetus (1511-1553) and Faustus Socinus (1539-1604) anti-Trinitarianism came to the foreground. [Gonzalez, "A History of Christian Thought", 101.] Servetus was a man of profound religious conviction who, however, felt that the doctrine of the Trinity was unsound; in his native Spain, that doctrine had been a stumbling block for Jews and Muslims for centuries. [Gonzalez, "A History of Christian Thought", 101.]

ee also

*Protestant Reformation
**Anabaptist persecution
*Martyrs Mirror
*Christian anarchism


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Radical Reformation —    The Reformation of the church in western and central Europe in the 16th century was dominated by Lutherans (based in Germany), Calvinists (based in Switzerland), and Anglicans (based in England). Although most Protestants everywhere in Europe… …   Encyclopedia of Protestantism

  • Radical Reformation —  Радикальная Реформация …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • Reformation — may refer to:Movements: * Protestant Reformation, an attempt by Martin Luther to reform the Roman Catholic Church that resulted in a schism, and grew into a wider movement. * Counter Reformation, the Catholic Church s response to the Protestants… …   Wikipedia

  • radical — radical, ale (ra di kal, ka l ) adj. 1°   Terme de botanique. Qui appartient à la racine, qui part de la racine. Pédoncules radicaux.    Feuilles radicales, celles qui naissent si près de la racine, qu elles semblent en sortir et non de la tige.… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • reformation — reformational, adj. /ref euhr may sheuhn/, n. 1. the act of reforming; state of being reformed. 2. (cap.) the religious movement in the 16th century that had for its object the reform of the Roman Catholic Church, and that led to the… …   Universalium

  • Reformation in Switzerland — The Protestant Reformation in Switzerland was promoted initially by Huldrych Zwingli, who gained the support of the magistrate (Mark Reust) and population of Zürich in the 1520s. It led to significant changes in civil life and state matters in… …   Wikipedia

  • Reformation — n. the act of reforming or process of being reformed, esp. a radical change for the better in political or religious or social affairs. Phrases and idioms: the Reformation hist. a 16th c. movement for the reform of abuses in the Roman Church… …   Useful english dictionary

  • reformation — n. the act of reforming or process of being reformed, esp. a radical change for the better in political or religious or social affairs. Phrases and idioms: the Reformation hist. a 16th c. movement for the reform of abuses in the Roman Church… …   Useful english dictionary

  • reformation — Synonyms and related words: Fabianism, abject apology, about face, accommodation, adaptation, adjustment, adoption, alteration, amelioration, amendment, apology, apostasy, betterment, break, change, change of allegiance, change of heart, change… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • Reformation —    From 1517, Lutheranism spread across the Low Countries, as did other “heretical” movements such as radical An abaptism. After the middle of the 16th century, Calvinism eventu ally found the most support in Flanders, Holland, and other parts of …   Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”