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The Anabaptist Story: An Introduction to…
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The Anabaptist Story: An Introduction to Sixteenth-Century Anabaptism (udgave 1996)

af William R. Estep

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529233,919 (4.22)Ingen
Four hundred seventy years ago the Anabaptist movement was launched with the inauguration of believer's baptism and the formation of the first congregation of the Swiss Brethren in Zurich, Switzerland. This standard introduction to the history of Anabaptism by noted church historian William R. Estep offers a vivid chronicle of the rise and spread of teachings and heritage of this important stream in Christianity. This third edition of The Anabaptist Story has been substantially revised and enlarged to take into account the numerous Anabaptist sources that have come to light in the last half-century as well as the significant number of monographs and other scholarly works on Anabaptist themes that have recently appeared. Estep challenges a number of assumptions held by contemporary historians and offers fresh insights into the Anabaptist movement.… (mere)
Medlem:mennojones
Titel:The Anabaptist Story: An Introduction to Sixteenth-Century Anabaptism
Forfattere:William R. Estep
Info:Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (1996), Edition: 3rd Rev, Paperback
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Church History, Mennonite

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The Anabaptist Story af William Roscoe Estep

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As a more Calvinistic follower of Christ and student of history, particularly within the Protestant Reformation, I was oddly ecstatic to have Dr. Estep’s The Anabaptist Story assigned to be read and reviewed for Baptist Heritage, a class taught by Dr. Madison Grace at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Since this has not been a strong area of study for me, I believed this book would help fill in some of the missing pieces of our heritage: as Christians ultimately, and as Baptists specifically. Dr. Estep’s work certainly helped me do so and I am pleased to offer a review of his work and hope it may encourage other like-minded brothers or sisters in Christ to consider whether or not to add this to their bookshelves as they study church history. Since I have the Kindle version, all page numbers will be location numbers in my electronic version of the text.

Biographical Sketch of the Author
One of the first questions a reviewer should ask is whether or not the author has any business of writing his book in the first place. In the case of Dr. Estep and The Anabaptist Story, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Dr. Estep was one of the most prominent church historians in the Southern Baptist Convention until his death in 2000. He served as professor of church history at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary until his retirement in 1990, a work he began in 1954 and concluded four years after his retirement. While The Anabaptist Story is one of his most well-known works, he also authored Renaissance and Reformation and a book chronicling the history of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, Whole Gospel, Whole World, and it is my opinion Dr. Estep had plenty of experience and study to pen The Anabaptist Story.

Summary of Contents
As the third edition of Estep’s work, my copy of The Anabaptist Story begins with prefaces to the third and second editions, along with an introduction setting the stage for a “NOW it can be told” story of the history of Anabaptists (102). Estep said the purpose of his work was to answer questions like, “Who were the sixteenth-century Anabaptists? Were they heretics, fanatics, or saints? Where did the movement originate? What was its relationship to the Reformation?” and several other questions which guided his work (125).

As you make your way through the book, you begin with “The Birth of Anabaptism,” which looks at some of the key figures at the dawn of the Anabaptist movement, which he notes was on January 21, 1525, when “a dozen or so men slowly drudged through the snow…to the home of Felix Manz,” where George Blaurock asked Conrad Grebel to baptize him, and in turn, Blaurock baptized the rest in attendance (173-182). Estep wrote it was at that moment, we saw “the most revolutionary act of the Reformation. No other event so completely symbolized the break with Rome” (192), and it was a break costing many of their lives.

From there you find the chapter, “Meteors of the Night,” which I thought was a powerful title Dr. Estep used to describe some of the men of this movement. From Conrad Grebel to Felix Manz to George Blaurock, Estep goes into great detail to highlight their work within the rise of Anabaptism, which, as chapter three indicates, often included their martyrdom, an Anabaptist hallmark (610). What I found most interesting through the first few chapters were the major differences between the Anabaptists and the reformers, particularly in dealing with the Mass, leading the Swiss Brethren to part ways from Ulrich Zwingli. Thus, at its core, you have the first seven chapters devoted to the birth and growth of the Anabaptist movement before Estep switches his focus to their doctrine.

Chapter eight is aptly titled; “Anabaptism and Reformation Theology,” where Estep looks at whether we study Anabaptism from within the Reformation or as its own separate movement. As a student of the Reformation, I spent most of my time here and in chapter eleven. Estep noted many of the radicals believed Zwingli “abrogated the sola Scriptura principle,” and Estep would posit Anabaptists struggled with a seemingly inconsistent view from Luther in particular, noting his teaching on justification by faith and adherence to infant baptism was incompatible (2117). Further, it is logical the Anabaptists had concerns with the over-connectedness of church and state, since they were often on the wrong side of the coin, especially in regards to baptism, as this inherently went against the established church (2533).

Finally, Estep concludes the book by taking a look at the descendants of Anabaptists, if you will. Many claim them, even Unitarians and Communists, so Dr. Estep takes the time to look at the historically “Lineal Descendants,” such as the Dutch Mennonites, along with the English Baptists, Separatists, Brethren, Quakers, and others. In summation, Dr. Estep notes the “Anabaptist heritage is not the sole possession of some inconspicuous sect in the backwater of civilization. Rather, it is the prized possession of every free society of the twentieth-century world” (3276). In other words, the work of the Anabaptists, especially in regards to church and state is a reminder that there is “only one way, the way of the cross, for the church to become “salt, light, and leaven” in any society, and in every age” (3286).

Critical Evaluation
It would be a tall task to find a more thorough look at the birth and rise of Anabaptism because Dr. Estep did a stellar job of going into great detail of the individuals essentially writing the story. It is as if he took a fine-tooth comb to each individual and decisive moment of the movement and placed his findings down on paper for the student to read. And, since it seems to be pretty much devoid of his opinions, at least that I could ascertain, I believe that to be a strong suit. One can take his findings and decide for him or herself, what they believe or want to glean from The Anabaptist Story.

His portrayal of Anabaptists seems mostly fair and balanced, simply showing them to be sincere in their faith, uncompromising and consistent in their doctrine, and willing to die for what they believed. Even if we disagree with some of the Anabaptists on doctrine, I find little reason to do anything but applaud them for their faithfulness unto death. That said, what Estep does not do is tackle some of the “black eyes” within Anabaptism, like those more militant in their approach. Instead, he reveals them as a largely united force in an almost unilaterally favorable light. In light of this, his conclusion as I mentioned in my summary, puts them on a rather uncomfortable pedestal for me. I would like to see if other scholars consider Anabaptists as the reason we have a free society today because I suspect they would not. I believe he would have been better served to say, “Anabaptists had a remarkable impact on the twentieth century and beyond,” and continue with his clarion call for us to be the “salt, light, and leaven” today and forevermore (3286).

It is clearly well researched and if the reader is interested in finding out more about a particular individual or event, his extensive footnotes would allow that to be done with ease. His writing style is engaging and easy to read, especially in comparison with other history books, even with his almost no stone left unturned approach. That said, if I could add something I believe would benefit a fellow student of history, it would be some maps or illustrations. While not paramount, it would help more visual learners like myself.

Finally, and this might be more of a preference, I found the way in which Dr. Estep presented his material confusing. I realize a lot of the Anabaptist history (and all of history, for that matter) is not always a linear, point-by-point study, but it is exponentially easier for me to grasp some of the happenings in church history when it is presented chronologically. Estep did a fine job highlighting many individuals in the movement, but in my opinion, it was hard to keep up with where they all tied in over the years in some of the most important turning points of the movement.

Conclusion
As an academically robust, historically faithful, and accessible book for scholars, pastors, and laymen alike, I would highly recommend The Anabaptist Story for Christians interested in some of the lesser-known events of the Reformation. For my more “Reformed” brothers or sisters in Christ, I commend this book because it is a topic some of us ignore, yet still owe a debt of gratitude for the work these oft-forgotten brothers of ours did, many of which lost their own lives for the cause. While I might not come to the same conclusion of Dr. Estep, about all members of free-society enjoying that freedom because of the Anabaptists, I believe Dr. Estep’s writing defended his thesis remarkably, is a testament to good scholarship, and will provide a good introduction for students of Baptist history for many years to come, just as it has done in the years since it was penned. In reading The Anabaptist Story, my only regret is not having the privilege of sitting under Dr. Estep’s teaching and learning from the esteemed professor himself. I have since purchased one his other works and look forward to continuing my study. ( )
1 stem matthenslee | Oct 12, 2017 |
—Hey.



Hey. Are you awake?

—Nhhgrrble.

—Yeah, I can't sleep either.

—Whadja wanme to doaboutit.

—Talk to me. Something that'll make me sleepy. Tell me about that boring book you're reading about Anglophobists.

—Anabaptists.

—Them. What did they do, then?

—Oh my god…it's – it's three o'clock in the morning.

—Oh come on.

—All right, but it's not gonna be as fun as when I talked about that ballerina memoir.

—I know but I can't sleep….

—Uhh…well. The Anabaptists…they believed in the separrrrrr…ation of church and state. And uh…they thought you should only be baptised when you're old enough to make a choice. You know, instead of as a baby.

—OK, that sounds sensible.

—Well, yeah, when you say it out loud it does all sound pretty reasonable.

—But the authorities didn't like it?

—Apparently not, they drowned them all.

—What?? Where?

—Well…just over there, actually. (points out of window)

—That's horrendous. Here?

—Yeah, all these little towns along the lake. They tied your wrists and ankles together and threw you off a boat. Or burned you, obviously, that was the other one. They'd pull bits of your flesh off with hot pincers, then rub sulphur in your beard and set you on fire.

—Those bloody Catholics. First the church bells outside our window all night, and now this.

—Well – actually, no, most of this was the Protestants.

—But I don't understand, why did everyone care so much when you got baptised?

—It's a good question, I can never really work it out. You feel like it was probably not all theological. Like, the Reformers were quite new themselves, so I think they felt they had to be strict about their own rules and dogma, to establish themselves. But then also, the Anabaptists probably made them feel a bit hypocritical.

—What about?

—Well, because there really isn't any scriptural basis for infant baptism. It doesn't happen in the Bible.

—So how come everyone did it?

—It's just tradition. Which is fine, people like traditions. It's just that Zwingli and the Reformers had said they weren't going to follow tradition any more, they were going to go right back to what was in the Bible. Only they couldn't really do that, it was just too difficult convincing the city authorities to push through all those huge changes. Then along come these Anabaptists who are really doing what you said you were going to do….

—Mmmm…I guess….

—So like Conrad Grebel – he was from Grüningen, just over the other side of the lake there – he said, ‘We were listeners to Zwingli's sermons and readers of his writings, but one day we took the Bible itself in hand and were taught better.’

—Mmm…Grebel…

—Grebel was one of the main guys. It's pretty cool actually, Anabaptism is one of the few properly Swiss religious denominations and he was one of the ones that started it all. On the 21st of January 1525, when Grebel baptised one of his mates in a house in downtown Zurich. It spread, obviously, into Germany and the Netherlands, and the Dutch Anabaptists got called Mennonites and they took it to the US, and there was Münster and all that – but it always stayed big round here. And actually the baptism stuff isn't what really makes them important, for us I mean, it's more the disestablismentarianism. That's kind of the argument in this book, that what they really contributed to the modern world is this idea that true religious radicals should be supporting the separation of church and state even more strongly than the secularists do, because it's the only way you can make sure religion is ‘pure’. Which is pretty cool if you think about how the argument is normally framed today, don't you think? I said – honey? Honey! Are you—?

*loud snores* ( )
3 stem Widsith | Oct 5, 2015 |
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Four hundred seventy years ago the Anabaptist movement was launched with the inauguration of believer's baptism and the formation of the first congregation of the Swiss Brethren in Zurich, Switzerland. This standard introduction to the history of Anabaptism by noted church historian William R. Estep offers a vivid chronicle of the rise and spread of teachings and heritage of this important stream in Christianity. This third edition of The Anabaptist Story has been substantially revised and enlarged to take into account the numerous Anabaptist sources that have come to light in the last half-century as well as the significant number of monographs and other scholarly works on Anabaptist themes that have recently appeared. Estep challenges a number of assumptions held by contemporary historians and offers fresh insights into the Anabaptist movement.

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