Saturday, June 21, 2008

Someone Always Acts Up . . .



Today I was reading an interesting passage in one of Henry Sheldon's church history volumes. It was dealing with the Reformation in Germany. I'll let the words speak for themselves.

Some noteworthy stumbling blocks, however, were thrown in the way of this general progress. Such was the Anabaptist fanaticism which raged in Munster. The Reformation had made considerable progress in Munster by the year 1533, under the leadership of the preacher Bernhard Rottmann; and the bishop had found it necessary to grant tolerance to the growing party of its adherents. There was a fair prospect that the whole city would be won to the Protestant cause.

But at this juncture the Anabaptist distemper made its appearance. Rottmann himself caught the infection, and the whole city became a chosen resort for the extremists of the Anabaptist sect. Such in particular were John Mathys from Harlem and John Bockelson from Leyden, who played the role of prophets or theocratic leaders. Adherents being rapidly won, the violent sectaries usurped the government, and in 1534 banished from the city all who were counted unbelievers. One excess led to another. Works of art perished before an indiscriminate iconoclasm. The principles of wildest communism were adopted. Polygamy was declared lawful. John of Leyden, who finally added the dignity of king to that of prophet, took sixteen wives. Everything was managed in the name of pretended revelation from heaven. A reign of terror prevailed, and it was instant death to disagree with the fanatical chief, or his principal agent, the sword-bearer Knipperdolling.

But this mad revel was soon brought to an end. In 1535 the bishop and his allies, among whom were numbered some of the Protestant states, succeeded in overpowering the fanatics. A re-action to Romanism naturally followed; Protestantism was utterly ruined in Munster.


Amazing, isn't it? There's a huge lesson here, in fact several of them.

Discuss.

10 comments:

crownring said...

Extremely interesting, Joel. I believe America's Amish and Mennonite communities trace their ancestory and traditions back to the Anabaptists. And the guy with the 16 wives reminds me of a certain current mess in Texas.

Solameanie said...

Yes, I think you're right. Obviously, the group discussed in the history was a bit more radical than the normal Anabaptists.

The interesting thing to me (actually, one of them) is the backlash that drove people back to Rome. Tragic.

crownring said...

Well, for want of a better way of putting it, people generally will always prefer the devil they know to the one they don't know. Romanism,as you call it, at least provided some kind of order. (I believe Solomon made a comment about the world not being able to bear a slave being made king?) BTW, if you take a look at the history of France, you'll see that the French Revolution didn't accomplish much that was worthwhile, except the freeing of the Waldenses (a Protestant sect in the Pelice Valley) from autocratic French and RCC rule. Replacing a relatively benevolent despot with a true tyranny didn't put bread on the table of the peasants and the French monarchy was eventually reinstated. Not that I believe in the divine right of kings, mind you, Sola, but there are no polite words that accurately describe the immeasurable harm Voltaire and his cronies did to to the cause of freedom in France (and the rest of Europe and Russia) in the name of Enlightenment.

Strong Tower said...

Let them eat Munster! The desparate cry of cheezy religion...

What struck me solameanie, is that we hear this "keep the peace" flim-flam when real issues are at stake. It is oft said, "What will the world think, they won't know were brothers if we do not have love for one another?" And so, afraid of appearances we put the sword away...

Interesting tactic. If the enemy can sneak in bizareness to divide, fine, but if he can't, then he can sneak in love (or so it is called) and slowly leaven the entire lump.

Then there is this: When the mustard hits the fan and the people go out from among us and return to their vomit, perhaps God is doing us a favor...

Solameanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Solameanie said...

Strong Tower,

Funnily enough, I am hearing the theme to "The Munsters" in my head right now, but unfortunately Pat Priest is probably pretty old. ;)

I have no interest in keeping the peace when core doctrinal issues are at stake. And I have several when it comes to Rome.

I think the chief lessons that jumped out at me were that a: when the Lord is doing a great work getting people back to the core of His Word, there is always a counterfeit or radical to come along and gum up the territory.

Second, I found it sad that there was a backlash against these extremists that ended up driving people back into the errors of Rome. Rather than looking at God's Word and rebuking the extremes of what was happening, they basically "went home to Egypt."

Actually, let me add a third lesson. There is a reason we don't have a theocracy in America, and the Anabaptist extremists were a good example of why. Yes, by all means, let's have moral, Christian principles, but these folks were way "out there."

Strong Tower said...

Was it Luther who said that we hadn't left Rome, it was Rome that had left us?

One of the revolving accusations you hear in James Whites disputations with RC's is the division problem we Protestants have.

I think it marvelous how the Lord has hidden his church in the wilderness from the Dragon's hot breath.

Solameanie said...

LOL. I am now thinking of Ronaldus Maximus Reaganus, who said that he hadn't left the Democrats. The Democrats left him.

Ewww. I shouldn't sully this subject with politics.

Strong Tower said...

Since you mentioned it: Those were the daze!

crownring said...

Quote: Ewww. I shouldn't sully this subject with politics.

My dear Sola,

I'm sure you are employing gentle sarcasm in that remark, but should it be the you did so without intention, the greater the irony. The more I study European and British history, the more I see that seperation between church and state is that newfangled American idea that is very slow to catch on in the Old Country. Religion and politics are merely opposite sides of the same coin. And dig deep enough, Sola, and you'll see the hands of Protestantism are just as bloody and sin-drenched as Catholicism. Trust me, I'm not defending the excesses and sins of the RCC, Sola. The more I read, the more I am utterly revolted by the truth of what's been done in the name of Christianity. but I think we also run the risk of being the proud Pharisee thanking God that we aren't the tax collector (or that we aren't a Catholic) if we keep pointing out how terribly sinful our "theologically incorrect" brothers and sisters are and ignore our own proud hearts. However corrupt, most people will choose a familiar evil over one that has completely disrupted and threatens the lives they've always known. That's simple human nature.