The Anabaptists, (from Greek ἀνά- "re-" and βαπτισμός "baptism") were a movement that came out of the Protestant Reformation. They are the spiritual ancestors of, among others, the modern Baptists, Mennonites, and Quakers. The movement's most distinctive tenet was adult or believers baptism which explains the name, believers baptism is common today but it stood in stark contrast to infant baptism practiced by the Cotholic Church and even many in the reformed tradition at the time. 

Following the Swiss Reformer Huldrych Zwingli, they held that infants are not punishable for sin until they become aware of good and evil and can exercise their own free will, repent, and accept baptism. Luther was less radical and remained more in the catholic tradition. However, both Zwingli and Luther rejected the Anabaptists because they deemed them to be too radical as they also rejected the formal sacrimentalism of the time. Though the Anabaptists had some support in various parts of Western Europe, they were rejected by Protestants and Catholics alike and all but hunted down. 

Members rejected the label Anabaptist, or Rebaptizer, for they did not think that their own baptism as infants was valid. They considered the public confession of sin and faith, sealed by adult baptism, to be the only proper baptism.

Some common Anabaptist beliefs and practices of the 16th century anabaptists continue to influence Western protestant christianity today are:

  • Voluntary church membership and believer's baptism (learned repentance)
  • Freedom of religion – liberty of conscience -- Separation of church and state (Secular laws and oaths were not recognised)
  • Separation or nonconformity to the world
  • Nonresistance, often pacifism and refusal of military service
  • Priesthood of all believers
  • Communion (Mass) considered a memorial service for the baptized not a means of confiring grace.
  • Pastors supported by their congregation

 The following list is likely far from complete as this was not really a single movement.

Date Group Comment
1525   On January 21, 1525, the Zurich council forbade the "radicals" from disseminating their views. That wintry evening, in a nearby village, the radicals met—and baptized each other. The name Anabaptist, meaning "rebaptizer," was later given them by their detractors.
1528 Hutterites The founder of the Hutterites, Jakob Hutter, "established the Hutterite colonies on the basis of the Schleitheim Confession, a classic Anabaptist statement of faith" of 1527, with the first communes being formed in 1528
1609 Baptists Historians trace the earliest "Baptist" church to 1609 in Amsterdam, Dutch Republic with English Separatist John Smyth as its pastor.
1632 Mennonite Named after Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland (which today is a province of the Netherlands). An early set of Mennonite beliefs was codified in the Dordrecht Confession of Faith in 1632, but the various modern groups do not hold to a common confession or creed.
Mid 1600s Quaker The first Quakers lived in mid-17th-century England. The movement arose from the Legatine-Arians and other dissenting Protestant groups, breaking away from the established Church of England.
1693 Amish The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian (French) Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann.
1708 Church of the Brethren The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination with origins in the Schwarzenau Brethren (German: Schwarzenauer Neutäufer "Schwarzenau New Baptists") that was organized in 1708 by Alexander Mack in Schwarzenau, Germany, as a melding of the Radical Pietist and Anabaptist movements.
1920 Bruderhof The Bruderhof was founded in Germany in 1920 by Eberhard Arnold. Bruderhof is German for place of brothers. The word "Bruderhof" was first used by the early Anabaptists in Moravia. They practice what they call the "community of goods" after the example of the first church described in Acts 2 and Acts 4. In 1930 Arnold was ordained a Hutterrite minister.  The Bruderhof was part of the Hutterite Church for a time and were sometimes called "Hutterian Brethren". 11/24/18 11/24/18 11/24/18 11/24/18 11/24/18 11/24/18 11/24/18