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Who Were The "Rebaptizers"?

The so-called Anabaptists, from the Greek meaning rebaptizers, were a product of the 16th century Protestant Reformation in Germany and Switzerland whose most distinctive doctrine, as their name implies, was adult baptism, and the complete rejection of infant baptism. Unlike most other Protestants who continued the Roman Catholic practice of infant baptism (infant baptism is found nowhere in The Bible), Anabaptists believed that the only baptism (which always represented a genuine repentance) that is valid in God's sight was that done by someone who knew what they were doing (which was always the way it was in the Bible) - something that no infant was yet capable of. They were of the belief that infants were not punishable for sin until they had an active awareness of good and evil i.e. there will be no unrepentant people in the Kingdom of God (true), and there will be no little children burned up in the lake of fire (true).

Jordan River The Anabaptists suffered severe persecution from all sides. The Roman Catholic Church fiercely persecuted them, and other Protestants who rejected Rome's leadership, but not most of Rome's doctrines, strongly opposed and shunned them as well - even Martin Luther was against them. They also faced the wrath of the civil authorities because of one of their other major doctrines, the belief in the separation of church and state, which in most European countries was regarded as "blasphemous" (see Emperors and Popes). Their other major beliefs, in pacifism (i.e. one could not protect his rights, or the lives of himself or his family, by the use of force even if attacked), and communism (i.e. one could not have private property but must share all property in common) were their movement's most serious flaws.

Although the Anabaptists may have thought that they were unique, they were, in the 16th century, actually resuming a Biblical practice that others in Europe, generation after generation right from the time that Jesus Christ walked the earth, had never stopped. The Elect were often labeled as Anabaptists, and persecuted along with them (although there were without doubt some of the Elect among them).

Jesus' Example of Baptism

The warning of John The Baptist about repentance and baptism:

"Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance [see Faith and Works and Your Pardon]: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with The Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire [see Baptism Of Fire]" (Matthew 3:8-11 KJV)

Although He had nothing to repent of, Jesus Christ was baptized as an example for those who truly follow Him:

"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him [see also John's Last Days]. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:13-17 KJV)

Fact Finder: Is baptism a symbol of death and resurrection of repentant people?
Romans 6:3-5, Colossians 2:12
See also The Origin of Baptism


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