Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Moltmann on the Left Wing of the Reformation (anabaptists)

more from that conversation between Volf and Moltmann, this time on the Left Wing of the Reformation being the future of the reformation (I like it because I am most likely on this wing).

Volf: In your book The Passion for Life: A Messianic Lifestyle [Fortress, 1978] you say that the future of the Reformation lies in its left wing. Could you elaborate on that?

Moltmann: The fundamental concept of the Reformation was that of the mature church. Luther first said that a community of believers possessed the right to judge church teaching. In his early years, Luther viewed such a visible community as the true church. In 1525, however, he suddenly gave up this idea and began to follow Melanchthon in supporting the idea of a state church. Luther’s original conception was realized by the Anabaptists and the so-called "enthusiasts" (Schw√§rmer), as he mockingly characterized them. The future of the Reformation, in my opinion, lies in this left wing, in the visible, voluntary assembly of believers. The priesthood of all believers, the promise of the Reformation, can be realized only in the freely assembled community.
Second, the left wing of the Reformation also contains those Anabaptist churches which rejected all forms of violence. The first Christian conscientious objectors were from Mennonite and southern German Anabaptist churches. For this stand they were persecuted and executed both by Catholics and by Protestants. Today we call these churches historic peace churches. In an age of atom and hydrogen bombs -- an age when the destruction of the whole world is possible -- we are finally accepting the view that the church must take a clear stand for peace. Therefore, we must alter our judgment of Mennonites and other Anabaptists. I believe that the church should no longer bind itself with the state in such a way that it sanctions military service and weapons. Rather, the church must clearly represent the message of the Sermon on the Mount. Therefore, the future of the Reformation belongs not to the state church -- that is, to the union between throne and altar -- but to the left wing of the Reformation, which lived out a radical discipleship.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You think you've got it tough in Tampa?

We are _conservative_ Anabaptists in Tampa, the Carrollwood area.

Write me at if you like.