Church History



Balthasar Hubmaier, an Anabaptist burned at the stake in 1528, preached at St. Peter's in Regensburg (built starting in 1276).  "While Grebel and Mantz advocated non-violence, Balthasar Hubmaier (d. 1528), for example, the reformer of Waldshut, participated in the Peasants' War" (1524-5) (Sigrun Haude, "Anabaptism," The Reformation World (ed. Andrew Pettegree), 243).  Hubmaier's wife was drowned in the Danube. A few months before Hubmaier’s death, Luther wrote a tract against the Anabaptists (January or February, 1528).  In it he said, "I know well enough that Balthasar Huebmoer [sic] quotes me among others by name, in his blasphemous book on Re-baptism, as if I were of his foolish mind. But I take comfort in the fact that neither friend nor foe will believe such a lie, since I have sufficiently in my sermons shown my faith in infant-baptism" (P. Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 7, p. 60).


St. Peter's, Regensburg, Germany


Philip Melanchthon once warned his readers:  "Do not let yourself be deceived by the comportment of the Anabaptists, by their lifestyle, and by their willingness to become martyrs for their faith.  All their revelations are lies, their humility is pretence, so is their great brotherly love, their patient endurance of suffering, and the audacity and stubbornness with which they approach their death.  All these are tricks of the devil."  Obviously, the Anabaptists had significant success amongst both Catholic and Protestant congregations (Sigrun Haude, "Anabaptism," The Reformation World (ed. Andrew Pettegree), 250).  In 1533, Fritz Erbe, an Anabaptist, was imprisoned at Wartburg Castle.  In 1536 Melanchthon drafted a memorandum demanding death for Anabaptists.  Three years later, Erbe is given a chance to renounce his convictions, yet remains true to his faith.  Fritz Erbe died after being incarcerated 15 years in the Wartburg solely for his religious convictions. Luther did not express one word of sympathy, respect or regret (Roland H. Bainton, The Travail of Religious Liberty: Nine Biographical Studies, 64).




                                                              Wartburg Tower,                         Wartburg Dungeon, Eisenach, Germany

                                           Eisenach, Germany 


In 1534, Jan Matthys and John Leyden, two eccentric Anabaptists, forced all who refused rebaptism to leave Muenster, Germany.  They proposed the slaughter of all the ungodly who remained in the city.  "Jan [van Leiden] himself took sixteen wives and exercised harsh rule during the last months of the siege [of Muenster].  By then, food had become scarce and morale low.  The city finally fell through treason on 25 June 1535" (Sigrun Haude, "Anabaptism," The Reformation World (ed. Andrew Pettegree), 245).  When they were subdued, the townspeople tortured and killed them.  Their remains hung in iron cages on St. Lambert's church belfry for over a hundred years as a warning against heresy.  Matthys' and Leyden's actions led all Europe to intensify the persecution of Anabaptists. 



                                                                    St. Lambert, Muenster, Germany                     Cages on St. Lambert


Buggy ride through Amish Country, Lancaster, PA


The Amish have their roots in the Mennonite community. Both were part of the early Anabaptist movement in Europe, which took place at the time of the Reformation.  Many early Anabaptists were put to death as heretics by both Catholics and Protestants, and many others fled to the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany. Here began the Amish tradition of farming and holding their worship services in homes rather than churches.  In 1536, a young Catholic priest from Holland named Menno Simons joined the Anabaptist movement.  His writings and leadership united many of the Anabaptist groups, who were nicknamed "Mennonites."  In 1693, a Swiss bishop named Jacob Amman broke from the Mennonite church. His followers were called the "Amish."  Although the two groups have split several times, the Amish and Mennonite churches still share the same beliefs concerning baptism, non-resistance, and basic Bible doctrines. They differ in matters of dress, technology, language, form of worship, and interpretation of the Bible.  The Amish and Mennonites both settled in Pennsylvania as part of William Penn's "holy experiment" of religious tolerance. The first sizable group of Amish arrived in Lancaster County in the 1720s or 1730s.


John Bunyon wrote his allegory of the Christian journey in Pilgrim's Progress (1678).



                                       Tomb of John Bunyon, London, England           Count Von Tilly, Breitenbrunn, Germany                  



Tilly Fest, Breitenbrunn, Germany                                   Westminster Abbey, London, England


Johaness von Tilly fought against the spread of Protestantism in southern Germany during the Thirty Years War (1631).  Just 20 years earlier, half the translators of the KJV completed their work at Westminster Abbey in London (1611).


Ben Franklin estimated George Whitfield (ca. 1740) could be heard by 20 thousand people at one time.  George Whitfield helped the Wesleys start the Holy Club at Oxford.  John Wesley, as a preacher, traveled about 5,000 mi. per year on horseback.  Both Charles and John Wesley were instrumental in the success of the Great Awakening and revival in the 18th century.



Wesley House, London, England                                                                         Charles Wesley's organ,

                                                                                                                             London, England


Graves of Jonathan Edwards (my immediate right) and Aaron Burr (my left), Princeton, NJ


Jonathan Edwards was 3rd president of Princeton University (1745-1801), and grandfather of Aaron Burr, Jr. (Vice President of the U.S. from 1801-1805, and better known for his duel with Alexander Hamilton).  Edwards is well known for the sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (which was preached during the height of the Great Awakening around 1740).  I read one of his letters to a Benjamin Trumbull (6 November 1792) where, on the reverse, he makes calculations that indicate the Lord will return in the year 2020.  He gets this by adding 1260 (Rev. 11:3 and 12:6) and 666 (the number of the beast) to the year of John's prophecy (94).  Furthermore, Edwards adds 666 to 94 to get 760, the year Charles the Great subdued the Lombards.  Edwards, a post-millennialist, believed most would be saved by 2000, ushering in the millennium by the year 2020.


Charles Hodge built this house in 1823 and lived here while a professor at Princeton Seminary (1825-78).



                                                    Charles Hodge's former residence, Princeton Theological Seminary,            Flossenberg Concentration Camp

Princeton, NJ                                                                Flossenberg, Germany


During WW2, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was martyred at Flossenberg Concentration Camp.  His contributions to Christian thought have even today brought many to the throne of Grace.  He made comparison between cheap and costly grace in his book, The Cost of Discipleship.  Bonhoeffer said "cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession...Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock" (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, (New York:  Macmillan, 1978), p. 47).


Today, two of the foremost authorities on New Testament Textual Criticism are Barbara Aland, of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Muenster, Germany, and Bruce Metzger of Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ.



                        Dr. Barbara Aland, Institute for New Testament Textual Research,             Dr. Bruce Metzger, Princeton, N.J.

   Muenster, Germany



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