What is Anabaptism?


Anabaptism is a radical faith movement that started during the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther taught that salvation came through faith alone, and not through works of penance. Anabaptists agreed that salvation came through faith in Jesus Christ, but they did not believe in faith alone – rather, they believed that works of love should be the outcome of an active faith.

Anabaptists believe that in order to maintain the church’s purity, a separation should be made between church and state. Early Anabaptists opposed infant baptism, believing instead that baptism should be a voluntary outward expression of a consciously realized inner faith. As infants cannot understand salvation through faith, Anabaptists, (literally, “re-baptized”), therefore only baptize adults.

Anabaptists also stress the importance of non-violent peacemaking. They are, historically, pacifists. Collectively, those belonging to the Anabaptist faith tradition include the Mennonites (followers of 16th century Anabaptist leader Menno Simons), the Amish (followers of Jacob Amman), the Hutterites (followers of Jacob Hutter), and the Brethren in Christ.