Remembering the Anabaptists today
As much as I appreciate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which our country chooses to celebrate today, I cannot fail to remember the importance of this day long before Dr. King, the American Civil Rights struggle, and even United States itself.
On 21 January 1525, a band of brothers and sisters, united in the living Christ, under persecution, signed their death warrants and forfeited their earthly lives for the sake of obedience and fealty to the one true King, Jesus. Knowing adult baptism was illegal, Conrad Grebel took water and baptized George Blaurock in the home of Felix Manz. The history of the Anabaptists in Switzerland and elsewhere was from that moment on a wildfire. This stuff was real now.
Felix Manz was martyred by drowning 2 years later. George Blaurock was burned at the stake in 1529. Conrad Grebel was captured and imprisoned in October 1525. He escaped the next March and died of the plague not long after. Michael Sattler, the man I (and others) most admire and who was unknowingly the reason I embraced the Anabaptist legacy, became an Anabaptist himself (along with his wife) in 1526. He was quickly thrust into the role as a leader of the young faith and in May 1527 was burned on the pyre for it.
The courage, the tenacity, the devotion to Jesus and to their communities as well as to the people of neighboring villages, is unquestioned and a true inspiration. They were imperfect people; I would have fit right in. But their love for the truth, for people, for justice, for the Word of God, still helps bring people and communities to their knees before the Lord.