The kingdom of God - 5B - The Radical Reformation and the Five Solas

SERMON TOPIC: The kingdom of God - 5B - The Radical Reformation and the Five Solas

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 25 May 2008


Sermon synopsis: The fifth parable of 'The Hidden Treasure' covers the period from approximately 1500 - 1700 AD or the 'Reformation Church'.

Last time we looked at the Magisterial Reformation. This is a look at the Radical Reformation of the Anabaptists.

The Magisterial Reformation refers to the reformers who relied on the authority of the civil magistrates to enforce and further their agenda.

The Radical Reformation movement had no state sponsorship. The Radical reformers thought that the Magisterial reformers were still captive to a political marriage of church and state. Anabaptists insisted that the church be separate, govern itself, and have no official ties to the state.

We also examine the Five Solas. This refers to 5 Latin phrases that emerged during the Protestant Reformation and summarize the Reformers’ basic theological beliefs in contrast to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. The Latin word Sola means ‘alone’ or ‘only’ in English. The Five Solas articulated 5 fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation, pillars which the Reformers believed to be essentials of the Christian life and practice.

1) Sola Scriptura (“by Scripture alone”)
2) Soli Deo Gloria (“glory to God alone”)
3) Solus Christus (“Christ alone”)
4) Sola Gratia (“by grace alone”)
5) Sola Fide (“by faith alone”)

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The 7 parables of

the kingdom - Part 5B

The Seven Parables of the Kingdom



The kingdom is sown. The enemy seeks to steal the seed.


Wheat and Weeds

The enemy sows a counterfeit seed.


Mustard Seed

Exponential growth of the kingdom, but the enemy infiltrates from within.



Widespread corruption spreads throughout the kingdom.


Hidden Treasure

A treasure is found.






The Sower

AD 30 – 100

Apostolic Church


The Wheat and Weeds

AD 100 – 300

Persecuted Church


The Mustard Seed

AD 300 – 600

State Church (Constantine)


The Leaven

AD 600 – 1500

Papal Church (Roman Catholic)


The Hidden Treasure

AD 1500 – 1700

Reformation Church (Protestant)


The world

In these kingdom parables the field has always been the world. (Matt 13:37 “The field is the world…”



The parable is about a man who sold all he had to purchase the field (the world) so that he could posses a treasure. Did we sell all we had to purchase the world, or did Jesus?

The man in all the other parables has been Jesus.


The true church

Jesus bought his treasure with His blood:

Acts 20:28 Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

5) The Hidden Treasure

Mat 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

In this study we’ll cover:

Magisterial & Radical Reformation

Church growth

The gifts of the Holy Spirit

The 5 Solas

The 5th kingdom age - Reformation

The Radical


“You can take from me no more than my life.” - Offrus Greizinger

“What shall I do? the more I cause to be executed, the more they increase.” - the Burgrave (i.e. the count) of the city of Altzey

The Anabaptists were one of several smaller groups in church history that endured unspeakable suffering to establish and maintain their witness. 1

In Zürich, Zwingli had searched the Scriptures and questioned major teachings of the church of the Middle Ages. He rapidly instituted sweeping reforms in the early 1520s. 1

The Anabaptists began as a breakaway from the reform under Zwingli. Some felt that Zwingli was not going far enough or fast enough. More was needed, they felt, than to reform a corrupt, unfaithful church. They wanted to return to a New Testament church. 1

Although they broke away from Zwingli, in effect he had equipped them by fostering in them a solid belief that doctrine must be firmly based on Scripture (‘Sola Scriptura’). They simply took this doctrine to the logical conclusion.

Some called each other ‘brethren’ to distinguish from others called Christian simply by virtue of being born in a Christian state. Examples of the Radical reformation churches are the Anabaptists in Europe (Mennonites, Hutterites, Amish & Swiss Brethren) and Baptists in Britain.

1 Source: Christian History Institute

The Anabaptists

Before we look at the differences between the Radical Reformation & the Magisterial Reformation, let’s look at their similarities.

Both accepted:

Justification by grace through faith.

The priesthood of all believers.

That the final authority for Christians is the Bible.

Both rejected:

Sacramentalism (observing only 2 of the 7 sacraments: Baptism & the Lord’s Supper).

The distinction between clergy & laity.


Selling of indulgences for forgiveness of sins, allowing people to pay for a particular sin, even before they committed it.

Selling and collecting of supposed religious relics.

Similarities: Magisterial & Radical

The Magisterial Reformation refers to the reformers who relied on the authority of the civil magistrates to enforce and further their agenda.

Luther, Calvin, Knox and Zwingli are considered Magisterial Reformers because their reform movements were supported by ruling authorities.

Frederick the Wise not only supported Luther, who was a professor at the university he founded, but also protected him from being tried or burnt as a heretic by the papacy. In Luther’s well-known ‘Appeal to the German Nobility’ he appeals directly to the German aristocracy to assert their temporal authority against the authority of the ‘Romanists’ (the papacy of the time and those that supported it).

Zwingli and Calvin were supported by the city councils in Zürich and Geneva respectively.

The ‘Church of England’ (Anglican Church) became the new State Church in England.

Magisterial Reformation

Frederick the Wise

The Radical Reformation movement had no state sponsorship. The Radical reformers thought that the Magisterial reformers were still captive to a political marriage of church and state.

Anabaptists insisted that the church be separate, govern itself, and have no official ties to the state.

While this sounds acceptable to us today, then it was revolutionary. Ever since the 4th century when Constantine made Christianity the preferred religion – and Theodosius I subsequently made it the state religion – Christianity and government had always been linked together.

Radical Reformation

In 380 AD Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the state religion

Some claimed that the tension between the church and the Roman Empire in the first 3 centuries of Christianity was normal, that the church is not to be allied with government, that a true church is always inviting persecution, and that the conversion of Constantine was therefore the great apostasy that marked the end of pure Christianity. 1

They believed that the church should not be supported by the state, neither by taxes, nor by the use of the sword; Christianity was a matter of individual conviction, which could not be forced on anyone, but rather required a personal decision for it.

1 Source: Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought

Radical Reformation

Conversion of Constantine at Milvian Bridge. As the first Christian Roman Emperor, he legalized Christianity.

On the one hand we must remember some of the benefits that initially resulted from State support of the Church. Besides stopping persecution, Constantine alone brought about many reforms in Roman law including:

Elimination of gladiatorial games (killing for entertainment).

Created penalties against adultery, concubinage and prostitution. Rendered divorce more difficult, especially when the demand for separation came from one side only.

Freeing slaves made simpler. Forbade separation of a family of slaves.

Crucifixion abolished and replaced with the more humane hanging.

Prisoners no longer to be kept in total darkness. Ended branding criminals and slaves on their face.

As many Christians were slaves of heathen masters, and previously were not allowed time off on Sunday, Constantine came to their aid and forbade work on Sunday. Markets were banned and public offices were closed (except for the purpose of freeing slaves). He even allowed Christian soldiers leave to attend church on Sunday.

Gave funds to churches to support the poor, widows and orphans.

Infanticide was criticized by Constantine & prohibited by Valentinian.

Church & State: The flip side

The Radical reformers went further than the Magisterial reformers by addressing the leaven of the Sadducees (politics), not only the leaven of the Pharisees (hypocrisy & tradition).

Radical Reformation


Church Age




Apostolic Church

Pagan Roman government

Christians persecuted by pagan government but taught to pray for government, to pay taxes & obey laws that didn’t conflict with God’s law.


Persecuted Church


State Church

Christian Roman government

Leaven of the Sadducees - politics

Radical reformers questioned the Church -State relationship.


Papal Church

Holy Roman Empire

Leaven of the Pharisees - tradition

Magisterial & Radical reformers addressed these errors.


Reformation Church

Magisterial reformers keep State Churches.

Radical reformers promote separation of Church & State.

State Church

The Radical reformers believed that the Reformation should purify not only theology but also the lives of Christians, especially with regards to political and social relationships. They believed that all men are equal; poor and uneducated are equal to the rich and educated; women and men are equal.

Many supporters of the Magisterial reformers were among the elite and privileged, who were content to protect or justify their status while the peasants and underprivileged lived in deplorable conditions.

Luther was initially sympathetic to the plight of the peasants,1 but when their protest turned to violence and pillaging he supported the princes in their suppression of the uprising. 2

1 When the peasants protested about their terrible living conditions, Luther approved of the demands and urged the princes to accept those demands that were reasonable. His patron, Frederick (the Wise) of Saxony, was the only prince who had some sympathy for the peasants, but he died in 1525. 2 Luther feared that the peasants’ violent rebellion would discredit his movement in the eyes of the princes and the upper classes. He understood from Romans 13:1-2, that we should be subject to government. Luther declared that Christians had to accept the government that was put over them and should patiently endure their sufferings, that their rulers might be damned by God for their injustices but that nobody fighting these injustices would enter heaven.

State Church

Independent Churches

Catholic view

The Pope is the head of the Church and answerable only to God. As Church members, kings are subject to the Pope.

Magisterial reformers view

Church heads are subject to the king or government who in turn are answerable only to God.

Radical reformers view

Separation of Church and State. Church leaders are answerable only to God as are leaders of State.


State Church









State Church

Independent Churches

Independent Churches


Church & State: Biblical perspective


Rom 13:1 … there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted… 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Rom 13:6 … the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

1 Pet 2:13-14 … the king… governors, who are sent by him (God) to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

Church & State: Biblical perspective


Rom 13:1-5 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities… Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves… Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 1

1 Pet 2:13-19 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 1

1 When Paul and Peter wrote these letters, Nero had already become Emperor. Nero undertook a massive persecution of Christians throughout the Empire.

Church & State: Biblical perspective


Acts 4:18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.”

Acts 5:27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!


1 Tim 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Church & State: Biblical perspective


Rom 13:6-7 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Matt 22:17-21 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Church & State: Biblical perspective


Lk 22:25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.


John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

A major crisis for Zwingli developed from among his most gifted students. These believers could find nothing about infant baptism in the Bible, so they concluded it was an invention of a corrupt church and, therefore, illegitimate. They got baptized all over again as believers and formed a believer’s church that was composed only of the converted. 2 For this they were called ‘Anabaptists’ (or ‘re-baptizers’). 1

1 Christian History Institute 2 At that stage all citizens of the state were baptized at birth and were ‘members’ of the State church.

Believers Baptism

Grebel: the ‘Father of Anabaptists’

Well-educated, Grebel had studied the Bible with Ulrich Zwingli, the reformer of Zürich, and stood by him as he made changes in the city. However, Grebel thought that Zwingli moved too slowly in implementing reforms based on the Bible. 1

Initially an earnest supporter of Zwingli they eventually parted ways. Zwingli had argued before the city council in favour of abolishing the Mass and removing images from the church. But when he saw that the council was not ready for such radical changes, he chose not to break with the council, and even continued to officiate at the Mass until it was abolished in May of 1525. Grebel saw this as an issue of obeying God rather than men. 1 Source: Christian History Institute

Conrad Grebel (1498-1526)

Conrad Grebel became convinced from Scripture that infant baptism was wrong. In order to exercise faith, a person had to be old enough to understand the Gospel. Baptism could only have meaning for a person who understood why he or she was being baptized. 1

On 17 January 1525 a public debate was held and the council decided in favour of Zwingli. Anyone refusing to have their children baptised was required to leave Zürich. 2

Consequently, Conrad Grebel and a number of others decided to obey their consciences. Grebel is often called the “Father of the Anabaptists” because in 1525, he re-baptized George Blaurock, a former priest. It was the first such adult baptism in Zürich. 1

Immediately the Zürich authorities forbade the Anabaptists to speak about their beliefs on adult baptism. Shortly afterward, they drove the Anabaptists out. Grebel went to St. Gall where he found immediate success. When he arrived he began to speak on the need for repentance and baptism. Hundreds turned out to hear him preach and over the next few months he baptized 500 people. What was significant about this was that most of them had already been baptized as infants. 1

1 Source: Christian History Institute 2 Wikipedia

Grebel & Blaurock

Grebel & Blaurock

7 months later, Grebel was arrested, tried and sentenced to life in prison. Friends helped him escape, but his life was destined to be short all the same. He died of the plague less than 2 years after he baptized George Blaurock. He was only about 28 years old. 1 Although Conrad Grebel left few writings, he left many converts. 1

Because of all the severe persecution, the Anabaptists fled to Germany and Austria. In Austria a band of Tauferjäger (Anabaptist hunters) were sent out to capture Anabaptists. So they fled to Moravia and by 1527 as many as 12,000 Anabaptists had moved there.

Blaurock became the pastor of the church in Adige Valley, after their former pastor, Michael Kürschner, was burned at the stake. Eventually he and Hans Langegger were arrested and in 1529 both were burned at the stake.

1 Source: Christian History Institute

George Blaurock: Image from Freeman Museum painting

Felix Manz

Manz became a follower of Zwingli after he came to Zürich in 1519.

In 1524 he submitted a petition to the Zürich city council outlining his argument against infant baptism. Manz defended charges against him that he was a rebel by explaining that his position was a valid Biblical belief. He cited 3 instances from Scripture where persons displayed faith before baptism as evidence against infant baptism: 1

1) John the Baptist required repentance prior to baptism. 2) Peter baptized believers after they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:48). 3) Paul was baptized after he called upon the name of the Lord (Acts 22).

Manz also briefly alluded to Romans 6:4 before arguing that no Biblical evidence exists for baptizing persons prior to their being instructed about Christ and possessing a certain knowledge and a desire to be baptized. 1

As mentioned, the council sided with Zwingli in the disputation in 1925 and Manz, Grebel, Blaurock, and others were baptized shortly after. Manz set out to spread the new formed faith to others around Basel, St. Gall, Schaffhausen, and the territory around Zürich. 1 1 Source: Christian History Institute

Felix Manz

In 1527, Manz became the first casualty of the edict prohibiting adult baptism, and the first Swiss Anabaptist to be martyred. He was captured and brought before the City Council, who said “Against the waters of baptism he sinned, so by water shall he die.”

His hands were bound and pulled behind his knees and a pole was placed between them. He was placed on a boat and pushed into the Limmat River near Zürich. His alleged last words were, “Into thy hands, O God, I commend my spirit.” He was only about 29 years old.

A wave of persecution against the Anabaptists ensued that lasted for generations, and it came from all directions - Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, all considered them deviant and unwelcome. 1

But the Anabaptist movement, despite losing many of its best leaders to persecution, survived and spread. 1

1 Source: Christian History Institute

Limmat River where Felix Manz was drowned.

Jakob Hutter

Persecuted in Zürich, some Anabaptists fled to Moravia where they were kindly received. 1

In Moravia the Anabaptists found leadership from an unlikely source. Jakob Hutter, a hatter with little education, became head of a band of Anabaptists and taught them to share in common what they owned. Sharing was especially important at the time because many families had lost their providers in the trouble. Some were in prison for preaching without licenses. Others had been burnt at the stake and others drowned. Jakob Hutter brought stability to the group. 1

Jakob Hutter and his wife Katherine Purst became hunted fugitives. Tracked down in the Tyrol, they were captured in 1536. Their captors showed them no mercy, torturing them, whipping them, and immersing them in freezing water. Although local officials protested, persecutors, acting on Ferdinand’s orders, doused Jacob with brandy and burned him. It appears Katherine was executed later. 1

Years later, still oppressed, surviving Hutterites emigrated to the United States. Here they practiced a pacifist and communal lifestyle. Today thousands live in Canada, the United States, and Paraguay. Most still speak German. 1

1 Source: Christian History Institute

Michael Sattler

Early in the 16th century, Michael Sattler was a monk at the monastery of St. Peter’s of the Black Forest. Disillusioned by the corruption he saw in church life, perplexed by his study of the Bible, and moved by the horrible conditions of peasant life, Sattler left his monastery although he was its prior, next in authority to the Abbot. 1

In 1526 he married Margaretha, who had recently left a Catholic religious community. Convinced by prayer and study that the Anabaptists (Swiss Brethren) were right, Michael joined them. 1

Michael took up pastoral duties at Horb, an area under the control of Austria’s Catholics. In his few months as pastor, Michael won so much affection among the people that when the Roman Catholic authorities arrested him, his wife, and others, they placed extra guards around the prison, for fear of a revolt. In 1527 Michael was brought to trial at Rottenburg on 9 charges. 1 1 Source: Christian History Institute

Michael Sattler (1495-1527)

Michael Sattler

Offered a lawyer, he refused, saying that this was not a legal matter but a defense of the faith, which every believer must be willing to give for himself. He calmly defended his convictions but failed to move his accusers, who laughed in his face and passed this sentence: “In the case of the Governor of his Imperial Majesty versus Michael Sattler, judgment is passed, that Michael Sattler shall be delivered to the executioner, who shall lead him to the place of execution, and cut out his tongue; then throw him upon a wagon, and there tear his body twice with red hot tongs; and after he has been brought without the gate, he shall be pinched five times in the same manner.” 1

In the few days before his death, he wrote to his flock: “In such dangers I have surrendered myself entirely to the will of the Lord and am, with all my brothers, my wife, and some other sisters, prepared for witness to him even unto death.” 1

On the morning of that day this noble man of God, in sight of horrible torture, prayed for his judges and persecutors and admonished the people to repentance. He endured the inhuman torture stipulated in the sentence. Then his mangled body was tied to a ladder. He prayed again for his persecutors while the ladder was placed upon the stake. 2

1 Source: Christian History Institute 2 Source: Mennonites In Europe

Michael & Margaretha Sattler

He had promised his friends to give them a sign from the burning stake, to show that he remained steadfast to the end, enduring it all willingly for Christ. The fire having severed the cords which bound him, he lifted up his hand as a sign to them. Soon it was noticed that his spirit had taken its flight to be with Him whom he had steadfastly confessed under the most excruciating torture, a true hero of the faith. 2

A few days later, after refusing a final opportunity to recant, Margaretha followed her husband in martyrdom and was drowned.

“Only love to God shall stand and prevail; not boasting, denouncing, or threatening.” - Michael Sattler

1 Source: Christian History Institute

Margaretha Sattler

The Schleitheim Confession

Top Anabaptist leaders convened a secret meeting in the Swiss town of Schleitheim where they drew up a confession to bring some order within their loose organization. Michael Sattler, with his leadership experience was probably the author of the ‘Schleitheim Confession’ which gave the Brethren a needed sense of identity and direction. 1

The Anabaptists affirmed the central historic doctrines of the faith. But in this confession they were dealing with problem areas - what to them were the hot issues on which they had to clarify their positions. They covered 7 points. 1

Baptism. Not for infants, but for those instructed in the faith who were ready to follow new life in Christ. 1

Excommunication, or the ‘ban’. This was included to provide a method for dealing with members of their fellowship who became unfaithful in their Christian walk. First there was to be personal admonition, then private discipline, and then, if necessary, discipline openly before the congregation according to Matthew 18. 1

1 Christian History Institute

The Schleitheim Confession

The Lord’s Supper. This was reserved for those who were baptized (per #1 above) confessing Christians. 1 & 2

Separation from the world. Believers were to live apart and not fellowship with those living in contradiction to Scriptures. 1

Pastors. Biblical standards for pastors set forth. 1

Use of the sword (violence). While it was acknowledged that civil magistrates might use force to restrain evil, physical violence was not permitted for Christians, nor the church, whose weapons were ‘spiritual’. 1

Oaths. Believers were not to swear oaths but to let their “yea be yea,” and “nay be nay” according to Matthew 5:34, 37. 1

1 Christian History Institute 2 The terminology sacrament is generally rejected. Pilgram Marpeck, an Anabaptist leader in central Germany, wrote, “The true meaning of communion is mystified and obscured by the word sacrament.” Breaking of bread is the term used for the communion. The Anabaptist view of communion is the same as Zwingli in that it is a memorial service where the bread and wine symbolize Christ’s body and blood.

Radical Reformation

Magisterial Reformation

As citizens of the Kingdom of God they rejected the authority of the state.

State controlled Church over independent churches.

Scripture: The assertion that the Bible as God's written word is the only source of Christian doctrine.

Scripture: Was in principle content to allow practices not contrary to Scripture, even if not explicitly affirmed by Scripture.

Baptism: Generally believed in Believers Baptism

Baptism: Generally believed in Infant Baptism

Free will: Free will to accept or reject Christ's gift of salvation.

Free will: No choice to accept or reject salvation. Salvation is predetermined.

Justification: Although they believed in justification by faith alone, they had to demonstrate good works and live according to a high moral standard.

Justification: Believed in justification by faith alone.

Church discipline: Pacifists. Those who did not conform were excommunicated (as per the Biblical practice) and sometimes exiled from the community.

Church discipline: Being state churches, the state sometimes enforced their beliefs as ruthlessly as Catholic governments i.e. besides excommunication, death for heretics or dissidents.

Radical vs Magisterial teaching

Dutch reformer: Menno Simons

At his parents’ wish Menno Simons prepared for the Roman Catholic priesthood. His studies grounded him in Greek and philosophy, but not the Bible. That book he feared to open. Ordained when 28, he embarked upon a routine of masses, infant baptism, services for the dead - not to mention drinking, card-playing and other frivolities. But reformation hovered in the air. 1

Outwardly conformed to his church, he struggled inwardly to believe that bread and wine became Christ’s literal body and blood. For 2 years he was in torment of mind. Finally, fearfully, he opened the Bible to see what it said. To his dismay he found no direct support for this doctrine of transubstantiation… In desperation he opened a forbidden work by Luther. No man could be damned for violating the commands of men, said Luther. Relief flooded Menno’s soul. He decided he would trust the scripture. 1

Still he did not break with the church. Not for 10 more years would he do that. Later he admitted that he had enjoyed comforts too much to make the break. All the same he continued to read the Bible and acquired a reputation as a good man and Bible preacher. But a new crisis was developing within him. 1

1 Source: Christian History Institute

Menno Simons

When Sicke Freerks, an Anabaptist tailor, was beheaded for receiving re-baptism his martyrdom shook Menno. In Freerks he saw a man willing to die for his faith. Menno pored over his Bible, studying baptism, and concluded the Anabaptists were right; but he did not join them. 1

This is not surprising. Many peasants interpreted freedom of conscience as freedom from restraint. Under the cloak of Anabaptist ideas, they revolted, seizing the city of Munster. After a cruel siege they were massacred. Europe’s rulers, fearing an uprising of the lower classes, hounded all Anabaptists as insurrectionists. 1

Menno preached against the errors of the Anabaptist revolutionaries. Yet he knew himself a hypocrite, without the strength of spirit to deter others from joining violent sects… A group of radicals took up swords and occupied an old cloister where they were eventually massacred by troops. Menno’s conscience smote him. These men were willing to die for a lie while he, Menno, would not suffer for truth. He fell to his knees, pleading for forgiveness, and rose, determined to preach unadulterated truth. 1

For 9 months he spoke boldly from his pulpit before voluntarily resigning his priesthood in 1536 and joining the Anabaptists.

1 Source: Christian History Institute

Menno Simons

Then for a year he lived in seclusion, studying the Bible, until brethren begged him to shepherd them. After a severe struggle within himself, for he guessed what he must suffer, he agreed. It was a fateful decision. Decent Anabaptists from Northern Europe noted his common sense and turned to him. He kept the movement from degenerating into fanatical cults. Traders and tinkers took up his teaching and it spread. 1

For the next 25 years he (like Luther before him) lived with a price on his head. While Luther at least could exercise a ministry in a friendly political environment, Menno’s ministry had to be clandestine on account of political hostility. He and his people were harassed by Roman and Reformed authorities alike.

Charles V offered 100 guilders for Menno’s capture, forbade the reading of his works, and made it illegal to aid or shelter him. Menno’s followers were to be arrested. Criminals were offered pardon if only they would betray him. 1

To know Menno Simons was dangerous; to befriend him, deadly. For sheltering Menno, Tjard Reynders was broken on the wheel. A ferryman was executed for bearing Menno down the Meuse River. 1

1 Source: Christian History Institute

Menno Simons

Menno lived on the run, unable to find in all the country a hut “in which my poor wife and our little children could be put up in safety for a year or two.” 2 of his 3 children died before him. 1

Menno’s wife died. He became crippled, hobbling with a crutch. Yet he labored for Christ, urging others to repent and lead pure lives. 1

In spite of these woes, Menno continued to lead his people. He wrote simple books to meet their spiritual needs. Unlike others who bore the name Anabaptist, his followers remained law abiding. 1

Anabaptists and Mennonites offered such powerful witness at their executions that these were increasingly carried on in secret with the martyrs gagged. Since some managed to free their tongues a clamp was placed over their tongue and the tip burned so it could not slip back through the vise.

Baron Bartholomew von Ahlefeldt of Denmark, deeply impressed by Mennonite faith under persecution, opened his lands to their refugees. When the King of Denmark urged him to expel them, he refused. Menno was one of those who took refuge on the baron’s lands.

1 Source: Christian History Institute

Menno Simons

Menno renounced war, called for separation of church and state, 1 and pleaded for freedom of conscience. All people must accept Christ’s sovereignty and the church must be a faithful witness for Christ. 2

Menno died in 1561, having eluded capture to the end. Not a great theologian, he was nonetheless a man of powerful influence, for he lived as he preached. Authorities largely agree he steered the Dutch and nearby German Anabaptists from fanaticism and disintegration. His ideas survive with the Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites, and influenced other Protestants such as the Baptists. 2 1 Largely forgotten today is that the original call for separation of church and state was to protect the church from the state. 2 Source: Christian History Institute

Menno Simons (1496–1561)

Baptists & Anabaptists: What’s the Difference?

The Anabaptists had their beginnings in the early 1520s in Zürich, Switzerland, as a splinter group from Zwingli’s reform movement there. 2

The modern Baptists began in England in 1609 under John Smyth 1 (c. 1554-1612). Some of them sought refuge in Holland in their early years and came into direct contact with Anabaptists there, and these Baptists were no doubt influenced by them to some degree. 2

Possibly due to Mennonite influence, Smyth’s group who had arrived as Calvinists (like most Puritans and Separatists 3) now adopted Arminianism.

1 (A) Some see Baptists as an offshoot of the Anabaptists (which some view as a product of the Reformation and others view as a continuation of the older pre-Reformation non-Catholic churches). (B) Others see Baptists as a separation from the Church of England in the early 1600s with Puritan separatists John Smyth and Thomas Helwys as the key founders. (C) The perpetuity view traces Baptists through dissenters (Donatists, Waldensians etc) back to Jesus. This view holds that the Jerusalem church founded by Christ was Baptist in character and that like churches have had perpetual existence until the present. It considers that the Baptist movement predates the Catholic church and is therefore not part of the Protestant Reformation. 2 Christian History Institute 3 Many in England thought that the English Reformation was not thorough enough and that the Church of England was still too Catholic. These dissenters wanted to ‘purify’ the Church of all unscriptural papist tradition and were known as Puritans or Separatists.

They also began to argue, as no other English Puritan or Separatist group did, for complete religious liberty and church-state separation, something Anabaptists had been advocating for nearly a century.

Although both Anabaptist and Baptists rejected Infant Baptism and only practiced Believers Baptism, Baptists baptize by immersion, whereas historically many Anabaptists practiced pouring. 2

John Smyth insisted that true worship was from the heart and that any form of reading from a book in worship was an invention of sinful man. This rejection of liturgy remains strong among many Baptists still today. Prayer, singing and preaching had to be completely spontaneous. 1

He introduced a twofold church leadership, that of pastor and deacon. This was in contrast to the Reformational trifold leadership of Pastor-Elder, Lay-Elders, and Deacons. 1

Thomas Helwys returned to England in 1611 and founded the first Baptist congregation on British soil in Spitalfields outside London. These first Baptists were later called General Baptists (Arminian) to distinguish them from the Particular Baptists (Calvinist) that arose a generation later. 1 Source: Wikipedia 2 This only came with time though as Smyth (in Anabaptist style) baptized himself with a bucket before baptizing the rest of the congregation.

Baptists & Anabaptists: What’s the Difference?




Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs. Many Congregational churches claim their descent from the original Congregational churches, a family of Protestant denominations formed on a theory of union published by the theologian Robert Browne in 1592 and arising from the Nonconformist religious movement in England during the Puritan reformation. In Great Britain, the early congregationalists were called separatists or independents to distinguish themselves from the similarly Calvinistic Presbyterians, and some congregationalists there still call themselves ‘Independents’. 1

Pietism was a movement within Lutheranism, lasting from the late 17th century to the mid 18th century and later. It proved to be very influential throughout Protestantism and Anabaptism, inspiring not only Anglican priest John Wesley to begin the Methodist movement, but also Alexander Mack to begin the Brethren movement. The Pietist movement combined the Lutheranism of the time with the Reformed, and especially Puritan, emphasis on individual piety, and a vigorous Christian life. 1 1 Wikipedia


Mayflower Pilgrims landing on Cape Cod in 1620

Church growth: North America

England began to establish colonies in North America, many with the purpose of spreading Christianity or establishing more Biblical Christian governments. The first successful English settlement in what was to become the USA was Jamestown, Virginia established in 1607.

Pilgrim Fathers is a name commonly applied to the early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. They had fled England for the relative calm of the Netherlands to preserve their religion. Concerned with losing their cultural identity, the group later arranged with English investors to establish a new colony in North America. The colonists faced a lengthy series of challenges, from bureaucracy, impatient investors and internal conflicts to sabotage, storms, disease, and uncertain relations with the indigenous people. Their story has become a central theme of the history and culture of the US. 1

1 Source: Wikipedia

William Penn, married to a Quaker, was granted the State of Pennsylvania, and converted it into a paradise of peace for any religious belief.

The Mennonites in Holland went to Pennsylvania in 1653.

The Hutterine Brethren also went to Pennsylvania.

The Amish went to Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Roger Williams was “a notable proponent of religious toleration and the separation of church and state, and an advocate for fair dealings with Native Americans”.1 He bought Providence, Rhode Island, from the Indians, rather than just seizing it and founded the first Baptist church in America in 1639.

1 Wikipedia

The Amish

Church growth: North America


% Christian



Evangelization of world











































































































Source: David Barrett


The gifts of

the Holy Spirit

Cessasionists claim that supernatural gifts ceased after the completion of the NT as they were no longer required. They claim that this is supported by Church History but we have repeatedly seen that this cannot be substantiated by the historical evidence.

Martin Luther stated in a conversation with Cochelus, “I have had revelations.” He also said, “I have learned under this Spirit’s guidance,” and that he relied on the revelation of God - through the Word, but via the Spirit in a personal manner. 1 & 2 “Often has it happened, and still does, that devils have been driven out in the name of Christ; also by calling on His name and prayer, the sick have been healed.” 3

The reformer Martin Bucer affirmed prophecy through the aid of the Holy Spirit and the subjective, inner call of the Holy Spirit to ministry. 4

The Anabaptists were more extreme than Luther and Bucer. They insisted upon the ‘free course’ of the Holy Spirit in worship, yet still maintained it all must be judged according to the Scriptures. 5 It was not unusual for them to dance, fall under the power of the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. 6 In Germany some Anabaptists, “excited by mass hysteria, experienced healings, glossolalia, 7 contortions and other manifestations of a camp-meeting revival.” 8

1 Martin Luther, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church 2 John S. Oyer, Lutheran Reformers Against the Anabaptist 3 Gordon, The Ministry of Healing 4 W. Peter Stephens, The Holy Spirit in the Theology of Martin Bucer 5 John S. Oyer, Lutheran Reformers Against Anabaptists 6 Franklin H. Little, The Origins of Sectarian Protestantism 7 i.e. speaking in tongues 8 George Williams, “The Radical Reformation”

The gifts of the Holy Spirit

One Swiss Anabaptist document 1 states that the reason for not attending the state churches is these institutions forbid the congregation to exercise spiritual gifts according to “the Christian order as taught in the gospel or the Word of God in 1 Cor 14.” “When such believers come together, ‘Everyone of you (note every one) hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation,’ etc… When someone comes to church and constantly hears only one person speaking, and all the listeners are silent, neither speaking nor prophesying, who can or will regard or confess the same to be a spiritual congregation, or confess according to 1 Cor 14 that God is dwelling and operating in them through His Holy Spirit with His gifts…”

Jacob Hutter… claimed authority from miracles in his life. The Hutterite Chronicle contains several accounts of miraculous events. Among other Anabaptist examples of charismatic expression were the “prophetic processions” (at Zürich in 1525, at Munster in 1534 and at Amsterdam in 1535). 2

1 “Answer of Some Who Are Called (Ana)Baptists - Why They Do Not Attend the Churches” (1532-1534) 2 Klaassen, Anabaptism: Neither Catholic Nor Protestant

The gifts of the Holy Spirit

Jacob Hutter

Pilgram Marpeck rebukes those who exclude the existence of divine miracles and signs. He says, “Nor does Scripture assert this exclusion… God has a free hand even in these last days.” He speaks of those who had been raised from the dead: “Many of them have remained constant, enduring tortures inflicted by sword, rope, fire and water and suffering terrible, tyrannical, unheard-of deaths and martyrdoms, all of which they could easily have avoided by recantation. Moreover one also marvels when he sees how the faithful God… raises from the dead several such brothers and sisters of Christ after they were hanged, drowned, or killed in other ways. Even today, they are found alive and we can hear their own testimony… Cannot everyone who sees, even the blind, say with a good conscience that such things are a powerful, unusual, and miraculous act of God? Those who would deny it must be hardened men.” 1

Menno Simons says, “Although Peter was previously informed by a heavenly vision that he might go to the Gentiles and teach them the gospel, still he refused to baptize the pious, noble and godly centurion and his associates so long as he did not see the Holy Spirit was descended upon them, so that they spoke with tongues and glorified God… Peter commanded that those only should be baptized who had received the Holy Ghost, who spoke with tongues and glorified God.”

1 The Writings of Pilgram Marpeck

The gifts of the Holy Spirit

Felix Manz had special revelations where, once or twice in prison and elsewhere certain epistles of Paul were revealed to him as if he had them before his eyes. 1

One man named Martin whom authorities led across a bridge to execution in 1531 prophesied, “this once yet the pious are led over this bridge, but no more hereafter.” Just “a short time afterwards such a violent storm and flood came that the bridge was demolished.” 2

1600’s - The Camisards 3 also spoke sometimes in languages that were unknown: “Several persons of both sexes,” James Du Bois of Montpellier recalled, “I have heard in their Extasies pronounce certain words, which seemed to the Standers-by, to be some Foreign Language.” These utterances were sometimes accompanied by the gift of interpretation. 4

1600’s - Early Quakers, such as Edward Burrough, make mention of tongues speaking in their meetings: “We spoke with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance, and His Spirit led us.” 5

1 Horsch, “The Faith of the Swiss Brethren II” 2 Martyrs’ Mirror 3 French Protestants (Huguenots) 4 John Lacy “A Cry from the Desert” The Charismatic Movement. 5 Edward Burrough. Epistle to the Reader, prefix to George Fox, “The Great Mystery of the Great Whore Unfolded and Antichrist’s Kingdom Revealed Unto Destruction”.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit

The Five solas are 5 Latin phrases that emerged during the Protestant Reformation and summarize the Reformers’ basic theological beliefs in contrast to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day.

The Latin word sola means ‘alone’ or ‘only’ in English. The Five solas articulated 5 fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation, pillars which the Reformers believed to be essentials of the Christian life and practice. 1

Sola Scriptura (“by Scripture alone”)

Soli Deo Gloria (“glory to God alone”)

Solus Christus (“Christ alone”)

Sola Gratia (“by grace alone”)

Sola Fide (“by faith alone”)

1 RealTech Resource Library

Five Solas

Sola Scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God. It asserts that the Bible as God’s written word is self-authenticating, clear to the rational reader, its own interpreter (“Scripture interprets Scripture”), and sufficient of itself to be the only and final authority of Christian doctrine.

Sola Scriptura does not indicate that the Bible stands alone apart from God but that it is the instrument of God by which He reveals himself for salvation through faith in Christ.

Sola Scriptura may be contrasted with Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox teaching, in which doctrine is taught by the teaching authority of the Church, drawing on the ‘Deposit of Faith’, based on what they consider to be ‘Sacred Tradition’, of which Scripture is a subset.

Sola Scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the reformer Martin Luther. He taught that Scripture alone is the source of authority for the Church. At the Leipzig Debate in 1519 Martin Luther pointed out that while the writing of the Church Fathers and early church councils were useful, they were not of equal authority to Scripture, as the Fathers and Councils had often contradicted each other.

Sola Scriptura (“by Scripture alone”)

A key implication of Sola Scriptura is that the Church and its leaders do not hold the same authority as the Scriptures themselves; hence, the Church leaders are subject to correction by the Scriptures, even by an individual member of the Church.

Luther said, “a simple layman armed with Scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it.”

John Wesley stated in the 18th century, “In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church.”

The intention of the Reformation was to correct the errors of the Catholic Church by appeal to the Bible’s authority and to reject added-on tradition as a source of authority, wherever tradition did not have Biblical support or where it expressly contradicted Scripture.

Protestants argued that the Scriptures are guaranteed to remain true to their divine source; and, thus, only insofar as the Church retains Scriptural faith is it assured of God’s favour. Following such an argument, if the Church were to fall away from faith through Scripture, its authority would be negated.

Sola Scriptura

Therefore, the early Protestants targeted for elimination traditions and doctrines they believed were based on distortions of Scripture, or were contrary to the Bible, such as transubstantiation, the doctrine of purgatory, the veneration of images or icons, and especially the doctrine that the Pope is the head of the Church on earth.

The Reformers believed that no matter how venerable the traditional source, traditional authority is always open to question by comparison to what the Scriptures say. The individual may be forced to rely on his understanding of Scripture even if the whole tradition were to speak against him.

This, they said, had always been implicitly recognized in the Church, and remains a fail-safe against the corruption of the Church by human error and deceit.

William Tyndale wrote, “But as Christ bids us beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, so beware of their counterfeited keys, and of their false net; which are their traditions and ceremonies, their hypocrisy and false doctrine, wherewith they catch, not souls unto Christ, but authority and riches unto themselves.” 1

1 The Obedience of A Christian Man (1528)

Sola Scriptura vs tradition

In May, 1453, the Turks had stormed Constantinople, and the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire fell to the Moslem invaders. Greek scholars fled westward and brought with them a scholarship which had been almost forgotten in the West… Scriptures began to be studied in the original Greek, rather than the Latin Vulgate. 1

Although he remained a Catholic all his life, the Catholic Counter-Reformation movement often condemned Dutch scholar Erasmus as having “laid the egg that hatched the Reformation.” This criticism arose from the fact that in 1516 Erasmus was responsible for the first printed Greek NT.

This text was the first of the Textus Receptus (Latin: ‘received text’) series, the name given to the succession of Greek NT texts which were used to translate the original German Luther Bible, the English NT of William Tyndale, the KJV, and most other Reformation-era NT translations.

1 Christian History Institute

Greek versus Latin

Desiderius Erasmus by Hans Holbein

The invention of the printing press and the printing of the first book (a Bible) in 1456, by Johan Gutenberg, was one very positive development which made possible the rapid dissemination of Reformation doctrines. 1

A century earlier, Wycliffe and Huss had inspired dedicated movements for Bible study and Reform. But the absence of adequate printing technology severely limited the distribution of their writings. As a result, their ideas did not spread as rapidly or as far as they could have done.

John Foxe, the 16th century author of the ‘Book of Martyrs’ wrote: “Although through might the pope stopped the mouth of John Huss, God has appointed the Press to preach, whose voice the pope is never able to stop…”

1 Dr. Peter Hammond - Christian Action Network

The printing press

The Scriptures became more available for the common person as Luther translated into German and Tyndale into English in the 1520’s.

Luther showed the way and other Reformers continued his work of using print technology to mass-produce Scriptures and Reformation publications. By God’s grace, the printing press provided the spiritual weaponry needed to make the Reformation succeed.

Martin Luther understood that books and pamphlets speak long after the preacher has left the pulpit. Luther described printing as: “God’s highest and extremist act of grace, whereby the business of the Gospel is driven forward.”

Luther recognised the power of printing to mobilise grass roots support for Reformation. He wrote prolifically – more than 400 titles, including commentaries, sermons and pamphlets that attacked Catholic superstitions and abuses and which promoted Biblical doctrines. In the first 3 critical years after Luther posted his 95 Theses in Wittenberg, from 1517 to 1520, Luther published 30 pamphlets and flooded Germany with 400 000 copies. Luther’s writings dominated the market and were far and away the most popular. By 1523, half of all the printed works in Germany were Luther’s works.

Sola Scriptura: Luther

Luther has sometimes been described as the world’s first great journalist. Why did his writings succeed in changing history? He wrote in the common language, instead of in the scholarly Latin – which was only understood by the educated elite of society.

Martin Luther could be described as a pastor, preacher, teacher, theologian, professor, composer and Reformer. But perhaps his greatest achievement was the German Bible. When his NT in German was published in 1522, it created a sensation. 5000 copies were sold in the first 2 months alone! It was the first time a mass medium had ever impacted everyday life. And it was affordable – even to the poor - for but a weeks wages! Almost everyone in Germany either read Luther’s translation, or listened to it being read.

Luther’s Bible translation inspired and guided similar translations of the Bible into local languages in Holland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and England. One of the many ways Luther left his mark was the order in which he placed the books of the Bible, to which we adhere to this day. Before Luther there had been no uniform arrangement. Luther’s translations particularly guided William Tyndale in his translation of the Bible into English.

Sola Scriptura: Luther

In 1519 an admirer of Zwingli placed a printing press at the reformer’s disposal, and his bold new ideas spread far beyond the confines of Zürich.

Zwingli’s theology was based on a single principle: if the Bible did not say something explicitly and literally, then no Christian should believe or practice it. There is an important shift that resulted from this position, which is the literal reading of the Bible. No longer would these texts be dark and mysterious, full of difficult and allegorical meanings; instead, the text of the Bible became something like statute law.

The words meant what they said. While theologians debated the allegorical and figurative meanings of Scripture, the literal reading of Scripture meant that it was possible to have one and only one meaning of the text. From this profound shift in the reading of the Bible developed one of the most strict applications of these writings to social life.

Not only were practices not contained in Scriptures to be shunned, but practices, beliefs, and rules that were contained in the literal meaning of the Bible were to be adhered to absolutely and uncritically.

This became the underpinning of the social theories and organization of radical Protestant and Puritan societies and later the foundational social organization of the English colonies in America.

Sola Scriptura: Ulrich Zwingli

Tyndale was a gifted scholar and linguist 1 who was the first to translate the NT into English directly from the original Greek, and most of the OT from Hebrew. Tyndale’s was the first Bible to be printed in English. He had these (illegal) Scriptures printed in Germany 2 and smuggled the contraband into England in bales of cotton.

There is a famous incident in which Tyndale was in the company of a learned man who said: “It’s better we be without God’s law, than without those of the Pope.” Hearing that, Tyndale answered, “I defy the Pope and all his laws,” and “If God spare my life, before many years pass, I will cause a plough-boy to know more of the Scriptures than you do.” 3

Tyndale realized the value of Scripture in the common tongue, “I had perceived by experience, how that it was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth, except the Scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text.” 4 1 One of Tyndale’s associates commented that he was “so skilled in 8 languages – Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, English and German, that whichever he speaks, you might think it his native tongue!” 2 He is believed to have translated the NT in Wittenberg, under the aid of Luther. 3 Modern paraphrase from “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” 4 Preface to The Pentateuch

Sola Scriptura: Tyndale

William Tyndale (c. 1494-1536)

Tyndale lived as a fugitive in Europe but was betrayed by a Judas ‘friend’, Henry Philips (possibly an agent of English ecclesiastics or of Henry VIII). He was arrested and imprisoned in the castle of Vilvoorden in Belgium for over 500 days under horrible conditions. Tyndale was tried and convicted for heresy and treason in a mock trial. He was then strangled and burnt at the stake in 1536.

His last words were, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.” This prayer was answered 3 years later when Henry VIII ordered that English Bibles be placed in every church (20,000) in England. The English ‘Great Bible’, as it was known, was basically a revision of Tyndale’s translation done by his friend Myles Coverdale.

Sola Scriptura: Tyndale

Much of Tyndale’s work eventually found its way to the KJV (or Authorised Version) of the Bible, 2 published in 1611, which, though the work of 54 independent scholars, is based primarily on Tyndale’s translations. 3

Tyndale: “I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me.” 1

Tyndale wrote that Church authorities banned translation into the mother tongue “to keep the world still in darkness, to the intent they might sit in the consciences of the people, through vain superstition and false doctrine, to satisfy their filthy lusts, their proud ambition, and insatiable covetousness, and to exalt their own honour… above God himself.”

Tyndale’s mission was to make the Bible accessible to all. His translation was undeniably Lutheran in tone, replacing traditional words with new ones that argued a shift in the balance of religious power: ‘Congregation’ instead of Church; ‘elder’ in place of priest; and ‘repentance’ for penance.

1 Foxe’s Book of Martyrs 2 The NT of the KJV is drawn 84% word for word from Tyndale and more than 75% of the OT books. The quality of his translations has stood the test of time, coming relatively intact even into modern Bible versions. 3 Wikipedia

Sola Scriptura: Tyndale

Scripture is infallible.

Jesus said, “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35) and “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matt 24:35)

Scripture is ‘inspired’ by God:

2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed…

2 Pet 1:20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Sola Scriptura: Biblical perspective

As such, “All Scripture… is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

The idea of the singular authority of Scripture is the motivation behind much of the Protestant effort to translate the Bible into vernacular languages and distribute it widely. Protestants believe that each Christian should read the Bible for themselves and evaluate what they have been taught on the basis of it.

Even Paul’s message was ‘tested’ by the Bereans against the Word of God. Luke tells us that “… the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)

Martin Luther wrote, “The true rule is this: God’s Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel can do so.”

Gal 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 1

1 Smalcald Article

Sola Scriptura: Biblical perspective

Scripture must not be ignored, because it enlightens us.

2 Pet 1:19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

Only if we put Scripture into practice, will we be able to face life’s storms and overcome:

Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Jesus also promised that, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7)

Sola Scriptura: Biblical perspective

If we believe in Jesus’ words, we are promised ‘eternal life’:

John 4:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”

John 8:51 “I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

If we reject Jesus’ words, we will face judgment:

John 12:48 “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”

Sola Scriptura: Biblical perspective

Knowledge of the Scripture is instrumental in our salvation:

2 Tim 3:15 … from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Doctrine is important. It is formulated from Scripture and we are commanded to watch our doctrine closely.

1 Tim 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching… 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

2 Tim 4:1-4 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Sola Scriptura: Biblical perspective

Scripture is our guard against error:

Jesus reprimanded the Sadducees by saying, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Matt 22:29)

Like the medieval church, the Pharisees had supplanted Scriptural authority with tradition.

Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees by saying, “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” (Matt 15:6)

Thus the Sadducees were ignorant of Scripture and the Pharisees venerated tradition above Scripture.

Sola Scriptura: Biblical perspective

Soli Deo Gloria is the teaching that all glory is to be due to God alone, since salvation is accomplished solely through his will and action — not only the gift of the all-sufficient atonement of Jesus on the cross but also the gift of faith in that atonement, created in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit. 1

The reformers believed that human beings—even saints canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, the popes, and the ecclesiastical hierarchy—are not worthy of the glory that was accorded them. That is that one should not exalt such humans for their good works, but rather praise and give glory to God who is the author and perfecter of these people and their good works. 1

1 RealTech Resource Library

Soli Deo Gloria (“glory to God alone”)

Solus Christus is the teaching that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that there is salvation through no other but “by Christ alone”. It rejects all other mediators between God and man like Mary and the ‘saints’.

1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…

By definition a mediator is one who brings estranged parties to an amicable agreement. In the NT the estranged parties are God and man, and the mediator is Christ.

1 John 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

Heb 7:25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Solus Christus (“Christ alone”)

Since Christ is the only mediator, not only is there no need for other ‘mediators’ like Mary and ‘saints’, but there is no need for human priests to mediate.

Our belief in ‘Solus Christus’ means we reject ‘sacerdotalism’, which is the belief that there are no sacraments in the church without the services of priests ordained by apostolic succession under the authority of the pope.

We believe instead in “the priesthood of all believers”, denying the exclusive use of the title ‘priest’ (‘sacerdos’ in Latin) to the clergy.

Rev 1:5-6 …To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father….

Solus Christus (“Christ alone”)

The effectiveness of a mediator is measured by their influence with the parties they have to reconcile. The best qualified mediator would be one who is essentially ‘one’ with both parties. A mother might be the best mediator between her husband and her son. But husband, mother and son, are 3 persons; Jesus Christ, God and man, is only one person, identical with God, identical with man.

As the ‘last Adam’, Jesus is the head of mankind and, therefore, its natural representative. By His human origin Christ is a member of the human family; by reason of His divine nature, He is “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15).

Being both God and man Jesus is able to mediate and reconcile the 2 estranged parties:

Col 1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of a your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…

Solus Christus (“Christ alone”)

Sola gratia is the teaching that salvation comes by God’s grace or “unmerited favor” only — not as something merited by the sinner. This means that salvation is an unearned gift from God for Jesus’ sake. 1

We covered this aspect in detail in our previous study.

1 RealTech Resource Library

Sola gratia (“by grace alone”)

Sola fide is the teaching that justification is received by faith only, without any mixture of or need for good works, though saving faith is always evidenced by good works. 1

This doctrine is sometimes called the material cause or principle of the Reformation because it was the central doctrinal issue for Martin Luther and the other reformers. Luther called it the “doctrine by which the church stands or falls”… 1

What is faith?

Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

1 RealTech Resource Library

Sola fide (“by faith alone”)

BY HEARING GOD’S WORD (hence the importance of ‘Sola Scriptura’).

Rom 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

2 Tim 3:15 … from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Rom 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…

How do we get faith?


Eph 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works…

Acts 14:27 … God … had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.


Rom 3:27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith.

How do we get faith?


Rom 10:6 But the righteousness that is by faith says… 8 … “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”


Acts 20:21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

What is the evidence of saving faith?


Acts 26:17-18 I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’


Gal 3:12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

Rom 3:25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished

JUSTIFICATION (being declared right by God)

Rom 3:26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Benefits of faith

RIGHTEOUSNESS (Right-standing with God)

Rom 1:17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Rom 3:22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe….

Phil 3:7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.


Gal 3:26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…

Eph 3:12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence…17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

Benefits of faith

We live in an age where people have “faith in faith” or who are taught to have faith in themselves (basically humanism). You can have faith in anything, but it might not be worthy of your faith. The Scripture teaches that our faith must have Jesus as it’s object:

Acts 20:21 … have faith in our Lord Jesus.

2 Tim 3:14 … salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Jesus speaks of “those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:18)

Gal 3:26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…

Eph 3:12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God…

Rom 3:22 This righteousness… comes through faith in Jesus Christ….

Rom 3:26… the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Phil 3:9 … righteousness… which is through faith in Christ…

And the ‘saving faith’ is specifically in Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice:

Rom 3:25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood…

Faith must have a worthwhile object


Appendix 1: Munster

The Anabaptist position, already injured by the Peasants’ War, worsened when a rebel group under the sway of Jan Matthijs tried to establish Christ’s thousand year reign at Munster, Germany. Breaking with pacifist principles, the Munster Anabaptists fought government troops. Authorities besieged Munster, where a radical visionary named Jan of Leiden took control. Styling himself King David, he began to practice polygamy. The name Anabaptist took on new overtones of fanaticism because of this, although the majority remained the same peaceable people they had always been. King Ferdinand made no distinction, but ordered all Anabaptists rooted out. The peaceful folk fled into forests and hid in caves to save their lives. 1

1 Source: Christian History Institute

Jan of Leiden

This 1545 Bible in Low German is Luther's final revision of the High German Bible that he first published in 1534. It is one of only six known copies in the world.

Appendix 2: Luther’s Bible

Appendix 3: Tyndale

Tyndale is frequently referred to as the “architect of the English Language” as so many of the phrases he coined are still in our language today. David Daniell wrote, “Newspaper headlines still quote Tyndale, though unknowingly, and he has reached more people than even Shakespeare.” 1

Some English phrases (with modernized spelling) that originate in Tyndale’s translations of books of the Bible:

In the beginning God created heaven and earth. (Gen 1:1) Archaic spelling: In the begynnynge God created heaven and erth.

Let there be light. (Gen 1:3) Archaic spelling: Let there be lyghte.

Am I my brother’s keeper? (Gen 4:9)

The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make his face to shine upon thee and be merciful unto thee. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (Num 6:24-26)

Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. (Matt 5:4)

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. (Matt 6:9 )

1 William Tyndale: A Biography (Yale University Press)

Appendix 3: Tyndale

The signs of the times. (Matt 16:3)

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. (Matt 26:41)

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God... (John 1:1) Archaic spelling: In the beginnynge was the worde and the worde was with God: and the worde was God. The same was in the beginnynge with God. All thinges were made by it and with out it was made nothinge that was made. In it was lyfe and the lyfe was ye lyght of men and the lyght shyneth in the darcknes but the darcknes comprehended it not.

In him we live, move and have our being. (Acts 17:28) Archaic spelling: In him we lyve move and have oure beynge

A law unto themselves. (Romans 2:14)

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and yet had no love I were even as the sounding brass or as a tinkling cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)

Fight the good fight. (1 Timothy 6:12) Archaic spelling: Fyght ye good fyght of fayth.

Appendix 3: Tyndale

Tyndale wrote, “Mark this also, if God sends you to the sea, and promises to go with you, and to bring you safely to land, he will raise up a tempest against you, to prove whether you will abide by His Word, and that you may feel your faith, and perceive His goodness. For if it were always fair weather, and you never brought into such jeopardy, where only His mercy delivered you, your faith would be but a presumption, and you would be ever unthankful to God and merciless unto your neighbor.” 1

Tyndale: “For if God be on our side, what does it matter who be against us, be they bishops, cardinals, popes, or whatever names they choose?” 1

1 The Obedience of A Christian Man (1528) paraphrased

Appendix 4: Anabaptist quotes

“Oh, how easy it is to be a Christian, so long as the flesh is not put to the trial, or nothing has to be relinquished; then it is an easy thing to be a Christian.” - Maeyken Wens

“This is the true way to eternal life, which is found by so few, and walked by a still smaller number; for it is too narrow for them, and would cause their flesh too much pain.” - Jan Jans Brant

“Do you then take such pains to seek souls? Well then, go into the city, to every place, to the drunkards, whoremongers, swearers... these are still your brethren; go and seek their souls; Christ has found mine.” - Hans van Overdam

“But where you hear of a poor, simple, cast-off little flock, which is despised and rejected by the world, join them.” - Anna of Rotterdam

“Christ does not say, ‘Them that will not believe you, shut into cells or put great fetters on their legs.’” - Joos Kindt

“Though I am simple before men, I am not simple in the knowledge of the Lord.” – Claesken

“I will tell to the world an incredible thing: in a dark hole I have found pleasure; in a place of bitterness and death, rest and hope of salvation.” - Algerius

“Wake up, and give heed; you certainly see it is not in human power what the Lord enables us to do, that we can leave our dear children, yea, joyfully resign our lives, for the honor of God.” - Claesken

“Do you think we run on uncertainties? … We forsake our dear children, whom I would not forsake for the whole world, and we stake upon it all we have - should we run on uncertainties yet?” - Claesken

“I leave you here; Oh, that it had pleased the Lord, that I might have brought you up; I should so gladly have done my best with respect to it; but it seems that it is not the Lord’s will.” - Janneken Munstdorp

“Ask me, and I shall answer you: for I no longer feel the least pain in my flesh, as I did before.” - Elizabeth, during torture, AD 1549

“Christ has gone this way before us; and His beloved apostles likewise, and we His servants are not above our Lord.” - Adrian Corneliss

“It is now all over, I soon shall have conquered my last enemy… Oh my dear sister, how glad I was that I had kissed you once more.” - Janneken Munstdorp

Appendix 5: Anabaptist martyrs

No story of an Anabaptist martyr has captured the imagination more than the tale of Dirk Willems. Dirk was caught, tried and convicted as an Anabaptist in those later years of harsh Spanish rule under the Duke of Alva in The Netherlands. He escaped from a residential palace turned into a prison by letting himself out of a window with a rope made of knotted rags, dropping onto the ice that covered the castle moat. Seeing him escape, a palace guard pursued him as he fled. Dirk crossed the thin ice of a pond… safely. His own weight had been reduced by short prison rations, but the heavier pursuer broke through. Hearing the guard’s cries for help, Dirk turned back and rescued him. The less-than-grateful guard then seized Dirk and led him back to captivity… Soon he was led out to be burned to death… A Christian, so compassionate that he risked recapture in order to save the life of his drowning pursuer, stimulates respect and memory. 1

Joris Wippe (1558), was drowned in a wine cask filled with water by a soldier because the executioner would not do the job. The executioner didn’t want to do it because Joris had often fed his wife and children. He was known as being liberal to the poor. It seemed no one wanted him dead for they respected his life and faith. He wrote several letters while imprisoned but he was watched closely so he couldn’t get any ink. He wrote his final letter to his family with mulberry juice. 1

1 Martyrs Mirror – Who are the Mennonites?


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