The Magisterial Reformation

FELIX MANZ: He was the first Anabaptist martyr of the Reformation (1527). He was executed in Zurich where Zwingli led the Reformation and the religious persecution against the Anabaptists. Manz was executed by drowning because he held to believer’s baptism, which was violently opposed by all the leading ‘Reformers’, including Martin Luther and John Calvin. These Reformers could not conceive of, or understand a spiritual experience of conversion that would actually lead a person to be baptised (again) when they had already been baptised as infants. This conversion experience is what Anabaptists bore testimony to, and it was for this reason that many of them were persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and killed. (See Short Résumé at end of page, which explains the meaning of ‘Magisterial’ Reformation. )

The Intolerance and Brutality of the Magisterial Reformation.                          

Below are eleven audio talks on the 16th Century Protestant Reformation, starting with some historical background.  I have also now produced a text version of these talks.  They are listed below and contain some extra material.  You can view the whole book, or choose specific chapters.  Several of the audio talks are also available as videos.      

TEXT VERSION

THE MAGISTERIAL REFORMATION: THE WHOKE BOOK

…OR CHOOSE FROM THE CHAPTERS BELOW:

CHAPER 1: FROM NEW TESTAMENT TIMES TO THE 1500S.

CHAPTER 2: REASONS FOR THE ‘SUCCESS’ OF THE REFORMATION.
                 ZWINGLI AND THE REFORMATION IN SWITZERLAND.

CHAPTER 3: THE SPREAD OF ANABAPTISM.
                 THE PERSECUTION OF THE ANABAPTISTS BY THE REFORMERS.
                 THE TEACHINGS OF THE REFORMERS ‘JUSTIFYING’ THEIR PERSECUTION OF OTHERS.
                 THE REFORMERS’ RELIGIOUS WORLDVIEW

CHAPTER 4: THE REFORMERS’ TEACHING ON THE CHURCH, INFANT BAPTISM AND CONVERSION.
                 THE REFORMERS’ FALSE NOTION OF THE CHURCH.
                 THE REFORMERS’ FALSE NOTION OF INFANT BAPTISM.
                 THE REFORMERS’ FALSE NOTION OF CONVERSION. THE REFORMERS DENY CONVERSION                               EXPERIENCE.

CHAPTER 5: THE CONDUCT OF THE REFORMERS
                  THE CONDUCT OF THE ANABAPTISTS
                  ICONOCLASM  The beginnings at Wittenberg.
                  The Reformation was a movement of outward religious reform,
                  not of spiritual renewal or awakening. 

CHAPTER 6: MARTIN LUTHER
                 The Peasants’ War. Luther Against the Jews. Colluding in Bigamy.

CHAPTER 7: FAREL, AND THE REFORMATION IN WESTERN SWITZERLAND (THE VAUD)
                 The story of the imposition of a religion on a reluctant people.
                 Bern, Neuchatel, Laussane and Geneva.
                 Useful background to Calvin’s arrival in Geneva.

CHAPTER 8: CALVIN’S EARLY PERIOD IN GENEVA
                 The imposition of an ‘external and disciplined religion’.
                 The arrival and ejection of Calvin from Geneva.

CHAPTER 9: CALVIN’S RETURN TO GENEVA
                  The difficulty of imposing religion on an unwilling people.
                  Calvin almost gives up.

CHPATER 10: THE EXECUTION OF SERVETUS
                   Reaction to the execution
                   Victory over political opponents
                   Summary and Conclusion

AUDIOS: THE MAGISTERIAL REFORMATION

Click on the Talk you wish to listen to, the audio will then load for you to listen to. If you click on the 3 vertical dots on the audio player, it will give you the option to download the file.

TALK 1   FROM NEW TESTAMENT TIMES TO THE 1500S.
TALK 2  FROM FROM THE MIDDLE AGES TO ULRICH ZWINGLI (THE REFORMATION IN ZURICH).
TALK 3  ZWINGLI AND THE ANABAPTISTS. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ‘MAGISTERIAL’ AND THE ‘RADICAL’ REFORMERS.
TALK 4  THE ANABAPTISTS AND PERSECUTION.
TALK 5  THE TEACHINGS OF THE MAGISTERIAL REFORMERS REGARDING THE ‘CHURCH’.
TALK 6  THE OUTLOOK AND CONDUCT OF THE REFORMERS AND THE ANABAPTISTS. MARTIN LUTHER.
TALK 7  MARTIN LUTHER, CONTINUED.
TALK 8  MARTIN LUTHER CONCLUDED. THE REFORMATION IN SWITZERLAND. WILLIAM FAREL.
TALK 9  JOHN CALVIN.
TALK 10  JOHN CALVIN CONTINUED.
TALK 11  THE EXECUTION OF MICHAEL SERVETUS. CONCLUSION.

I am also producing adapted extracts from the book that focus on some key features
that the reader might want quicker access to. However, more material on each topic  
is to be found in the book. The Extracts are listed below:

EXTRACT ONE: THE REFORMERS DENY PERSONAL CONVERSION

EXTRACT TWO: PERSECUTION AND EXECUTION UNDER THE MAGISTERIAL REFORMATION

EXTRACT THREE: THE VIOLENT ICONOCLASM OF THE REFORMATION AND THE IMPOSITION
OF THE REFORMED RELIGION ON COMMUNITIES.

VIDEOS: THE MAGISTERIAL REFORMATION

REFORMATION: TALK ONE
REFORMATION: TALK TWO
REFORMATION: TALK THREE
REFORMATION: TALK FOUR
REFORMATION: TALK FIVE
REFORMATION: TALK SIX
REFORMATION: TALK SEVEN
REFORMATION: TALK EIGHT
REFORMATION: TALK NINE
REFORMATION: TALK TEN
REFORMATION: TALK ELEVEN

SHORT RÉSUMÉ / EXPLANATION OF THE TERM, ‘MAGISTERIAL REFORMATION’:

In the 4th century, Roman Emperors first legalised the Christian religion in the Empire and then made it the religion of the State (from the time of Emperor Constantine). So you had the State (the Roman Emperors) working as one with the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church used, or sought to use the physical ‘arm’ of the State to put down all religious dissent or any departure from the dogma and practice of the Church. In general, the State obliged, as dissent or plurality in religion was seen as a threat to the stability of society and of government. The State Church could only be represented by ‘one’ church. In fact, to a great extent, the State power saw itself as the guardian of the security and orthodoxy of the church. The result was a religious dictatorship. All and any religious dissent was met with persecution, imprisonment, torture and death. The entity that emerged from this became known as ‘Christendom’. In other words, it was a process of the ‘Christianisation’ of the whole of society, where you end up with a ‘cultural’ or ‘nominal’ Christianity – a form of religion that denied the power thereof.

All the main Protestant Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Bucer, Oecolampadius) totally bought into this system, this marriage between Church and State power, which has also been called the ‘Constantinian’ or ‘Sacrilist’ system. However, as it was under the Roman Catholics, so it was under the Reformers. The latter regarded the State power (whether Princes in Germany or Councils and Magistrates in Switzerland) as ‘Christian’; they certainly regarded the civic authorities as responsible for maintaining  the unity and purity of the ‘Church’. Under the Reformers, no dissent was tolerated, no deviation from dogma or practice as imposed by them. Brutal religious dictatorship continued and was perpetuated by Protestant Reformers just as it had been under the Roman Catholics. The Reformers made sure that the state authorities persecuted, banished, imprisoned, and even tortured and killed dissenters, particularly the Anabaptists. While it would be true to say that the numbers tortured and killed were more under the Catholics, nevertheless, many of those thus tortured and killed by the Catholics were those who had been hounded out of Protestant lands and regions by the Reformers.

Many of those hounded, persecuted and killed by the Reformers were Anabaptists, who also sought for reform, but they wanted greater changes, such as the separation of church and state, freedom of conscience, and a quicker and total departure from Catholic beliefs and practices than the Reformers were generally willing to concede to. Thus the Anabaptist movement has also been given the name, the ‘Radical Reformation’, as it was far more ‘radical’ and total in its departure from Catholic practice and belief. The Anabaptists believed that the church consisted of those who had personally committed themselves to Christ as a result of a personal repentance and faith – through a personal conversion. Unlike the Reformers, the Anabaptist did not acknowledge or believe that infant baptism makes you a Christian or that it makes you a member of the Church. The Reformers most certainly did. This belief and outlook of the Reformers (a belief in the idea of Christendom – that the church consists of all those who have been infant-baptised in a given locality) represented a unassailable foundation for the unity and purity of both church and state.

All the leading Reformers were ruthless in their their persecution of the Anabaptists. They brought several charges against Anabaptists, but chief among them was that they believed in a personal conversion subsequent to infant baptism and that they believed in and practiced believer’s baptism as a result of that conversion.

In view of these things, the Protestant Reformers have become known as leading the ‘Magisterial Reformation’, because they used the power of the secular rulers (Princes, councils, magistrates) to punish and persecute dissenters, and, as I  have said, the Anabaptists were seen to be part of the ‘Radical Reformation’.

Contact:  info@romans5.com

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