What is Anabaptism?

Anabaptism is a Christian tradition that emerged in the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation. While Anabaptism has its roots in historic Christianity, it has some distinct beliefs and practices that set it apart from other Christian traditions. In this post, I will briefly be exploring the history and key beliefs and practices of Anabaptism, as well as its relationship with other Christian traditions and the state. I will also discuss the importance of discipleship and nonviolence in Anabaptist theology, and how these values shape Anabaptist communities both historically and in the present day.

History of Anabaptism:

Anabaptism emerged in the 16th century as a response to the Protestant Reformation. Anabaptists believed that the reformers had not gone far enough in their efforts to purify the church, and that true discipleship required a more radical approach. Anabaptists believed in the separation of church and state, and rejected the idea of infant baptism, instead insisting on believer’s baptism. This belief, along with their rejection of the state church, led to persecution and martyrdom for many Anabaptists.

Key Beliefs and Practices:

Anabaptism is perhaps best known for its commitment to pacifism and nonviolence. This commitment arises from the belief that Jesus’ life and teachings call for a rejection of violence and a commitment to peace. Anabaptists also emphasize the importance of community-oriented living, believing that Christians should live in intentional communities that prioritize service and sharing resources.

Examples of Anabaptist Practices:

Historically, Anabaptist beliefs have been put into practice in a variety of ways. During the 16th century, Anabaptists established communities that were often self-sufficient and sought to be separate from the larger society. In the 20th century, the Mennonite Central Committee was established to provide relief and development assistance to people around the world, reflecting the Anabaptist emphasis on service.


Neo-Anabaptism is a term used to describe the resurgence of Anabaptist ideas and practices in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Neo-Anabaptists seek to build intentional communities, live out pacifism and nonviolence, and prioritize discipleship. Neo-Anabaptists often see themselves as countercultural, seeking to reject the individualism and consumerism of modern society.


Anabaptism is a living Christian tradition that emphasizes pacifism, nonviolence, and community-oriented living. Anabaptists reject the state church and believe in the separation of church and state. The tradition emerged in the 16th century as a response to the Protestant Reformation, and has evolved over time. Neo-Anabaptism represents a resurgence of Anabaptist ideas and practices in the modern era. Anabaptism offers a distinctive approach to Christian discipleship, emphasizing the importance of service and living in community.

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