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The Hated Anabaptists
“One cannot and should not use force to compel anyone to accept faith, for faith is a free gift of God. It is wrong to compel anyone by force or coercion to embrace the faith, or to put to death anyone for the sake of his erring faith. It is an error that in the church and sword other than that of the divine Word should be used. The secular kingdom should be separated from the church, and no secular ruler should exercise authority in the church. The lord has commanded simply to preach the Gospel, not to compel anyone by force to accept it. The true church of Christ has the characteristic that it suffers and endures persecution but does not inflict persecution upon anyone” (Bender).
In order to realize the importance and to understand the problems of the Anabaptists, we need to look at the causes of the eventual movement from a historical perspective.
In the early 1500’s great changes were taking place in the European economy. The peasants, for example, were leading fairly pleasant lives on their farms. Taxes were low. Landowners who rented land to peasants started getting a little greedy and began collecting more rent for their land. Since the governing authorities were trying to enforce new laws of taxation, the peasants and the working class were badly affected. They were paying taxes in order to support the cities and nobility. This badly hurt their way of living. The value of money sank and prices of goods rose, which caused inflation in the economy. So, with the increase in taxes and rent there was great disappointment amongst the people. They became desparate and turned to anything they could find for comfort. One of these things was Religion. ( Jedin 3 )
The more educated class began examining documents and teachings of the church, which at this time were very strict. The church back then was not as it is today. The church was joined with the state, so everything that affected the church, aff...
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