You are our letter, …known and read by all men. -II Corinthians 3:2
1. Believer Baptism
All Anabaptists hold that baptism must be upon a confession of one’s faith as an adult. Furthermore, baptism to an Anabaptist includes repentance, surrender, and obedience. It is the beginning of a new life that includes the possibility of falling back into a life of sin.
These statements about believer baptism stand in contrast to a baptism that is only an event in infancy or adulthood where pardon and grace for sin are bestowed upon the individual by the pouring of water or submersion in it. And then the event is over. It is the difference between saying and doing.
The meaning of baptism to an Anabaptist is a lifelong vow to follow Jesus and keep His commandments. It is not just saying; it is doing.
2. Bible Believer
An Anabaptist accepts the written Word of God as his final rule of faith and practice. The Anabaptist views the New Testament as being God’s will for the present day church that is living in the Kingdom of God on earth— now. This means that the teachings of the New Testament are to be put into practice and not relegated to some future age.
Some of the plain marks of this life are: a literal woman’s prayer veiling, a modest lifestyle, honesty, non-resistance, Lord’s Day observance, the holy kiss, men as leaders, disciplined children, pure sexual life, and a secure family life. These are only some of the things that set Anabaptists apart from the world and its allurements and mark them as different than most contemporary churches.
3. Brotherhood Belt
Because Anabaptists are bound together as one under the Lordship of Christ, a special love for one another exists. That love means self-sacrifice for the good of others in the church. We call that special love “brotherhood.”
One belt of brotherhood stands for close-knit relationships and involvement in each others lives. It means intertwined lives that share common joys, sorrow, experiences, hopes, goals, and resources. It is close communion in every day life where brethren really learn to know each other as soul mates, rather than in a shallow world of virtual existence. Brotherhood to an Anabaptist is much more than once-a-week meeting and an annual picnic.
Leadership to an Anabaptist means a plural servant ministry instead of a professional clergy. We call our leaders “brothers” and “ministers” (servants), instead of “Reverend” or “Father”. Jesus taught us to stay away from elevating leaders to positions of power where they lord it over the souls of others.
Brotherhood binds Anabaptists together when danger threatens. When Satan attacks a believer through sickness, storm, or persecution, the brotherhood is there to support him. In need, a believer turns first to the brotherhood, rather than depending on insurance companies, government agencies, or community groups.
Brotherhood unites Anabaptists in a common desire to share our goods and the Gospel with those helpless suffering ones whether they are victims of disease, disaster, hunger, or war. Our hearts and our hands go out to them. For Jesus said, “If you see your brother in need and do not share your possessions with him, the love of God does not dwell in you (I John 3:17).
Take up your cross daily and follow Me. -Luke 9:23
I am suggesting that the same “B”s that characterized an early Anabaptist– Believer Baptism, Bible Believer, Brotherhood Belt– also tell what an Anabaptist is today. Yet there is one thing quite different today from those early times.
In the 1500’s, “Anabaptist” was a name placed upon the believers by those seeking to destroy them. In that time the name brought forth a vision of disgrace, suffering, and deliverance through death.
Today, to be called an Anabaptist does not automatically conjure bad images in the mind– burning crosses on your lawn, lynchings, police raids, jail time, or confiscation of property. In most of the “Christian” world the name has been sanitized of most of its stigma. If now designates in the mind of many people a respected, although somewhat peculiar group.
I ask then, “What does it mean to be an Anabaptist?” Count the cost. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Are you ready to take up your cross every day and be called and “Anabaptist”?
by: James G. Landis
taken from an article in Anabaptist Voice (Issue #1)