Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Schleitheim Confession

I have previously posted on this blog the Second London Baptist Confession. Before we return to that, I thought it would be enlightening for you to see some of the prior European confessions which set the stage for the Baptist confessions. I am not saying that the Baptist confessions necessarily depended on these prior confessions. Rather, these prior confessions set the context for understanding the Baptist confessions. You might compare it to entering a conversation in the middle. If you don't understand what the other people were talking about prior to your arrival, you may well have a hard time following the conversation. That is, you will not understand why the people are saying what they are saying. But if they fill you in on what they are discussing, you will have a clearer picture of what is going on. Similarly, if you understand the historical "conversation" of confessions, you will be better equipped to benefit from them.

Here is the first part of the Schleitheim Confession of 1527, a statement by Swiss Anabaptists which set forward their distinctive convictions. Perhaps their most significant contribution to the "conversation" was their insistence on a church composed only of believers.

The articles which we discussed and on which we were of one mind are these 1. Baptism; 2. The Ban [excommunication]; 3. Breaking of Bread; 4. Separation from the Abomination; 5. Pastors in the Church; 6. The Sword; and 7. The Oath.

First. Observe concerning baptism: Baptism shall be given to all those who have learned repentance and amendment of life, and who believe truly that their sins are taken away by Christ, and to all those who walk in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and wish to be buried with Him in death, so that they may be resurrected with him, and to all those who with this significance request it of us and demand it for themselves. This excludes all infant baptism, the highest and chief abominations of the pope. In this you have the foundation and testimony of the apostles. Mt. 28, Mk 16, Acts 2, 8, 16, 19. This we wish to hold simply, yet firmly and with assurance.

Second. We agree as follows on the ban: The ban shall be employed with all those who have given themselves to the Lord, to walk in His commandments, and with all those who have been baptized into the one body of Christ and who are called brethren and sisters, and yet who slip sometimes and fall into error and sin, being inadvertently overtaken. The same shall be admonished twice in secret and the third time openly disciplined or banned according to the command of Christ. Mt. 18. But this shall be done according to the regulation of the Spirit (Mt. 5) before the breaking of bread, so that we may break and eat one bread, with one mind and in one love, and may drink of one cup.

Third. In the breaking of bread we are of one mind and are agreed [as follows]: All those who wish to break one bread in remembrance of the broken body of Christ, and all who wish to drink of one drink as a remembrance of the shed blood of Christ, shall be united beforehand by baptism in one body of Christ which is the church of god and whose Head is Christ. For as Paul points out we cannot at the same time be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils; we cannot at the same time drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of the devil. That is, all those who have fellowship with the dead works of darkness have no part in the light. Therefore all who follow the devil and the world have no part with those who are called unto God out of the world. All who lie in the evil have no part in the good.

Therefore it is and must be [thus]: Whoever has not been called by one God to one faith, to one baptism, to one Spirit, to one body, with all the children of God’s church, cannot be made [into] one bread with them, as indeed must be done if one is truly to break bread according to the command of Christ.

1 comment:

Lavender Darwin said...

I love the Schleitheim confession, if for no other reason than the powerful testimony of Michael Sattler who was a big part of that time frame of its writing.