Feast of Felix Manz (January 4)   2 comments

Above:  Anabaptist Martyrs Memorial Plate, Zurich, Switzerland

Image Source = Roland zh

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FELIX MANZ (1498-JANUARY 5, 1527)

First Anabaptist Martyr

Christianity is divided into denominations which differ with each other on matters great and small.  Such disagreements might cause one justifiably to choose one denomination over others, but we need to remember that we need not kill each other over these matters.  Besides, we profess to follow the same Lord and Savior:  Jesus of Nazareth.  But do we act like him?

Consider the case of Felix Manz, a man with whom I disagree on the subject of baptism yet whose life and witness I admire and whose execution I deplore.    Manz, the son of a Roman Catholic priest, developed tendencies for his day.  At a time when church and state were frequently united, he favored the separation of the two.  The union of church and state led to the persecution of dissenters, such as Manz.  Based on his reading of the Bible, he opposed Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, and infant baptism.  He wrote and spoke of all these matters publicly.  Manz’s theological views led him to help found the Anabaptist movement at Zurich, Switzerland, in 1525.

The city council of Zurich had considerable power over the Reformed Church in that city, thus dissenters, such as Anabaptists, or rebaptizers, were allegedly threats to public order, for they raised questions certain authority figures preferred not to hear.  One, faced with a question–perhaps even a heresy–might formulate a well-reasoned theological answer and enter into a civil debate.  Or one might do what the government of Zurich did.

The government of Zurich imprisoned Manz (for life, they said) in 1526.  Later that year, it decreed that the penalty for adult rebaptism would be drowning.  Thus, on January 5, 1527, an agent of the government of Zurich pushed a bound Felix Manz into the river, where he drowned.  Other Anabaptists met the same fate.

It was murder.

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

May 16, 2010

The Seventh Sunday of Easter

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Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.  Inspire us with the memory of Felix Manz, whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from the Proper for Martyrs from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 2006, hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

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Revised on November 12, 2016

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Posted May 16, 2010 by neatnik2009 in January, Saints of the 1520s

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2 responses to “Feast of Felix Manz (January 4)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of St. Paschal Baylon (May 17) « SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

  2. Pingback: Feast of Menno Simons (January 31) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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