Swiss vs. Dutch, then and now

Christian ethics and theology with an Anabaptist perspective
Bootstrap
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Re: Swiss vs. Dutch, then and now

Postby Bootstrap » Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:38 pm

Neto wrote:Is there any mention of this book (Golden Apples in Silver Bowls) in other works of that period, or is there any indication as to it having been adopted or endorsed by any body of congregations? (I don't mean to sound overly skeptical, I just want to know if it was possibly a 'lost book', or something expressing the opinion or view of one person or congregation, or a small group of congregations, as opposed to a majority of Swiss Brethren.)


We have printed copies that claim to have been printed in 1702, printed in Basel.

I don't know if there are references to it, but it is not a new work, it is a collection of writings, including Sattler's writings and the Dordrecht Confession. As GAMEO puts it:

Part I (403 pages) contains a number of writings of 16th-century Anabaptists:

    (1) the writings of Michael Sattler and the story of his martyrdom (1527);
    (2) the very popular Confessio of Thomas of Imbroich (d. 1558);
    (3) "Ein Testament von einer frommen Liebhaberin Gottes," by Soetgen van Houte (d. 1569);
    (4) eleven epistles by the Anabaptist martyr Matthias Servaes (d. 1565), together with
    (5) two epistles by another martyred brother Conrad Koch (1565).

All these documents are introduced by long and very moving prefaces, likewise of 16th-century origin, thus proving that these materials were simply reprints of old contemporary pamphlets which had been circulating among the brethren ever since the beginning. Now they were combined into one book to provide the persecuted Swiss Brethren with readings which could strengthen them in their tribulations.

Part II (94 pages) contains material of much later origin:

    (a) the Dordrecht Confession of Faith (1632), reprinted after the manual of T. T. van Sittert; and
    (b) "Several Christian Prayers" (apparently likewise taken from the 1664 manual but originating with Leenaert Clock, 1625) enlarged by some more pieces of unknown origin, showing a pietistic slant (pp. 72-94).


This seems to come from a mixture of Swiss Brethren (e.g. Sattler) and Dutch Mennonite (e.g. Dordrecht) sources. Which again makes me wonder how distinct these movements were.

I believe that the last work, "Several Christian Prayers", is the one people say is tinged by pietism. But I also wonder if some other early Anabaptists weren't a little more pietistic than modern Anabaptists think - I'm not sure about this, but I'm at least curious about some things I have seen that may indicate that.
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Bootstrap
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Re: Swiss vs. Dutch, then and now

Postby Bootstrap » Sun Oct 08, 2017 5:07 pm

Neto wrote:For some reason, the Swiss Brethren leaders did not do much writing, or else little of it has been preserved, perhaps because their descendants did not value it?


There are people here who know this stuff much better than I do, but I think one of the reasons for that is simply that many of the first leaders of the Swiss Brethren were martyred or died of other causes shortly after the movement began. Here's a timeline:

  • 1525 - Felix Manz, Conrad Grebel, George Blaurock and other radical evangelical reformers broke from Ulrich Zwingli and formed a new group because they felt reforms were not moving fast enough.
  • ~1526 - Conrad Grebel dies. According to GAMEO, "The only writing of any sort which he prepared for publication—a brief pamphlet of less than five thousand words—has been lost, and can with difficulty be only partially reconstructed from the translated quotations found in Zwingli's counterattack in the Elenchus. Three relatively insignificant short poems have been preserved, and one short petition for safe conduct to the Zürich council in 1525. Fortunately, 69 letters written by Grebel (as well as three written to him) have been preserved !!! SNIP !!! Most of these letters, however, were written during Grebel's student years at Vienna and Paris, and throw practically no light on the important phase of his life as Anabaptist leader."
  • 1527 - Felix Manz is executed by drowning.
  • 1527 - Schleitheim Confession, perhaps written by Michael Sattler, who also wrote Two Kinds of Obedience.
  • 1529 - George Blaurock burned at the stake. He left behind one letter and two hymns.

I suspect they would have written a lot more if they hadn't died so quickly. So it is their testimony and martyrdom that we remember best.

But you probably know about one very influential 800 page book from the Swiss Brethren: The Ausbund.
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Neto
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Re: Swiss vs. Dutch, then and now

Postby Neto » Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:23 pm

Bootstrap wrote:
lesterb wrote:The Dordrecht confession was accepted by the Swiss Brethren earlier than the Amish division. But several articles weren't put into practice. This was the lever that Hans Amman tried to pull. "You Swiss say you follow the Dordrecht confession but you don't." This was his basis for excommunicating leaders and other members who disagreed with him.

The inclusion of shunning in the Dordrecht Confession and its omission in Golden Apples is probably the main reason for the disagreements of the two documents. It is still the biggest wall between the Amish and the Mennonites in a lot of areas.


So shunning was practiced by the Dutch Mennonites but not the Swiss Brethren until the Amish split? And one of the main differences between the Swiss Brethren and the Dutch Mennonites was that the Dutch Mennonites shunned and the Swiss Brethren did not?

But who are the people who are proudest of being descended from Swiss Brethren rather than the Dutch? I thought that was the Amish and related groups that shun like the Dutch Mennonites did.

Or am I getting that wrong?


My understanding of this question is that at that time, the difference in application of the ban, or excommunication, centered around the question of whether it should extend to family relationships. That is, both Dutch Mennonites & Swiss Brethren practiced excommunication, but Menno Simons extended it to the point that a family member should not be accepted at the meal table in the home of his family. However, I am not aware of this being practiced in any Dutch Mennonite groups today, and I'm not sure it was practiced very widely even in Menno's time. (If I recall correctly, there was one branch that did, and another that refused to accept it, so that this issue/question also split the Dutch Mennonites for some time after.) One cannot take Menno's writings as indicative of all of Dutch Mennonite belief & practice. (For example, his particular view of the Incarnation of the Christ does not appear to have been widely accepted, even in Holland.)

re: cases of excommunication in the MB congregation in which I grew up
I am aware of several excommunications in my former congregation. My grandfather was excommunicated (early to mid 50's) for opposing the decision of the then pastor to show secular films in the church house. Another man was excommunicated for smoking (late 50's, I think), but the church leaders later apologized and reinstated him. When I was in HS, a younger girl was required to make confession for a moral failure, lest she be excommunicated. (She made confession, so was not excommunicated.) In none of these cases (to my knowledge) was there any requirement or mention of familial avoidance.
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Neto
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Re: Swiss vs. Dutch, then and now

Postby Neto » Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:28 pm

Bootstrap wrote:
Neto wrote:For some reason, the Swiss Brethren leaders did not do much writing, or else little of it has been preserved, perhaps because their descendants did not value it?


There are people here who know this stuff much better than I do, but I think one of the reasons for that is simply that many of the first leaders of the Swiss Brethren were martyred or died of other causes shortly after the movement began. Here's a timeline:

  • 1525 - Felix Manz, Conrad Grebel, George Blaurock and other radical evangelical reformers broke from Ulrich Zwingli and formed a new group because they felt reforms were not moving fast enough.
  • ~1526 - Conrad Grebel dies. According to GAMEO, "The only writing of any sort which he prepared for publication—a brief pamphlet of less than five thousand words—has been lost, and can with difficulty be only partially reconstructed from the translated quotations found in Zwingli's counterattack in the Elenchus. Three relatively insignificant short poems have been preserved, and one short petition for safe conduct to the Zürich council in 1525. Fortunately, 69 letters written by Grebel (as well as three written to him) have been preserved !!! SNIP !!! Most of these letters, however, were written during Grebel's student years at Vienna and Paris, and throw practically no light on the important phase of his life as Anabaptist leader."
  • 1527 - Felix Manz is executed by drowning.
  • 1527 - Schleitheim Confession, perhaps written by Michael Sattler, who also wrote Two Kinds of Obedience.
  • 1529 - George Blaurock burned at the stake. He left behind one letter and two hymns.

I suspect they would have written a lot more if they hadn't died so quickly. So it is their testimony and martyrdom that we remember best.

But you probably know about one very influential 800 page book from the Swiss Brethren: The Ausbund.


Yes, I have "always" been aware of these men. But after that early period, or by the time of the conversion of Menno in 1536, my knowledge of history switches to the Dutch. Menno's writings, as you know, were not written to the anabaptist people, but were attempts to gain the understanding of opponents to anabaptist thought. He seems to have had an undying confidence in people, that if he could just explain better, they would accept anabaptist belief as valid Christian thought.
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Bootstrap
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Re: Swiss vs. Dutch, then and now

Postby Bootstrap » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:05 am

Neto wrote:Yes, I have "always" been aware of these men. But after that early period, or by the time of the conversion of Menno in 1536, my knowledge of history switches to the Dutch. Menno's writings, as you know, were not written to the anabaptist people, but were attempts to gain the understanding of opponents to anabaptist thought.


This is a lot like my experience. We knew the stories of the first baptism and the early martyrdoms of the Swiss Brethren and the writings of Menno Simons and Dirk Philips, and never thought of them as separate movements. We also knew the Martyr's Mirror, and would occasionally trot out stories from it in sermons. After that, we pretty much skipped over history until modern America and the Amish - the Hutterites, for instance, just weren't part of what we knew in the churches I was part of. As a non-plain Mennonite, I never really understood the differences among the various Amish and plain Mennonite groups.

Which is why I was interested in sorting some of this out in this thread. When people trace today's differences back to Swiss Brethren vs. Dutch Mennonites, I'm not sure if that's the real reason for the differences or not.

And I like to identify writings worth discussing. I liked Sattler's Two Kinds of Obedience quite a bit. There must be more useful nuggets out there for discussion.

Neto wrote:He seems to have had an undying confidence in people, that if he could just explain better, they would accept anabaptist belief as valid Christian thought.


Sigh. I've been accused of the same kind of myopia.
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Hats Off
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Re: Swiss vs. Dutch, then and now

Postby Hats Off » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:58 pm

Most Amish and Swiss Mennonites have followed a very similar track over the years. As the Amish accepted modern ways of thinking, they became Amish Mennonite and then Mennonite. Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites or Beachy Amish and plain car driving Mennonites have also considerable common ground. Some Old Order Amish but not all still practise strict shunning and bann while Mennonites never have.

Going back to Amman and Reist, my own theory is that Amman and his people lived in an area where they had considerably more religious freedom than did Reist's people. One of the issues was that the Mennonites respected and refused to condemn those non-Mennonites who were sympathetic to their plight while the Amish maintained that those almost believers were damned. Amman had enough freedom that he and his people could be more strict about who they associated with. They had time to see the problems with Reist's practises while Reist and his people were busy just surviving. Another factor in the Amman/Reist division was that Amman was a young man while Reist was considerably older.

I would suggest that the division had little to do with Dutch vs Swiss understandings but more to do with the circumstances the two parties were in at the time. Yes, the Amman side also wanted a stronger meidung than the Reist side, but that division also existed among the Dutch.
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Josh
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Re: Swiss vs. Dutch, then and now

Postby Josh » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:49 pm

It's hard to put in words my experience, but having been part of an almost entirely Swiss Brethren descended congregation, both in the liberal end of the spectrum and then later the plain side, and now being part of an almost entirely Netherlands Dutch descended congregation, the difference is quite palpable. For starters, it's a lot easier for me to fit in with the Netherlands Dutch background people - but is that just because my own background is a bit closer to them? (England and English people in general have a lot more in common with the Netherlands than they ever did with Switzerland or what is now Germany; for example, both the English and the Dutch are seafarers.)

Within my own church, the vast majority of Netherlands Dutch people have a bit of trouble relating to people from Amish backgrounds. A few congregations have a reputation for being "Dutchy" (as in Pennsylvania Dutch-y). I admit I just don't feel quite as comfortable there - except that some of the little Dutchy cultural things remind me of my first plain church, which I still miss terribly.
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haithabu
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Re: Swiss vs. Dutch, then and now

Postby haithabu » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:21 pm

Josh wrote:It's hard to put in words my experience, but having been part of an almost entirely Swiss Brethren descended congregation, both in the liberal end of the spectrum and then later the plain side, and now being part of an almost entirely Netherlands Dutch descended congregation, the difference is quite palpable. For starters, it's a lot easier for me to fit in with the Netherlands Dutch background people - but is that just because my own background is a bit closer to them? (England and English people in general have a lot more in common with the Netherlands than they ever did with Switzerland or what is now Germany; for example, both the English and the Dutch are seafarers.)

Within my own church, the vast majority of Netherlands Dutch people have a bit of trouble relating to people from Amish backgrounds. A few congregations have a reputation for being "Dutchy" (as in Pennsylvania Dutch-y). I admit I just don't feel quite as comfortable there - except that some of the little Dutchy cultural things remind me of my first plain church, which I still miss terribly.


In my experience Russian Mennonite congregations have a different feel from Swiss Mennonite ones. When we started attending a Mennonite Brethren church I thought of it in terms of being more culturally "German" in the sense of having a greater emphasis on order and correct procedure in church affairs and being a little less relational or fraternal than what I had been brought up with. Which is ironic considering the denominational name. :)
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Bootstrap
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Re: Swiss vs. Dutch, then and now

Postby Bootstrap » Thu Oct 12, 2017 3:30 pm

So ... in modern Europe, the Swiss are far more "German" than the Germans, at least in German-speaking Switzerland. Are the Mennonites who think of themselves as descendants of the Swiss Brethren?

And how much of the differences people are talking about are cultural rather than theological? Things like how warm a congregation feels to you?
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Re: Swiss vs. Dutch, then and now

Postby Hats Off » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:11 pm

Bootstrap wrote:So ... in modern Europe, the Swiss are far more "German" than the Germans, at least in German-speaking Switzerland. Are the Mennonites who think of themselves as descendants of the Swiss Brethren?

And how much of the differences people are talking about are cultural rather than theological? Things like how warm a congregation feels to you?

Most Mennonites of Swiss Brethern background think of themselves as being English. And I have absolutely no experience with the Dutch/Russian/Mexican people.
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