Compensatory violent fantasies

Events occurring and how they relate/affect Anabaptist faith and culture.
PetrChelcicky
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Re: Compensatory violent fantasies

Postby PetrChelcicky » Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:56 am

Point by point

1. I'm writing a booklet which compares the historical peace churches as parts of the so-called radical reformation.

2. There we have to start in Bohemia. The Bohemian influences are constantly overlooked.

3. In Bohemia we see the first outbreak of violent fantasies as part of the radical reformation: the Hussites. (The dominant motive of Christian violent fantasies is and will be: we are the instruments of god's vengeance, we are erecting the end-time kingdom of god in this world, we represent holy war/holy power against mundane war/power).

4. In Bohemia, we have at the same time the first theologian who eloquently promotes a different way: peaceful separation from the world - Petr Chelcicky (Chelcicky argued that the big powers, emperor and pope, can't and won't become part of the emergent Christian community; but this implies that it's no use when Christians try to imitate or to replace the big powers.) Chelcicky isn't exactly the founder of the Bohemian Brothers, but has a deep influence on the first generation. (They later flirt with Luther and finally collapse into Calvinism. But they leave their organizational model of self-administration to the Herrnhuters.)

5. We must see that the violent group is at first the much more appealing, but then breaks down, and the peaceful group prospers afterwards - to a degree by arrival of disappointed members of the violent group. But nobody seems to have an idea about the numbers ...

6.The Bohemian pattern is more or less repeated in (a) the peasant's war (as far as it was seen as a holy war by Muentzer and the like), (b) in the Northwestern revolts (Muensterites and Batenburgers, it never was a mere local upheaving), (c) in the Puritan revolt.

7. But in the Puritan revolt we find a more advanced kind of disappointment: The evolving Quakers had been not much of pacifists (far less than the Anabaptists), but they became disappointed not by the breakdown, but by the victory: Cromwell didn't send his troops against the pope, but against the Dutch Republic. War was successful, but hadn't been worth it - a deeper disappointment than if the war had been lost.

8. Generally I think that disappointment/disillusion is a very good way to peacefulness. (In German there's the same word for disappointment and disillusion.)

9. After Menno, Anabaptism was more or less identified with peaceful separatism (the "Swiss" variant), and for me things could have stayed this way. But then the professors began to form categories like "radical reformation" or "the left wing of reformation", which means that the Muensterites, Muentzer and Menno are in one and the same corner again. This has been introduced into the Mennonite community by Rodney J. Sawatsky as "the four streams of Anabaptism", which today serves above all to construct a historical identity for the modern "transformationists" who rely on Hut and to a degree on the "subversiveness" of Muentzer and Muenster (see for that Tim Nafziger in "Mennonite Life"):
https://ml.bethelks.edu/issue/vol-71-sp ... whiteness/
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Bootstrap
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Re: Compensatory violent fantasies

Postby Bootstrap » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:51 am

PetrChelcicky wrote:1. I'm writing a booklet which compares the historical peace churches as parts of the so-called radical reformation.

2. There we have to start in Bohemia. The Bohemian influences are constantly overlooked.


Partly because few of us can read the relevant languages, and the cultural distance is just a little greater. But I also don't know to what extent the Bohemian movements directly influenced the movements in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany - I'm sure they would have been aware of these movements, do you know if they communicated directly?

Are you working from both the primary and secondary literature? What sources are you working from? In general, it's way to hard to find source material online even in Flemish, Dutch, and German. If you are able to get any of this put online as you work, it would be great.

PetrChelcicky wrote:3. In Bohemia we see the first outbreak of violent fantasies as part of the radical reformation: the Hussites. (The dominant motive of Christian violent fantasies is and will be: we are the instruments of god's vengeance, we are erecting the end-time kingdom of god in this world, we represent holy war/holy power against mundane war/power).

4. In Bohemia, we have at the same time the first theologian who eloquently promotes a different way: peaceful separation from the world - Petr Chelcicky (Chelcicky argued that the big powers, emperor and pope, can't and won't become part of the emergent Christian community; but this implies that it's no use when Christians try to imitate or to replace the big powers.) Chelcicky isn't exactly the founder of the Bohemian Brothers, but has a deep influence on the first generation. (They later flirt with Luther and finally collapse into Calvinism. But they leave their organizational model of self-administration to the Herrnhuters.)


To some extent, groups that survive write most of the history, and groups that die out stop thinking so much about the past. That always affects our telling of the story.

PetrChelcicky wrote:5. We must see that the violent group is at first the much more appealing, but then breaks down, and the peaceful group prospers afterwards - to a degree by arrival of disappointed members of the violent group. But nobody seems to have an idea about the numbers ...


I'm generally skeptical of "laws of history", but patterns are very useful. I'm also not convinced that history always runs in one direction.

I suspect peaceful groups sometimes return to accepting violence, with a flow in both directions, and the temptations vary depending on current history. For instance, some branches of liberation theology convinced a lot of former pacifists to accept violence in the 1970s and 1980s, and 9/11 convinced another group of pacifists to accept violence decades later. I have had long conversations with Mennonites wrestling with these influences from both sides. We are always in tension with other Christians who teach a different path, some come our way, some of us go their way, sometimes as groups, sometimes as individuals.

As GAMEO tells the story, the violent group in Münster was descended from pacifist Anabaptists who had been converted by Melchior Hoffman but became radicalized after that. And you are right - they did practice believer baptism, and GAMEO calls them Anabaptists. Do you think they got this right? If not, what do you think they got wrong, and why?

PetrChelcicky wrote:6.The Bohemian pattern is more or less repeated in (a) the peasant's war (as far as it was seen as a holy war by Muentzer and the like), (b) in the Northwestern revolts (Muensterites and Batenburgers, it never was a mere local upheaving), (c) in the Puritan revolt.

7. But in the Puritan revolt we find a more advanced kind of disappointment: The evolving Quakers had been not much of pacifists (far less than the Anabaptists), but they became disappointed not by the breakdown, but by the victory: Cromwell didn't send his troops against the pope, but against the Dutch Republic. War was successful, but hadn't been worth it - a deeper disappointment than if the war had been lost.

8. Generally I think that disappointment/disillusion is a very good way to peacefulness. (In German there's the same word for disappointment and disillusion.)


That's interesting.

I assume you mean the word Enttäuschung?

PetrChelcicky wrote:9. After Menno, Anabaptism was more or less identified with peaceful separatism (the "Swiss" variant), and for me things could have stayed this way. But then the professors began to form categories like "radical reformation" or "the left wing of reformation", which means that the Muensterites, Muentzer and Menno are in one and the same corner again. This has been introduced into the Mennonite community by Rodney J. Sawatsky as "the four streams of Anabaptism", which today serves above all to construct a historical identity for the modern "transformationists" who rely on Hut and to a degree on the "subversiveness" of Muentzer and Muenster (see for that Tim Nafziger in "Mennonite Life"):
https://ml.bethelks.edu/issue/vol-71-sp ... whiteness/


I don't often read this kind of article, subtitles like "Patriarchy, colonization and anti-queerness among Mennonites" and "Mennonites and whiteness" clearly indicate the liberation theology lens it is applying to history, but it does have some useful history.

This is an interesting table:

Throughout this essay, I will use the term by drawing on Rodney J. Sawatsky’s 1992 model of four streams of Anabaptism: Separationist, Establishment, Reformist, Transformationist (Sawatsky, 151). Here’s a short summary:

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 8.34.32 AM.png
Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 8.34.32 AM.png (50.92 KiB) Viewed 70 times




There are different classifications, so it's important to be clear about which definitions you are using. I like to use GAMEO for definitions since it is widely used and well researched. I think most would say that both Muensterites and Mennonites are part of the Radical Reformation, using definitions like this one:

Radical Reformation, a collective term for all those groups of religious innovators of the 16th century on the European continent who were neither Lutherans, nor Zwinglians, nor Calvinists.


I think the definition of Anabaptist is a little more fraught:

Anabaptist" is actually a Greek word meaning "rebaptizer," used in church Latin from the 4th century onward, and appearing at least as early as 1532 in the English, seldom used in 16th-century German or Dutch, where the translation Wiedertäufer and Wederdooper is used from the beginning of Anabaptist history in 1525. It was never used by the Anabaptists themselves but often vigorously objected to by them because of the opprobrium and criminal character attached to the name. Its introduction and constant use by the enemies of the Anabaptists can best be explained by the fact that the imperial law code from Justinian's time (A.D. 529) on, made rebaptism one of the two heresies penalized by death, the other being Antitrinitarianism. Thus to classify the Reformation radicals as "Anabaptists" made them at once legally subject to condemnation and execution, although it still remained necessary for each local jurisdiction to implement the basic code. (Thus Zürich did not decree the death penalty for Anabaptists until 1526.)


They didn't call themselves Anabaptists, they often did call themselves Baptists - Täufer, not Wiedertäufer. But of course the group currently calling themselves Baptists is a different group, and has a different relationship to the State and to violence than we do. Of course, Menno Simons didn't want us to be called Mennonites either, so ironically, we mostly describe ourselves using terms that our detractors gave us, terms that our spiritual ancestors rejected at the time. And since we don't want to confuse things further, maybe that's the best we can do, as long as we do it with a sense of humor and irony.

I think this classification of Radical Reformation groups is helpful:

In view of the motley nature of the "Fourth Reformation," the proposal by George H. Williams of Harvard Divinity School (1957) of a new and rather adequate descriptive term together with a more refined sub-classification of the historical phenomena is welcome as a real aid in the understanding of the spiritual life of the 16th century. Williams distinguishes between "magisterial Reformation" (also called territorial Protestantism), where the princes were the real heads of the church with magisterial prerogatives and an excessive ecclesiasticism (establishment), and its opponents, called "Radical Reformation." Common to all the radical reformers is their opposition to "the suffocating growth of ecclesiastical tradition," to the above-named prerogatives, and above all to the compromises and adjustments of the new territorial churches to the "world" in its broadest sense. No one of these radical reformers had any place for state powers within the church. All of them wanted to cut back to the Biblical roots of faith and order.

Among these radical reformers Williams then distinguishes three clearly separated groups: (a) the Anabaptists, (b) the Spiritualists, and (c) the Evangelical Rationalists. (See the similar classification by Johannes Kühn.) The first two groups were mainly Germanic (German, Dutch, Swiss), while the Evangelical Rationalists belonged pre-eminently to the Romance cultural area—Italy, Spain, and to a lesser degree France (Juan de Valdes, Servetus, Ochino, Castellio, Biandrata, Socinus, etc.).

While the Protestant reformers advocated the medieval idea of a corpus Christianum, a Christian society composed of saints and sinners, this concept was absolutely unacceptable to the radical reformers. They visualized a selected society of true believers, that is a Corpus Christi, as their final ideal. As to how such a Corpus Christi should look, ideas naturally differed. Some would look back to the apostolic model, the primitive church and the church under the Cross (1st—3rd centuries); they would then represent the "restitutionists" proper (by and large the Anabaptist group). Others of the radical reformation took their lead from the Book of Revelation and looked into the future for the kingdom or new world to come. Some would simply wait for this event, others would fight (like Müntzer). Williams claims that this look into the future is nearer to the spiritualistic type than to the Anabaptist one, although this is not always true.

Williams sees three distinct groups in each of his three main sections, namely:

Anabaptism: (1) evangelical (Swiss Brethren, Mennonites, Hutterites, etc.); (2) revolutionary (the Münsterites above all; Troeltsch called them "Taborites," Littell suggests the term "Maccabeans"); (3) contemplative (mainly Hans Denck, to whom the inner word or inner Christ is more important than any external form).

Spiritualism: (1) evangelical (Schwenckfeld and Gabriel Ascherham); (2) revolutionary (Thomas Müntzer, also the Zwickau "prophets" and perhaps Karlstadt); (3) rational (Sebastian Franck, Paracelsus, and many more).

Evangelical Rationalism: here Williams does not offer any subdivision except that he finds some staying in their old church, "evangelical Catholics" (Erasmus, LeFevre, Valdes), while others broke away (Servetus and Ochino), being either lonely wanderers over the earth, or founders of conventicles or churches like Faustus Socinus (Polish Brethren, Transylvanian Unitarians).

The Anabaptists are the representatives of the idea of restitution in its broadest sense; the question is only what they aim to restore. The evangelical Anabaptists look back to the apostolic church; that is, to them the New Testament is the only norm, while the Old Testament has but figurative or allegorical value. They look to a church (Gemeinde) of discipline and order, with ban, shunning, and inner-worldly asceticism. The revolutionary Anabaptists (Münsterites) in contradistinction accept the Old Testament as their norm, desiring to erect the New Jerusalem in the here and now; hence the sword, which was abhorred by the evangelical brethren, is here glorified (as it is also by Müntzer). The contemplative Anabaptists finally (if there are such) are more indifferent to the externals of discipline, and thus draw nearer to the Spiritualists. Only the evangelical Anabaptists, emphasizing discipleship, know also the idea of a suffering church, called "theology of martyrdom" by Ethelbert Stauffer.

Spiritualists hold the inspiration by the Holy Spirit above the word of the Scriptures (inspirationism). The revolutionary groups among them are strongly influenced by the books of Daniel and Revelation; they are visionary and apocalyptically minded. The evangelical Spiritualists, among whom Williams also counts Schwenckfeld (this classification is open to debate), base their teachings primarily upon the Johannine writings, in which the "spirit" or light is emphasized. The rational Spiritualists, finally—individualists through and through -- are the nearest to what Rufus Jones called "spiritual reformers," a sort of bridge between rationalism proper and Christian mysticism.

Here might then be found also the bridge to the Evangelical Rationalists, who in spite of their strong reliance upon reason (see Reason and Obedience) nevertheless resist a complete surrender to a humanistic rationalism (which eventually leads to rational philosophy). They do accept the Holy Scriptures, but are inclined to interpret them by the light of natural reason. Hence their inclination either to anti-Trinitarianism or to a moral Pietism, as it is so well known from the later 17th and 18th centuries (Dutch Collegiants, Galenus Abrahamsz).
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