A Return To Christ’s Kingdom: Early Swiss Anabaptist Understanding And Temporal Application Of The Kingdom Of God -- By: Stephen Brett Eccher

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 05:2 (Winter 2014)
Article: A Return To Christ’s Kingdom: Early Swiss Anabaptist Understanding And Temporal Application Of The Kingdom Of God
Author: Stephen Brett Eccher


A Return To Christ’s Kingdom: Early Swiss
Anabaptist Understanding And Temporal
Application Of The Kingdom Of God

Stephen Brett Eccher

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Introduction

Jesus spoke often about the Kingdom of God as a part of His preaching ministry. Since His first century proclamations about Kingdom the idea has historically been interpreted in a variety of ways and applied in a host of divergent contexts.1 The Kingdom of God served a prominent place in Eusebius of Caesarea’s link between Emperor Constantine and the “Son of Man” designation from Daniel 7, was foundational to Augustine’s City of God, and was even an impetus to Thomas Müntzer’s radical call for the destruction of the godless during the German Peasants’ War. Given the importance of this biblical phrase and subsequent confusion surrounding its meaning throughout history, the following will seek to identify its development in the early Swiss Anabaptists’ answer to the question, “what is the Kingdom of God?”2 By exploring the future Anabaptists’ thoughts during Zürich’s embrace of the Reformation in the early 1520s until the Schleitheim Confession of 1527, this exercise will present the Anabaptists’ newly formed view of Kingdom amid their break from the Swiss Church. By 1527 the Anabaptists’ view of Kingdom led them away from the territorial church model. Filling the vacuum left by their abrogation of a state church model, their new ecclesiology culminated in something different. Theirs was a church rooted in a kingdom dichotomy, was

assembled on the basis of regeneration, and intently disciplined given the temporal church’s relationship with the eternal one in heaven.

By 1524 Huldrych Zwingli, the reformer of Zürich, had come to a stark realization about his former friends and students. His estranged followers, Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz, had leveraged the controversial and volatile issue of infant baptism as a means to realize an entirely “new church.”3 What these future Anabaptists were doing was out of step with the era and Zwingli knew it. However, exactly what this meant for the group that was to later become the Swiss Brethren was not yet fully in focus.4 Zwingli’s claim that his followers were founding a new church proved prophetic less than a year later when Grebel and Manz joined in the adult baptism of George Blaurock and what would later be identified as ...

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