Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pilgram Marpeck, Anabaptist Writer

The gulf between myself and other modern indviduals who claim the nomenclature "Anabaptist" just got little wider tonight, after reading some of Pilgram Marpeck's thoughts in a work entitled Men in Judgement and the Peasant Aristocracy. No, it's not a new Rock group. It's Marpeck's diatribe against those who feel that you can become a Christian, continue to sin, & still be justified (most likely Lutheran Protestants.) But what's noteworthy about it is the Theological Model he uses: that of Christ being elevated to Glory and how he bestows "nobility" on us. We go from being "peasants" (sinners) to being nobility (saints) through the freedom Christ gives us. Although Hebrews 2:6-10 isn't directly cited in this regard, what Marpeck says is very much like the passage in Hebrews, and also echoes the doctirne of Recapitulation that Iranaeus held to. It also brings to mind Psalm 2 and Rev 11:15, whuch denote the Sovereignty of Christ over the Nations and the Kingdoms of the World.

A couple of thoughts become pertinent here:

* This ramrods the prevailing modern notion that Anabpatism is only a faith of social activism and not one of Holiness standards.

* But it also calls into question the notion that at the core of Anabaptism is an asceticism which denys engagement in the political field and our right and duty to speak to the world on behalf of God his standrards and demands for living.

Well, it's no mystery as to why some think this way. Jesus stated "My Kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36) The problem is, this is a statement before the Cross, and must be seen in context with everything we know about what happened when Jesus was ressurrected:

11:15 "Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."

Christ is not the "rejected, desipised and lowly servant" after the Ressurction. He's King. And as such the nations better kowtow to him:

Psalm 2:
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

The key to all of this is to understand our responsibility to not become power-hungry as the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches did, but understand where & how God wants us to live out a discipleship that is liberating to others. For that, we turn to the parts of scripture that advise us to imitte Christ in his earthly ministry:

Phil 2:
3 "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Pligram Marpeck was a 16th Century South German Anabaptist leader who differed markedly from later Anabaptism -notably Old Order Mennonites and Amish that practised retreat from society after immigrating to the US. From what I can tell, every time the early, pre-immigration Anabaptists could be peaceably involved in the society around them (i.e., when they weren't fleeing persecution), they did exactly that. A James Reimer is of the opnion that Marpeck's thought has influenced later Mennonite ideals more than has been previously understood. Don't believe me, read Pilgram Marpeck's works for yourself.

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