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Things I Didn’t Learn in Baptist History Class

Posted by on Aug 2, 2010 in blog links, church history, edification, gathering | 18 comments

Things I Didn’t Learn in Baptist History Class

In the 16th Century, many magesterial Reformers could not understand why the Anabaptists would not attend their church meetings. So, some Swiss Anabaptists wrote a response. In Baptist History class, I learned about many of the Anabaptists’ concerns – such as believers’ baptism. But, I never heard this:

When such believers come together, ‘Everyone of you (note every one) hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation,’ etc…When someone comes to church and constantly hears only one person speaking, and all the listeners are silent, neither speaking nor prophesying, who can or will regard or confess the same to be a spiritual congregation, or confess according to 1 Corinthians 14 that God is dwelling and operating in them through His Holy Spirit with His gifts, impelling them one after another in the above-mentioned order of speaking and prophesying. (From “Answer of Some Who Are Called (Ana-)Baptists – Why They Do Not Attend the Churches”)


(HT: Jon)


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  1. 8-2-2010

    This post sparked my interest in one aspect of 1 Corinthians 14. It seems relatively simple to take the instruction of everyone sharing a song or revelation at face value but more difficult to understand/apply the (seemingly) simple instruction for women to remain silent? Any thoughts? Something you might have written on in the past (maybe)?

    p.s.— Glad to see you guys are back from Ethiopia. You were in our prayers.

  2. 8-3-2010


    In 1 Corinthians 14, each command for “silence” is given within a certain context. I think the same is true for women although the context is harder to see in those verses. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul instructs women about to how to “prophesy” which he later says is for the edification of the church. So it seems that Paul does allow women to speak, but not in certain contexts. What is that context? Well, there have been several suggestions. I think he’s talking about judging or discerning prophecy.


  3. 8-3-2010

    One thing that hinders full participation of all believers present is group size. Meetings of over 50 believers and certainly meetings of more than 500 believers make it difficult and somewhat disorganized.

    That being said, I’ve walked by a number of storefront churches here in Brazil where a man dressed in suit was preaching from a pulpit to 4 or 5 people seated quietly. These little sanctuaries look like they can hold a maximum of 20 people comfortably, so obviously the “one man show” aspect is not logistical, but traditional.

    Is your source an article or a book? Is it available online for further reading. Very interesting.

  4. 8-3-2010


    The quote is an excerpt from the article “Answer of Some Who Are Called (Ana-)Baptists – Why They Do Not Attend the Churches” by Shem Peachey and Paul Peachey in Mennonite Quarterly Review 45 (Jan 1971), 5-32.

    I have a copy of the article, and I plan to write more about it soon.

    By the way, you can find the part that I quoted on several sites on the internet.


  5. 8-3-2010

    You can request a $5 pdf copy of the 1971 article here:

    You can find it listed in their bibliography section.

  6. 8-3-2010


    Thanks for the link. I found the journal in our library, but perhaps some of my readers would be interested in a copy.


  7. 8-4-2010

    Hi Alan,

    What do you make of the female apostle (Junia) listed in Romans? I would have thought such a calling may have required the occasional bit of judging or discerning prophecy though of course it is hard to be certain. I really value your explorations into scripture and would love to see a few posts on what you think Paul says about women and church (although maybe you have done this already and if so please could you post some links so I can find them easily?).

    God bless you.


  8. 8-5-2010


    The simplest explanation for me is that Junia was an apostle, that is, one who was sent by God away from her home in order to proclaim the gospel and strengthen the churches. I’ve written briefly about women, but mostly while exegeting certain passages.


  9. 5-31-2011

    Awesome! Gotta love those Anabaptists. Fearless and faithful to the bitter (but glorious) end, they were. Left quite a heritage for us to follow.

  10. 5-31-2011

    Another good quote, Alan. Thanks for helping us think through these important matters. I did want to repeat an earlier concern for logistics here – can this even logistically happen in a church that is more than 50 or so members? It might be the case that it doesn’t, and maybe we need to rethink our church model. But, do you think that some of the emphasis on “small groups” is in a way helping facilitate some of 1 Cor 14? Much of the bible studies I did with Campus Crusade felt a lot like what that quote spoke of. It just seems like there are some things you can do with a smaller group of believers that are much more difficult (part of me wants to say ‘impossible’) to do with a bigger group.


  11. 5-31-2011


    You can find the entire pamphlet online.


    If the “small group” follows Scripture “whenever [they] come together” (1 Corinthians 14:26), then why is the larger group coming together?


  12. 5-31-2011

    Good point, Alan. I was thinking similarly right after I posted. In your research, have you found anything about these concerns in the early church community. That is, I know things must’ve been different before and after Constantine, given the public recognition of Christianity by the Roman state. Is there a difference between the size of congregations before and after that? If there was, how did they think through ‘doing’ church with a bigger congregation?


  13. 5-31-2011


    The earliest Christian writers wrote about their church meetings much like the NT writers. However, as with the NT, there are very few descriptions of who did or said what, or who did not do or say what. I can’t remember any specific discussions about size. However, it was not long before the church meetings became the (almost) sole responsibility of leaders.


  14. 5-31-2011

    This is part of why one of my colleagues labeled me a Neo-Anabaptist.

    Thanks for posting it Alan!

  15. 6-1-2011


    The Anabaptists of the 16th century were certainly a mixed lot. But, I think we can learn alot from them.


  16. 8-5-2011

    I’d like to read more from that quoted passage.
    On a side note, I found the book, “What Paul Really Said About Women” to be very helpful and informative, as it delves deeply into the Hellenistic culture of Paul’s audience. In a nutshell, which is rather unfair to any book, I recall one basic interpretation about Paul’s teaching on husbands and wives. That is that his injunction to each was about equal: wives submitting and men loving actually meant for each of them to voluntarily put themselves in a position of seeking the other’s best interest above their own. Just to clarify, I write these remarks over a year after reading this small volume and the memory is faded, but I certainly recommend it for shedding light on the topic.

  17. 8-5-2011

    Additionally, I just read “Perpetua’s Passion” by Joyce E Salisbury, which gives an analysis of the Roman and Carthaginian cultures surrounding this young Roman woman’s death as a Christian martyr in 203 as well as describing the changes after the time of persecution. I found it fascinating and wonderfully informative and fully documented. Interestingly, it describes briefly the change from small Christian groups whose focus was on the Presence of the Divine in their meetings to large churches with hierarchy which reflected Roman government.

  18. 8-5-2011


    I wrote a little more about that pamphlet in this post: Anabaptists on the Reformation Preacher.” You can also find the pamphlet online.



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