Valerie G. Rempel: Associate Dean, Fresno Pacific University Biblical Seminary and Associate Professor, J.B. Toews Chair of History and Theology, Fresno, California. She wrote this article for Meetinghouse, a collective of Mennonite editors in the US and Canada.
Sometimes, a single act can have enormous consequences.
In the religious ferment of 16th century Europe, a small group of Christians in the Swiss canton of Zurich gathered in a home on a wintry January day, 1525. One of them, George Blaurock, asked another, Conrad Grebel, to baptize him. Around the circle they went, baptizing each other in what they understood to be their first true baptism. It was a baptism performed upon their confession of faith in Jesus as Lord. It was a radical act that earned many of them a martyrs’ death.
The 16th century was a time of great change in the religious life and practices of many in Western Europe. A variety of voices from within the church were advocating for change. They were frequently critical of practices and theology that had developed over many centuries of church life.
In an earlier time, the criticisms of a few reform-minded individuals might have had little impact. Technology, however, had a hand in changing that. Continue reading