Two-Kingdom MennonitePosted: February 9, 2011
In the early 16th century thousands of Anabaptists coverts spread throughout Germany and the Netherlands. Although both Catholic and Reformed denominations together persecuted them, they continued to grow in number from 1525-1550. So much that by 1553 the Doopsqezinde, better known as Mennonites were the largest evangelical group in the Netherlands! With that, they became the largest evangelical group which complied an enormous martyrology. Menno Simons through this time and after continued to increasingly rigid church discipline as he grew older, and by 1561 at Menno’s death, the Netherlands Mennonites were broken into four orders; the Flemings, the Frisians and Germans, and the Waterlands. By 1580’s confession-making was well established through Europe and denominations within protestantism. So John de Rys and Lubbert Gerrits, ministers in the Mennonite denomination wrote The (40 article) Waterland Confession, better known as A Brief Confession of the Principal Articles of the Christian Faith (For Mennonites).
When reading this confession, I understand the German-Anabaptist/Mennonites had differences with the German-Refromers, but one article stands out to me among the other 39 articles. Article 37 of The Waterland Confession, dealing with The Office of the Civil Magistrate states,
“Government or the civil magistrate is a necessary ordinance of God, instituted for the government of common human society and the preservation of natural life and civil good, for the defense of the good and the punishment of the evil. We acknowledge, the Word of God obliging us, that it is out duty to reverence magistracy and to show to it honor and obedience in all things which are not contrary to the Word of God. It is our duty to pray to the omnipotent God for them, and to give thanks to Him for good and just magistrates and without murmuring to pay just tribute and customs. This civil government the Lord Jesus did not institute in his spiritual kingdom, the church in the New Testament, nor did he join it to the offices of his church: nor did he call his disciples or followers to royal, ducal or other power; nor did he teach that they should seize it and rule in a lordly manner; much less did he give to the members of his church the law, agreeable to such office or dominion: but everywhere they are called away from it (which voice heard from heaven ought to be heeded) to the imitation of his harmless life and his footsteps bearing the cross, and in which nothing is less in evidence than an earthly kingdom, power and sword. When all these things are carefully weighed (and moreover not a few things are joined with the office of civil magistracy, as waging war, depraving enemies of good and life, etc., which [do not agree with] the lives of christians who ought to be dead to the world), they agree either badly or plainly not at all, hence we withdraw ourselves from such offices and adminstratrations. And yet we do not wish that just and moderate power should in any manner be despised or condemned, but that it should be truly esteemed, as in words of Paul, the Holy Spirit dictating, it ought to be esteemed.”
I could be crazy, but seems a bit 2-K to me.