About Jesus Steve Sweetman
State, And Conrad Grebel
Grebel lived as a Christian for about 4 years out of his 28 year life.
He was born in 1498 and died in 1526.
He was born into a wealthy family in
Zwingli was a Swiss theologian. Like
Martin Luther, he was a reformer in the early 1500's.
Conrad Grebel met up with Zwingli, resulting in his salvation in
1522. Grebel and Zwingli
grew close but were split apart in 1524 over church state issues, which
became a divisive issue in Reformation theology.
Many reformers like Zwingli were not comfortable with
Catholicism, but they were comfortable with a state run church.
Grebel felt such intrusion into the church by the state was an
saw no need to change the status-quo.
The state was the head of the church, and people became part of
the church through infant baptism. This
issue came to a head in 1525 when Zwingli and the city council of Zurich
debated the matter. Grebel
and his followers lost the debate. They
became outcasts and were subsequently imprisoned for their beliefs.
They managed to escape prison, but most of them were recaptured
and executed. Grebel,
however, eluded the authorities and kept preaching for a few more months
across the Swiss countryside.
did not view the state run church as being legitimate.
He taught that one had to have personal faith in Jesus in order
to be a part of the church. He
also opposed infant baptism, especially as a means to becoming part of
the church. Grebel was
highly criticized for not having his two month old daughter baptized.
It has been said that the Anabaptist movement began when Grebel
baptized his first adult convert. Many
see Conrad Grebel as the founder of the Anabaptist movement which later
broke into various streams of what is now known as the Mennonite
taught a clear distinction between state and church.
He thought a state run or state sponsored church was anathema and
unbiblical, something that many of the early reformers had no problem
with. It's amazing to me
that as I write these words, this same issue is beginning to face the
western church today. The
results will be the same. Some
people will have no problem with government dictating to the church.
Others, like me, will have a big problem with this.
Whatever side of the fence you fall on, I believe this is the
church's future in the west. Those
who follow in the footsteps of Conrad Grebel will come to the same fate.
We will face opposition from
both the state and the traditional church.
and his followers were imprisoned and killed, not for faith in Jesus,
but for their beliefs concerning the church.
They refused to respond to their persecutors in a violent manner.
Like the first disciples, they felt it a privilege to suffer and
die for Jesus. They took
Jesus' words seriously when He told Pilate that His Kingdom was not of
this world, and that is why He and His followers would not resist the
Roman soldiers with force. (John 18:36)
Some suggest that Conrad Grebel was the founder of modern day
Grebel also taught that the church should be a vibrant community of true
disciples of Jesus. So-called
nominal Christians had no place in the church, as was the case in the
state run church. He
understood that church was a
community, a brotherhood, where everyone cared for one another and
followed the mandates of Scripture.
Grebel's followers were a community
of networked believers scattered across the countryside.
You might say they were a counter-cultural church in Switzerland. Or, you might say they
were an expression of the Body of Christ in action.
ironic that a few decades later some Anabaptists took Grebel's teaching
of community to an extreme and taught a form of "Christian
particular group actually took a city by force and attempted to turn the
city into the
have two sides of one issue here. One
side is that the state wants to dictate to the church, and the other is
that the church wants to dictate to the state by establishing a
Christian state. Grebel
rightly believed that the Kingdom
of God, which includes the church, was a distinct and separate identity from
the kingdoms of men, and the two are incompatible.
often said "the Kingdom
attempt to make the
head of the church is Jesus. The church belongs to Him alone.
No state or nonbeliever should lead the church.
Grebel was right. The
church is a visible expression of the invisible
Grebel died at the early age of 28 due to an illness, but his legacy
lives on. Many of his
followers were killed by the religious and civil establishment of the
day. In Grebel's day, the
civil was the religious, and the religious was the civil.
This unbiblical blurring of two kingdoms brought the true church