Film -The Radicals- The first Anabaptists: Michael and Margaretha Sattler (1525)

You can read more about Michael Sattler’s contribution to the Baptist faith here ‘I Wait upon my God’ 16 page pdf written by Ched Spellman for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The year is 1525. Michael and Margaretha Sattler have fled their religious orders. Their quest: restore the church to the purity of its early days when communities of believers practiced peace, compassion and sacrificial love.

The Sattlers join a group called the Anabaptists and together challenge the 1000 year control of the Church by the State. They call for baptism to once again become, not a mark of State citizenship, but an adult and voluntary decision to follow Christ. As their movement grows, so does the determination of their enemies to stop them…by any means necessary.

In 1527, Michael is burned at he stake (after his tongue is cut out) and Margaretha drowned. But their movement survives and today is carried on by the Mennonites, Brethren, Brethren in Christ, the Hutterites, and the Amish.

This being a film about persecution, it does depict some violence that is not suitable for young children. (The last 5 minutes are also missing, due to technical difficulties. I apologize for that)

In 16th Century Europe there arose a group of people who acknowledged no authority but God’s. They were hunted like outlaws by both Protestants and Catholics. They were forced to meet in caves and forest glens. Many were burned at the stake or drowned. Their persecution lasted for over 200 years until they were nearly annihilated.

These people separated from the governments of the world and imitated Christ in everything. They refused the State’s protection saying, “If we accept a prince’s sword, we accept his authority. Christ is our only authority.”

They were a Church standing alone, without prince, sword, or money to protect them. “We have only one Lord, Christ Jesus, and that is all we need,” they said.

This peculiar people first alarmed local officials by baptizing adults and refusing to baptize infants. This gave them the name of Radicals or Anabaptists. At that time, infant baptism was viewed as a mark of citizenship. Baptizing newborns was the system’s way to register and track its citizens. Baptism was the equivalent of a birth certificate today.

Anabaptists committed ultimate treason by being baptized as adults. By being baptized again, they were renouncing their former citizenship. Adult baptism symbolized their breaking away from the old system and their joining with God’s kingdom.

Ever since Constantine, Church and State have been intertwined. Even the early Protestant movements sought the protection of their princes. But the Anabaptists refused such ties with the State and offered the world a new vision of Christ’s Kingdom, separated from the world.

“We must stand apart from the rest of the world. Anyone who joins Christ’s kingdom must separate from the world. It takes only one bad thread to ruin the whole fabric. If we allow the fabric of this world to be woven into Christ’s Church, then the Church is corrupted,” they said.

As these Radicals first began coming out of the corrupt Roman Catholic system, they could not concur on what they believed. Finally, at a secret meeting they agreed on these four articles:

1) Repentant adult sinners are to be voluntarily baptized to take them out of the old system and into the Kingdom of God.
2) No oaths of any kind are to be sworn.
3) The sword is rejected because it is outside the perfection of Christ.
4) There shall be a separation between the good and the evil, the believing and unbelieving, light and darkness, and the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdoms of the world. And none shall have part with the other.
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