Tag Archives: Balthasar Hubmaier

Vienna Didn’t Care for Balthasar Hubmaier…

Deutsch: Gedenktafel für Balthasar Hubmaier, D...

So, on the 10th of March, 1528, it burned him at the stake for heresy.

Few details are known, but it is certain that he suffered on the rack, and possibly other tortures were applied. On this occasion, however, he remained firm ; he could not be induced to retract his teachings regarding baptism and the eucharist. His double condemnation followed, as a matter of course. His friend, Dr. Faber, published immediately after his death a little pamphlet called the Reason Why the Patron and First Beginner of the Anabaptists, Doctor Balthasar Hubmaier, was Burned at Vienna on the 10th of March, 1528.*


Today With Zwingli: Answering Balthasar Hubmaier on Baptism

Zwingli’s Antwort über Balthasar Hubmaiers Taufbüchlein, appeared on 5 November 1525.

It commences (after its Preface to Hubmaier)

Für das erst, das der widertouff ein sect oder ein rott sye, ist offenbar, dann ir anfang hat dise gstalt: Die by uns den widertouff angehebt, habend vormals uns zuegemuotet, daß wir ein besundere kilchen anhuebind. Und do wir inen das nit gestattet, sind sy hinus gefaren uff das land, und habend on alles kundthuon der obergheit der kilchen: der bischoffen oder wächteren, in den wincklen angehebt ze widertouffen.

Nun verstadt mencklich, so sy das liecht geflohen habend, das sy ir meinung vom widertouff der kilchen nit gesagt habend, darinn sy inn angehebt, und darinn ir urteil und bericht nit erwartet, das es offenlich ein sect und rott ist; dann die kilch sol unser leer urteilen 1. Corinth. 14. [1. Cor. 14. 29], Ioan. 10. [Joh. 10. 27]. Denn das sind rotten, die zämenvallend hinder der ordnung, dero sy ordenlich söllend ghorsam sin etc.

Nun habend sy das nit an einem end allein gethon, sunder an gheinem end anderst, dann wie sy zum ersten gethon habend, das ist: ir meinung vor gheiner kilchen offen nie fürgetragen, sunder all weg zum ersten in den wincklen angehebt ze widertouffen.

Hubmaier was the most intellectually gifted of the ‘Anabaptists’ but he was a man given to waffling.  When faced with the prospect of expulsion from Zurich he suddenly came to agree with Zwingli on the subject of baptism and then his conscience got the better of him and he recanted his recantation.

So he was locked up.  And then expelled.

Zwingli’s ‘Answer’ is a fine example of an excellent and yet ultimately unpersuasive defense of infant baptism.  And that primarily for one reason- baptism isn’t like circumcision.  Baptism is an act undertaken by believers.  Circumcision was an act performed upon newborns.

The analogy Zwingli and other defenders of infant baptism cling to – i.e., that just as circumcision served as a sign of the covenant for Israel so too does baptism for Christians – is false.  They are incomparable.

Still, Zwingli being wrong about baptism only means one thing: he wasn’t always right. But even given his disagreement with Hubmaier, his tone is extremely civil (a gift Luther completely lacked) –

Today With Zwingli

Zwingli was not a fan of Balthasar Hubmaier.  On the 13th of January, 1526, during hearings about the re-baptizers, Zwingli wrote a short little note which denounced Hubmaier as a man who would destroy society for the sake of re-baptism.

Zwingli’s problem with ‘believer’s baptism’ was not, as commonly believed, because he thought baptism delivered salvation.  On the contrary, baptism was an act and sign of grace.  In his mind, people choosing baptism was a ‘work’, an attempt to establish their own righteousness.  Baptism received was better than baptism chosen.

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