Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Menno Simons: Why I do not cease teaching and writing

“For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness and the salvation thereof as as a lamp that burneth; and the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory” Isaiah 62:1; 2.

Therefore for the sake of the chosen ones of Zion and of Jerusalem, I can no longer hold my tongue, the truth must be told, so that righteousness may go forth as a light and its salvation burn as a torch, and that all men may know the righteousness of the Lord and all tongues, generations, and people confess His glory. I have sometimes with Jeremiah thought not to teach any more in the name of the Lord, because so many seek my life. Yet, I can no longer hold my tongue, for I am with the prophet very much troubled at heart; my heart trembles in me; all my joints shake and quake when I consider that the whole world, lords, princes, learned and unlearned people, men and women, bond and free are so estranged from Christ Jesus and from evangelical truth and from life eternal.

My good reader, the whole wide world, all tongues, races, and people have in the righteous judgment of God deserted the one God-pleasing position as to doctrine, sacraments, and life. For they have desired the lie more than the truth, and evil more than good. . . The learned ones and the preachers who should reprove such things are themselves committed to such false doctrine, unbelief, and even more abominable idolatry and hellish life. Yes, these learned people diligently lead and drive all men to idolatry, unbelief, transgression, and accursed life, both by their teaching and their example, as most of the learned have from the beginning. They are usually earthy, carnal, and devilish, and they always reject the spiritual and heavenly wisdom and will of Jesus Christ in their life, which restrains carnal lusts as loathsome and fearful. Therefore, since I clearly see this awful despising of the Word of God, and the condemnation of innumerable thousands of souls whom Christ Jesus has so dearly bought and ransomed by His crimson blood, there being no salvation outside of the obedience to the divine Word, therefore I cannot be silent because of the honour and praise of my Lord and God and the salvation of our poor, erring brother, even though it might cost me my life.

Who knows, perhaps through me and through my beloved brethren who are and who shall be, God has chosen a means thereto and provided in His grace that some of those who now unwittingly err may yet acknowledge and confess the right way, doctrine, truth, and life, and walk unblamably in Christ before God and before all the world all the days of their lives. O Lord, let it be so. Amen.

For this reason I am not ashamed to write down, publish, and proclaim loudly, my faith, doctrine, intention, and desire before all men who will hear, no matter who they are. Yes, I do not doubt but if those could see my innermost heart who now assiduously seek my life, then their hatred against me and my brethren would change into love and friendliness.

In the first place, we desire according to the Word of God that no bishop, pastor, or minister should be admitted into the church of the Lord, to teach and administer the sacraments of the Lord, other than those who are comprised in the doctrine, ordinance, and life of our Lord Jesus Christ, and unblamable in all things. 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6; Leviticus 21:7; Ezekiel 44:21. For the Word of the Lord is truth; it is Spirit and life. These things cannot be administered by the carnally minded, by children of death, nor by liars; but by the truthful, by the spiritually minded, and by those who rightfully confess Christ Jesus, who feel surely the life eternal in their hearts and who live unblamably before God and walk in Christ Jesus, so that they may truthfully say with Paul, Be ye followers of me, even as I am also of Christ.

In the second place, we desire with ardent hearts even at the cost of life and blood that the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ and His apostles, which only is the true doctrine and will remain so until Jesus Christ comes again upon the clouds, may be taught and preached through all the world as the Lord Jesus commanded His disciples as a last word to them while He was on the earth. Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15.

First published in 1539.

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