Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

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Antichrist

The following passages are a brief summary of a writing entitled Antichrist which is at least 900 years old. It originated among the Albigensian Christians of southern France, around the time of Pierre de Bruys, and was preserved by the Waldensians. Readers who have a copy of the Martyrs Mirror will find a brief excerpt from this writing on page 271. Pierre de Bruys, called Peter de Bruis in the MM, is mentioned on pages 273, 274, 279, 293, 294 and 309.

Antichrist is a falsehood, worthy of eternal damnation, covered with an outward appearance of the truth and the righteousness of Christ and his bride, opposite to the way of truth, righteousness, faith, hope and charity and also to the moral life. It is administered by false apostles and obstinately defended by both powers, ecclesiastical and secular. Antichrist is a delusion, a fraudulent contradiction to Christ and his bride and every faithful member thereof. It is not any special person ordained in any degree, office or ministry, but it is the falsehood itself, which opposes itself against the truth, which covers and adorns itself with a pretense of beauty and piety. That iniquity that is after this manner, with all the ministers thereof, great and small, with all those that follow them with a wicked heart and hoodwinked eyes, this congregation taken all together is called Antichrist, Babylon, the fourth beast, the whore, the man of sin, the son of perdition.

He is called Antichrist because, being covered and adorned under the colour of Christ and the church, and the faithful members thereof, he opposes the salvation purchased by Christ and truly administered by the church of Christ, whereof the faithful are partakers by faith, hope and charity. He contradicts the truth by the wisdom of the world, by false religion, by counterfeit holiness, by ecclesiastical power, secular tyranny, riches, honours, dignities and the delights and delicacies of the world.

The first work of Antichrist is to take away the truth and change it into falsehood, error and heresy. The second work of Antichrist is to cover falsehood with a semblance of truth, to assert and maintain lies by the name of faith and grace, and to dispense falsehood intermingled with spiritual things unto the people under his subjection.

The works that proceed from these first works are:
1. He perverts the worship properly due to God by giving it to Antichrist himself.
2. He robs Christ of his merits, with all the sufficiency of grace, justification, regeneration, remission of sins, sanctification and spiritual nourishment and imputes it all to his own authority, to a form of words, to his own works, unto saints and their intercession, and unto the fire of purgatory, thus separating the people from Christ.
3. He attributes the regeneration of the Holy Spirit to dead outward works, baptizing children and teaching that this is how baptism and regeneration must be obtained.
4. He constitutes all religion in going to the mass and has patched together all manner of ceremonies, Jewish, heathen and Christian, depriving the people of the true sacraments and spiritual commandments.
5. He does all his works to be seen, so that he may set all things to sale.
6. He allows manifest sins without censure and does not excommunicate the impenitent.
7. He does not maintain his unity by the Holy Spirit, but by secular power.
8. He hates, persecutes, searches after, despoils and destroys the members of Christ.

The six iniquities of Antichrist:
1. Divine worship is not offered to the Creator but to the creature, to saints and to relics.
2. An excessive love of the world, from whence springs sin and mischief in the church.
3. The invention of false religious orders, rules of monasteries, confession to the priest (though seldom with contrition), the observance of fasts, etc.
4. He adorns himself with authority, power, dignity, ministry, offices and the Scripture and makes himself equal with the true and holy mother church.
5. He promises remission of sins to sinners, not to the truly contrite, but to such as are wilfully persevering in their evil practices.
6. His people go on to the very end of their lives trusting in these iniquities and coverings till they come to the extreme unction and their invented purgatory. They are taught and made to believe that they are thereby absolved of their sins, though they never freely depart from them.

Uncomfortable truths taught by Menno

Yes, dear reader, true Christian faith as it is required in Scripture, is so living, active and strong in all those who through the grace of the Lord have rightly obtained it, that they do not hesitate to forsake father, mother, wife, children, money and possessions for the Word and testimony of the Lord; to suffer all manner of scorn, disgrace, hardship and prison, and finally to have their weak bodies burned at the stake, as may be frequently seen in many pious children of God and faithful witnesses for Christ especially in these our Netherlands.

Those who trust in their works or ceremonies for salvation deny thereby the grace and merits of Christ. For if our reconciliation consisted in works and ceremonies, grace would come to naught and the merits and virtue of the blood of Christ would all be void. O no! It is grace and will be grace in all eternity, all that the merciful Father, through his dear Son and Holy Spirit has done for us grievous sinners.

This is my joy and the desire of my heart, that I may extend the borders of the kingdom of God, make known the truth, reprove sin, teach righteousness, feed the hungry souls with the Word of the Lord, lead the stray sheep to the right path, and win many souls for the Lord through his Spirit, power and grace.

To this end we preach as much as opportunity and possibility affords, both in daytime and by night, in houses and in fields, in forest and wilderness, in this land and abroad, in prion and bonds, in water, fire and the scaffold, on the gallows, and upon the wheel, before lords and priests, orally and by writing at the risk of possessions and life, as we have done these many years without ceasing.

-excerpts from the Complete Writings of Menno Simons.

These words of Menno make us squirm, don’t they? But can we deny them, disregard their truth, and still call ourselves Mennonites? or even Christians?

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