1. In 1648, Europe hailed the end of the terribly destructive Thirty Years War, which had taken the lives of more than half the inhabitants of some areas.
2. The enormity of destruction and pillage was staggering; farmland which had lain untilled in the midst of war threatened survivors with famine.
a. Within the dire conditions left by the conflict, princes hurried to find settlers to cultivate their war-ravaged acres; the situation was so desperate that many even considered taking on outcast Anabaptist tenants.
b. By 1653, persecuted Swiss Brethren began to move into the wasted lands, known as the palatinate
c. Eleven years later, one of Palatinate’s dukes issued a special offer of ...view middle of the document...
The debate eventually resulted in division.
2. There was strong opposition by the state and most local governments to expel the Mennonites from Switzerland, and these laws drove most Mennonites to an area known as Alsace and Palatinate.
1. There were common people of Switzerland that considered the Swiss Mennonites admirable people.
a. An official investigation in 1692 found opinions like that of a woman who, when asked if she were a Mennonite said, "no, to tell the truth I am not worthy to be an Anabaptist...they are such holy people."
2. Those people in Switzerland who were not Anabaptist and sympathetic to the Mennonites were referred to as the “True-Hearted.”
3. The Mennonites were not sure how to regard their sympathetic friends.
a. This was an era when Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed considered any belief to be heretical outside their own.
1. During this unsettling nature of events came a Swiss elder named Jakob Amman who was a recent convert to Anabaptism.
a. Jakob Amman went north around 1680 to minister in the Alsace congregations that were mostly Swiss migrants.
b. Amman decided that the Anabaptists needed reform and proposed more frequent communionservices.
i. More communion services might encourage members to give attention to their Christian lives because he believed the Mennonites were becoming spiritually lax.
ii. In addition, the Anabaptists had always excluded those living in open sin from the communion table.
1. Hans Reist, a Swiss elder, and several other elders balked at the idea of introducing a new practice and considered the new innovation unnecessary.
2. Amman believed that Reist represented a weakening of Mennonite church life:
a. Reist believed that the True-Hearted were saved without public confession and receiving baptism.
b. Reist avoided the practice of social avoidance with those who left the church or refused to confess their sins, but was, however, comfortable with the practice of excluding them from the once-a-year...