Radical Reformers

A phrase used to designate a Christian faction during the Protestant Reformation that was considered more extreme in its beliefs and actions than the primary Protestant Reformers. Radical Reformers were also pejoratively called "anabaptists" (rebaptizers) because of their opposition to infant baptism and their belief that, if baptized in infancy, one should again be baptized in adulthood when there is a better cognition of the ritual's symbolic meaning.

The Radical Reformers challenged not only Roman Catholic doctrine and authority, but also that of other Protestant Reformers themselves, including figures such as Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, and others. With the intent to fully actualize the principles and practices of the New Testament, on which the Protestant Reformation itself was based, the Radical Reformers worked to adapt the Church to the New Testament. Therefore, the Radical Reformers rejected the relationship the Church had developed with society since the time of Constantine, and instead chose to rebel against the mainstream secular society, as well as the society the Protestant Reformers were trying to establish.

Because they followed Christ as their first and foremost authority in establishing an authentic Christian society, the Radical Reformers saw themselves as the true representatives of Christianity. As such, their strict adherence to the life and teachings of Christ caused the Radical Reformers to embrace and commit to pacifism. Several contemporary Christian denominations which grew out of this movement, such as the Mennonites, are still committed to pacifism. However, because during the Reformation some of the Radical Reformers came to see the end of the world as imminent, there was, to some degree, a decline in this committment. Some took up arms and sought to establish the Kingdom of God by force. Once this armed movement was quashed, however, pacifism again became the hallmark for denominations growing out of the Radical Reform tradition. Today, pacifism and opposition to all forms of militarism are still central to these Christian denominations.

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