Henry Bullinger on Anabaptists as violators of God’s covenant

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Henry Bullinger's comments are not likely to win friends and influence people, though they are useful for reminding us why our forebears viewed rejecting infant baptism as a serious matter:

All things then being considered, it is manifest and plain, that the baptism of children is of God, against the which, sith that the anabaptists do repugn, it is without doubt that they do contrary the gospel, the election of God, and the everlasting covenant. They are therefore over bold & rash, they are open violators or breakers of the covenant of God, unfaithful against God, sith that they do exclude and debar them from the covenant of God, whom God’s grace doth comprehend in the covenant.

For the reference, see:

 
I imagine my comments here are not likely to win friends and influence people either, but...

The various early Protestant theological defenses of infant baptism, like Bullinger's, of course deserve consideration in their own right. At the same time, I would argue, realizing the integrated role that infant baptism had come to play in Christian establishmentarian societies ("Christendom") is also necessary for a holistic understanding of the intense antipathy that anabaptism engendered amongst its earliest opponents.

For example, while in this particular treatise Bullinger took on the issue of baptism, he also wrote a co-treatise defending his concept of the Christian magistrate, against the earliest anabaptist notions to the contrary (both initially published in German, in 1531). The considerable societal importance then placed on official baptismal records is another indication of this general amalgamation. In that context, not baptizing infants, and perhaps even more so the re-baptism - katabaptism - of previously baptized citizens had ominous implications. Such practice was arguably the most overt and public act of defiance that state-church officials in northern Europe had yet faced. This practical integration may also account for why the fundamental threat the anabaptists presented often caused authorities to describe them with simple umbrella terms like "rebels," even pre-Münster.

It has been said that history is written by the victors, and so often prejudices the reader. And while I am keenly aware of the dangers of revisionist history, I do think a careful reevaluation of history can indeed be a valid endeavor, and is sometimes even necessary. I've recently read some historians like Peter Pauls and James Sayer, who have shed valuable light on the anabaptist facet of church history (from primary sources on both sides), which compels broader thinking on everything from what formed their disparate theology, to what all gave impetus to the deplorable Münster Rebellion.
 
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