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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
E. H. Broadbent
About 1524, in Germany, many of the brethren, such as had existed from the earliest times, and in many lands, repeated what had been done at Lhota in 1467; they declared their independence as congregations of believers and their determination to observe and to carry out as churches the teachings of Scripture.
As formerly at Lhota, so now on these occasions those present who had not yet as believers received baptism by immersion were baptized. This gave rise to a new name, a name which they themselves repudiated, for it was attached to them as an offensive epithet in order to convey the impression that they had founded a new sect; the new name was Anabaptist (baptized again).
As time went on this name was applied also to certain violent people of communistic practices and principles subversive of order and morality. With these the brethren had no sort of connection; but by branding them with the same name, those who persecuted the brethren obtained an appearance of justification, as though they were suppressing dangerous disorder.
As in earlier times the literature of the Christians had been destroyed, and their histories written by their enemies, so in the 16th century the same thing was done again, and in view of the unbridled violence of language common at that time in religious controversy, it is more than ever necessary to search out whatever remains of their own writings and records.
In the report of the Council of the Archbishop of Cologne about the "Anabaptist movement", to the Emperor Charles V, it is said that the Anabaptists call themselves "true Christians", that they desire community of goods, "which has been the way of Anabaptists for more than a thousand years, as the old histories and imperial laws testify. "
At the dissolution of the Parliament at Speyer, it was stated that the "new sect of the Anabaptists" had already been condemned many hundred years ago and "by common law forbidden. " It is a fact that for more than twelve centuries baptism in the way taught and described in the New Testament had been made an offence against the law, punishable by death.