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Difference Between Anabaptists and Evangelicals

The terms Anabaptist and Evangelical are used to describe two diverse groups of religious believers under Christianity. In the US, evangelicalism is a group of Protestants who believe in being born again, on the importance of evangelism and the history of the Bible. This umbrella group contains a diverse population of believers from different denominations, (Baptists, Pentecostal, Methodist and so on).

Anabaptists are believers of the Anabaptist Christian movement whose origin is traced back to the Radical Reformation. They also form part of the Protestants, and the group is estimated to have approximately four million followers today. Germany has the most significant number amounting to almost 50% of the total.

 

Who are Anabaptists?

Anabaptists are a group of Christians, with diverse beliefs formulated in the Schleitheim Confession. The group was founded in the year 1527. The belief that is most pronounced among Anabaptists is that believers should be baptized only after confessing their faith in Jesus Christ. There have been several descendants of the Anabaptists over the years they include; the Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites. The Schwarzenau Brethren, Apostolic Christian Church and the Bruderhof are later developments of the original group of Anabaptists.

For years, the Anabaptists were persecuted by the other Protestants and the Roman Catholic church within the 16th century. This was primarily because their interpretation of the Biblical scriptures opposed the beliefs of other churches and the structure set by the government.

 

Who are Evangelicals?

Evangelicals are religious believers who fall under Evangelicalism. Evangelicalism spread widely within the 18th century when it was widely accepted and played a key role in shaping the American religion and united Americans around a common belief. In the 19th century, evangelicals dominated the US including the cultural institutions, hospitals, universities and schools. This period is referred to as the Evangelical Empire.

During this time, evangelicals advocated for reforms including the abolition of slavery, improved judicial systems and enhanced educational facilities. During the end of the 19th century, the initially strong religious movement declined. Protestant churches divided and new theological ideas such as the Darwinian evolution cropped up.

After the second world war, some protestants rejected the separation among the initial protestant group of evangelicals and returned to their old faith. At the forefront of this establishment was Billy Graham who revived the term and inspired the establishment of religious institutions such as the National Association of Evangelicals. Today (2018), there are more than 2 billion Christians in the world, and close to 25% of them are evangelicals.

 

Similarities Between Anabaptists and Evangelicals

1) Guiding Book

Both religious groups use the Bible as a reference book.

2) Category

Both the Anabaptists and evangelicals are considered Christian protestants.

 

Differences Between Anabaptists and Evangelicals

1) Age

Anabaptism is believed to have started back in 1525. Evangelicalism is believed to have started in the early 1700’s.

2) Origin

Anabaptists originated in Greece. The name Anabaptists come from two Greek words ana and baptismos. Evangelicals originated from New England and Britain.

3) Bible Interpretations

There are several differences in the Bible interpretations among Anabaptists and Evangelicals. One of the major ones is that Anabaptists believe the New Testament has precedence over the Old Testament. Evangelicals, on the other hand, place both the New and Old Testaments on the same level. Certain morality traits such as divorce, remarriage, wealth accumulation and involvement in wars that were accepted in the Old Testament are practised today among Anabaptists.

4) View on Salvation

Anabaptists believe that salvation is acquired through grace by faith that works. God forgives one’s sins after repentance through Christ’s blood that was shed on the cross. Evangelicals believe salvation is more of an accounting equation where once a person says the repentance prayer, sins are reduced from his life’s account and righteousness credited to the same account. From then on they are considered and seen as righteous in God’s eyes.

5) Kingdom of Heaven View

Anabaptists believe that the heavenly kingdom is their chief citizenship. They also think that it is not their duty to keep order on earth as they are only passers-by who will end up in heaven where they belong. Evangelicals emphasize the need to maintain order here on earth, dropping the values of the heavenly kingdom.

6) Baptism View

Anabaptists believe that baptism should be a personal choice and should be done with the person’s consent. They believe toddlers should not be baptized as they are not of age to give permission. Evangelicals believe baptism can be done on anyone as we are all God’s children. They believe toddlers should be baptized.

7) Persecution

Anabaptists were persecuted for their beliefs. Evangelicals were never persecuted.

Anabaptists vs. Evangelicals: Comparison Chart

 

Summary of Anabaptists vs. Evangelicals

  • Evangelicals and Anabaptists are both religious groups under Christianity in the protestants category.
  • Evangelicals believe baptism can and should be done with or without the person’s consent.
  • Anabaptists believe that baptism shouldn’t be done without the consent of the individual.
  • Evangelicals equate the New Testament and the Old Testament. They also follow some of the beliefs in the old testament.
  • Anabaptists believe the New Testament has precedence over the Old Testament.
  • Anabaptists were persecuted in the 16th century. Evangelicals were never persecuted in history.

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References :


[0]Burkholder, J. S., & Cramer, D. C. (2012). The Activist Impulse: Essays on the Intersection of Evangelicalism and Anabaptism. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

[1]Thorne, P. R. (1995). Evangelicalism and Karl Barth: His Reception and Influence in North American Evangelical Theology. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

[2] Dayton, D. W., & Johnston, R. K. (2001). The Variety of American Evangelicalism. Univ. of Tennessee Press.

[3]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e8/Spread_of_the_Anabaptists_1525-1550.png/501px-Spread_of_the_Anabaptists_1525-1550.png

[4]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f5/Photograph_of_President_Reagan_addressing_the_Annual_Convention_of_the_National_Association_of_Evangelicals%28_%22Evil..._-_NARA_-_198535.jpg/640px-Photograph_of_President_Reagan_addressing_the_Annual_Convention_of_the_National_Association_of_Evangelicals%28_%22Evil..._-_NARA_-_198535.jpg

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