Although I'm not enough of a historian to make declarations about exactly how much rehabilitation of the Anabaptists needs to take place, I appreciated in particular this final post in the series. Its main thrust reminds us of the radical commitment to Scripture that authentic obedience demands, even when this obedience is incompatible with deeply entrenched church structures and traditions. In other words, the Anabaptists seem to have suffered comparatively little from fear of man or lust for credibility and security.
As Black writes:
I suspect that church institutions as they are now known are incapable of thoroughgoing renewal. It is my view that new church plants are the most likely bodies to reflect early Christianity rather than the proud establishments of Christendom . . . In the Anabaptist perspective, the leaders of the Reformation were no less tyrants than Constantine because they also enforced religious conformity by civil power. The pomp and display, the ambition and the pride of Christendom, seen in both their Roman Catholic and Protestant forms, were the precise opposite of the submissive humility that characterized Anabaptism. One does not have to be a biblical scholar to recognize the parallels that exist with today’s American form of God-and-Country evangelicalism.It seems that the contemporary relevance of Black's point about the Anabaptists is this: We need to exercise ourselves to examine self-consciously the religious or ecclesiastical culture of which we are a part. Our purpose is to identify how our accumulation of tradition has skewed our understanding of God's Word. We then need to extricate ourselves from that culture and tradition, regardless of the personal cost.