Did you know that we Baptists can trace our roots to an illegal sausage cookout that took place in 1522? Well now you do. Picture this…Lent 1522 and some Swiss rogue Catholic priests decide to defy the Lenten laws and cook sausage to herald the beginning of a season of fasting. Why sausage? Well, it was forbidden during Lent in 1522. But these guys who had already come to understand that the Church should be founded on only those things explicitly found in Scripture decided to buck the system and eat whatever they wanted, since forced Lenten fasting was a man-made institution not found in the Bible.
Among these soon-to-be heretics were men who would start a Bible study where they examined God’s Word as the guide for all things in life, both in private life and in the Church. It was at this Bible Study in 1525 when George Blaurock, Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz (all now former Catholic priests) came to the understanding that infant baptism was not Biblical. They soon began a movement to not baptize children in Zurich, which caught the attention of city leaders, since the city government enforced the rules of the Church. These guys then took it one step further – a step that would lead to their deaths. They disavowed their own infant baptisms and affirmed “believers baptism,” by having themselves “rebaptized,” (they didn’t see this as a second baptism, since their first as infants was erroneous) on January 21, 1525, thus initiating the Swiss Brethren Movement, coined derogatively as the “Anabaptist” or “Rebaptized” movement. Within four years, two of the three men would be martyred for their faith.
So when you have bratwursts for Octoberfest this year (I know I’ll be grilling some) or when you see the baptistery filled again soon, remember that our insistence on Believer’s Baptism, Scriptural Authority and Religious Liberty all started with a Bible study, an illegal sausage cookout and some very chilly baptisms in icy Zurich.