Anabaptist, Protestant & Catholic Beliefs Compared

Conservative Anabaptists have deep and abiding differences with both Protestant and Catholic conceptions of what authentic Christianity looks like.

The question has been raised about how Protestant and Catholic beliefs compare to conservative Anabaptists and this caught my interest enough that I decided to try to plot differences. I thought this could be helpful for several reasons:

  • Think more carefully about Protestant/Catholic differences myself
  • Note more precisely how Anabaptist/Protestant/Catholics actually compare
  • Temper uncritical reading of Protestant & Catholic writing & help us not to unquestioningly accept theology (especially Reform axioms) conveyed in  unquestioned assumptions

[Note: The chart below is a guide and a work in progress and I would really welcome your input & corrections. (One thing that would really help is any glaringly missing major Protestant theological points that would be in agreement with conservative Anabaptists) It is has obvious generalizations for simplicity’s sake and some are judgment calls. Also, at the moment the list is a quite a will nilly order.]

protestant-catholic-anabaptist

Note: A bit more nuance on “Faith Alone”: Anabaptists believe in salvation through faith in Christ and maintain the NT emphasis of both Jesus, Paul & others on the importance of repentence and walking in newness of life. A classic formulation of Anabaptist thinking on faith & salvation is found in the Dordrecht Confession article IV on “Of Repentence & Newness of Life“.

Hopefully this is helpful in living in the truth.

7 Comments

  1. You could include a line about dispensations vs covenants. I think some Anabaptists are continuationists also. Thanks for the post, I enjoy comparisons like this.

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  2. Your chart is pretty accurate. I find it interesting that as a Mennonite you are admitting that Anabaptistism is actually closer to Roman Catholicism than Protestantism. From my experience this usually is denied. Most would claim that the Protestants did not go far enough in the Reformation from the Roman Catholic Church and that the Anabaptists actually went even further and closer to Biblical Christianity. It has always been my contention that the exact opposite is true and that Anabaptism actually is a return to a more Roman Catholic position on Theology and Soteriology. Interesting read.

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    1. Jason, Anabaptism was a “radical” movement, that is, they were interested in “going back to the root” of Christianity: following Jesus. Not away from RC or Protestantism (why would the wrongs in one or the other be worse than the other?) I think the Anabaptists wanted Christ to transform their entirely lives into that which looked like, Jesus and thus, like the early church. Frankly I sometimes think that Anabaptists might just as well be called “neo-early Christian”. They tried first of all to Follow Jesus and let the theology and soteriology align with Him & what he taught.

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  3. @JasonMullet This post’s intent is not to start a debate on Anabaptist versus Reform theology but to accurately compare theology. That would be great subject for a post related to it, but even then the debate would need to be much more focused or we will consume pages of comments to not a lot of good I’m afraid. 😉 Let’s keep comments on this post to inaccuracies in the comparison between Anabaptist/Reform/Catholic theology if we can. If you have any input on intent of the post (fairly representing theology in the comparison) I would welcome that, and especially from your Reform perspective. God bless. (if you want copy the content of previous comment then delete, appreciate it!)

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