A rich history of slaughter

Emperor Theodosius coin. Render unto Caesar...your head.

Emperor Theodosius coin. Render unto Caesar...your head.

I’m approaching the 200-page mark in the Martyr’s Mirror. I confess that I’ve been breezing through some of the denser patches of voluminous scripture quotation in defense of adult baptism. I realize that this is the whole point of the Mirror, but I’m mostly interested in the stories, since the theological debate is largely settled.

Around P. 198 in the Herald Press version, I found reprinted orders from the Roman Emperors Theodosius and Honorius that prohibit re-baptizing or being re-baptized under pain of death. The first order dates to 413 C.E.

Well, that didn’t take long.

Having spent the previous 300 years slaughtering Christians, the new Christian Roman emperors start slaughtering anyone who isn’t the kind of Christian they want them to be – bloodthirsty, obedient soldiers. Time to cull the hippies!

These orders are apparently reprinted to show the length and depth of the Anabaptist movement and give the authority of history to its teachings. If you’re going to be a heretic, you might as well be one with a pedigree. However, they can also be spun to show the consistency of the Roman church in stamping out the Anabaptist heresy. The papists were nothing if not consistent.

Obviously, the Anabaptists eventually won, at least in this country. Even the Roman and Anglican churches made a concession to the Anabaptist theology by inventing limbo for kiddies and creating the sacrament of Confirmation.

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