College Notes
Church History
Lecture 22

Lollards / Anabaptists / Sabbatarians

A. Lollards.
1. Located in Holland in the 1300's, predating Wesley.
2. Word origin:
     a. Lollen - meaning to speak softly or to mumble
     b. Later called Lollards
3. Tended to memorize scriptures.
4. Remnant of Waldenses.

The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, by Brown says:

"Lollards: A Religious sect, differing in many points from the church of Rome, which arose in Germany about the beginning of the 14th century. (They were possibly named after their) leader and champion, a native of Memtz and equally famous for his eloquence and his writings, ... (Walter Lollard) was burnt at Cologne. Others think that Lollard was...merely a name of reproach applied to all heretics who concealed what was deemed error under the appearance of piety. The monk of Canterbury derives the origin of the word Lollard from Lollium, a tare, as if the Lollards were the tares sown in Christ's vineyard. Abeli says that the word signifies 'praising God' from the German word 'lobin' to praise and cheer the Lord, because the Lollards employed themselves in traveling about from place to place singing Psalms and hymns. Others much to the same purpose derived Lollard, Lullhard or Lollart, Lullart, as it was written by the ancient German word Lullin, Lollin or Lallin and the termination 'hard' with which many of the high Dutch words end. Lollin signified to sing with a low voice and therefore, Lollard is a singer or one who frequently sings and in the vulgar tongue of the Berman it denotes one who is continually praising God with a song or singing hymns to His honor." p.752

The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge says:

"Fuller, however, informs us that in the reign of Edward III about A.D. 1315, Walter Lollard, was a German preacher. Perin in his history of the Waldensians calls him, 'one of the Waldensian barbs of great renown among them came into England and who was so eminent in England, that as in France, they called Beringarians from Beringarious and Petrobrucians from Peter De Bruys and in Italy and Flanders, Arnoldists from the famous Arnold of Brecia. So did the Waldensians Christians for many generations after, bear the worthy name of this man being called Lollards." p.538

    5. Not strong evidence they were Sabbath keeping.
6. Walter - 1315:
     a. Came to England preaching doctrine of the Lollards

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, says:

"The organization must have been strong in numbers, but only those who were seized for heresy are known by name, and it is only from the indictments of their accusers that their opinions can be gathered. The preachers were picturesque figures in long russet dress down to the heels, who, staff in hand, preached in the mother tongue to the people in churches and graveyards, in squares, streets and houses, in gardens, and pleasure grounds, and then talked privately with those who had been impressed." p.929

       b. Became known as "Walter the Lollard"
     c. Probably a minister in the true church
     d. Many Lollards absorbed into Wycliffe movement

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, says:

"It is probable that the name was given to the followers of Wycliffe because they resembled those offshoots from the great Franciscan movement, which had disowned the pope's authority and set before themselves the ideal of Evangelical poverty." p. 929

        e. Not too strong at first, but got stronger later

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, says:

"In the earlier stages of Lollardy, when the court and the clergy managed to bring Lollards before ecclesiastical tribunals backed by the civil power, the accused generally recanted and showed no disposition to endure martyrdom for their opinions. They became bolder in the beginning of the 15th century.... In 1410 John Badby, an artisan, was sent to the stake. His execution was memorable from the part taken in it by the Prince of Wales, who himself tried to reason the Lollard out of his convictions. But nothing said would make Badby confess that 'Christ sitting at supper did give to His disciples His living body to eat.'"P.930

        f. Some of their doctrines

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, says:

“Thomas Bagley (a Lollard) was accused of declaring that if in the sacrament a priest made bread into God, he made a God that can be eaten by rats and mice; that the Pharisees of the day, the monks, and the nuns, and the friars and all other privileged persons recognized by the church were limbs of Satan; and that auricular confession to the priest was the will not of God but of the devil." p.931

"The opinions of the later Lollards can best be gathered from the learned and unfortunate Pecock, who wrote his elaborate REPRESSOR against the 'Bible-men," as he calls them. He summed up their doctrines under eleven heads: they condemn the having and using images in the churches, the going on pilgrimages to the memorial or 'mynde places' of the saints, the holding of landed possessions by the clergy, the various ranks of the hierarchy, the framing of ecclesiastical laws and ordinances by papal and episcopal authority, the institution of religious orders, the costliness of ecclesiastical decorations, the ceremonies of the mass and the sacraments, the taking of oaths and the maintaining that war and capital punishment are lawful. When these points are compared with the Lollard Conclusions of 1395, it is plain the Lollardy had not greatly altered its opinions after fifty-five years of persecution." p. 931 

        g. Had a great impact on England

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, says:

"Lollardy, which continued down to the Reformation, did much to shape the movement in England. The subordination of clerical to laic jurisdiction, the reduction in ecclesiastical possessions, the insisting on a translation of the Bible which could be read by the 'common' man were all inheritances bequeathed by the Lollards." p. 931


In The Anabaptist Story, we read:

“Love of learning and admiration for Erasmus characterized the young humanists.... The public break between Zwingli and his erstwhile disciples came with evident finality at a fateful disputation in January 1525. The council proclaimed Zwingli the victor and denounced the radicals. The alternatives were quite clear. The little group could conform, leave Zurich, or face imprisonment. It chose the last. A few days later, January 21, 1525, a dozen of so men slowly trudged through the snow. Quietly but resolutely, singly or in pairs they came by night to the home of Felix Manz...The dramatic events of the unforgettable gathering have been preserved in THE LARGE CHRONICLE OF THE HUTTERIAN BRETHREN.

"After his baptism at the hands of Grebel, Blaurock proceeded to baptize all the others present. The newly baptized then pledged themselves as true Disciples of Christ to live lives separated from the world and to teach the gospel and hold the faith.

"Anabaptism was born. With this first baptism, the earliest church of the Swiss Brethren was constituted. This was clearly the most revolutionary act of the Reformation. No other event so completely symbolized the break with Rome."P.10-11

    1. Out of Waldensian movement.

In The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptists, we read:

"...from this occasion amidst this small circle we may fairly place the origin of the Anabaptist sect or party proper. Anabaptism was emphatically in the air; in other words, the spirit and general tendencies of what subsequently consolidated itself as the Anabaptist movement were dominant amongst certain orders of the population in widely distant centuries." .p 4

From The Anabaptist Story, we read:

"Ludwig Keller developed the theory that held the Anabaptists to be an outgrowth of the Waldenses, Bohemian Brethren, and other groups which he labeled, 'the old-evangelical brotherhoods.' This position is essentially that of Thomas M. Lindsay. Undoubtedly the Anabaptists had much in common with the Bohemian Brethren, the Waldenses, the evangelical humanists, the spiritual Franciscans, the medieval mystics, and other antipapal evangelical groups of medieval origin. Historically the connection is vague at best. That which is much more evident is the influence of the Scriptures upon those who were maliciously called Anabaptists. The Scriptures seem to have been far more determinative that the Waldenses, evangelical humanists, or spiritual Franciscans -- separately or all together. The witness which they established forms an indelible chapter in the living commentary of history upon the Scriptures." p. 16-17

    2. Term given by catholics to anyone who believed in re-baptism.

One source explains:

"The lists of Eder and Erhard can be divided into three types of groups. First, there are eleven Anabaptist groups that are known to us on the basis of documentary evidence: Muntzerites, Sabbatarians, Mennonites, Huttites, Munsterite Brethren, Gabrielite Brethren, Austerlitzers, Swiss Brethren, Pilgram Brothers, Hutterites, and Staff Bearers." p. 443

    3. Literally means re-baptism.
4. Number of people within this group translated the Bible into vernacular tongues.
5. Doctrines:
     a. Condemned oaths
     b. No military service

From Anabaptism, we read:

"The nineteenth-century historians Urban Heberle and Ludwig Keller suggested that certain medieval heresies like those of the Waldensians and the Bohemian Brethren had influenced the radicals, and there are indeed striking resemblances between these heresies and Anabaptism. The Waldensians and Bohemian Brethren also emphasized the Scriptures as the exclusive authority, demanded retreat from the world, expressed doubts about infant baptism, refused to take oaths and render military service, censured the power and privileges of the clergy, and rejected church buildings. Although no direct influence on the Zurich group has yet been discovered, heretical ideas and even books may very well have circulated in the Swiss towns." p. 8

In The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptists, we read:

"The little Zurich society would have nothing to do with carnal weapons. They would fight only with the sword of the spirit. In a letter under date September 5th, 1524, written by Konrad Grebel and his friends to Munzer, they say: 'The Gospel and its followers shall not be guarded by the sword, neither shall they so guard themselves, as, by what we hear from the Brethren, ye assume and pretend to be right. Truly believing Christians are sheep in the midst of wolves, sheep ready for the slaughter." p. 11

        c. Obedience to civil government; but couldn't hold an office
     d. Sinners excommunicated until repentant
     e. Sketchy information on the Sabbath

From Anabaptism, by Closeu, we read:

"When the first Anabaptist congregation formed a Zollikon during the week of January 22 to 29, 1525, meetings were held daily...After the first ardor had passed, the Anabaptists gathered for worship at regular intervals, whether once a week, once every two weeks, once a month, or once every two or three months... Most meetings were held on Saturday or Sunday, though sometimes meetings were also held on weekdays. The Anabaptists in the area of Romrod in Hesse met on Wednesday and Saturday in 1539.... They also liked to meet on Christmas, Easter, and Whitsunday." p. 64

Anabaptism continues:

"The Anabaptists not only rejected the traditional feast days as Catholic inventions but also advanced strange views concerning Sunday. Anabaptists in Franconia, Thuringia, the Tirol, and southwest Germany and the Hutterites in Moravia maintained that there was no difference between Sunday and the other days of the week." p. 148

C. SABBATARIANS (c. 1500-1600s)
1. Throughout Transylvanian region.
2. From Armenia - Jews migrating north because of persecution.
3. Predominate leader - Andreas Eossi.
4. Called themselves "Church of God".
5. Best Reference, the Jewish Quarterly Review, July 1890, #4, vol. II, by I Abrahams and C.G. Montefiore
     a. Article reflects Jewish view of the Part Sabbath plays in differentiating religions.

"The celebration of the Sabbath is as much a common religious institution, as one of the most obvious marks of distinction between Judaism and Christianity. On the one hand, the whole Christian world observes each seventh day as a hallowed day of rest, thus to some extent pointing from week to week in the most solemn and in the most general and public manner, to the origin of Christianity: on the other hand, it is just by means of this Sabbath celebration -- by ordaining that the Sabbath should be observed on a different day from that on which the people of Israel and the founders of Christianity themselves kept it -- that Christianity has set itself in conscious and intentional opposition to the first possessors and inheritors of this great institution. Thus what was a mark of uniformity became a mark of diversity, and the separate observance of the seventh day developed into the most effective cause of separation between the Christian community and the adherence of the Jewish faith." p. 405

        b. Shows Russian Groups Sobotniki and Molokani

"As regards the RUSSIAN Sabbath-observers, the so- called Sobotniki or Subbotniki, we have to depend for an account of their origin and present condition, on a few extremely scanty notices. They belong to the Russian sect, Molokani or Milk-drinkers, one of the various sects that arose, during the sixteenth century, in those provinces of Southern Russia which were at that time under the supremacy of the Polish crown, all of which sects displayed a Judaizing tendency, a marked leaning towards the Mosaic law. The Molokani, so runs the account given by a Russian chronicler, observed the Sabbath and had their children circumcised. The performance of Divine service, and the execution of other religious practices they entrusted to the oldest and most learned men selected from their own body.... Their worship consists of reading the Bible and singing the Psalms. For purposes of public service they assemble in a dwelling-room, which they call 'skool' (schkola). Persecuted in the government of Moscow, the Molkans settled in that of Woronesch, and subsequently spread throughout the neighboring government of Saratow. In the second half of the eighteenth century, their number in the first-named government had grown to 5,000 souls. By keeping their doctrines secret, they escaped persecution, till they were betrayed in 1769, and made to suffer oppression from the State." p. 466-467

        c. Origin: Andreas Eossi

"Andreas Eossi of Szent-Erzsebet was a rich Szekely of noble birth, who owned three villages and a great number of estates in the counties of Udvarhelyszek, Kukullo, and Fehervar, and who belonged to the earliest adherents of Unitarianism in Transylvania. Having been visited by severe trials, (he was ailing for many years, and had lost his wife and three sons), he sought consolation in religion. 'He read the Bible so long' -- runs the account of the chronicler already mentioned -- 'that he evolved there from the Sabbatarian form of religion.' What he recognized as truth, he endeavored to disseminate in the surrounding district; he composed treatises, prayers, and hymns, caused copies of these and other writings to be prepared and lent them out in all directions.... He was well versed in Church history, and was completely master of the Old and New Testament, from both of which he derived his teaching." p. 472-473

d. Much of their teaching is found in hymnbook

"About 1600, there was compiled 'the old hymn-book of the Sabbatarians,' probably by Eossi himself. This book is the most important source whence acknowledged of the doctrines of the sect may be derived; it is the oldest monument of their literature, and contains paraphrases of the Psalms and other poetical passages of the Bible, metrical renderings of a few extracts from the Jewish prayer book.... Of the 110 poetical compositions, which are to be found in three manuscripts of this old Sabbatarian hymnbook, no less than 44 relate to the Sabbath, which, on account of the special regard in which its celebration was held, gave the sect the name they bear. Five songs belong to the New Moon, 11 to the Festival of Passover, 6 to the Feast of Weeks, 6 to Tabernacles, 3 to the New Year and 1 to the Day of Atonement."

"They did not celebrate Purim and Chanukah. But even the Mosaic Laws they did not observe in their entirety, for they kept the dietary laws only up to a certain limit, and circumcision not at all. The Sabbath played the most important part in their religions brought the contrast between them and Christianity most prominently into view. They called the Sabbath celebration a 'spiritual marriage,' and adorned themselves for it in wedding attire. The Sabbath service consisted of prayers and hymns, introduced and concluded by the sermon or 'instruction.' One of the Sabbatical hymns mentions among the requisites of a proper observance of the Sabbath, 'study of the holy law, feeding the poor, moderation in living, cheerfulness of disposition'; in another it is said: 'Let man first hallow himself, then the Sabbath of the Lord.' Although the feast of the first of Tishri is not designated the New Year festival in the Pentateuch, yet they celebrated it as the 'New Year' with special emphasis, as particularly characteristic, that they maintained that, in adhering to these observances, they were following the example and teaching of Jesus. 'He who keeps not the Sabbath will have no portion in the inheritance of Christ'; they celebrated 'the Passover of Israel, according to the command of our Christ.' They bound up with the Passover festival (in accordance with the views which they entertained regarding the millennium) the hope of the future redemption which Jesus will bring, in order to build up his millennial kingdom." p.473-474

        e. Taught Christ's mission to enable us to keep commands

"They regard Jesus as greater than Moses and the prophets; call him 'our Christ,' 'Lord Jesus,' 'King,' even 'the son of God'; the last, however, in the sense that all deserve to be called 'sons of God' who are free from sin. For the most part they reverence him as the Messiah, as the Deliverer proclaimed by the prophets. On the other hand, however, they accentuated his purely human nature, and laid stress on the belief that his mission had for its object not the destruction but the maintenance of the Law." p. 474

        f. Thought of themselves as spiritual Jews

“The Sabbatarians frequently declared that they joined themselves to Israel, and felt themselves Jews. In a Sabbath hymn occurs the following: 'We have chosen the observance of Thy law, we have found delight in the camp of Israel, despite his miserable lot.' And in another song: 'Not Abraham was our father, neither are we the remnant of his seed; but we are sprung from the house of Japheth, sons of ignorant heathens...yet in Thee, our gracious Father, delight and exult our heart, our soul, and our mouth; though we were heathens, yet hast Thou turned unto us and hast made us sons of great Abraham.'" p. 475

        g. They were strongly anti-Catholic

"They declared the Christian festivals to be inventions of the popes, and even protested against the ringing of church bells. They regarded the Lord's Supper, not as a new institution of Jesus, but as an old Jewish custom. On the first night of Passover they ate unleavened bread, 'the bread of the Messiah,' calling to mind the Redeemer, who had appeared, and would one day come again." p. 475

1. Known as 7th Day Baptists throughout history.
2. Reference books:
     a. Dean Blackwells' thesis on The History of the True Church
     b. Religious Denominations by Joseph Belcher, 1861
3. Sabbath keepers begin to come out of hiding.
4. Many Sabbath keepers in England.
5. (1600s) 11 Sabbatarian church's in England; 3 churches in London.

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