Strasbourg Discipline (1568)
The Strasbourg Discipline is a set of 23 regulations drawn up in 1568 by the
"preachers and elders from many places in the meeting at Strasbourg"
and confirmed and renewed in 1607 at the same place by the assembled
representatives of the congregations, This Abrede der Diener und Eltesten
(Agreement of the Preachers and Elders) was expanded at two later conferences,
viz., on March 5 (year not given) in Obersülzen in the Palatinate and in 1688
These articles do not constitute an actual confession
of faith or dogmatic teachings, but in general discuss practical questions
of church life, for the most part dealing with the organization of the
congregations, supply of ministers, discipline, ordinances, marriage, care of
Three manuscript copies of the Strasbourg Discipline recopied and handed down
through Amish bishops in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio,
and Indiana are now in the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen
of these was is translated above together with an attached appendix of four
articles adopted at Hoffingen in 1630.
William Yoder, an Amish bishop of near Nappanee, IN, published the
Strasbourg Discipline together with additional material in 1905 as Artikel
und Ordnungen der Christlichen Gemeinde in Christi Jesu (printed at
Elkhart, Ind.) as a 16-page booklet.
The Gemeinde-Kalender for 1906 contains an interesting article by
Mathias Pohl on the Discipline, in which he presented a paraphrase article by
article from an old copy then in the possession of Peter Kipfer of the Emmental
congregation near Langnau, Switzerland. Two additional articles appear in this
paraphrase, one dealing with tobacco, which could not have been in the 1568
form, hence were likely added in 1607. Also presented by Pohl are four
additional articles adopted by a conference at Obersülzen on March 5 (year
missing) and another set of five articles adopted by the conference at Bronstein
(Berstein) in March 1688.
Ernst Müller in his Berner Täufer (1895) refers to the
Strasbourg Discipline with brief characterization and summary (pp. 50-52)
stating that the manuscript copy he used was in private possession in Emmental
Mennonite hands, possibly the Kipfer copy. He refers to the Obersülzen
additions as of March 5, 1668, but does not mention the Ofenstein additions.
An interesting and valuable feature of the Kipfer manuscript is a colored
drawing on the cover picturing
Anabaptist men and women in an assembly. This is
reproduced in the Pohl article in black and white.
This is, next to the Schleitheim Confession, the only significant church
document of the Swiss Brethren which has been preserved. It is of outstanding
significance from the practical point of view, but of no value theologically.
Text of Confession
Agreement of the ministers and bishops of many localities in conference at
Strassburg in the year 1568, and reaffirmed at the Strasbourg conference in
- (It was decided) To warn against leaving the meeting, to earnestly
admonish those who leave the meeting without godly causes, and not to permit
- The ministers shall visit the neighboring congregations, and supply their
needs, and comfort the brethren with wholesome teaching; with these shall
travel ordained bishops by whom the oncoming bishops may be instructed in
pastoral care (Haushaltung).
- The ministers and bishops shall visit, provide for, and comfort the wives
and children of those ministers who travel in danger or are in prison, so
that the ministers may be comforted and gladdened by the assurance of
brotherly love and care, whether he be in prison or absent for other reason.
- All those who are sent out for this purpose shall be provided and
furnished with all necessities.
- Orphans shall be remembered and taken in before other servants, and shall
be disciplined as children.
- The poor, undeveloped children and orphans of brethren and bishops shall
be brought up as opportunity affords from the common property; the rich
orphans however shall be brought up from their own property for a reasonable
- Such bishops as are ordained shall visit the congregations, fill all
offices, and where there is a vacancy, they shall ordain ministers and
bishops by laying on of hands.
- In the communion there shall be no fixed rule
observed as to whether the minister shall break and give or each one break.
But each one shall be admonished so that in blameless heart and conscience
and in unity with Christ there may be one bread and one manner of breaking.
Yet no one shall be forced to accept another usage, and each one shall
commune in the congregation in which be is.
- The kneeling and self-humbling of those who have sinned and return with
penitent hearts shall take place in the heart before God but the actual
kneeling in posture shall not be done away with by this.
- The avoidance shall be Practiced toward those
who forsake the truth of the Gospel and the brotherhood, causing reproach to
the name of God and the brotherhood; therefore we desire that the brethren
in all temperance and lowliness withdraw from those who have fallen away,
according to the teaching of the apostles.
- The brethren and sisters, each to each, shall greet each other with a holy
kiss; those who have not been received into fellowship shall not be greeted
with a kiss, but with the words, "The Lord help you".
- Those who wish to enter the state of matrimony shall do so with the
knowledge and counsel of the ministers and bishops, and it shall be
undertaken in the fear of God; and since it is fitting they should inform
and report to their parents.
- If believers are persecuted and driven from their homes by unbelieving
husband or wife, they shall be encouraged to continue in earnest prayer to
the Lord for patience until he shall show a way out; in order to avoid this
danger believers shall marry only in the Lord, and not in unbelief, whether
they be maidens, youths, or widows (or widowers).
- As regards the incarnation of Christ, one should abide by the Scriptures
according as Paul testifies concerning Him, a Son of God after the Spirit,
and a Son of David after the flesh, and according as Peter confesses Him, a
Son of the living God; and as far as possible all disputing should be
avoided and omitted.
- All those who wish to unite themselves with us, but have been baptized by
others, shall be diligently examined, whether they have repented, and have
believed on Christ, and have been baptized thereupon; such shall not be
- No brother shall engage in buying or building or other large,
[unnecessary] business dealing without the counsel,
knowledge, and consent of the brethren and bishops.
- If one or more brethren assert themselves to cause trouble by attacking or
withstanding the ministers or bishops, such an one shall be warned and
censured in a gospel manner, and such gossip and backbiting shall not be
allowed to anyone, nor shall such slander be accepted by any brother or
sister, whether from strangers or from home people, but such matters shall
be dealt with according to the regulation.
- Also, if a member of a congregation shall withstand the ministers and
bishops, he shall be silenced and admonished privately by the bishops lest
they be discouraged.
- Those among the brethren who catch or shoot game shall be warned according
to the order of the Lord, and if they are disobedient, they shall [be
punished] with the ban [and] expelled, unless it is
done in free territory.
- Tailors and seamstresses shall hold to the plain and simple style and
shall make nothing at all for pride's sake.
- Brethren and sisters shall stay by the present form of our regulation
concerning apparel and make nothing for pride's sake.
- If a brother or a sister has money or valuables and wishes to entrust them
to someone, they shall entrust them to brethren and sisters, and not to the
- If a brother or sister has debts from the world,
he may let the authorities demand it, and let them set a date (for payment)
but thereafter not let anything be mortgaged.
- If a brother is to watch or guard in village, field, wood, or forest, he
may hire someone, if it is for the best or he himself may guard but not to
anyone's harm, and he may not carry any weapon such as spear and the like.
Agreement: On the 10th day of October, anno 1630, the Swiss Brethren of
Switzerland were together near Hoffingen in the dark valleys ( ?) and discussed,
counseled and agreed with one another to hold closer to the order of the gospel
in the church of God according to the statement and deposition of the old
brethren, to bold fast to them, and take care where something might have been
- If a brother or sister has committed a public transgression, may God
forbid, such shall be publicly punished.
- If someone should wish to move away on account of tribulation it shall not
be allowed them without godly cause.
- No one shall let himself be brought before the government court, or shall
cause anyone else to be brought before such court on account of money debts.
- Anyone who has been appointed, who has a good testimony, and is in the
confidence of the people, such an one may take charge of communion, baptism, marrying, punishing and expelling, if no
ordained bishop should be on band, who might have
been hindered for cause.
Copied 1733 and 1774. By Christian Guengerich of Hueninghausen, March 1,
1789, April 14, 1800, 1820. This discipline I received from Friederich Hege
(Hege) at Martinscreek, Ohio, in the year 1860 and returned to his son in Iowa.
Copied by me Jacob Schwarzendruber.
The copyist, J. Schwarzendruber, was born in the year 1800 at
Mengeringbausen, about an hour from Hueningbausen in Waldeck in Germany and died
in the year 1868 on the 5th of June in Johnson County, Iowa. Friedrich
[ ] indicates omission in the earlier text of 1836. ( ) indicates words not
in the German original.
Published by permission of
Mennonite Quarterly Review,
Goshen, Indiana. All rights reserved. Translated and edited by
Harold S. Bender. Reprinted from Mennonite Quarterly Review 1
For information on subscribing to
Mennonite Quarterly Review visit their website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
To cite this page:MLA style:
Strasbourg Discipline. "Strasbourg Discipline (1568)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online.
1569. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S7727.html.APA style:
Strasbourg Discipline. (1569). Strasbourg Discipline (1568). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online.
Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S7727.html.