Verantwurtung, the popular shortened title of Clare verantwurtung ettlicher Artickel / so jetz durch jrrige geyster schrifftlich vnnd mündtlich aussschweben / von wegen der ceremonien dess Newen Testaments/ als Predigen / Tauffen/ Abendtmal / Schrifft etc. This booklet was published in 1531, without indication of its author or locale. Both Camill Gerbert and Alexander Nicoladoni, who had never seen the book, erroneously attributed it to Johann Bünderlin. It was clearly not written by Bünderlin since it attacks Bünderlin's position.
The Verantwurtung discusses three points. The first is a reply to the assertion of certain "erring spirits" that the children of God should not use the ceremonies of the New Testament, baptism, Lord's Supper, Scriptures, etc., any longer because of the abuse into which they had fallen. The author's reply is that abuse is not sufficient basis for the cessation of ceremonies, and that length of time does not pervert ceremonies (Bünderlin used this argument), but rather that God even works sometimes to reestablish correct order. To prove this the author somewhat reluctantly adduces evidence from the Old Testament, with the explanation that the erring spirits argue mainly from the Old Testament.
While the first point is discussed in 4½ pages, the second point is given 11½ pages. The author deals here with the assertion by the "erring spirits" that since the apostles are dead there is no longer a command or witness of the Scriptures for the ceremonies, hence they are invalid unless an external command would come that they ought to be continued. The reply to this argument is that then the Lord's Prayer will also need to be discontinued. He rejects the argument that the words of the Bible are not meant for us, and insists that the last days are the days after the life of Christ, and that no special signs are now needed. He criticizes also the excessive individualism of these "spirits" and reminds them that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for the common good of the church, and not for individual consumption.
The third argument, 17 pages, deals with the continuity of apostolic authority. The "erring spirits" insist that the apostles were in no position to hand down their authority to their successors; they only called bishops and there it ended. The reply to this objection is an excellent statement on the nature of authority in the church. Christian ministers do not derive their authority from an external act, but from the authority of Christ, who "thrusts His spirit into the bosom of their hearts" as He did to the eleven. In a limited way the author deals also with the accusation that the Anabaptists were making an idol of the ceremonies.
The stress on the order of Christ, the voluntary nature of baptism, foot-washing, church leadership, baptism as suffering (sea of tribulation: "meer der trübsal"), all point in the direction of this being an Anabaptist booklet. But where was it published and by whom? The evidence is strong that it is directed against Bünderlin, certain phrases being used which also occur in Bünderlin's writings. If it was directed against him, it likely was written by someone at Strasbourg in 1531. Since Marpeck was then in Strasbourg and published two booklets in 1531 it is possible that it was written by him. An argument against his authorship is that the censors reported that one of his two books of 1531 openly asserted Anabaptist doctrine and contained the information that he himself had been baptized. Such information is not contained in the Clare Verantwurtung, but is found in the other booklet, Ain klarer unterricht. One copy is known to exist in the Stuttgart State Library (microfilm at Goshen College Library).
Gerbert, Camill. Geschichte der Strassburger Secten-bewegung zur Zeit der Reformation 1524-1534. Strasbourg, 1889: 96.
Klassen, W. "Pilgram Marpeck's Two Books of 1531." Mennonite Quarterly Review XXXIII (1959): 18-30.
Nicoladoni, A. Johannes Bünderlin. Berlin, 1893: 126.
Cite This Article
Klassen, William. "Verantwurtung." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 21 Sep 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Verantwurtung&oldid=133334.
Klassen, William. (1959). Verantwurtung. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 September 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Verantwurtung&oldid=133334.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 808-809. All rights reserved.
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