Felix Manz (ca. 1498-1527)

Felix Manz, a Swiss Brethren Anabaptist in Zurich, Switzerland, and the first martyr of Radical Reformation was born in 1498 as the illegitimate son of a Zurich canon. Though records of his education are scant, there is evidence that he received good education, with a thorough knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. …

Differences of opinion arose when Felix Manz and Conrad Grebel in the group demanded the abolition of Mass, tithes, and interest. Zwingli hesitated the changes (although he agreed with them on the Biblical basis for the demand). …

..the true Reformation in Zurich was indefinitely postponed. When Easter 1525 came (two years after the city of Zurich became Protestant), the churches were still having mass–but without sacrifice. They were still having infant baptism, and the cup was still not being given to the congregation. In essence, they were practicing all the Roman Catholic trappings of religion with only a few modifications. …

At this time the other magisterial reformers, Luther and Calvin, shared the similar view on the matter regarding infant baptism with that of Zwingli. Later, the followers of Grebel and Manz, radical reformers and Anabaptist (Literally Anabaptist means “re-baptizers”), refer to the magisterium as “partial reformers”. To the radical reformers, the magisterium have inherent commitment to the state church, not fully to the Word of God.

A public disputation on the matter of infant baptism was eventually held with Zwingli on January 17, 1525. The city council declared Zwingli the victor. …

On March 7, 1526, the Zürich council had passed an edict that made adult baptism punishable by drowning. On January 5, 1527, Felix Manz became the first martyr of the edict, and the first Swiss Anabaptist to be martyred at the hands of reformers. While Manz only wanted “to bring together those who were willing to accept Christ, obey the Word, and follow in His footsteps, to unite with these by baptism, and to leave the rest in their present conviction”, Zwingli and the council accused him of obstinately refusing “to recede from his error and caprice”. Manz was taken out of the Wellenberg prison and led to the fish market there by the Limmat. There his death sentence was read. He was taken to the butcher shop, and at 3 PM forced into a boat. He praised God and preached to the crowd.  A Reformed pastor went along, seeking to silence him, and hoping to give him an opportunity to recant. Manz’ brother and mother encouraged him to stand firm and suffer for Jesus’ sake. He was taken by the boat onto the River Limmat. At that time there was a small fishing hut located in the middle in the river.  Felix Manz was placed on the platform of the hut, where his hands were shackled and pulled behind his knees and a pole was placed between them. He was thrown to his death in an icy baptism [called the third baptism? – editor] in the cold waters of Lake Zurich on the Limmat. His last cry was, “Into thy hands, O God, I commend my spirit.” His property went to the government of Zurich…

Entire Article Here


A story of faithfulness: Felix Mantz

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