- Hübmaier, Balthasar
- (1481-1528)martyred Anabaptist leaderBalthasar Hübmaier was born in Freiburg, Bavaria, in 1481. He earned his M.A. at the University of Freiburg in 1511. His gifts were soon recognized with a position teaching theology at the University of Ingolstadt, where in 1515 he was named vice-rector. He later became a priest at the cathedral at Ratisbon.In the early 1520s, Hübmaier was attracted to the Reformation, and in 1523 he made his first visit to Zurich, where he met Ulrich ZWINGLI, who was just beginning his reform of the city. Hüb-maier became the priest of the church at Waldshut, Austria, where he tried to institute reforms. He became convinced that infant BAPTISM should be replaced with adult baptism; unfortunately, Zwingli had already encountered that idea in Zurich, among a group who challenged the church's authority.The concept of the church as a communion of believers rather than of all citizens was far beyond what Zwingli could accept. The Zurich group was banned. After inviting others to join their fellowship, Zurich authorities arrested them.Meanwhile, Hübmaier was facing opposition from the bishop at Constance after he began to offer the Eucharist in both kinds (bread and wine) to his parishioners. He had to leave Waldstadt in August 1524. Settling at Schaffhausen, he penned his small work Heretics and Those Who Burn Them, the first call for religious toleration in the modern era. In January 1525, he publicly repudiated infant baptism in his book The Christian Baptism of Believers, and had himself rebaptized on Easter Sunday.When the Austrian army moved against Schaffhausen at the end of 1525, Hübmaier fled to Zurich. Hoping to find a haven with his former friend, he discovered instead that Zwingli was aware of the direction of his thought and had Hübmaier arrested immediately. He recanted under torture and was allowed to leave Zurich. For some months he moved about German-speaking lands, raising up churches, including one at Augsburg. Anabaptism had gained a foothold in Nikolsburg, Moravia (now in the Czech Republic), and here Hübmaier finally settled. Through 1527, he authored many Anabaptist tracts that circulated throughout Europe.Authorities caught up with him and his wife toward the end of 1527, and both were taken to Vienna. In jail, he now resisted torture. Finally tried for heresy, he was condemned to the stake. Prior to his execution, he was paraded through the streets to the public square. In the presence of his wife, he was burned alive, gunpowder being rubbed into his beard before the pyre was ignited. Three days later, his wife was drowned in the Danube, a large stone tied around her neck.In spite of Hübmaier's execution, Nikolsburg remained a center of the Anabaptists.Further reading:■ William Roscoe Estep, The Anabaptist Story: An Introduction to Sixteenth-Century Anabap-tism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1996)■ Balthasar Hübmaier, Balthasar Hübmaier: Theologian of Anabaptism, ed. by H. Wayne Pipkin and John H. Yoder, Classics of the Radical Reformation, vol. 5 (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1989)■ The Writings of Balthasar Hübmaier, compiled by G. D. Davidson, 3 vols. (Liberty, Mo.: reproduced by microfilm, William Jewell College, 1939)■ Henry C. Vedder, Balthasar Hübmaier, The Leader of the Anabaptists (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1905)■ George H. Williams, The Radical Reformation (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.