- Manz, Felix
- (c. 1498-1527)martyr and cofounder of the Anabaptist movementFelix Manz was the illegitimate son of a Roman Catholic priest. He emerged in the 1520s in Zurich, Switzerland, where Ulrich Zwingli had carried out his historic reform of the church. By 1524, Manz and a small group of others, including George Blaurock and Conrad Grebel, had reached the conclusion that the Reformation had fallen short, primarily by maintaining the practice of infant baptism.In Roman Catholic thought, baptism initiated one's entrance into the church and the Christian life. All citizens were baptized at birth and thenceforward considered part of the church and under its ministrations. Ideally, a person would follow the church's pattern for Christian growth, punctuated by various sacramental acts, the last being administered shortly before death. Manz and his cohorts found no basis for infant baptism in the Bible. Besides, they rejected the whole system of a state church in which all citizens, no matter their beliefs or patterns of behavior, were considered members. They envisioned a church composed only of adults who made a confession of faith and were willing to lead a disciplined Christian existence. Such a church would, of necessity, lead to a dramatic reordering of the relationship of church and state.On January 17, 1525, a disputation on infant baptism was held before the city authorities, all of whom sided with Zwingli and his defense of the practice. The next day, Manz's group baptized one another at his home, thus launching the Anabaptist (rebaptizing) movement. They also began to visit their neighbors door-to-door, inviting them to join in. The authorities moved to stop their work, and the men had to flee.Manz, Grebel, and Blaurock were arrested later in the year and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, the three escaped. Manz eluded authorities for about a year but was finally captured late in 1526. He was executed by drowning on January 15, 1527.See also Anabaptists.Further reading:■ C. Arnold Snyder, Anabaptist History and Theology: An Introduction (Kitchener, Ontario: Pandora Press, 1995)■ J. Denny Weaver, Becoming Anabaptist: The Origin and Significance of Sixteenth-Century Anabaptism (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1987)■ George H. Williams, The Radical Reformation (Kirksville, Mo.: Sixteenth Century Journal, 1992).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.