Two events, both of which occurred in Germany at the turn of
the 15th Century, marked the dawn of what is commonly called the Protestant
Reformation: In 1456, Johann Gutenberg and his assistants produced the first
book ever printed from movable type; and in 1522, Martin Luther, a former
Catholic monk, translated that same book into the common language of the
The book, of course, was the Bible. And within a generation,
it would be freely circulating throughout much of the continent -- made
accessible for the first time by the new printing technology, and intelligible
by virtue of Martin Luther's work.
Wearied by centuries of superstition and spiritual tyranny,
people now turned with eagerness to the message of hope and love they discovered
in God's Word. Rapidly, there sprang up communities of "Bible-believers" known
by a variety of names including "Anabaptists" or "Re-baptizers", because of
their belief in the necessity of adult baptism; and "Adventists", because of
their firm hope in the literal return of Christ. Most commonly, they were called
Persecuted by both Catholic and Protestant "state" churches
(including Lutherans, Calvinists and Anglicans), the "Brethren" suffered on all
sides because of their unpopular doctrines, such as:
Under the steady, unremitting pressure of their enemies,
congregations of "Brethren" disbanded and scattered throughout Europe, fleeing
for their lives from one country to another. When apprehended, many Brethren and
their children were summarily executed by Catholics and Protestants alike. Other
groups of the Brethren survived persecution by modifying their doctrinal
positions, continuing for some years as "Mennonites" or "Baptists" or
"Unitarians". But in the process, these Brethren lost, with each passing
generation, more of their unique birthright of Bible truth.
- There is one eternal God, not a three-part
godhead -- and Jesus is His only begotten Son, who was conceived by the Holy
Spirit, which is the power of God (Isa 45:5; 1Ti 1:17; Luk 1:35).
[See Lesson, Trinity,
- Man is mortal; thus, his only hope for
eternal life is through a resurrection in contrast to the unscriptural idea of
an immortal soul that goes to heaven at death (Psa 49:12-20; 1Co 15:12-50; Joh
11:25; Rev 20:4).
- There is an absolute necessity
for adult baptism, as opposed to the sprinkling of infants (Act 2:37; Mar
16:15,16). [See Lesson, Baptism,
- Christ's true followers understand they
are "strangers and pilgrims" in the earth; with no vested interest in the
political, military, and social affairs of a world order destined to pass away
(Heb 11:13; 1Pe 2:11-13; Mat 5:38-45; Jam 4:4).