True Faith – The Anabaptist Martyrs [FELIX MANTZ, A. D. 1526]

Up close shot of Felix Mantz in the painting that showed his drowning.

Mantz was a follower of the famous Swiss reformer, Huldrych Zwingli. Zwingli was a Catholic priest who decided that the Catholic church needed to be reformed. Like many reformers in the early days, Swingli did not necessarily want to leave the church as much as he wanted to reform it and fix it’s problems. However, as with many other reformers the divide between the Catholic church and Zwingli became too large and he eventually broke away and started the Swiss reformed movement.

Felix Mantz, was a well educated young man in his mid-20’s, who sought to assist the Swiss reformed movement lead by Swingli. He joined the movement in 1519 and eventually met the men who would break away with him and call themselves the Brethren. They broke away in 1523 dissenting on the issue of infant baptism, a concern over the connection between the church and state, and they also wanted to reform the mass.

In 1525 Zwingli and the Brethren had a public debate over the issue of infant baptism and Zwingli was pronounced the winner. After more public disagreements and debates the members of the Brethren refused to have their children baptized and the Swiss church lead by Zwingli decreed that they had 8 days to baptize the infants or they would be arrested. Not only did they not have them baptized but they also started baptizing adults in their home meetings. Over the next two years Felix Mantz was arrested numerous times but did not waver in his convictions. In 1525 Felix and George Blaurock were actually imprisoned for their crimes but still would not submit to the Swiss government.

Finally, in 1526, the Swiss government made baptizing adults punishable by death, via drowning. From the prison where Mantz was being held he was called into trial, refused to recant his beliefs, and was sentences to death by drowning. He was lead to his death at 3:00PM, taken by boat into the water, and drown in the Limmat River. He was only 28 years old.


Felix Manz.
Artist’s concept painted by Oliver Wendell Schenk, 1972.
Image courtesy of Laurelville Mennonite Church Center

Entry from the Martyrs Mirror

Felix Mantz was also an originator of the Reformation of the faith, in Germany, and when he, with great zeal, practiced, taught, and preached, the recognized truth of the Gospel, he was envied, accused, and imprisoned by his adversaries, and finally drowned at Zuerich, for the evangelical truth, thus becoming a witness of the sufferings of Christ. This occurred in the year of our Lord 1526. He left the following admonition to his fellow brethren, for their comfort,

My heart rejoices in God, who gives me much knowledge and wisdom, that I may escape the eternal, and never-ending death. . Therefore I praise Thee, O Lord Christ from heaven,. that Thou dost turn away my sorrow and sadness; Thou whom God has sent me as a Saviour, and for an example and a light, and who has called me into His heavenly Kingdom, already before my end has come, that I should have eternal joy with Him, and should love Him and all His righteousness, which exists here, and which shall endure forever hereafter, and without which nothing avails or subsists; hence so many who do not have this in truth, are deceived by a vain opinion. But alas I how many are found at the present who boast of the Gospel and speak, teach, and preach much about it, but are f ull of hatred and envy, and who have not the love of God in them, whose deceit is known to all the world, as we have experienced in these latter days, that those who have come to us in sheep’s clothing are ravening wolves, who hate the pious on the earth, and obstruct the way to life and to the true sheepfold. Thus do the false prophets and hypocrites of this world, who curse and pray with the same mouth, and whose life is disorderly. They call upon the authorities to kill us, by which they destroy the very essence of Christianity. But I will praise the Lord Christ, who exercises all patience towards us; for He instructs us with His divine graces, and shows love to all men, according to the nature of God His heavenly Father, which none of the false prophets are able to do.,

Here we must observe this difference, that the sheep of Christ seek the praise of God; this is their choice, and they do not suffer themselves to be hindered either by possessions or temporal good, for they are in the keeping of Christ. The Lord Christ compels no one to come to His glory; only those that are willing and prepared attain unto it by true faith and baptism. Whenever a person brings forth genuine fruits of repentance, the heaven of eternal joys is, through grace, purchased and obtained for him by Christ, through the shedding of His innocent blood, which He so willingly poured out; thereby showing us His love, and enduing us with the power of His Spirit, and whoever receives and uses it grows and is made perfect in God. Only love to God through Christ shall stand and prevail; not boasting, denouncing, or threatening. It is love alone that is pleasing to God: he that cannot show love shall not stand in the sight of God. The true love of Christ shall not destroy the enemy; he that would be an heir with Christ is taught that he must be merciful, as the Father in heaven is merciful. Christ never accused any one, as do the false teachers of the present day; from which it is evident that they do not have the love of Christ, nor understand His Word; and still they would be shepherds and teachers; but at last they will have to despair, when they shall find, that everlasting pain shall be their recompense, if they do not reform. Christ also never hated any one; neither did His true servants, but they continued to follow Christ in the true way, as He went before them. This Light of life they have before them, and are glad to walk in it; but those who are hateful and envious, and do thus wickedly betray, accuse, smite and quarrel, cannot be Christians. They are those who run before Christ as thieves and murderers, and under a false pretense shed innocent blood. By this we may know them that are not on the side of Christ; for they, as children of Belial, prompted by envy, destroy the ordinances of Jesus Christ; even as Cain slew his brother Abel, when God accepted the offerings of Abel.

With this I will finish my discourse, desiring that all the pious be mindful of the fall of Adam, who when he accepted the advice of the serpent, and became disobedient to God, the punishment of death came upon him. Thus it shall also happen to those who do not accept Christ, but resist Him, love this world, and have not the love of God. And thus I close with this that I will firmly adhere to Christ, and trust in Him, who is acquainted with all my needs, and can deliver me out of it. Amen.

I Pet. 5:1; John 16:20; Gal. 5:21; John 5:42; Matt. 7:15; II Thess. 3:7; John 10:3; Acts 2:38;
(The Martyrs Mirror, Page 416)

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