Monday, January 5, 2015

This Day in Christian History: January 5

This Day in Christian History: January 5

January 5, 1527: Felix Manz becomes the first Protestant to be martyred at the hands of Protestants.

Grossmunster, Zurich
Grossmunster, Zurich by Robert Scarth
Felix Manz was born in Zurich Switzerland sometime around 1498. It was there that he was educated and learned Hebrew, Greek and Latin. In 1519 when Zwingli came to Zurich, Felix became one of his followers. About this time, Felix also became friends with Conrad Grebel. He and Conrad eventually split from Zwingli's movement, feeling that he had been corrupted by the City Council.
One of the main subjects of dispute was the baptism of infant children. Felix and Conrad believed a person should be baptized after they had reached the age of accountability and accepted Christ, however Zwingli and his movement still practiced infant baptism.

Felix used his learning to translate texts into the language of the people, and was also an evangelist. He was arrested several times between 1525 and 1527 before he was caught by surprise while preaching and taken to Wellenburg Prison.

The Zurich council had passed a law stating that re-baptizing was a crime punishable by drowning. On January 5, 1527 they carried out this sentence on Felix, making him the first martyr of the law and the first protestant to be killed at the hands of protestants.

A hymn written by Feliz Manz is still sung in some Amish churches. Below is the English version.
With gladness will I now sing;
My heart delights in God,
Who showed me such forbearance
That I from death was saved
Which never hath an end.
I praise Thee, Christ in heaven
Who all my sorrow changed.

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