What is Anabaptism?

With a broad question like, “what is Anabaptism?” one place to start is by forming a working definition.

A working definition of Anabaptism

At AMBS, we know a thing or two about Anabaptism. (It’s literally in our name.) So what is Anabaptism? Likely every person at AMBS would give you a slightly different answer to how to define Anabaptism. 

Anabaptism emerged as a Christian movement in sixteenth-century Europe, but today its heirs—whether called Mennonite, Brethren, Amish, neo-Anabaptist, or any number of other designations—are scattered around the world, and especially the global South. At AMBS, our work in Anabaptist theological education is rooted in the saving power of the life, death, resurrection and ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ, the Word of God. Learn more about AMBS and about our values.

Ready to read a bit more about Anabaptism?

At AMBS, our faculty and students contribute to many journal articles and books about Anabaptism.

Studies in Anabaptist Theology and Ethics series

Studies in Anabaptist Theology and Ethics is a book series from the Institute of Mennonite Studies dedicated to displaying the vibrant global resurgence of theological reflection and praxis in and adjacent to the Anabaptist tradition. In a world that is fraught with overt and covert forms of violence, this series provides a platform for global voices to contribute new ways of seeing, understanding, and living what it means to love one’s enemy and one’s neighbor with the peace of God that surpasses much of the wisdom of the day.

Anabaptist Identities in a Changing World

Anabaptist Witness, a journal published by the Institute of Mennonite Studies, dedicated the first issue of its relaunch in October 2014 issue to the theme of “Anabaptist Identities in a Changing World.”

From the editorial by Jamie Ross, co-editor of the journal at the time: “This first issue explores Anabaptist and Mennonite identities — how they have evolved and how they might help us live into our communities and the work God calls us to. As an example, [Neal] Blough challenges us in his article to find creative ways to teach and sustain an Anabaptist theological identity, one that is made real through daily discipleship and both passed on to our congregations as well as shared with other Christians. It is this shared identity as Anabaptists, he contends, that might hold us together through interchurch schisms, and allow dialogue with each other and the broader church.”

Reading the Bible as if our lives depend on it

Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology, a journal published by the Institute of Mennonite Studies, dedicated its relaunch in Fall 2021 issue to the theme of “Reading the Bible as if our lives depend on it.”

From the editorial by guest co-editors Michelle Christian Curtis and Scott Litwiller: “Learning to read the Bible as if our lives depend on it is a journey from standing outside the biblical text to finding ourselves inside it. Instead of trying to master the Bible intellectually, we join biblical characters in a desperate search for God, who cannot be tamed by finite human minds. The phrase “reading the Bible as if our lives depend on it” came to us through our beloved Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary professor Mary Schertz, who adapted it from Old Testament scholar Ellen Davis. We proposed an issue of Vision dedicated to this idea in honor of Mary’s lifelong work teaching students to read Scripture in exactly this way. Our aspiration for this issue is to share with the church the practices of reading Scripture that helped us to encounter God in new ways, practices we learned from Mary.”

Invite someone to speak on Anabaptism

Want to invite a speaker to come talk more about Anabaptism? Invite AMBS is a unique opportunity to invite the faculty and staff of AMBS to come directly to you about many topics, including Anabaptism.

Ready to dig a little deeper into Anabaptism?

One of the best ways to get a glimpse into Anabaptism is through our six-week online short courses. Each year, AMBS offers Exploring Anabaptist History and Theology, a short course that surveys the history and theology of the first Anabaptists alongside various interpretations of “Anabaptism” and its meaning today. 

Building a deeper Anabaptist framework

At AMBS, our academic programs build skills for spiritual growth, intercultural competence, contextual analysis and interpretation, leadership practice, and peacebuilding, all within an Anabaptist framework.

Ready to join our learning community? 

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Meet the AMBS Admissions Team

From your first inquiry about seminary study to your transition from applicant to student, we’re here to help you.

Photo of Janeen Bertsche Johnson
Janeen Bertsche Johnson, MDiv
Admissions Associate
Teresa Thompson Sherrill
Teresa Thompson Sherrill, MDiv
Enrollment & Financial Aid Specialist
Paul Keim, PhD
Student Services Coordinator
Mary Ann Weber, MA
Director of Enrollment