I would have to say that Felix Manz, the Old Testament scholar, is one of the most interesting characters that one can study concerning the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther and Jon Calvin have virtually hijacked the name Reformation, because people don’t often talk about the other great men of faith such as John Huss, John Wycliffe, Menno Simons, and Felix Manz. Sadly, most Christians have no idea who he is, but his story has inspired me many, many times! I was impressed by the events that marked his life, as well as the noble and honorable way in which he los his life.
He was the illegitimate son of a Catholic priest, just like Erasmus and Bullinger. He credible became a Hebrew scholar. He was in virtually every prison in Switzerland. From most accounts, he was known to be a “true man of God” with a deep devotion for the Lord and for biblical truth. He believed strongly in Believer’s Baptism, so much so that he gave his life for it. He wanted so deeply for people to understand that infant baptism did nothing more than yield a wet, crying baby. It was useless, and unbiblical. Then, as is the case today, many in the church cared very little for doing what was biblical; they were more concerned with their traditions!
Because he refused to sway from what he knew was right, he was tried and condemned to death by the Zurich city council. In the cold of winder, in front of a large crowd at the Limmat River, he was drowned on January 5, 1527. As he was staring death in the face, he refused to recant, and even shared the gospel with those there to watch his execution.
The most interesting fact about his life is also the most tragic – He was the first Anabaptist to be martyred for his “radical” beliefs!
I was also intrigued by a few points concerning his death. The first is that it is noted that he could hear the supportive and encouraging voices of his mother and his brother as they stood nearby on the shore to observe his execution – even through the screams of the violent, murderous crowd of hypocrites. Secondly, his last words were the same last words of Christ: “Into thy hands, O God, I commend my Spirit.” Now that’s powerful!! Third, he was executed, NOT by the intolerant Catholics, but by the Reformed movement. Isn’t that ironic and sad – he was killed by intolerant people who themselves were fighting for religious tolerance. The Reformed Faith movement advocates wanted reform, yet they only wanted the reforms they wanted – no others were to be tolerated. These reformers, who were fighting the Catholic faith for the right to believe as they may, took him by boat onto the River Limmat, bound his hands and pulled them behind his knees. They took a pole and placed it between his arms so he could not bring his arms forward, and they executed him by drowning in Lake Zürich. So much for religious tolerance, huh?
Manz was an interesting and crucial part of the radical reformation! He was a man of courage who stood for biblical truth!! He never back down. Never! Any discussion on the key players of the Reformation should include this brave martyr. I hope to be able to do some extensive research on this great man of faith in the near future. I’m sure studying about him will bless my socks off!
Key Search Words:
Protestant Reformation. Felix Mans. Reformers. Great men of faith. Martyrs for Christianity.