Balthasar Hubmaier

From Academic Kids

Balthasar Hübmaier (ca. 1480-1528) was an influential German/Moravian Anabaptist leader.

He was born in Friedburg, Bavaria (about 5 miles east of Augsburg) circa 1480-1481. Information on his parentage is lacking. In 1524, he married Elizabeth Hügline of Reichenau.

He attended Latin School at Augsburg, and entered the University of Freiburg on May 1, 1503. Insufficient funds caused him to leave the university and teach for a time at Schaffhausen. He returned to Freiburg in 1507 and received both a bachelor's and a master's degree in 1511. In 1512, he received a doctor's degree from the University of Ingolstadt, and became the university's vice-rector by 1515. Hübmaier's fame as a pulpiteer was widespread, and his success as an administrator was not exceptional. He left the University of Ingolstadt for a pastorate of the Catholic church at Regensburg in 1516. In 1521 he went to Waldshut.

In 1522 he became acquainted with Glarean (Conrad Grebel's teacher) and Erasmus at Basel. In March, 1523 in Zürich, Hübmaier met with Ulrich Zwingli, and even participated in a disputation there in October of that same year. In the disputation, he set forth the principle of obedience to the Scriptures. It was evidently here that Hübmaier committed to abandoning infant baptism, a practice he could not support with Scripture.

Anabaptist Wilhelm Reublin arrived in Waldshut in 1525, having been driven out of Zürich. In April Reublin baptized Hübmaier and 60 others.

In December of 1525, Hübmaier fled to Zürich to escape the Austrian army. Hoping to find refuge, Zwingli rather had him arrested. While a prisoner, Hübmaier requested a disputation on baptism, which was granted. The disputation yielded some unusual events. Ten men, four of whom Hübmaier requested, were present for the disputation. Within the discussion, Hübmaier proceeded to quote statements by Zwingli in which he asserted that children should not be baptized until they had been instructed. Zwingli responded that he had been misunderstood. The bewildered Hübmaier agreed to recant. But before the congregation the next day, he attested the mental and spiritual anguish brought on by his actions and stated "I can and I will not recant." Back in prison and under the torture of the rack, he did offer the required recantation. With this, he was allowed to leave Switzerland and journeyed to Nikolsburg. This weakness troubled him deeply and brought forth his Short Apology in 1526, which includes the statements: "I may err - I am a man - but a heretic I cannot be...O God, pardon me my weakness".

In 1527, Hübmaier and his wife were seized by Austrian authorities and taken to Vienna. He was held in the castle Gratzenstain until March 1528. He suffered torture on the rack, and was tried for heresy and convicted. On March 10, 1528, he was taken to the public square and executed by burning. His wife exhorted him to remain steadfast. Three days after his execution, his wife, with a stone tied around her neck, was drowned in the River Danube.

Some of writings include Eighteen Articles (1524), Heretics and Those Who Burn Them (1524), The Open Appeal of Balthasar of Freidburg to all Christian Believers (1525), The Christian Baptism of Believers (1525), Twelve Articles of Christian Belief (1526), and On the Sword (1527). All of his publications contained the motto Die warhair ist untödlich (Truth is Immortal).

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