A Roman Catholic priest until age 40, Menno Simons (1496–1561) became one of the great Anabaptist leaders in the Reformation. His group of Dutch Anabaptist followers adopted his name, becoming the Mennonites. In this excerpt from an early theological work, Foundation of Christian Doctrine, Menno rails against the money-loving of the clergy.


It is manifest, dear reader, that the humble office of a true bishop, preacher, and pastor is an office of Christian service. If rightly served it is full of labor, poverty, trouble, care, reproach, misery, sorrow, cross, and pain. But it has been changed by your preachers into sinful splendor and princely glory so that they are greatly feared and honored by those whose names are not written in heaven. They parade in splendid robes dressed in shining sham, and are called proud names. There is not a word to be found in Scripture concerning their anointing, crosses, caps, togas, unclean purifications, cloisters, chapels, bells, organs, choral music, masses, offerings, ancient usages, etc.; but under these things the lurking wolf, the earthly, sensual mind, the anti-Christian seductions and bloody abominations are readily perceived. For they seek nothing but the favor of men, honor, pomp, splendor, a delicious lazy life, personal advancement, gold, silver, gluttony, etc. Yet they suffer themselves to be called spiritual ones, doctors, masters, lords, abbots, guardians, fathers, and friars.

Alas, how vastly different from the office of the prophets and apostles in service, example, usage, ambition, and procedure. How different they are from the men who without purse enter the Lord’s harvest; men without money or much clothing; men who have to be made a spectacle to the whole world, refuse, ...

Subscriber Access OnlyYou have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Already a CT subscriber? for full digital access.