XV ADAM PASTOR
Roelof Martens, who is better known by the name of Adam Pastor, of Dorpen in Westphalia, was about 1530 priest at Aschendorf. The date when he cast his lot with the Obbenites is unknown. He served the Church as a minister and was ordained an elder or bishop by Menno Simons and Dirk Philips, probably in 1542. At an early date he wrote a tract against the Davidians. He took part in the debate between Mennonite leaders and Davidians at (or near) Lübeck in 1546. About the same time or somewhat later certain doctrinal deviations of Pastor became apparent. In 1547 the elders came together in Embden to confer concerning his unorthodox opinions. He deviated from the teachings of the Brethren principally on the incarnation and the deity of Christ. Hopes were entertained for his restoration to his former doctrinal position. When these hopes proved ungrounded, the elders in the same year held a convention in Goch which resulted in his excommunication.
The principal source of our information concerning Pastor's teachings is his Contrast Between True and False Doctrine to which is added an account of the debate held between Mennonite elders and Pastor at Lübeck in 1552. (1) This account was probably written later than the first named treatise; no date is given in either instance. Pastor asserts that he does not deny the divine nature in Christ, (2) but nevertheless he holds that He did not exist as the Son of God previous to His coining into the world, and was divine only in the sense that God dwelled in Him. It is difficult to see that Christ would in that case be divine in another sense than the Christian believer. On point of the Incarnation, or the origin of Jesus' body, Pastor defended the view of the state churches. This is worthy of notice in view of the unfounded supposition that the doctrine of the Incarnation, as held by Menno, has a Unitarian tendency and that Pastor's Unitarianism was developed from the said doctrine, as was opined by S. Cramer. (3)
That Pastor does not speak of the Scriptures as God's Word, as has been said, (4) can not be maintained. (5) The Bible was for him the only authority in matters of faith. (6) He says in the course of a debate, "Where is this written? I do not believe reason; give me Scripture to prove this."' He defends the doctrine of the atonement. Not through the "fruit of the vine," in communion, he says, but "through the blood which flowed from Christ's wounds" we have forgiveness of sin. Christ paid the debt of the first Adam. He only is the Redeemer, "the only Mediator between his Father and fallen man;" through His merit and blood alone are we saved. (8) In view of the assertion that Pastor held "liberal views touching the church," it should be noted that he is quite outspoken in denouncing the teachers of false doctrine, principally the priests of the national church, whose sermons he forbid his followers to hear. (9) The idea of the purity of the church and the perfection of the believers he carried to a point considered unsound by Menno Simons.' (10) Concerning "avoidance" he taught that eating and drinking with the excommunicated is forbidden, but in the Disputation he says, the excommunicated should be held as the world. (11) He believed that ministers should not be chosen by the church, but direct of God. The doctrine of non-resistance is not found in his extant writings. On the oath also he seems to have differed from Menno and his friends. (12) That he did not teach the resurrection of the body is a groundless assumption. (13)
Pastor's denial of the true divinity of Christ was considered a grave offense by the Mennonites. This is evident from the strong opposition of Menno Simons, the spokesman of the Brethren, against Pastor, and further from the fact that he succeeded to win to his views only a small company of those among whom he had formerly labored. Menno wrote his Confession of the Triune God in vindication of the diety of Christ. In no uncertain tones and with the full conviction that the scriptural truth was on his side and that a most fundamental doctrine of the Gospel was at stake, he warned the church of this new teaching. S. Cramer has asserted that Menno's defence is "neither convincing nor strong" (14) but J. G. de Hoop Scheffer finds that Menno in this book made "a strong confession, a pressing demand without any reservation, he showed zeal over a matter for which he was willing to die, if need be," (15) a view with which the unbiased reader will doubtless concur. Menno says:
"Dearly beloved brethren, understand me rightly. Christ is the eternal wisdom, the eternal power of God. For just as we believe and confess that the Father was from eternity and will be to eternity, yea He is the First and the Last, so we may certainly also fully believe and confess, that His wisdom, His power, His light, His truth. His life, His word, Christ Jesus, has been eternally with Him, in Him and by Him, yea that He is the Alpha and Omega. Or else, we should be compelled to admit that this only begotten incomprehensible, truly divine Being, Christ Jesus (whom the church fathers have called a person), through whom the eternal Father has made all things, has had a creature-like beginning, an opinion which certainly all true Christians confess and consider a terrible blasphemy, a curse and abomination. May the gracious beloved Father ever protect and uphold all His beloved child[r]en in the right and true confession of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ." (387; II:184).
Menno Simons' teaching on the deity of Christ has been fully set forth elsewhere (pp. 200 and 228). The old accusation that he entertained unorthodox views on this point must be discarded as absolutely unfounded, although it has been repeated in recent publications. (16) K. Vos has averred that neither Menno nor other Anabaptists ever referred to the Holy Spirit as a person, and hence those who accused Menno and his friends of denying the Trinity had a basis for their charge. (17) This allegation also is without ground. Both Menno Simons and Dirk Philips speak of the Holy Spirit as a personal Being. Menno says: "The Holy Spirit we believe and confess to be a true, real or, as the church fathers speak of Him, a personal Holy Spirit," etc. (390a; II:186b). And Dirk Philips writes in his book The Church of God: "The Holy Ghost is the third name, person, power and operation of the Godhead, of one divine substance with the Father and the Son." (18)
The author of one of the older books on Mennonite history alleges that Adam Pastor was excommunicated by Dirk Philips. (19) If this be correct, it is nevertheless certain that Menno Simons fully approved of this measure. Not only does Menno testify that Pastor had received his dismissal "from us," but it is clear that he was held responsible by Pastor for his exclusion. (20) Professor Scheffer was of the opinion that Menno in the preface to his Confession of the Triune God disapproved of Pastor's excommunication by Dirk Philips. An impartial examination shows that this preface does not contain an allusion to Pastor's exclusion or to Dirk Philips. (21) Menno, in the same passage in which he testifies that Pastor was excluded "from us" says further that he (Menno) is "of one mind with Dirk Philips." It is inconceivable that he should not have recognized an excommunication announced by his co-laborer Philips.
It is true that Menno at a later date had a discussion with Adam Pastor (at Lübeck). This, it should be observed, was not contrary to his position on the avoidance of the excommunicated, as has been supposed." (22) Menno repeatedly emphasized the duty of making efforts to win back the excommunicated.
Adam Pastor had according to the testimony of one of the old chroniclers at the time of his exclusion a small number of followers. (23) Gerardus Nicolai, the noted opponent of the Anabaptists who with evident satisfaction notes the fact that one who denied the divinity of Christ was found among them, asserts that Pastor "gained many adherents." (24) Nicolai wrote in 1569; he says that there existed at that time a sect of Adam Pastorites. His statement must be received with caution. We do not learn where the adherents of Pastor were found nor to what extent they were organized as a church or sect. Neither in Nicolai nor anywhere do we hear of co-workers with Pastor. To all appearance his followers were never strong numerically. In 1552 Gellius Faber in an attempted refutation of Menno Simons mentions Adam Pastor as the head of a faction, but while he asserts in the same place that Obbe Philips had "not a few" adherents, he makes no statement to that effect concerning Adam Pastor. If Gellius had any ground whatever to speak of numerous adherents of Adam Pastor, he would undoubtedly have done so. Even then his statement would require further proof to be acceptable. Menno Simons in his reply to Gellius denies that Obbe Philips' followers were numerous; not ten, he asserts, could be found who shared his opinion.
Certain is that the Adam Pastorites had a short history. There may have been those who held to Pastor's teachings after his death, (25) but no evidence to that effect has yet been found.
Adam Pastor died in Munster. The time of his decease is unknown. He was buried in the public Ueberwasser cemetery, if we may accept the testimony of Hamelmann. If he, at the time of his death, held the views which he defended in his writings, his fellow citizens were evidently not aware of it.
It has been supposed that the martyr Herman Vlekwyk was an adherent of Pastor, and since Vlekwyk is known to have been baptized in 1565 at Bruges, the opinion has been advanced that a congregation of followers of Pastor existed in that city. (26) But Vlekwyk, in his confession before the inquisitor, defended the doctrine of the Incarnation as held by Menno against Adam Pastor. The inquisitor brought accusation against him to the effect that he followed on all points "the damned arch-heretic Menno Simons." Even if this charge should not prove altogether correct, it is clear that Vle[k]wyk was not a follower of Adam Pastor. Professor S. Cramer has examined the original of the document containing the accusations against him and has not found a trace of a charge touching a denial of the Trinity. (27) A part of the protocol of the discussions between Vlekwyk and the Inquisitor is reprinted in the Martyrs Mirror. (28)
The supposition that Pastor's influence was noticeable among the Mennonites is without any evidence. S. Hoekstra, in his book on Principles and Doctrine of the Early Anabaptists, says rightly that he had "a small following" and his labors were "without noticeable influence on the Mennonites (Doopsgezinden)." (29) Not a trace of his opinions on the divinity of Christ is discernable among the early Mennonites. The Waterlandians who are sometimes said to have entertained somewhat more liberal views than Menno Simons, were quite orthodox on the fundamentals and especially on the deity of Christ. This is clear from their first confession as well as from the fact that the most notable defender of Christ's deity among the Mennonites against the Socinians was Hans de Ries (1553-1638) an elder of the Waterlandians. Jacques Outerman, an elder of the Flemish Mennonites in Haarlem, Holland, early in the seventeenth century was accused of unorthodox teaching on the divinity of Christ. Only recently these charges have been repeated by W. J. van Douwen (30) and W. J. Kühler (31) in whose opinion Outerman believed that Christ during his life on earth was a man only. This view of the said writers is evidently due to a misunderstanding. Outerman not only taught the preexistence of Christ, but that He retained His divine nature in the Incarnation. (32) That he was biblically orthodox on the point in question is fully evident from the confession which he, with nineteen other elders drew up, setting forth their faith in the deity of Christ. This confession bears the date of October 8, 1626. It is found in the Martyrs' Mirror. (33) Pieter Grispeer one of the original signers of the well known confession of Dort drawn up by Adrian Cornells of the same city, 1632) was a co-laborer with Outerman in the Flemish Mennonite Church at Haarlem. (34) Presumably Outerman had passed to his reward at the time when the confession of Dort was adopted.
The Swiss Brethren agreed with Menno Simons and his friends in their position on the divinity of Christ. The opinion advanced by a few writers that the Swiss, in the conference held at Strasburg in 1557 declared the question of the deity of Christ to be of secondary importance, is without any foundation whatever. Not the divinity of Christ but the well known peculiar doctrine on the incarnation of Christ as held by the Brethren of the lower countries, was discussed and declared non-essential by this conference. In 1592 representatives of the Swiss Brethren met again in Strasburg and confessed their steadfast faith in the deity of Christ.
The definition of their attitude on the point in question is set forth in An Answer of the Swiss Brethren, also named Upper Germans, to the Polish, Concerning the Point of the Incarnation and the Deity of Jesus Christ." (35) The "Polish" are the Socinians of Poland (Unitarians). They are in this letter addressed as "dear men," and their opinion is declared to be altogether unscriptural and unacceptable. The concluding sentences of this important document follow: "Passed at the general gathering of the elders and ministers from many countries, in the year 1592 at Strasburg .... From Rauf-bits own handwriting translated from the High German into the Low German." Rauf-bits, it may be interesting to notice, is none other than Rauf Bisch, one of the spokesmen of the Brethren in the great debate held at Frankenthal in the Palatinate in 1571. (36)
The Huterites also considered the divinity of Christ one of the most fundamental articles of faith. It is worthy of notice that the socalled Articles of the Moravian Anabaptists (1526) in which this doctrine is questioned, are of altogether doubtful origin. Apparently they were drawn up by Hubmaier to serve as sentences to be discussed in a debate with Hans Hut in 1526. Hubmaier seems to have alleged that these articles represented Hut's views, but this was denied by Hut himself, (37) who complained bitterly that the denial of the divinity of Christ and of other scriptural doctrines had been unjustly laid to his charge in these articles. Originally there were 52 theses or articles, but in the versions that have been handed down to us, their number is far less. (38) Hubmaier also has erroneously been charged with defending the views in question. Certain it is that no Anabaptist body would have subscribed to these articles. As a source for Anabaptistic principles and doctrine they are of very small value. (39)
Once more it was found necessary to excommunicate an elder for unorthodox teaching. Francis Reines Kuyper, one of Menno's fellow laborers, had advocated some deviating opinions at the time of the conference at Embden. He seems to have denied the doctrine of justification by faith. In 1549 he was excommunicated by Menno Simons, and in 1554 he reunited with the Roman Catholic Church.
(1) Underscheit tusschen rechte leer unde valsche leer. Reprinted in Bib. Ref. Neerl, vol. 5, pp. 361-581. Original print in the Mennonite library in Amsterdam.
(2) Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. V, p. 382 seq., 519.
(3) R. E., vol. 12, p. 592.
(4) Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. 5, p. 338.
(5) Compare Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. 5, pp. 371, 366, 516.
(6) The same, pp. 371, 373.
(7) The same, p. 549.
(8) The same, vol. 5, pp. 488, 382, 386 seq., 517, 417.
(9) The same, vol. 5, pp. 501, 403-410. Compare especially p. 407.
(10) The same, p. 419 seq.
(11) The same, pp. 367, 522.
(12) Nicolai in Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. 7, p. 464.
(13) Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. vol. 5, p. 382.
(14) R. E., vol. 12, p. 592.
(15) D. B., 1894, p. 27.
(16) This view has been set forth by Samuel Cramer in the articles Menno Simons and Mennoniten, R. E., vol. 13, pp. 591, 607, also Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. 2, p. 36. Compare the said articles in The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia. A similar opinion is expressed in Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. 4, 1912, p. 270.
(17) Vos, Menno Simons, pp. 211 and 72. Similar opinions are found in Kühler, W. J. Het Socinianisme in Nederland, p. 42; Hoekstra, S., Beginselen, p. 256.
(18) Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. 10. p. 392; Philips, D., Hand Book, p. 382.
(19) Successio Anab. in Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. 7, p. 51.
(20) Yuwe vnde yuwe medebanners" (you and those who with you pronounced the ban) Pastor says in his Disputation, Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. 5, p. 522, and [again] he speaks of "yuwe ban." That these words are addressed to Menno is clear, for in the same paragraph he speaks of "yuw Fundament boeck" (p. 521). Menno says in reference to Adam Pastor and his friends, "die van ons zijn afgedaen" (who have been excluded from us). 311a; II:95a. That the exclusion of Adam Pastor resulted in a friction between Dirk Philips and Menno, as has been repeatedly asserted (e. g., by Henry E. Dosker in The Princeton Theological Review, April, 1915, p. 301) is without foundation.
(21) Menno complains that Christian love has materially decreased in consequence of hurtful disputations concerning the divinity of Christ, the ban, etc., and then says, "de Heere en reken het haer voor geen sonde die't op de Banne gevoert hebben" (Folio Edition, p. 385). De Hoop Scheffer (D. B., 1894, p. 23) took these words to mean that Menno criticized those who had pronounced the ban on account of these matters. But it is not clear why Menno should here say "op de Banne gevoert" while in other instances he uses the form "op den ban," "over den Ban" (Folio Edition, pp. 385 and 476a). If the word in question means ban or excommunication, the meaning of the sentence would probably be: May the Lord not account it a sin to those who would make the well known doctrine and practice of the ban responsible for these difficulties. But to all appearance "Banne" in the sentence in question is a typographical error; an old manuscript of the book in Hamburg has "bane" (way) which doubtless is the correct reading. The supposition that Menno here reproves those who have pronounced the ban over Pastor is untenable.
(22) Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. 5, p. 323; D. B., 1909, p. 105.
(23) "Een kleyn hoopken." Het Beginsel, etc. Bib. Ref Neerl., vol. 7 p. 520.
(24) Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. 7, p. 464.
(25) It should be said that the Adamites or Naked-goers must not be confounded with the followers of Adam Pastor who also were sometimes spoken of as Adamites.
(26) Nederl. Archief v. Kerkgeschied, 1910, p. 329, and in other places.
(27) Bib. Ref. Neerl., vol. 7, p. 195.
(28) Van Braght, pp. 741, 763.
(29) Beginselen en Leer der Oude Doopsgezinden, p. 190.
(30) Van Douwen, Socinianen en Doopsgezinden, p. 99.
(31) Kühler, Het Socinianisme in Nederland, p. 96.
(32) Compare Kühler, p. 95.
(33) Van Braght, p. 1048.
(34) Schijn-Maatschoen, Geschiedenis d. Mennoniten, 1745, vol. 3, p. 236.
(35) Printed in Handelinge Der Vereenigde Vlaemse en Duytse Doopsgesinde Gemeynten, Gehouden tot Haerlem, Anno 1649, in Junio, Vlissinghe, 1666.
(36) This letter to the Socinians has apparently escaped the notice of the author of "Socinianen en Doopsgezinden," W. J. van Douwen (Leiden, 1898).
(37) K. Vos' statement (p. 100) that Hut denied the divine nature in Christ is without foundation.
(38) The articles are found in an English translation in McGlothlin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, Philadelphia.
(39) The most noteworthy and thorough treatise on the socalled Nicolsburg Articles is found in Sachsse, D. Balthasar Hubmaier als Theologe, pp. 109-115.