During the early years of the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church
launched its own Counter-Reformation. The Council of Trent was primarily
convened to bring the Reformation to a halt. Literally millions of Catholics had
joined the ranks of the reformers, and the Pope of Rome was being revealed as the
"man of sin" spoken of by the Apostle Paul. It was at this Council that the Catholic
Church hoped to develop strategy to relieve the pope of this stigma. In addition,
there were some critical issues that the Roman Church would have to settle among
its own priesthood.
The first obstacle of pass at the Council was the growing acceptance of the Protestant
cry, "Sola Scriptura" (the Bible only). Even among the Romish priests there were
many sympathizers. The Catholic Church had always insisted that tradition was
more important than the Scriptures. How could this dilemma be solved and once
again unite the priesthood to effectually war against the Reformers? After many
days of intense debate among themselves, the issue was finally resolved. It was
noted that the Reformers were still observing Sunday rather than Bible Sabbath, the
seventh day. Thus it was seen that tradition, even among the Protestants, was still
being put before the Creator's Word. The Reformers were thus looked upon as
Among the Anabaptist of the sixteenth century were found some groups which
could not be called hypocritical, for they had accepted the Scripture Sabbath. At least
four lists of so-called "heretics" have been discovered which were compiled by
Catholic Counter-Reformers. High on each list is found these Sanitarian Anabaptists.
In a list published by Georg Ede, Sabbath keepers ranked fourth out of forty. In
another by Christopher Erhard, a priest commissioned to suppress the "Anabaptist
heresy" (see Mennonite Encyclopedia,II, 243-244; and Mennonite shes Lexicon, I,
606-608), again number four on the list was the Sabbath keepers. In the year 1600,
Sverdlovsk of Bohemia listed eleven sects including Protestants and Anabaptists.
The first Anabaptist group listed was the Sanitarians. They were third on the list
after Lutherans and Calvinists.
Yet another record of Sanitarian Anabaptists comes form Hans Von Olbronn, an
Anabaptist from Wurttemburg. While in the court at Strassburg in 1536, he stated "
that many of them are of different opinions, namely the Schwertler who carry the
sword, use it and swear; the Sanitarians, who have established the Sabbath again;
and the Munsterites." (Gerhard Hasel, Sanitarian Anabaptists) .
In his treatise, Hasel points to Oswald Galait as the most famous representative of
the Sabbath keeping Anabaptists. Daniel Liechty points to the significance of
Andreas Fischer, a contemporary of Glait, in his book, Andreas Fischer and the
Sanitarian Anabaptist (Herald Press). Glait and Fischer, sometimes travelling
together and other times separately, started a number of Sabbath keeping groups
before losing their lives as martyrs.
Oswald Glait was converted to the Anabaptist by Balthasar Hubmaier around 1526.
Hubmaier had succeeded in converting the Lutheran congregation in the city of
Nikolsburg of which Glait had been a minister. In 1527 a dispute arouse in
Nikolsoburg over the use of the sword. Hubmaier and Hans Spittelmaier defended
it while Glait side
with Hans Hut, Jacob Wiedemann and Philip Jager who opposed the use of the
sword. Glait also sided with Hut's teaching of the pre-millennial advent of the
Glait and Hut departed from Nikolsburg and traveled Vienna, Austria where Glait
continued to preach and baptize. Later that year, Glait visited Bavaria where he met
Hans Schlaffer. Schlaffer testified to Glaits devout Messiah-like life. From there
Glait apparently returned to Nikolsburg where Hasel believes he first began teaching
about the true Sabbath among the Anabaptists.
It is possible that Glait had become familiar with the debates between Martin Luther
and Andreas Von Karlstadt over the perpetuity of the Ten Commandments. Luther
charged that if Karlstadt was correct, and the Decalogue was still binding, then the
seventh day should be kept rather than Sunday. "Whatever led Oswald Glait to
search the Scriptures to find the truth about the Sabbath, it seems clear he was the
first in post-Reformation times to point out that the true Sabbath was the "seventh"
and not the "first" day of the week." (The Reformation and the Advent Movement, W. L.
Andreas Fischer arrived in Nikolsburg around 1527 and accepted the faith of the
Sanitarian Anabaptists and the teaching of Glait. Together they successfully started
up Sabbath keeping groups in Liegnitz and the surrounding villages. The success of
the movement apparently alarmed Capito, Schwenckfeld, and Crautwald, who
wished to maintain Sunday observance. The result was a series of written debates
between the two parties. It is from these debates that Gerhard Hasel and Daniel
Liechty have been able to piece together the teachings of Glait and Fischer
concerning the seventh day Sabbath.
A few of Glait's and Fischer's arguments in favor of the Sabbath, according to
1. One has a duty to celebrate the Sabbath, Saturday, because it is the
word, will, and commandment of the Creator (Exodus. 20)
2. The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) is basis for the moral law,
therefore Sabbath worship is a part of the moral law.
3. There are not eight or nine commandments, but ten. It cannot be
said that some should be kept while others are forgotten.
4. The Creator Himself rested on the seventh day.
5. The Sabbath was celebrated by the patriarchs, even by Adam at
6. Abraham "kept the commandments" (gen. 26:5) and therefore also
the Sabbath. The Sabbath is part of a long oral tradition that
predates even the written form of the Decalogue given at Sinai.
7. The Sabbath is moral, but circumcision was ceremonial, therefore the
Sabbath remains while circumcision is no longer necessary.
8. Colossians 2:16 does not include the Sabbath of the fourth
9. Keeping the fourth commandment is no more "works righteousness"
than keeping the other nine commandments. To break one is to
break them all (James 2:10).
10. The Savior taught us to keep the commandments and did not
exclude the Sabbath.
11. The Savior Himself kept the Sabbath.
12. The disciples continued to observe the Sabbath.
13. The Sabbath remains a sign for the believers as it was for the Jews
(Yahudains), until the resurrections when the Savior establishes His
14. The Lord's day (Rev. 1:10) was not a Sunday. Sunday worship was
introduced by the popes.
15. Because it was commanded that even animals rest, the Sabbath
cannot be spiritual only. It is intended for both physical and
16. The Savior works in the heart of the believer the will of the
Creator. The commandments are the will of the Creator, therefore
true obedience to the Sabbath comes only from the Savior working
within the believer.
17.The Savior did not abolish the law. By faith in the Savior we uphold
18. Sabbath keeping by believers is not "Judaizing," but rather sharing
the same blessed Sabbath even as we have the same Creator.
19. On the one hand there is the Latin Church and its Sunday, on the
other hand the true God and His Sabbath.
20. No one remains unpunished who disobeys the divine
The life of Andreas Fischer ended when he was arrested by Franz Bebek in Csetnek.
He was dragged to Bebek's castle in Krasnohorka where they murdered him. The
Great Hutterite Chronicle gives the account of the martyrdom of Oswald Glait: "In
1545 Oswald languished in prison in Vienna, Austria, for the sake of his faith and for
the Creator's truth...And after he was imprisoned there for one year and six weeks,
they took him out of the city in the middle of the night and threw him into the water.
So was he drowned in the Danube."
In his Ainfeltiger Unterricht (1526) Balthasar Hubmaier stated that Glait "proclaimed
the light of the Scripture so bravely and comfortingly, the like of which I know no
other person." (See the Mennonite Encyclopedia for more on Oswald Glait.)
How often the excuse for not observing the Sabbath is: "If we were meant to keep it,
our fathers would have had light on it." We can see that light was given even as
early as the first half of the 16th century. Now in these last days, as the Roman
Church is once again on the rise, the rise, the "deadly wound" of the antichrist being
healed, Protestants reaching back across the gulf to embrace papal errors, and the
"mark of the beast" just over the horizon, God has allowed the hidden facts about
the Sabbatharian Anabaptist to resurface. Like Glait and Fischer, can it be said of all
of us that we "keep the commandments of the Creator, and the faith of the Savior ?" (Rev.
14:12) By the grace of the Creator we have such a privilege before us.
Faith and commandment keeping are inseparable. One cannot keep the
commandments without the faith of the Savior, nor can anyone have the faith of the
Savior and not keep His commandments.
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