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Cover Letter
The Seven Articles:
 I. Baptism
 II. The Ban
 III. Breaking of Bread
 IV. Separation
 V. Shepherds
 VI. The Sword
 VII. The Oath

Congregational Order

The Cover Letter
John Howard Yoder's Introduction
Background, and an Interpretation, by Philip Bender
Point of View
by Jan Gleysteen


Home Historical Committee

The Schleitheim Brotherly Union
(Brüderlich Vereinigung etzlicher Kinder Gottes seiben Artikel betreffend . . . )

Translated and edited by John Howard Yoder, The Legacy of Michael Sattler, Herald Press, 1973

Note of explaination about the relationship of this document to the Schleitheim Confession:

To the Brotherly Understanding, which in the past two generations has come to be widely recognized as a theological landmark, we append another text which may well have been equally significant at the time. This set of instructions concerning congregational order and worship was circulating in April 17, 1527, together with the Schleitheim text, apparently in the same hand as the Bern text of the Brotherly Union. It therefore must have been seized at the same time in April, within six weeks of the Schleitheim gathering. It therefore has circumstantial grounds for being considered as linked with Schleitheim and with Sattler. It is the oldest known text on its subject, and has not previously been published in full. --JHY

Congregational Order [99]

Since the almighty eternal and merciful God has made His wonderful light break forth in this world and [in this] most dangerous time, we recognize the mystery of the divine will, that the Word is preached to us according to the proper ordering of the Lord, [100] whereby we have been called into His fellowship. Therefore, according to the command of the Lord and the teachings of His apostles, in Christian order, we should observe the new commandment, [101] in love one toward another, so that love and unity may be maintained, which all brothers and sisters of the entire congregation should agree to hold to as follows:

The brothers and sisters should meet at least three or four times a week, to exercise themselves, [102] in the teaching of Christ and His apostles and heartily to exhort one another to remain faithful to the Lord as they have pledged.

When the brothers and sisters are together, they shall take up something to read together.[103] The one to whom God has given the best understanding shall explain it, [104] the others should be still and listen, so that there are not two or three carrying on a private conversation, bothering the others. The Psalter shall be read daily at home. [105]

Let none be frivolous in the church of God, neither in words nor in actions. Good conduct shall be maintained by them all also before the heathen. [106]

When a brother sees his brother erring, he shall warn him according to the command of Christ [107] and shall admonish him in a Christian and brotherly way, as everyone is bound and obliged to do out of love.

Of all the brothers and sisters of this congregation none shall have anything of his own, but rather, as the Christians in the time of the apostles held all in common, and especially stored up a common fund, from which aid can be given to the poor, according as each will have need, [108] and as in the apostles time permit no brother to be in need.

All gluttony shall be avoided among the brothers who are gathered in the congregation; serve a soup or a minimum of vegetable and meat, for eating and drinking are not the kingdom of heaven. [109]

The Lord's supper shall be held, as often as the brothers are together, [110] thereby proclaiming the death of the Lord, and thereby warning each one to commemorate, how Christ gave His life for us, and shed His blood for us, that we might also be willing to give our body and life for Christ's sake, which means for the sake of all the brothers.


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