Reappraising the English Anabaptists in the time of the Revolution
Article 50 of the 1646 confession
In 1646 seven London churches ‘commonly (though falsely) called Anabaptist’ issued a revised confession with one innovation: to permit a Christian to be a ‘magistrate or civil officer’. Scholars align these churches, the foundation of the English Particular Baptists, with the Separatist-Congregationalist movement from which they sprang. Such analysis neglects their radical political thinking – like earlier Anabaptists, but unlike the Congregationalists, they denied that the state should endorse or enforce true religion. The conditions of 1646 made it possible to realise the Anabaptist vision for the ‘institutional separation of church and state’.