Category: Peace Theology

Jesus and the “Eye for an Eye” Command: A Response to Paul Copan (#10)

  As I noted in my 9th response to Paul Copan’s critique of Crucifixion of the Warrior God (CWG), Copan argues that Jesus merely repudiated wrong applications of OT laws in his sermon on the mount, not any OT law itself. He thus thinks I’m mistaken when I argue that Jesus placed his own authority above that of the OT and when I argue that the revelation of God in the crucified Christ radically transforms the meaning that we should find in much of the OT. [...] The post Jesus and the “Eye for an Eye” Command: A Response to Paul Copan (#10) appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.

An Anabaptist Response to Gun Violence

There is a gap in Mennonite response to mass shootings. After a  shooting, when secular headlines buzz with gory details and harrowing survivals, Mennonite news outlets often continue posting business-as-usual news. Over the past few years, as shootings occur, I’ve begun Googling the location + “Anabaptist” or “Mennonite.” […] Continue reading An Anabaptist Response to Gun Violence

Remembrance Day

Memory is one of the primary handles we have to the roots of our faith. All people of faith have immediate experiences of transcendence but even those experiences are built on the foundation of memory. Memory keeps the significance of past events relevant and meaningful for the present. […]

Setting the Table: Resources for the Church to Become the Reconciling People of God.

I recently had an awesome afternoon with a woman tired from working in a Christian institution. She was a staff member at a prominent Christian school in the United States or America and burnt out because of racism she constantly experienced there. The post Setting the Table: Resources for the Church to Become the Reconciling People of God. appeared first on Darnell Barkman.

Pacifism and violence in the struggle against oppression

Ted Grimsrud—October 29, 2017 Is pacifism a viable social philosophy? I believe that it is, though I also recognize that arguments in favor of the possibility that at times violence might be appropriate can seem pretty persuasive. Nevertheless, as I will outline later in this post, I think the moral and practical problems with violence … Continue reading Pacifism and violence in the struggle against oppression

Pursued for their Faith

We drove past Langnau in the Emmental region of central Switzerland till we reached Trubschachen. There we turned left on a country road winding through a valley with majestically tall fir trees lining both sides of the road, typical for the Emmental Valley. We were looking for the “Täuferversteck” (Anabaptist Hideout). We drove through Trub and then turned left at Fankhus (the well-known name Funkhauser is a variation on this place, and means a person from Fankhus).

The road became one-lane, with pull offs to allow cars to go both ways. The fir trees were closer to the road, and there were only a few farmhouses dotting the landscape. The address “Hinter Hütten” could not be found on our GPS. We passed a sign for “Schwarzentrub,” where the Mennonite name “Swartzentruber” come from, but we couldn’t find our destination. Whenever we met a car, we stopped them and asked them if they knew where the “Täuferversteck” was, and they all replied in the affirmative. They tried to explain to us were it was. Their best directions couldn’t help us find the location because all the farm lanes that led anywhere looked the same, and there were no signs to show the way.

Supposedly there were two parking places along the road, which was to signal the entrance to Hinter Hütten. We must have driven past the entranceway several times. Somehow we found the place where we were to enter. The parking “lot” turned out to be a pull off that had space for no more than two cars. I couldn’t imagine how tour buses could park there.

The Fankhauser home, location of the Täuferversteck
We climbed the steeply inclined dirt lane until we reached a farmhouse. It looked like a normal Swiss farmhouse until we saw an unassuming sign announcing that we had arrived at the “Täuferversteck.” We were confronted by a farmer, apparently the owner of the farmhouse.  He had returned from the fields for lunch. We did not realize that we were to arrange with the family to be able to see the mini-museum located in their living quarters.

“You can’t just walk in like you own the place,” he said to me in Swiss German. “This is a family home.” I apologized profusely, saying that I didn’t realize this. When he detected an accent in my Swiss dialect, he asked where we were from. I told him I was showing my brother and wife from the USA around Switzerland, and that we were Mennonites wanting to see important places from our heritage. With that information he softened up and let us look around.

Simon Fankhauser, the farmer who confronted us, is the 12thgeneration of Fankhausers living on the property. Some three hundred years ago, Christen Fankhauser, his ancestor, became an Anabaptist. It was the period of time in Switzerland when the authorities of the Canton of Bern pursued Anabaptists relentlessly. This was when hundreds, if not thousands of Anabaptists, including my own ancestors, left Switzerland, going for a time to Germany before emigrating to the USA.

Those who stayed risked being imprisoned, tortured, killed or sent to the Roman galleys to provide hard labor. The Bernese authorities not only wanted to erase these “heretics” from the region, but also from the collective memory of the Swiss people. There were Anabaptist hunters who roamed the back countryside of the Emmental where the movement was especially prolific. The Anabaptists developed an elaborate warning system to let neighbors know when the Anabaptist hunters were seen. It would allow them time to find a place to hide.

The only known hiding place still in existence is the “Täuferversteck” located at the Fankhauser

The trapdoor leading to the hidden chamber
home I described above. Christen Fankhauser built a hidden chamber behind the place in his barn where the family smoked meats to preserve for the winter. There was a trapdoor that led to the room covered by straw. Except for family lore, the hideout was unknown to the public until the current owner’s wife, Regula, decided to research the history of the hideout. She became fascinated and decided to turn her farm into a museum and to open it to the public. Lure has it that because of her research into Anabaptist history, she became convicted and converted to Christianity.

During the past decade, the Zwinglian Reformed Church of Switzerland, and the Mennonites (Anabaptists) have been working on reconciliation. I heard a Reformed pastor say that Mennonites should be considered “siblings of the Reformation” instead of heretics. Since these movements of reconciliation, there has been renewed interest in Anabaptist history in Switzerland. Two historical novels, “Die Furgge” which traces the history of the Hershey family, and “Das Ketzerweib” (The heretic woman) have sold hundreds of copies. Non-Mennonite as well as Mennonite Anabaptist historians are in high demand for seminars and talks. What was for three hundred years erased from history is now in back vogue.

As hard as it was for us to find the “Täuferversteck,” it made the perfect hideout for my ancestors. I wonder if any of my relatives spent time in this hideout.

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