This is a brief synopsis of the trial of the accused heretic, Caspar Zacher. The details of his trial are from a letter from the court bailiff of Wailblingen, Germany, to Duke Christoph, dated July 12, 1562:
    Caspar Zacher was led into the courtroom in chains. He glanced around the room, looking for sympathetic faces, but found none. Instead, a recognized a number of his enemies – townspeople with whom he had argued. Even the countenance of the judge was stern. His heart sank as he became convinced he would be found guilty of the charge and be sentenced to death. The charge: heresy. And the offended group and those in charge of the trial: the Lutheran church. For hundreds of years, it was the Roman Catholic Church bringing the charge of heresy against anyone who didn’t agree with the church’s view of Scripture and authority. Now it is the newly founded Lutheran Church who is arresting the ‘heretics’ that do not agree with their view of the Bible.
    The charges were read. Caspar was charged with being a member of the “heretical” group called the Anabaptists. Caspar emphatically denied the accusation. “I’m a good Lutheran,” he protested, “I’ve never had anything to do with those horrid people!”
    The state then methodically presented its case. One by one, various townspeople took the stand and testified against Caspar. Several people described Caspar as an envious man, always coveting what others had. Nearly every witness declared he was quarrelsome, frequently arguing and fighting. Caspar had been heard cursing and swearing in public. A few witnesses testified that he almost always carried a knife and a sword when he left his house. Overall, the whole town despised him.
     Caspar was sure he would be found guilty. He knew all of the testimony against him was true. It was time for the judge to offer his verdict: “Having heard all the evidence presented by the state’s witnesses, this court finds the defendant …. innocent.” Caspar could hardly believe his ears. The judge continued, “The witnesses are uniform in testifying that you are an envious and quarrelsome man. You frequently curse in public, and you go about town carrying weapons. You are a thoroughly disagreeable man, justly hated by your fellow townsmen. But, fortunately, you are obviously not one of those detestable heretics, the Anabaptists. For the life you live is exactly opposite theirs. They would never have you. You are just as you say, … an orthodox Christian.”*
When I first read this, I honestly had to read it again because I could not believe the outcome:  an ungodly life (Caspar’s) was described as “orthodox”, and the holy life (Anabaptists’) was associated with “detestable” heresy. Now to be sure, there are several modern day ‘cults’ that practice what could be said  a’ holy lifestyle’. Even an atheist can be ‘good’ though it is a display of intellectual contortionism to hear an atheist explain where the concept of ‘good’ comes from without referencing God.
But “orthodox” Christianity being ascribed to a man of Caspar’s character is just bizarre. And “horrid” and “detestable” being used to describe the Anabaptists is most telling. You see, the Anabaptists, which means ‘re-baptizers’, were probably the closest example of the first-century church of Jesus Christ that the years have produced. And these peaceable people, who couldn’t accept the ‘easy-believe-ism’ of Luther, nor the abuse of power in the Papal office, were pursued and tortured and killed by Lutherans and Catholics alike. The words of Jesus to His disciples seem most apropos; “ … a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or Me.” (John 16:2b,3).
Beloved of God, I don’t know what to make of this. Did Jesus ever advocate killing an enemy, much less a fellow follower of Christ? The strongest Christian rebuke in Scripture is directed at false teachers, whom Paul would say “….let him be accursed.”(Gal.1: 8,9) …. not, “….let him be tortured and hanged.” Regardless of the orthodoxy of the Anabaptists, how is it that the “Church” can take on the philosophy of “…kill-’em-all-and-let-God-sort-’em-out”? We are to be merciful, forgiving, and selfless peacemakers. What were they thinking? WHO were they following? Could it happen again?
I don’t get it……
*Paraphrased from David Bercot’s book, Will the Theologians Please Sit Down ; pg. 5-7