The term “Radical Reformation” is now often used to refer to the group of loosely associ- ated reforming movements in Germany and Switzerland which believed that reformers such as Luther and Zwingli had compromised their own basic reforming principles. They had, more radical thinkers argued, implemented only a half-reformation. The “Radical Reformation” is more widely known as “Anabaptism” – a term which owes its origins to Zwingli. This term literally means “re-baptism,” and refers to what was perhaps the most distinctive aspect of Anabaptist practice – the insistence that only those who had made a personal public profession of faith should be baptized. Infant baptism was not enough; a second baptism was necessary as the mark of an authentic Christian believer.
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Strictly speaking, Anabaptism represents only one manifestation of the Radical Refor- mation. For example, the movement also included groups that were critical of the doctrine of the Trinity (“anti-Trinitarians”), which they regarded as unbiblical. Nevertheless, Ana- baptism is the best known and most significant aspect of the Radical Reformation, and we shall retain the convention of using this term to refer loosely to the broader movement with which it is associated.