Menno Simons and the Mennonite Church: Background information when reading Irma Voth

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Irma Voth

A Novel

by Miriam Toews

Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2011, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2012, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer Dawson Oakes

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Menno Simons and the Mennonite Church

Print Review

Menno Simons was an Anabaptist religious leader born in 1496 in Witmarsen (the Netherlands). Although he was not the founder of this branch of religion, he was a very important figure in the organizing of the Dutch Mennonite church, and his followers became known as Mennonites.

Menno Simons According to the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia, Simons was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest at Utrecht in 1524, but quickly began to question some of the church's beliefs and practices when, "while he was administering the Mass he began to doubt whether the bread and the wine were actually being changed into the flesh and blood of Christ." Consequently, he began a serious study of the scriptures along with works by humanist, Desiderious Erasmus and Protestant leader, Martin Luther.

In the early 1530s, Simons came in contact with Anabaptist teachings. The word "Anabaptist" means "one who baptizes over again" and relates directly to adult baptism - a practice that, unlike infant baptism, allows people to choose their religion. Generally speaking, Anabaptists believe in the separation of church and state, in "plain living," practicing pacifism and non-violence, that the Bible is the highest authority of the faith, and that church membership should be a choice. They reject some of the more conventional Christian norms, such as participating in government, taking oaths, and wearing wedding rings.

In his study of the scriptures, Simons was taken with the idea of "believer's baptism" and began teaching it, though he hadn't yet decided to leave the Catholic Church. However in 1535, when Simons's younger brother, Pieter, was killed near Bolsward (the Netherlands) along with 300 other Anabaptists who occupied a monastery in hopes of gaining religious acceptance, Menno Simons disavowed both the Catholic church and his priesthood, and on January 12, 1536, he officially aligned himself with the Anabaptists.

In 1537, Simons was asked to become an elder in the Anabaptist movement. He reluctantly agreed. This was a time of religious reformation in Europe and persecution was common for those who broke away from the accepted faiths. Simons worked diligently and wrote on many subjects, using the Bible as the cornerstone for all of his work. Simons was integral to the "[r]eformation movement, representing a Christian brotherhood and a Christian way of life," and he was a very early proponent of "...such basic principles as separation of church and state, freedom of conscience, voluntary church membership, democratic church government, holy living, and the Christian peace witness in a world of strife."

While some Anabaptists follow the teachings of Menno Simons - today there are more than 1.5 million Mennonites around the world - others can also be found in the Amish, Hutterite, and Brethren communities.

This article is from the October 19, 2011 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Salt Houses
    Salt Houses
    by Hala Alyan
    Salt Houses is the story of a Palestinian family living in Nablus; it begins on the eve of the ...
  • Book Jacket: The End of Eddy
    The End of Eddy
    by Edouard Louis
    The End of Eddy has been a publishing phenomenon in Édouard Louis' native France, where it...
  • Book Jacket: If We Were Villains
    If We Were Villains
    by M L. Rio
    22 out of 28 of our reviewers rated If We Were Villains four or five stars, giving it an overall ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

A richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Scribe of Siena
    by Melodie Winawer

    Equal parts transporting love story, meticulously researched historical fiction, and compelling time-travel narrative.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Extraordinary Adventures
    by Daniel Wallace

    A large-hearted and optimistic novel that is witty, winsome, and wise.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

If there is anything more dangerous to the life of the mind than having no independent commitment to ideas...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T's A S B Every M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -