The question of holiness has long been controversial in the history of the church, from the debates between Augustine and the Donatists in the patristic era to the magisterial and radical reformers during the sixteenth century. In this selection, Dutch radical reformer Menno Simons (1496-1561) adds his voice to the debate, emphasizing that holiness is a work expected of all Christians and that purity of life is a mark of all true Christians.

The Signs of Membership of the Church

The third sign is obedience to the holy Word, or the pious, Christian life which is of God. The Lord says, “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Christ says, “You are the light of the world.” Paul says, “Be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Whoever does not willfully err, to him a plain way is hereby pointed out. If you, then, would be a true member of the church of Christ, you must be born of the Word of God; be of a Christian mind; bring forth Christian fruits; walk according to his Word, ordinance and command; die to the flesh and the world; lead a blameless life in the fear of God; serve and love your neighbors with all your heart; confess the name and glory of Christ, and be prepared for all manner of tribulation; misery and persecution for the sake of the Word of God and its testimony.

Reply to a Publication of Gellius Faber, commenting on Philippians 2:15.

Philippians, Colossians, ed. Graham Tomlin, Reformation Commentary on Scripture, OT vol. 11, pp. 61-62.

RCS Series: Doctrine of the Church


William Greenhill | The People of God

John Calvin | The Body of Christ

Erasmus Sarcerius | The Temple of the Holy Spirit

Martin Luther | The Communion of Saints

Heinrich Bullinger | The Church’s Unity

Menno Simons | The Church’s Holiness

Nikolaus Selnecker | The Church’s Catholicity

John Calvin | The Church’s Apostolicity