Ulrich Stadler was a 16th century leader in the Anabaptist group in Moravia. They baptized only adults who were committed to the community’s discipline, re-baptizeding individuals who had been baptized as infants. They did this because the infant played no part in their baptism so it was not a true baptism. In addition, all Anabaptists were pacifists, including the group lead by Stadler.
One of the big arguments that Stadler makes in his treatise Cherished Instruction on Sin, Excommunication and the Community of Goods is that the community should withdraw from the world and share everything they have. Stadler is calling the community to serve their neighbors within the community.
Stadler’s charge seems to be heavily influenced by monastic movement of the previous centuries. Stadler is calling people to withdraw as communities like the monastics withdrew as individuals and formed their own communities. Stadler includes whole family units in his community. The community aspect is central in Stadler and previous monastic movements. The monastics withdrew as individuals with the hope of saving their families. Stadler created a community that included families so that all could be saved. Both groups withdrew in order to create a better society. By withdrawing from their respective contemporary cultures they sought a way to be closer to God and live in a way pleasing to Him.
I think Stadler got things half right. He emphasized the community of believers and I agree with that. I think it is important to have a community of Christians to help develop a strong faith in all members of the community. But, Christians are also called to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19 ESV). I think this is the mark that Stadler missed in his treatise Cherished Instruction on Sin, Excommunication and the Community of Goods. I think it is hard to make disciples if they withdraw from all of society. There were some individuals who sought out Anabaptist communities, but they were few and far between.