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Doopsgezind is the official name of the Mennonites in the Netherlands, by which they have been registered since 1796, and also the name that they gave themselves. The name is very old. Prince William of Orange wrote in 1578 a letter to the city government of Middelburg, Dutch province of Zeeland, in behalf of a group of "citizens, called Doopsgesint." From this expression it is not quite clear whether the Mennonites also called themselves Doopsgezind, or that they were merely called so by the outside world, but in a letter written by the Middelburg congregation to the magistrates of the city and also in a petition by this congregation to the Prince of Orange in 1582, they use the word in the same way: die men noempt Doopsghesinde. At any rate this name was much more agreeable to them than "Anabaptist" and Wederdoper. The name Doopsgesinde, says T. J. van Braght in the foreword of the Martyrs' Mirror, was not assumed by them by preference, but by necessity, because their proper name rather should be Christgesinden, Apostelgesinden, or Evangelischgesinden. Mennonites in Holland soon began to call themselves Doopsgezinden; the Waterlanders used this term as early as 1580, the Young Frisians about 1600, and the Flemish shortly after 1620. Hence it is not quite correct for van Braght to say in the introduction to the Martyrs' Mirror that the name had "only lately come into use." In the 17th and 18th centuries the more conservative groups (Old Flemish, Janjacobsgezinden, and also Zonists) preferred the name Mennonites, while the more progressive group of the Waterlanders and later on the Lamists called themselves almost exclusively Doopsgezinden, because they did not like to be named for an earthly creature, desiring to be only followers of Christ, while they rejected the name "Mennonite" particularly for the reason that they on the whole did not agree with the doctrines of Menno Simons. Still some conservatives also used the name of Doopsgezind: van Braght calls his book on martyrs the Martyrs' Mirror of the Doopsgesinde Christians (1660), and the Dutch Zonist minister and historian G. Maatschoen, editor of Schijn's Historiae Mennonitarum, writes in his Dutch translation that the name Doopsgezinden is right and well chosen.

Since about 1800 in the Netherlands the name Mennonieten or Menisten (Mennisten) has been replaced by Doopsgezinden, though until now in the province of Friesland, and here and there elsewhere, in common parlance the word Menist is often used. The derivation and meaning of the word Doopsgezind is not clear. It is composed of two words, doops (genitive of doop, baptism) and gezind, i.e., inclined to, or minded. Some authors are of the opinion that the word means "inclined to (the true Biblical) baptism (on confession of faith)" e.g., Galenus Abrahamsz. This explanation is more nearly correct than the opinion of G. J. van Rijswijk, who suggests that they were called Doopsgezind because of rejection of (infant) baptism.

The German word Taufgesinnt, used in Switzerland and Germany to indicate the Mennonites and so used by themselves, is the exact equivalent of the Dutch word Doopsgezind, and was taken over from the Dutch Mennonites.


Abrahamsz, Galenus. Verdédiging der Christenen die Doopsgezinde genaamd worden: beneffens Korte grondstellingen van hun gelove en leere. Amsterdam: By de Wed. P. Arentz, en C. vander Sys, boekverkopers, 1699: 28 f. Available in full electronic text at

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1861): 32-50.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 465.

Muller, S. "De oorsprong en beteekenis der benamin-gen van Mennoniten en Doopsgezinden." Doopsgezind Jaarboekje (1837): 39-52; (1930): 128, 133, 137.

Muller, Samuel. Leerredenen II. Amsterdam: J. Müller & comp., 1836: 55.

Schijn, Hermann. Geschiedenis dier Christenen, welke in de Vereenigde Nederlanden onder de Protestanten Mennoniten genaamd worden : in welke, benevens derzelver oorsprong, voortgang, hedendaagschen staat, en belydenisse des geloofs, ook het groot onderscheid tusschen hen, en de hoogduitsche, en Munstersche Wederdoopers aangetoond word: waar by noch komt een naukeurig onderzoek wegens de oudheid van den doop der Jooden-genooten onder de Jooden. Te Amsteldam: By Kornelis de Wit, 1743-1745: 97.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Doopsgezind." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 26 May 2024.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1956). Doopsgezind. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2024, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 86. All rights reserved.

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