Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What Do You Think of the Amish?

I watched this show recently called "The Amish" on American Experience.

"The Amish: American Experience answers many questions Americans have about this insular religious community. Their intense faith and strict adherence to 300-year-old traditions have by turn captivated and repelled, awed and irritated, inspired and confused America for more than a century."

I missed the first half hour but enjoyed it immensely. The show did focus a bit on saying the Amish would face challenges given that only 50% of Amish families now make their living in other ways besides farming. This made me ponder what will happen to them should our economy offer no opportunities for them to sell their carpentry, crafts and other skills?

Other parts of the show showed positive parts of their community, including those Amish who  came together in forgiveness even after those horrible murders of their young daughters at an Amish schoolhouse, and the cohesiveness of a community working together.

"After the shooting deaths of five Amish girls a year ago today in Nickel Mines, Pa., the Amish community offered forgiveness for the shooter and his family. USA TODAY talked with Steve Nolt, who co-wrote the new book Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy (Jossey Bass, $24.95), about what America could learn from the Amish.
Q: What did you learn about the Amish understanding and practice of forgiveness while you were writing this book?
A: One of the main things I learned was how central forgiveness is to Amish theology and really to their whole values system. 
The Amish believe in a real sense that God's forgiveness of them is dependent on their extending forgiveness to other people."
That definitely was a positive example, even as the Amish parents of the victims reached out to the family of the man who murdered their children.

Definitely there are aspects of the Amish life, that are very hard, with no modern conveniences which includes a lot of hard physical labor but one can ponder if they are more wise in placing more importance on other things rather then "being of this world". They are self sufficient and never lack for fellowship within their group.

However their religion definitely includes things many of us would not agree with, such as the Ordnung, where they must make a vow of obedience to their way of life:

"The Amish blueprint for expected behavior, called the Ordnung, regulates private, public, and ceremonial life. Ordnung does not translate readily into English. Sometimes rendered as ordnance or discipline, the Ordnung is best thought of as an ordering of the whole way of life ... a code of conduct which the church maintains by tradition rather than by systematic or explicit rules. A member noted: The order is not written down. The people just know it, that's all. Rather than a packet or rules to memorize, the Ordnung is the understood behavior by which the Amish are expected to live. In the same way that the rules of grammar are learned by children, so the Ordnung, the grammar of order, is learned by Amish youth. The Ordnung evolved gradually over the decades as the church sought to strike a delicate balance between tradition and change. Specific details of the Ordnung vary across church districts and settlements."
— Donald B. Kraybill , The Riddle of Amish Culture

There is extreme adherence to tradition, and not all tradition is biblical, in other words, there is nothing in the Bible that forbids the use of electricity even if we can see the wisdom in not being so tied into the modern world. Legalism and adhering to a perfect code becomes the Amish way taking people away from salvation via grace.  Some of the rules are unusual, Amish can ride in other people's cars, but not use their own, this made as a rule to preserve their way of life but funnily enough reminds me of some aspects of modern Orthodox Jewish life, where one cooks dinner the day before because no one can turn on a stove during the "sabbath". There have been those who have come out of the Amish world, detailing why they left including the false theology.  The tradition of "Shunning" where Amish people are told to never talk again to one who has left, is one painful part of this picture.

Rumspringa is another part of Amish culture, where their youth are allowed a degree of freedom, oddly far more then the Duggar children and young adults. During the Amish Experience show, they had groups of Amish youth where some had stretched "freedom: further then others.  I also watched this show on National Geographic where Amish young people on Rumspringa were taken to England. "Amish on Break" As I watched that show, one Amish girl really stood out to me, she refused temptations not out of self-righteousness but her love for God. Perhaps she was one who truly had been born again despite the false traditions and teachings, but sadly most of her peers saw Rumspringa as an excuse to sin. I can understand Amish parents wanting young people to not have "forbidden fruit" syndrome regarding, cars, radios, etc, for the rest of their lives should they join the church and avoiding over-sheltering, but Rumspringa, is another non-biblical tradition.

Years ago, when I was young, my parents took me on many excursions to see Amish settlements, I saw at least three different ones, some were more touristy then others but then there was the time, our car broke down on some back dirt road, and Amish people offered my parents their bicycles to go get help for our car because they had no phone and we were too far away from a corner phone. It was interesting to see their way of life, and how different it was though definitely idealized for tourists and the like.

I personally know someone who is ex-Amish, he is an acquaintance, but have been to his house, while he had electricity, he went without a phone, grew food from scratch and canned his own food and lived a very basic frugal lifestyle.

Even if I do not agree with the Amish church and its traditions, there are some aspects of their lives to be respected. I do believe overall it is a false church, but understand why the Amish are such a fascination in American culture.

So tell me what do you think of the Amish?


Lisa Ruby said...

When Amish children turn 16, the rules change. They're encouraged to experiment and explore. The idea is that teens will come back to the church after tasting the modern world. For most, this means a tentative foray — a trip to the local movie theater, or driving lessons. But for some, the experience, called rumspringa, is all about sex, parties and fast cars.

Tom Shachtman's new book Rumspringa: To Be or Not To Be Amish had its beginnings in the research done for the documentary film Devil's Playground. Shachtman talks about how rumspringa works and what parents can learn from the Amish practice.


There is nothing remotely Christian about encouraging one's children to run after everything the world has to offer (this would include the occult, which is from the god of this world) in preparation for their decision as to whether or not to "join the church."

I viewed The Devil's Playground and was shocked at this practice. There are some clips of this video at the link I provided above.

Lisa Ruby said...

Both the Mennonites and the Amish believe that humankind is sinful and that adult men and women must seek atonement through Jesus Christ. They believe that children remain in the kingdom of God until they become adults at which point they are capable of freely choosing or rejecting salvation through the grace of faith.

The Amish and Mennonites are also very humble about personal salvation. They feel it would be an egotistical expression of vanity to ever claim they are certain of their eternal salvation. Instead, they feel it is their duty to live obediently to God's will and, in due time, God will reward the faithful.

Quoted from: http://www.welcome-to-lancaster-county.com/amish-religion.html

Many aspects of the Amish lifestyle are to be commended (simple life, growing food, close family life, etc.) but they do not hold to a biblical view of salvation.

Abbey said...

I watched the same show on the Amish last week. It was very interesting.

Many things about their way of life are very appealing and others are not. It's such a close knit community that I can see why some of the people that left the Amish said they gave up so much. It has to be painful to leave so many family members, friends and neighbors.

I admired the parents of the victims that went to the funeral of the shooter at the Amish schoolhouse. That had to be extremely difficult to do and to express forgiveness even though they won't forget what happened.

It is a hard life living on a farm. One thing that was mentioned was because of their self-sufficiency, they were not affected as much as others during the Great Depression.

I wouldn't want to live without a car, a phone or electricity as the Old Order Amish do. Each group is different, not all live as though it's the 1700's. It's interesting that some rode bicycles and others were against it according to their specific Ordnung. Some Amish drive cars that are black with no chrome (too flashy)as do some Mennonites. The two groups have certain similarities and some have even merged over the years.

I think they mean well by their rules, boundaries and traditions. Perhaps it goes back to the persecution of the Anabaptists that they began to isolate themselves from the world and lay down the rules for those that wanted to live in their community.

Anonymous said...

I have traveled in Amish country and afterward studied their religion. Their beliefs demand an austere life because theirs is a works-based salvation which is a false salvation. The rules vary from sect to sect. For example, some are allowed to farm with tractors pulled by horses and some are not. Some relax the rules and allow travel by car or airplane in certain situations. They grow their families and thereby their religion through their closed communities. And if one chooses to leave the fold there are dire consequences.Talk about leverage! Sounds similar to Mormonism and Romanism from cradle to grave.

Their belief that one cannot know for sure if one will go to heaven is counter to what the Bible says. This is exactly what Romanism and any works-based religion teaches. We do not earn our salvation, it is a gift. If we could earn our salvation, why did Christ die?

I find this very sad and tragic.

And the fact that they unleash their young into today's corrupt society to see if they sink or swim after the only life they know is void of any modern experiences is throwing children to the wolves.

Yes, we can learn much from these dear people's work ethic and their humility, but in reality they are a lost people who need the true Jesus and the grace of God.

Bible Believer said...

Lisa I went to go look up the Devil's Playground, you are right for some it remains just trying to drive or use electricity or watch some TV or listen a radio but for many it does become about sinning, drinking, partying and worse. I noticed the Devil's Playground people talked about these huge parties Amish teens would throw.


I don't think there is anything Christian either about having one's almost grown children run out after the world either. Seems rather dangerous and along with the message "live it up now" only to lead young adutls to MORE RISK TAKING.

I agree that the Amish do not hold to a biblical view of salvation, it is not about salvation via grace. It is basically another "works" based system.

Bible Believer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bible Believer said...


yes there are a variety of rules,some amish groups are far stricter then others based on the bishops, there is even the Beachy Amish who are allowed basic electricty and cars though they must live "plain" otherwise. You are right the austere life is based in the salvation by works. I think many of the rules are Pharisees laying down burdens. I think the shunning stuff keeps many in the fold, many people do not want to cut off their entire family for the rest of their life, that is heavy stuff too to face as a young person. Join this church or your family is gone for good. Who is ready for that at 18?

So you are right about the leverage.

The works based stuff definitely sounds like Mormonism and Romanism, and where church rituals and "one true church" teachings all comingle.

Most remain in the same place the Catholic does not having the relationship with God, hoping they will be able to "get in" to heaven. One cannot earn salvation by a "perfect" set aside old fashioned life.

I agree that part is sad and tragic as well. I did read acouple of Amish becoming Christians online thought that was interesting stuff.


"We were both born and raised in the Old Order Amish Community. From childhood, we were taught at home and at church, that in order to go to heaven, we had to follow the Amish ordinances all of our lives. These ordinances were put together over the past 300 years by our forefathers. The bishop from our church kept the 22 page ordinance letter, which explained how the hats, bonnets, clothing, buggies, etc. were to be made, what was or was not permissible behavior, as well as which conveniences were or were not allowed. Neither of us really understood the ordinances; only that we were required to follow them.

Joe... as a young boy growing up, one thing was clear in my mind: if I didn't keep the ordinances, I would never get to heaven.

In 1983, at the age of 16, one of my close Amish friends secretly shared with me that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He realized that it was not the Amish ordinances that took a person to heaven, but it was faith in the redemptive blood of Jesus that gave the gift of eternal Life. For the next two years, my friend, Paul, continued to urge me to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. It was hard for me to grasp how anyone could go to heaven through Jesus Christ, without also keeping the Amish ordinances.

In 1984, I followed tradition and became a member of the Amish Church. I had to go through a 6 month period of training, where we were taught the ordinances, and then I was baptized by a pouring of water on my head..."

I find this very sad and tragic.

Bible Believer said...

"Yes, we can learn much from these dear people's work ethic and their humility, but in reality they are a lost people who need the true Jesus and the grace of God"--

I totally agree.

Anonymous said...

The Amish are a cult, however, it IS arrogant to assume you are are "eternally secure" when Jesus Himself said "few will enter the narrow gate of salvation." Matt 7:13 Obeying His commands IS required for salvation and obedience to God is NOT working for your salvation! If God is throwing you a life raft and orders you to take hold of it and you refuse saying it is "works" and you don't have to "work" for your salvation, then you will be LOST, just like the people in Noah's time who refused to build their arks. Did Noah "work" for his salvation? No, he OBEYED God! "And He (Jesus)became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that OBEY Him." Hebrews 5:9 "Once saved always saved" is a doctrine of devils that leads the spiritually ignorant to believe that they can continue in sin and still be saved. Same lie the Devil told Eve in the garden of eden, that she did not have to obey God! 2 Pet 3:17 is crystal clear that you can LOSE your salvation by following erroneous doctrines that don't require obedience to God's (New Testament) commands: "Beware, lest you FALL from your SECURE POSITION, being led away by the ERROR OF THE WICKED." You can't fall from where you never were to begin with! Once saved, always saved is a Satanic lie. Jesus said only those who "endure to the end" will be saved! Matthew 10:22 You people need to stop listening to ear tickling wolves in sheep's clothes and BELIEVE THE WORD OF GOD! John 3:16 says "whosoever believeth on Him"..... The Hebrew meaning of the word "believe" is OBEY. You can't really "believe" in Him if you don't obey Him. That's like saying you "believe" in you exercise bike, that it will make you lose weight and get in shape, but you never USE IT. Your "belief" is in vain, similar ro the belief the demons have in Jesus. They also believe in Him, but that DONT do what He says!

JL said...

Actually, the anabaptist do hold an orthodox view of salvation, so they are not heretics. The thing is the legalism. So much legalism. Head coverings and modest dress are biblical. However, forcing people to dress and act like the whole clan is not biblical. Baptism by pouring is not biblical either.

Anonymous said...


"A good friend of mine, Joe Keim, from MAP ministries http://www.mapministry.org once said, “you could pull the bible out from under the Amisih community, and it would continue to stand”. I truly agree.
Here is the problem. Not a single Amish person would believe the words I have just spoken. As a matter of fact, many of us have gone back and tried to spread the real word of God, and have not been heard."

Anonymous said...

The amish are most certainly a works-based false religion that cannot save.

Anonymous said...

I'm not impressed with the Amish. They are just another fallen, hypocritical false religion/cult. Amish culture comes complete with it's own mafia and a drug smuggling operations: http://amishamerica.com/amish-mafia-discovery/?cid=52193

My strong suspicion is that there is a corrupt ruling class among the Amish who hide behind the Amish public image but who control the Amish masses with the religion, sort of like the way the Inca and Maya to control their populations thousands of years ago.

Anonymous said...

Want the truth about the Amish experience?...ask an ex-Amish woman:
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28FRwaqmG8I

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCbf_NEeQF8

Anonymous said...

im a regular girl born and raised in west Virginia, never seen or talked to a amish person till I was 17 then I moved to Indiana, where I was very touched and moved by how they lived and their strong morals, at age 20 I met a amish guy in his running around days, we dated I thought he was just amazing a man with morals and heart filled with god, we ended up getting married and his family is great,after 20 yrs being married to this godly man I looked at his cell records, he has no boundaries when it came to sex, I was not known of any of this, we prayed at night with our children and everything . what the heck? im talking sex with his cousin, a girl same age as our daughter, his friends wifes and girlfriends, had a massage palor that gives happy endings, and and he also found prostitutes, I went to his family I tried talking to him, heres what happen to me and our children, kick out, everything we owned disappeared and suddenly ended up in his fathers or brothers name, my husband worked with his brother with a trucking company they owned, while I confronted the husband and reached out for help from his family, the took it all. my husband always made well over 75 thousand a yr, by time it ended in court I got 35$ a week for 3 kids, yes I said thirty five dollars a week.. the lies went flying about me and me being crazy so it wouldn't hurt their image. how people praise the amish makes me sick, im sure theres good ones out there, but seriously the ones I have known in my life time and was married to one that I shared 3 kids with are everything but godly, I was lied to cheated on and robbed of everything I ever worked for in 20 yrs. I married a devil that acted and looked like a angel. hate me fine treat me like crap fine.. but how can you do your very own kids this way??