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The Amish

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The Amish are a group of people who follow the teachings of Jacob Ammann, a 17th-century citizen of Switzerland. The Amish have been in America for a long time. The first ones arrived in the early 18th century to escape religious persecution in Europe and to find land to farm. The sect arose from a late-17th century schism in the Anabaptist church by followers of Jakob Amman, a Swiss minister who believed that adherents should "conform to the teachings of Christ and His apostles" and "forsake the world" in their daily lives. The word "Amish" derives from his name.

 

After initially settling in Ohio, they are now found in 30 states as well as Canada. Ohio has the largest Amish population, followed by Pennsylvania and Indiana.

 

They follow simple customs and refuse to take oaths, vote, or perform military service. They shun modern technology and conveniences. Transportation for the Amish is by horse and buggy. They do not have electricity or telephones in their homes. The men usually wear beards and pants with buttons instead of zippers. The women wear white head coverings and plain dresses, usually without buttons—they use straight pins to fasten the clothing.

 

The Amish have church services in their own homes, taking turns hosting on Sundays, and do not have church buildings. They usually only go to a formal school until age 15.The youth are given the opportunity to taste of “the world” in their late teens to determine if they want to join the church. Many young Amish people get involved in drugs, alcohol, sex, and other vices during this time period while they are allowed to own a motor vehicle, but a large number then do give up the vehicle and join the church.

 

Shunning is a form of excommunication. If they partake of the "worldly" things, they are shunned by the church people.

The Amish believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that He died for their sins, and that He is the way to salvation. However, many Amish also practice a works-based relationship with God. They view their good works as earning favor with God. If their good works outweigh the bad works, they feel God will allow them into heaven. The Amish are basically good, hard-working people, who have to make sure they stay on the right path, so they get final rewards in heaven when life is over. 

 

As a group, the Amish do not believe in the security of salvation. They believe a person can lose his/her salvation if he/she strays from the path, or falls from grace. They do not believe in infant baptism, but do "sprinkle" for adult baptism after one makes a commitment to the church, rather than immerse in water.

 

Perhaps the most famous aspect of Amish social life is "Rumspringa," which means "running around" in the Pennsylvania German dialect. It is the time, beginning at about age 16, when youth socialize with their friends on weekends. Rumspringa ends with marriage. Apart from introducing young men and women to one another, this period is an important time when Amish youth need to decide if they will be baptized and join the church, which usually occurs between 18 and 21, or leave the Amish community.

 

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Sojourner

The issue that I have with the Amish is the same issue that I have with the Jehovah's Witnesses with the fact that they "shun" people that leave and enforce parents to "shun" their children and cut all contact with them.

I feel that the reason these groups shun people in this manner is because of their fear that people may not be members of their organisation by free will and if one leaves then others will follow. I also think they may have an issue with their members experiencing the love of G-d in other churches which threatens them.

As for the rejection of technology, that is not always true any more, many Amish use fax machines, telephones, air compressors and so forth at their places of work but reject them in the family home. The carts that they use were modern technology 200 years ago, was it wrong for them to use them at that time?

Clearly there are some good points to the Amish lifestyle, but they lose me at the shunning of family members that reject their religious ideals.

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Shunning is the Amish and JW’s way of resisting worldly influence to come in and dilute the strength of their unity in ideology.  

 

Shunning is a type of congregational disciplinary action. Baptized individuals who formally leave are considered disassociated and are also shunned. Idividualism is part of Democratic governing. Amish and JW’s are autocratic in structure. The goal is to keep the congregation free from immoral influence and the practice of shunning may also serve to deter other members from dissident behavior.

 

Jehovah Witnesses go one step further and also warns members to "avoid independent thinking", claiming such thinking "was introduced by Satan the Devil" and would "cause division". Those who openly disagree with official JW teachings are condemned as "apostates" who are "mentally diseased".

 

The stresses and conflicts of non-unity among SDA’s come from tolerance of individual interpretations that get published orally or in print.

 

When one really steps over the line in doctrine, they too will be shunned. Or even those who go quietly and don’t fellowship with church activities, are not for the most part, visited or phoned to see how they are doing. In SDA is not so extreme in shutting out one who leaves or is disfellowshipped. But shunning does take place.

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aka

There are many branches of Amish. The strict keeping of non-technology is only one main group. There are the sub-groups that have adopted using modern technical machines. We can't lump them as being one sect without studying the other groups.

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An important part of Amish life is Gelassenheit

 

The word concept in German language carries with it: yieldedness, letting be, or submission to the will of God (in modern German approximately: tranquility, serenity). This concept derives from the Bible when Jesus said, "not my will but thine be done," thereby making individuality, selfishness, and pride, abhorrent. "He submits to Christ, loses his own will, and yields (Gelassenheit) himself in all areas."

Serving others and submitting to God, therefore, permeates all aspects of Amish life. A person’s personality must be modest, reserved, calm, and quiet. The values which must be apparent in a believer’s actions are submission, obedience, humility and simplicity.

 

Gelassenheit should be the overriding aspect for every person within the Amish community, and it must be viewable through actions and possessions. Lamentations 3:26 "quietly wait," in the Froschauer [German] Bible reads 'in Gelassenheit' (instead of quietly) - one probable Biblical reference that helped to establish this important 'Anabaptist term.'"

 

The Ordnung is used to produce Gelassenheit, which is to be shown via a yielding of spirit to the traditions. The Amish glance back into the past and examine their traditions, treasuring them. The past is always the main resource for coping with the present. An Amish businessman may look forward to plan for new markets for his products, however, he never loses sight of the past and its precious legacy. To give yourself under the church means to yield, to submit. Modern culture's aggressive individualism sharply contrasts with the Amish gelassenheit. Through gelassenheit, an Amish person yields to the Ordnung, the will of God, church, elders, parents, community, and traditions. The individual suppresses the will of 'self' in lieu of the Amish community. To do so is considered humility in action.

By giving up individuality and any thought of selfishness, they embrace God's will by serving others and submitting to Him. To the Amish, Gelassenheit is seen in all of the following aspects of Amish life:
  • Personality: reserved, modest, calm, quiet
Values: submission, obedience, humility, simplicity
Symbols: dress, horse, carriage, lantern
Structure: small, informal, local, decentralized
Ritual: baptism, confession, ordination, foot-washing.
— The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald Kraybill ,  Johns Hopkins UP, 1989, p.26.

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ChildofChrist

My maternal grandfather was Mennonite and they too have 'interesting' ways of living. Yet, before he died, he had read himself into the Adventist belief even though he was not baptized. On the other hand, like so many, great grandma never read the Great Controversy and refused to discuss it. She insisted she would never change and she didn't!

Community is important to all of us which is one reason that we need to align ourselves with those of the highest values. Our friends and especially family can and will pull us down unless you have that growing relationship with Christ...it is too easy to be drawn away.

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