The basic Amish beliefs

What are the basic Amish beliefs?

The Bible is the inspired word of God. There is one God eternally existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-17). God loved the world so much that he gave his only son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the sins of the world. Through faith in the shed blood of Jesus we are reconciled to God. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, a free gift bestowed by God on those who repent and believe. As Christians, we should live as brothers. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and also empowers believers for service and holy living. The church is separate from the State. The Amish are strict pacifists and are strongly opposed to any form of violence. Faith calls for a lifestyle of discipleship and good works service and holy living. Their chief tenet is, “Be ye not conformed to this world.” The Amish, like all Anabaptists, believe in adult baptism, as opposed to baptizing babies who cannot choose for themselves.

Why don’t the Amish use modern technology?

The Amish and Mennonites believe that God has called them to separate themselves from the world. An important aspect of the Amish culture is a simpler lifestyle, such as the use of horses and buggies for transportation, which allows the Amish to maintain a close-knit community. The use of modern time saving technologies could make them less dependent on community, and spark a competition for status goods, or photographs might cultivate personal vanity.

Why don’t the Amish use electricity?

The Bible tells them they are not to be conformed to the world. (Romans 12:2) In 1919, the Amish leaders agreed that connecting to power lines would not Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 3.22.02 PMbe in the best interest of the Amish community. As a result there is a bonding that unites the Amish community and protects it from outside influences such as television, radios and other influences. They did not make this decision because they thought electricity was evil in itself, but because easy access to it could lead to many temptations and the deterioration of church and family life. The Amish value simplicity and self-denial over comfort, convenience and leisure.

Why will the Amish ride in automobiles if they will not own them?

Owning and operating a car is not particularly modern to most of us, but the Amish have decided that having speedy convenient transportation at their fingertips will lead to spending more time away from family, home and the community. Owning a nicer car than your neighbor may promote pride as well as a “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. By rejecting certain types of modernity and accepting others, some Amish appear to the outside world to be contradicting themselves – hypocrites. However, from the viewpoint of Amish culture, there is no contradiction. Conforming to a modest black buggy and slow moving horse is a sign of commitment to the church and community. Cars would speed things up dramatically, disrupting the slow pace of Amish living. So, they will use them but not own them.

Do the Amish use modern medicine and doctors?

Their readiness to seek health services varies from family to family. Most Amish and Mennonites are not opposed to modern medicine. They do believe, however, that good health, both physical and mental, is a gift from God and requires careful stewardship on the part of the individual. Members of some of the more traditional communities prefer homeopathic or alternative forms of medical treatment. Nothing in the Amish understanding of the Bible forbids them from using modern medical services, including surgery, hospitalization, dental work, anesthesia, blood transfusions, etc. They do not have hospitalization insurance, but they band together to help pay medical expenses for anyone of their group who needs financial assistance.

Why do they dress the way they do?

The Amish believe that God has called them to be completely separate from the world and its negative influences. Choosing to wear clothing that sets them apart as different immediately divides them from the English. The choice to dress a certain way strengthens the community’s bonds and declares their commitment to the principles of the Amish church. The plain and simple dress of the Amish is an outward show of their inner convictions of humility and modesty. They also believe it is important to differentiate the roles between men and women, which is why Amish and many Mennonite women wear dresses. The head coverings of the women are related to a biblical reference in I Corinthians 11, which emphasizes a need for women to have their head covered.

What is their education system like?

While the majority of Mennonites embrace high school and college education, the Amish and some Mennonites do not think higher education is necessary. The Amish do not usually educate their children past the eighth grade, believing that the basic knowledge offered up to that point is sufficient to prepare one for the Amish lifestyle. The Amish operate their own schools, which are typically one-room schoolhouses with teachers (usually young unmarried women) from the Amish community. The society itself acts as a vocational school. Children learn how to be farmers, homemakers, carpenters, and tradesmen.

Do the Amish pay taxes?

Since the Amish own a lot of land, they do pay a lot of property taxes and are liable for estate taxes as well. However, any property taxes paid do not benefit them because they have their own one-room schoolhouses. Additionally, the Amish do pay, state and federal income taxes, county taxes, sales tax, etc.

There are taxes that are not paid by the Amish, but in each case, it is because they either do not consume the service or product involved and so do not pay the excise/consumption tax, or they do not take advantage of the government benefit due to religious reasons, and therefore do not contribute towards its upkeep. The Amish do not collect unemployment, social security, or welfare benefits because doing so would be against their religious beliefs. As such, they have been exempt from paying into these systems. Each family takes care of their own, and the Amish community gives assistance as needed.

Why do Amish men have beards, but not mustaches?

An Amish man does not shave his beard after he becomes married. A long beard is the mark of an adult Amish man. There are quite a few scriptures that mention beards in the Bible. An example would be Psalm 133:1, 2. The mustache is forbidden because in the early days of the Amish, wearing elaborate mustaches was common among those in the military. In their early days, the Amish and other Mennonites in Europe were often persecuted by these groups. In addition to that, the Amish, being a pacifist group, didn’t want to associate themselves with those who waged war.

Does anyone ever join or leave?

It is very rare for someone to join the Amish, but it does happen occasionally. To join the Amish, one must learn the Pennsylvania German dialect. One must also learn to leave behind modern luxuries like televisions, appliances, cars and contemporary clothing. Many of the rules particular to certain churches are extremely difficult for someone from the outside to adopt.

Any member is free to leave. A member who has left may even be allowed to return within a short time. A member who leaves permanently will, however, be shunned. Shunning means that the person will forever be considered an outsider — a stranger — and will not be allowed to participate in the community ever again. Most people who leave the Amish become Mennonites.

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