Who are the Amish?
The Amish are a group of religious people with Swiss German and Anabaptist origins. They have been in America for a long time. The first ones arrived in the early 18th century to escape persecution in Europe and to find land to farm.
Their religion is very important to them, and they try to follow the teachings of Jesus as they interpret them.
The Amish have a lot of traditions and strict rules that they must adhere to. The bishop and preachers in each church make the rules; and to be a member of the church, you must obey them.
If an individual becomes rebellious and doesn’t follow the rules, the preachers will go visit that person and try to reconcile him, but if that individual is not repentant they will be excommunicated and shunned.
How to Become a Member of the Amish Church
Twice a year the preachers offer instruction classes and baptismal services for anyone who would like to join the church.
Once an individual wants to become a member of the church, they make it known to the bishop. Then you will need to attend the nine instruction classes given by the preachers in the church.
Following the classes and an interview with the preachers, you can be baptized into the church (if they think you are ready).
You must be baptized upon your confession of faith in Jesus to become a member. And then the group will accept you as a part of the church and greet you with a holy kiss.
Twice a year all members renew their vow to keep the rules of the church, and if you have disobeyed any rules, you might be asked to make a public confession. Then they all take communion (the Lord's supper) together, even washing one another's feet as Jesus did the disciples'.
Amish live a plain lifestyle and drive an Amish buggy
The Amish live a very conservative and simple lifestyle with a lot of focus on being humble. In their mind, being fancy equals pride.
The Amish drive a horse and buggy instead of a car and wear homemade and mostly dark-colored clothing. The men will usually wear a hat and a beard, and you'll see the women wearing a head covering and plain dress with a cape and apron (this may be worn slightly differently at home than at church).
Most of them have no electricity, and farm with horses.
And if you were to ask them why they live like this, they would probably tell you that they are just keeping the traditions of their forefathers.
Are all Amish the same?
To the outside world, they may all appear to look the same.
But when you’re part of that circle, it feels like there’s a big difference in different groups. But it’s mostly just differences in their rules, plus a few religious beliefs. Some Amish have indoor plumbing, some don’t, etc.
I grew up in a church that was called the New Order Amish. My parents were members of the Old Order Amish church and were not happy with some things there.
The Old Order group teaches salvation by works, but there was a hunger among some of the group to study the Bible and find out the Truth from God’s Word for themselves instead of just listening to what the preachers said.
So they started having a Bible study group, but this was strongly discouraged by the preachers as they don't want their members to study God's Word individually. They think that the preachers are the authority on the Bible.
So, because of this, among other issues, this group left the church and started what they called the New Order. They decided to allow farming with tractors, electricity, plus a few other things.
And they teach salvation by Grace through Faith (with still a lot of emphasis on works).
The Amish are not all the same
So, we can’t put all the Amish in the same box, because they’re not all alike. There's Old Order, New Order, Swartzentruber, Nebraskan, and several others that I'm not very familiar with. And things vary quite a bit in different communities.
And then there are the Old Order Mennonites who also drive horses and buggy.
But no matter what type of Amish they are, the main things they all hold in common are: they use horses and buggies for their transportation, and believe it’s important to live a simple life and keep the traditions. They have their own way of interpreting the Bible (God's Word) and desire to obey every command.
The lifestyle of the Early American Pilgrims
And if you really want to know what the Amish live like, just look at the lifestyle of the 1800s. Like the days of Laura Ingalls.
Everyone lived like this years ago, the Amish weren't as different in outward things from everyone else back then. I feel like they have just been so dedicated to keeping the traditions, that they stayed stuck in the 1800s.
Their lifestyle is different from most of the world, and this looks attractive to some onlookers. But speaking from experience, it's not an easy life. It may be a little more slow-paced than our modern world, but they don't escape the stress of providing for their family in this modern day.
And honestly, it's a religion. And religion always brings bondage. We can only be free if we have a relationship with Jesus Christ. And sadly, a lot of them don't.
There are many great people in Amish communities. They have strong convictions about what is right and what is wrong. They are typically honest people, with good work ethics, and are always ready to lend a hand and help each other.
But as with any group of people or religion, there's good and bad.
I grew up in Amish country, PA and I appreciate my Amish Heritage. I am thankful for all that my parents taught me, but I would never go back to being Amish.
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