1001 Questions & Answers On The Christian Life is an important little text which concisely lays out Christian beliefs as understood by the Amish.
The book, first published by Pathway Publishers in 1992, was created with the input of over 20 members of the Amish ministry and lay people in various communities.
It is based upon an older text (written in 1907) called 1000 Questions and Answers on Points of Christian Doctrine, by Mennonite bishop Daniel Kauffman.
As the publishers explain in their preface, 1001 Questions & Answers is based on that out-of-print work, with around 80% of the original questions kept.
Additional material has been added to modernize the work and make it more relevant to the Amish: “it has been revised and enlarged to deal more specifically with current issues, and with Bible doctrines as they are understood by the Amish.”
I’ve pulled some questions from selected sections which are particularly relevant to the Amish. Some of these may be questions you’ve had before. You might also find that not every Amish person or church you know or have observed follows these guidelines to a tee.
As mentioned, the book is produced by Pathway Publishers, and while it is meant to be universal, it may still reflect the biases of that organization and its parent community (for instance, not all Amish may adhere to or endorse counsel given in the sections on courtship, or on voting, to take a couple of examples).
Most of these questions are in sequence as they appear in the text, though I’ve omitted some in some cases:
What rule does Paul lay down on the dress question?
(1) Dress in “modest apparel” (I Tim. 2:9).
(2) Avoid vain display in ornamentation, such as the wearing of jewelry, fussing up the hair, and costly clothing (I Tim. 2:9).
(3) Dress in a way which becometh people professing godliness.
(4) Avoid conforming to the world (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 2:2).
But a specific form of attire, such as that worn by the Plain People, is not spelled out in the Scriptures, is it?
No, but the principles are. The church has adopted suitable dress standards for our climate and culture, based on these Biblical principles.
What of the variation in dress standards from one community to another?
That is to be expected. Each group of believers decides how to best apply the principles. The details may vary, but the underlying principles are the same.
Should not the clothing be so simple and of such a character that it attracts the least possible attention?
Then would it not be better to fall in with the customs of the world, so as not to attract any attention?
There is a difference between sensational display and simply letting your light shine. The inference contained in the question would force Christian people to surrender every doctrine of the Bible.
Who ordained that there should be a secular government?
God (Rom. 13:1).
What is the role God has planned for the government?
To protect the good, and punish the evil (Rom. 13:2-4).
Does that mean God is pleased with all governments today?
No, God is pleased only to the extent that they are faithful in doing what they are ordained to do. There are many corrupt governments today; some are doing the opposite of what they are ordained for, punishing the good, and rewarding the evil.
Do we have the right to resist a corrupt government?
No. God will judge them.
What is our duty to the government?
It is threefold: (1) Pray for them (I Tim. 2:2). (2) Obey them (Rom. 13:1). (3) Pay taxes (Rom. 13:6-7).
But what if the government asks us to do something that the Bible forbids?
In that case our first loyalty must always be to God (Acts 4:19).
What should be our reaction when we hear people complaining against the government?
We are to be respectful to the government at all times. We must never join in when men speak evil of it. We should either remain silent, or where appropriate, reprove such complaining. We have much to be thankful for to live in a land of religious freedom. Instead of complaining, we should express our gratitude, live in quiet obedience, and pray for our rulers.
Should we join in campaigns to get the government to change its laws?
There is a great danger here. We should be the first to desire that the church and the government be separate. If we don’t want the government to tell us how to conduct our church affairs, we had better not tell them how to run the government.
Who invented musical instruments?
Jubal, the son of Lamech (Gen. 4:21)
Is there a need for musical instruments in the Christian church?
Did they not use instruments to worship God in the Old Testament?
Yes, especially King David.
Did God command instruments to be used in worship?
No. God gave the law through Moses, gave him full instruction in all the details of worship, but nowhere did he command the use of instruments of music. Likewise, when the New Testament was given, not one word is found to support the use of musical instruments.
Has not the question of shunning caused a lot of trouble in a lot of churches?
Shunning is a practice commanded and sanctioned by God for the protection of the church. The obeying of God’s commandments brings a blessing to all involved, not trouble. But what has caused trouble has been people who were no longer satisfied to accept what God has ordained.
Is it not true that shunning is done at times in a spirit of revenge and out of spite towards the person shunned?
That may be true in some cases, and is to be deeply regretted. When the need arises to discipline an erring member, the entire church should pray earnestly that they might act out of love and concern, and never out of ill will or spite.
What did Paul say about this matter?
“If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (II Thess. 3: 14-15).
Win a copy of 1001 Questions and Answers
Contributor ShipshewanaIndiana has kindly offered to give away a copy of the book to an Amish America reader. Simply leave a comment or question on this post, and we’ll draw a winner at random.