And for that matter, people of other faiths?

Our Lancaster Amish correspondent has weighed in on the question, recently submitted by a curious reader.

Here is his response:

One of the most important lessons that I learned was taught to me by a Jewish businessman, in that he said there are no problems, merely situations that need solutions.  Jewish people are unique human beings,just like everyone else (sounds like a saying of Yogi Berra).  Culturally and historically Jews and the Amish have much in common, in that both suffered much persecution in their history and both have meaningful traditions.

Recently I along with a number of Amish bishops,ministers, laypeople, and their wives, took a tour of the Holocaust museum in D.C.  It was a profound and moving experience.  How is it possible that this happened less than 75 years ago, in one of the most civilized nations on earth.  Truly all that is necessary for evil to gain the upper hand is for civilized people to compromise their beliefs and do nothing. Then the haunting question comes to mind, could it happen again.  While we want to appreciate any respite from persecution we get, may we never become the persecutors.

Theologically the Amish are Christocentric, while the Jewish people generally are not.

Although the Amish take following Jesus seriously that doesn’t mean we condemn the Jews or anyone else of any other faith.  The Amish do not send anyone to hell. They can’t, and neither can anyone else, which is a good thing. We have great respect for any faith that teaches its adherents to Honor and Obey God and to love others.

With all that being said, I should make several points to fully convey what the Amish typically feel about other faiths in general.  First we do not believe that all paths lead to God.Yet we acknowledge that everyone has a unique path.  God is a rewarder of all who seek him, and will not turn his back on any of his creations.  However if you or I turn our backs on God and follow a path away from God, the logical conclusion can only be that God cannot be found in such a way.

The second point is the Amish are not relativists.  We have definite ideas about right and wrong, truth and lies.  However the Bible is a mirror we should use to examine our lives with, and not a spotlight to shine on others and try to figure out who is going to hell and who is going to heaven.

When thinking about right and wrong, the focus should be on ourselves first of all.  This life here on earth involves a lot of different relationships, but ultimately in the end, on judgment day, it will be each person alone with God.  We will not be able to blame our shortcomings on anyone else, tormentors, persecutors, parents, siblings, bishops, pastors, teachers,or anyone else.  Neither will we be able to put in a good word for anyone.

In conclusion we love God because he first loved us, and we should seek his grace rather than his favor, which is reason enough not to judge.  We acknowledge we are imperfect, and sinners who need help (grace).  The Amish do not judge those of other faiths and denominations, but are not inclined to compromise their own beliefs merely to be accommodating.  And to refute a certain stereotype, the Amish do not believe they are the only right ones and all the others wrong.