11 responses to The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine
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    Comment on The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine (November 22nd, 2009 at 07:03)

    Whether this has anything to do with this all I can not say but the amish community you talk about are a very tight knit group and do not like intrusion at all from outsiders I guess you would say. They keep very much to themselves and want to be left alone. I am not saying that is good or bad, just how it is. That said, if the bishops knew of this abuse at the least they should have made sure the children were protected from further harm. Just my thoughts.

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    Richard
    Comment on The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine (November 22nd, 2009 at 12:12)

    The reason, as I understand it, that 4 bishops are involoved in the case is that all 4 of them had knowledge of the abusive situation, (no doubt from discussion on the bann) that they had been informed by a third party (not the abuser or the direct victim and therefore it was beyond a conifdential matter at that point), and that they were in a position of leadership and authority, the same way a school teacher or nurse, etc is in their obligation to report such a thing, by law.

    Hopefully I am not just rewriting what was in one of the links you posted, but I was reading all this somwhere…

    I am sure the 4 bishops were in a great deal of communication about this, and deciding their actions with the bann. I have the impression that placing the bann on someone is not simply done alone without discussion by one bishop. I got evidence of this when I was discussing the bann with some friends who are recently in it themselves. When we talked about the particular issue that led to that for them, they were saying that some districts are more tolerant about it than others. When I asked if they could just relocate to such a district, even the next district over if they wanted to, they said they would still be under the bann, as all the bishops have to agree with and support the bann if it is put into effect by their bishop. That just illustrated to me the amount of inter-bishop comunication that must occur. So they all must have been together in their knowledge in Missouri, and all obligated by law as having to report such an incident.

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    Comment on The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine (November 22nd, 2009 at 14:51)

    Thank you for the thoughtful follow-up. I am also interested in how the Amish view and practice the “two kingdoms” doctrine. I would only caution that this is probably a complex area of thought even among Amish, and that trying to come to a single “the Amish believe this …” statement might be aiming for too high an abstraction.

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    Comment on The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine (November 22nd, 2009 at 15:12)

    The doctrine of the two kingdoms is central to Anabaptist “theology.” This is interesting to me, as I am in the process of reading Robert Friedmann’s “The Theology of Anabaptism,” and just finished last week reading “The Chronicles of the Hutterian Brethren” (a large history of the early Hutterians in Moravia and Hungary).
    While my comments are certainly not universal, I think they fit what is supposed to be the “ideal.”
    Ok, the “world” has its justice system, and is responsible to deal with injustices. It does so, with prisons, punishments, and fines.
    The church has its “justice system,” and is to deal with injustices that are committed within the body of believers. This discipline includes rebukes, private and public, and exclusion if the offense continues. The sole purpose is not to mete out “punishment” as such, but to seek for repentance of the offender, and to keep purity in the body if he doesnt repent.
    The church has the sole responsibility to keep itself pure, and is not to be trying to “punish” crimes. It is not to mingle with the “justice system” of the world–their modus operandi are quite different.
    Once a sin has been rectified by sincere repentance, all is to be forgotten. In the Nickel Mines situation, had the offender lived, the Amish would not have (in theory) instigated charges against him.
    I know of an example of theft in a Montana Amish community. The thief was not Amish, but the theft was still never reported to the police. Had the thief been a member, he would have not been reported either. Not turning in a thief who is a member of the church could be seen as “covering up things,” but that is not the case–they simply do not turn to the world’s justice system when theft occurs.
    Theoretically, the same would be true with a sexual abuse case. If an outsider would molest an Amish youth, many (some probably would … I am speaking in broad terms here) would not seek “justice” through the “world”. So why should they turn to the world’s justice system when the offender is one of their own, since they would not turn to it for “justice” against an outsider?
    If the “world’s” justice system chooses to prosecute a believer’s sin, then that is usually seen as supplementary to church discipline–something outside of the church’s concern– and the truth would be told if they are called to witness. But the church will not instigate the charges.
    I see this as consistency, although it can look bad to see something like this happen, and the church does not turn to the civil government. It is seen as “covering up sin.” Yet, I seriously doubt that they would turn to the civil government had the offender not been a part of the church.
    If you want to see this type of non-resistance in action, read “The Chronicles of the Hutterian Brethren”! They were robbed, driven out of homes, had the sheets and clothes stole off the bedridden in the middle of the winter, had their youth and sisters raped publicly or saw them tied up and thrown over a horse’s back to be sold on the slave market … yet they did not turn to the civil government to punish the offenders.
    And neither did they turn to the civil government when one of their own happened to be the offender (which did occasionally happen). This is not “covering up sin,” it is practicing the doctrine of the two kingdoms.
    Anabaptism sees the church and “the world” as two distinct kingdoms that should be kept apart as far as possible.
    Mike

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    Sadie
    Comment on The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine (November 23rd, 2009 at 06:42)

    Theology, two kingdoms, amish social mores and privacy aside, sex offenders go on a list for the good of the community at large. For the greater good, it is imperative that men like this be identified and dealt with BY THE LAW, not the Ordnung. Sorry, but if this were a murder case, the Amish would hand it over to the law in a heartbeat. But in the patriarchal society that is the Amish, this is just 4 men protecting another man from civil (and justified) justice. As they would if a man were beating his wife half to death. This kind of offender is not going to be sidetracked or deterred from his rampage of abusing kids just because he is placed under the bann for a few weeks or even if he is shunned for life. He would simply be out there, committing his vile crimes upon an uninformed, unprotected society, all because the Amish value their privacy. Sometimes, just sometimes, the Amish need to get with it. They are not always right.

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    Jesus
    Comment on The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine (November 23rd, 2009 at 17:08)

    Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more. –Jesus

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    Comment on The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine (November 23rd, 2009 at 17:33)

    Just as the Amish put someone under the bann (sometimes forever) and say it’s “out of love”, people who do heinous crimes need to be separated from the masses – I’m pretty sure we all agree about that. Very little is being said of the VICTIMS of these crimes and where they fit in. Putting an offender in jail may be seen as “punishment” but we need to remember they are being judged by their peers. Of course the system is flawed at times, as are the Amish. We’re all human and we all want basically the same things (safety, security, privacy, etc.) ~ the difference is in how it’s gone about. I also believe it’s doing something positive in protecting the innocent and those who are not able to protect themselves. I’m also SURE there are Amish victims who will never be the same and will forever be “trapped” because of lack of outside interference and to me, that is what is sad and unfortunate.

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    Comment on The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine (November 23rd, 2009 at 17:36)

    Just as the Amish put someone under the bann (sometimes forever) and say it’s “out of love”, people who do heinous crimes need to be separated from the masses – I’m pretty sure we all agree about that. Very little is being said of the VICTIMS of these crimes and where they fit in. Putting an offender in jail may be seen as “punishment” but we need to remember they are being judged by their peers. Of course the system is flawed at times, as are the Amish. We’re all human and we all want basically the same things (safety, security, privacy, etc.) ~ the difference is in how it’s gone about. I also believe it’s doing something positive in protecting the innocent and those who are not able to protect themselves. I’m also SURE there are Amish victims who will never be the same and will forever be “trapped” because of lack of outside interference and to me, that is what is sad and unfortunate.

    Everyone is making great points and I love reading everyone’s points of view. Have a GREAT Thanksgiving, all!

    Great post, Erik, and good job clarifying and enlightening.

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    Comment on The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine (November 24th, 2009 at 08:04)

    I agree with you Beth on getting to hear everyone’s points of view, and I do appreciate all the input. I will try to return to the topic and comment again soon. It’s obviously one for some thought.

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    Bill
    Comment on The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine (November 24th, 2009 at 15:00)

    To begin I will state that abuse, and the failure to report it to the proper authorities, is not exclusive to Amish communities.
    I am a middle-aged cradle Catholic Christian and for years I suspected sexual abuse was occuring in the Catholic church and being covered up, or might I say “forgiven”, in the light that those knowingly accused would change their ways. It took years for the scandal of sexual abuse to come to a head and have those in authority look into it and deal with it realistically.
    That being said, sexual abuse and the “sweeping under the rug” of it is nothing new neither in Amish communities nor in the Catholic Church, or in other churches, schools, organizations, communities or families of whatever persuasion.

    This does not dismiss the fault of the Amish bishops in not repoting abuse to authorities, but they are definitely not alone in their thinking, however misguided it may be.

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    annonymous
    Comment on The Amish & Two Kingdoms Doctrine (December 23rd, 2009 at 10:05)

    I am a former Amish lady and I am from the old order sect, not the more conservative sect, Swartzentrubers, you’ve been talking about. I was sexually abused as a child and when my parents and an aunt found out about the abuse they placed all blame on me. I was told to never tell, that my grandmother couldn’t handle knowing what I had done with my two uncles. Sexual abuse is everywhere, not just a few here and a few there. The Amish’s view on sexual abuse is distorted, like maybe the victim has somehow initiated it and almost deserved it in a perverted way.

    The Amish will always protect the perps because that is what they do, they forgive and forget. The “victims” are left to fend for themselves..it is never reported…they feel if the perp has been “beside the church” (under the ban) for 6 weeks that punishment is good enough and then it is the victim’s duty to forgive and forget.

    I will say…personally, I went to counseling and I became a born again Christian and was able, through the grace of God, to forgive my uncles and my parents, and I no longer feel like a victim, however, I still feel the whole thing was handled incredibly wrong and I feel so bad for every other young lady who has to deal with this.

    As for the question as to why were 4 Bishops involved. My guess is…this was an ongoing problem and the church may have had other issues they were dealing with as well. Generally, if more than the home Bishop is involved you know there are many things brewing in the congregation.

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