70 responses to What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements
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    SharonR
    Comment on Amish Faith Statements and Beliefs (September 1st, 2015 at 06:15)

    Amish Faith Statements and Beliefs

    Thank you for sharing. Much like my own, as I am member of Lutheran Church, and have always had these beliefs. Interpretation is of course, an individual thing, and respect that about the Amish.
    SharonR

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    Eli M.
    Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 1st, 2015 at 06:26)

    Thank you for sharing and help to deepen ones faith.
    Eli M.

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    Comment on Amish Faith Statements and Beliefs (September 1st, 2015 at 06:27)

    Amish Faith Statements and Beliefs

    Their beliefs are very similar to mine as a Seventh-Day Adventist. Very interesting article!

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    Sue Anderson
    Comment on Amish Beliefs (September 1st, 2015 at 07:55)

    Amish Beliefs

    All are Christian beliefs. I admire the Amish for their steadfastness to God’s word.

    Where could I find information about their original roots. Their history from I assume the Reformation era. Would be interesting to learn why they broke away from the mainstream cultures. Thank you.

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    Carolyn B
    Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 1st, 2015 at 10:01)

    Thanks for this list. All Christians do have common ground. My question is what does criticism of political leaders, especially national leaders, look like in the Amish world? I have many devout Christian friends who have no problem ridiculing the despised political party’s members, all the way up to the presidency. I too have been guilty of being less than charitable in my own thoughts and actions.

    Thank you for any insights you can share to become more charitable in thought.

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      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 7th, 2015 at 08:42)

      We try to stay out of politics as much as possible. Political leaders do get talked about and discussed though. And many of us are well aware of what’s going on. But, like any other people some have a much more avid interest than others. We are encouraged to pray for our leaders. And sometimes a fast and prayer day is given out before presidential elections to pray that the right one according to God’s will is elected.

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    Comment on Thank you, Rebecca (September 1st, 2015 at 12:33)

    Thank you, Rebecca

    Thank-you Rebecca. This article is very interesting and informative. It makes you realize how much we are all alike.

    I hope your school year is off to a very good start.

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      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 7th, 2015 at 08:45)

      Harriet, Thanks for the well wishes. We had a very good week and a half of school now. We have today off for Labor Day. I had a bit of a mishap on Friday, when I got hit by a softball. I’m still sore, but could have been worse. Otherwise I had a great start to the schoolterm.

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    Mark FitzGerald
    Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 1st, 2015 at 12:34)

    Let me answer a couple of these questions. A fine introductory book on the Amish is The History of the Amish by Steven Nolt. It would cover most everything you wish to know. Secondly, concerning criticism of political leaders. Amish and conservative Mennonites stay away from politics. The Bible teaches to respect and pray for our leaders. This is what the Amish do. Don’t get me wrong, many have opinions and may state them occasionally, but voting and political involvement is not part of their lifestyle.

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      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 7th, 2015 at 08:48)

      Another very good one is “The Amish” by Donald Kraybill, Susan Johnson-Weiner, and Steven Nolt. There is not much they don’t cover. And from an Amish person’s viewpoint it’s very accurate.

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    Slightly-Handled-Order-Man
    Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 2nd, 2015 at 06:50)

    I like this article and am thankful for this series of faith statements being shared. It is a little less wordy than the Confessions used in the lead up to baptism/membership (on which it is probably based)

    I think Rebeca has a real talent, and made a good decision in teaching the Amish young, her community (as well as we Amish America readers are well served by her).

    Well done 🙂

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      Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 2nd, 2015 at 06:53)

      I agree with you on both counts Shom.

      We have a few more pieces to share by Rebecca, and I’m hoping we’ll hear more from her if and as she finds the time. I am curious how her first week of school went, I know it was probably a busy one.

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    Debbie H
    Comment on Scripture Reference. (September 2nd, 2015 at 10:32)

    Scripture Reference.

    I wonder how many read the Scripture references. The one that is confusing is #14, it says nothing about personal appearance. It talks about the money changers. Maybe a typo? This is very informative and I plan on printing and reading closer when time allows.

    My Thanks to Rebecca for sharing this with us.

    Debbie

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      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 7th, 2015 at 08:54)

      Please go back and read it carefully, it says 1 John 2:15-17 which makes sense. I believe you read John 2:15-17, which is about the money changers.

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    Jonathan Edwards
    Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 2nd, 2015 at 12:03)

    The list looks quite accurate. I was relieved that it didn’t highlight their semi-Pelagianism.

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      Geniene
      Comment on That's a big word there Jonathan (September 2nd, 2015 at 18:37)

      That's a big word there Jonathan

      Care to elaborate?

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        Jonathan Edwards
        Comment on Semi-Pelagianism (September 3rd, 2015 at 04:12)

        Semi-Pelagianism

        Semi-Pelagianism is defined as “any type of synergist teaching on salvation.” [see citation below]

        In other words, a blending of divine and human causes in salvation. There are a variety of explanations for how salvation comes about on a personal level. What characterizes semi-Pelagians are their efforts to uphold a strong view of human agency in the event of salvation.

        Pelagianism is the belief that a person’s faith is an act of free will apart from the assistance of divine grace. Semi-Pelagianism is a step removed. It is typically viewed as an overemphasis on human choice, resulting in a strange melding of human agency and divine grace.

        Semi-Pelagianism characterizes much of Mennonite thought, less so of the Amish. Nevertheless, the Amish emphasize personal agency to such an extent that they occasionally lapse into semi-Pelagianism.

        By the way, semi-Pelagianism was condemned at the Council of Orange in 529.

        Anabaptism as a whole leans toward semi-Pelagianism because of an emphasis on self-denial, personal commitment, faithfulness, etc. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this emphasis. But it becomes problematic when it impinges on the sovereignty of God.

        For folks wondering “where I came across such knowledge,” from reading (see note below) and experience–I asked Pelagius personally, over a glass of tea last week! 🙂

        Irena Backus and Aza Goudriaan, “‘Semipelagianism’: The Origins of the Term and its Passage into the History of Heresy” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 61, no. 1 (2014): 46.

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          Geniene
          Comment on Thanks (September 3rd, 2015 at 06:24)

          Thanks

          Are you familiar with Chester Weaver’s critique of the influence of fundamentalism on Anabaptist practitioners?
          I saw the article in Mennonite World Review

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          Geniene
          Comment on Link (September 3rd, 2015 at 06:35)

          Link

          http://mennoworld.org/2015/03/23/news/conservative-anabaptists-reject-fundamentalism/

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            Jonathan Edwards
            Comment on Critique (September 3rd, 2015 at 07:10)

            Critique

            I am familiar with the critique in general terms. It seems there is quite a bit of truth in it. In the article you cited, I was particularly impressed with the focus on non-resistance (termed “peace”) at the conference, and the apparent desire to welcome outsiders while remaining firm on traditional practices.

            Is there something you wanted to highlight about Weaver’s critique?

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              Geniene
              Comment on Fundamentalism (September 3rd, 2015 at 07:48)

              Fundamentalism

              I’m aware that there is a tension between Old Order Amish practice and what I think of as fundamentalist Christianity. But it is almost impossible to find an articulated view from the Old Order perspective of it. You seem like an astute, and articulate kind of guy. I was hoping to develop some thoughts around it. I believe this is an issue that is playing out, not only between non Amish believers and the Amish, but also from within the Amish church.
              My experience aligns with Weaver’s assessment that Fundamentalism is aggressive, even abusive. I appreciated Weaver and Bercot’s presentations, for their defense of Old Order practices.

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                Jonathan Edwards
                Comment on Tension (September 3rd, 2015 at 08:53)

                Tension

                There seems to be a tension between the Old Order Amish and Fundamentalist groups. But the relationship is complicated.

                The Amish exhibit certain characteristics of Protestant Fundamentalism. Some folks, for example, are deeply fearful of the government. On occasion they offer sharp critiques of non-Amish groups (and practices) in their sermons.

                The Amish certainly see themselves as distinct from Fundamentalism / conservative Protestantism. But since they read very little of what Fundamentalists write, they are not as reactionary as some conservative Mennonite groups; they rarely draw lines and sharpen their identity on the basis of theological differences. For example, the Amish are amillenial in their view of end times in part because they ignored what was written by most Fundamentalists in the early 20th century; they believe in the inspiration and truthfulness of Scripture but without the sharp edges produced by Fundamentalism because higher criticism was never ‘on the table’ for them; they do not highlight their semi-Pelagianism because they have no idea who Pelagius is, nor Jacob Arminius, and barely even John Calvin (and even then their impressions are not always accurate)!

                Something that has surprised me about the Amish is how many of them have read books written by David Bercot. At least in his books, Bercot comes across as more fundamentalist than any Fundamentalist I ever came across. ‘Will the real heretics please stand up’ and ‘The Kingdom that turned the world upside down’ were so lacking in academic rigor and objectivity that I didn’t bother to read anything else that he wrote until several Old Order friends prodded me to read his critique of theologians. I was deeply disappointed with what I found.

                Bercot’s characterization of theologians as completely wrong and almost always driven by false motives (pardon the generalization) was not only far from charitable but also unrealistic. I have a hard time identifying his philosophy of history as anything more than placing people on opposing sides of a line he draws, the ‘out’ group being goats while those who agree with him being ‘sheep.’ He seems to neglect the extreme complexity of Christian history. But this is a common problem among Anabaptist historians, not just a characteristic of David Bercot (though he seems to exemplify this tendency). But the Amish tend to shy away from such characterizations.

                In general, Bercot’s approach is the very thing many Amish do not appreciate about Fundamentalism. It is predominantly considered a threat because being Amish is significantly a matter of ‘staying Amish.’ By nature, traditionalist groups are not particularly adept at absorbing internal critiques or calls for ‘reformation’ without changing. So they would rather not critique others so that others don’t critique them.

                The tension between conservatism and traditionalism is a sensitive spot within Amish groups. It plays out in a multitude of ways.

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                  nrwithers@my.trine.edu
                  Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 3rd, 2015 at 09:18)

                  Jonathan Edwards,
                  I think you are correct that the relationship between the Old Order viewpoint and Fundamentalism is complicated. There are some parts of Fundamentalism which would fit in well with the OO Anabaptist thinking, but others that are very much at odds. Because people often react hastily in the face of a crisis, real or perceived, I think some groups invited Fundamentalist doctrine (and maybe practice) in without really looking at it too closely. This would have occurred in the times when there was drift in the churches toward modernity. It has happened in the German Baptist Brethren and I think significantly in the conservative Mennonite movement. I am under the impression that the Beachys and some other Amish Mennonites have become more Fundamentalist in the last half-century.
                  I would second what you said about David Bercot’s early works lacking academic rigor. He did not intend to aim them at a scholarly audience, but at the common believer. His latest book, “Secrets of the Kingdom Life” is a departure from his “us and them” dynamic common in other books. One can tell he is more spiritually mature in this book. That said, he does raise some good points in his other books, but I wish he would flesh out his arguments better for the more academic audience.
                  Peace.

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                    Jonathan Edwards
                    Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 3rd, 2015 at 13:25)

                    Thanks for adding your comments. I am not following Bercot so I was not aware that his more recent writings have a different tone. I was especially glad you noted that he seems to have grown more spiritually mature.

                    Your impression that the Beachy Amish have become more Fundamentalist over the past half-century seems correct. They are generally more open to reading literature written by conservative Protestants. Nevertheless, they have retained a surprising amount of their Amish-Mennonite heritage. From my perspective, the greatest threat to the future of the Beachy Amish-Mennonites is the attitude of their young folks. One interesting feature of their church life are their overseas outreach congregations and how often domestic families serve overseas. In some congregations as high as twenty percent of all families have served in such an outreach.

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                      Nicholas
                      Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 3rd, 2015 at 17:36)

                      Interesting that many do overseas ministry. I hope they are not neglecting their local needs while pursuing the foreign ones. I wonder why they have drifted like that. Your description is also similar to the German Baptists, but in our case this may have much to do with the loss of the German language. What is the attitude of the young folks? Why is it threatening? I am curious and wonder if they are facing the same or similar problems we GBs are.

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                      Jonathan Edwards
                      Comment on Beachy youth (September 4th, 2015 at 08:41)

                      Beachy youth

                      I think there is a tendency for Beachy youth to view their parents as old and out of touch with reality–that is, what North American society thinks and values highly–which makes them ripe for further assimilation with the world. The gap between all Amish groups (except the New New Orders) and the mainstream Beachys continues to grow, almost by leaps and bounds. I wouldn’t want to say much more than this lest I come across as a “prophet” or something.

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              Geniene
              Comment on Options (September 4th, 2015 at 07:40)

              Options

              It’s not that I think Old Order Practice is a utopia or that it should be enshrined somehow. I just have serious misgivings about the Amish adopting fundamentalist beliefs and whether that serves them well. Some of my concern is about the fifteenth century, my God is better than your God nature if it. If the Amish, collectively or individually want to embrace fundamentalism, my intention isn’t to say they shouldn’t, but that there are other options. For example, the fundamentalist churches in our area, who are very aggressive in proselytizing the Amish, and successfully so, hardly say peep about war, or even torture for that matter. There doesn’t seem to be a conversation around the implications of these transitions.
              Speaking of conversations, Jonathan, there is another Amish conference at Etown college in 2016. You and David Bercot on a panel?

              • Fundamentalism, Family Resemblances, Charity Christian Fellowship, and a Joint Session with David Bercot

                I fully agree about the implications of adopting a Fundamentalist posture. Conservative Protestants have been successful in winning converts in a variety of Old Order communities. In my assessment, there is a lack of careful thought about the implications of some of their beliefs and practices–pardon my lumping them all together but they share common practices and have “family resemblances,” to borrow a term from sociology.

                I know folks who tossed traditional Anabaptism in favor of Fundamentalism. I find them some of the most difficult folks to reason with, even more so than myself! Amish converts to Fundamentalism are kind of like a young married man being enamored with his new bride; he is blind to his new partner’s faults until a few years later, after all the high-flying feelings wear off. By then, its too late. They rarely return.

                And if there wasn’t already enough diversity in North America, the Charity Christian Fellowship congregations inhabit the gulf between Amish-Mennonites and Baptists. I have as many qualms with them as I do with the Swartzentrubers. In some ways, the two groups seem to be cut out of the same kind of cloth. (This was my highly controversial statement to try to get this party started!)

                Actually, Bercot and I are reading a joint paper! 😉

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                  Mark – Holmes Co.
                  Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 4th, 2015 at 08:41)

                  Jonathan, while not exactly choking, I did swallow my coffee the wrong way reading your statement on Swartzentrubers & Charity being cut from the same cloth, causing a coworker to wonder what was wrong with me. 🙂

                  I’ll bite for this one. How do you see those two groups as similar? I am NOT looking to start an attack or anything, but I am curious. I hadn’t really thought of comparing the two, but I have noticed similarities and now I’m wondering what others see.

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                    Jonathan Edwards
                    Comment on Similarities (September 4th, 2015 at 08:59)

                    Similarities

                    I am glad you were able to swallow the coffee without choking! 🙂

                    Perhaps it is the intensity of their zeal and idealism, as well as the various ways they struggle to unite conservatism and traditionalism.

                    At first glance, the second statement might not seem to apply to the Charity people. Allow me to explain. Swartzentrubers are zealous for conservatism in the sense of leading an extremely plain lifestyle. This brings with it a desire to be consistent, that is, consistently plain. Being consistently plain means reforming when something doesn’t appear consistently plain. As a result, a tendency for reforming arises and this clashes with their zeal to be traditional, to hold to the old Amish traditions. Hence the reason there are so many non-communing “low” Amish churches.

                    The Charity folks have split as frequently as the “low” Amish churches. The are zealous and idealistic but in different ways than the Swartzentrubers. They are zealous to get the new birth right, to lead holy lives, to have a “biblical” church, and to do whatever it takes to reach that goal. They are conservative in the sense of seeing themselves as being distinct from the world through the new birth and not smoking or drinking, etc. Their ‘tradition’ is the inerrant, authoritative Word of God. And they are jealous to put it into practice without neglecting an iota. So they are striving to return to the pristine condition of the New Testament church (which, I suspect, never existed). The letter of the New Testament and/or the ideal of a New Testament church function as ‘tradition’ in the life of the Charity churches.

                    These comments deserve more nuance but then I would be writing a book.

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                      Mark – Holmes Co.
                      Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 4th, 2015 at 09:09)

                      Interesting, Jonathan… I see what you are saying and it makes sense. The one thing I had thought of that I might be wrong about is how “movable” both groups seem. We know Charity people that have moved a lot and seem to constantly be jumping from one home to another within our community (renting) and have lived in a big variety of areas. It makes me wonder if they are trying to avoid putting down roots. And though I know of Swarzt. people who lived all their lives on one place, we also know a lot that have moved many times from community to community. I was curious if that would make your list of similarities.

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                      Jonathan Edwards
                      Comment on Good observation (September 4th, 2015 at 09:17)

                      Good observation

                      I didn’t think about that. Good observation. And probably indicative of their experiences in life and the ways they have responded to circumstances.

                      I know non-Swartzentruber Old Order Amish people–not many but several–who moved more than twenty times in their lives. In nearly every case their parents did the same thing. We are all influenced by our experiences growing up, and our ways of responding are, at least to a certain extent, also “caught” from our parents and the communities that have so significantly shaped our lives.

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                  Geniene
                  Comment on Hear Hear, you heard it here first! (September 4th, 2015 at 09:01)

                  Hear Hear, you heard it here first!

                  I’m excited! Where have you been my whole life? Uh oh, Am I like the newly weds you mentioned? :-/

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                    Jonathan Edwards
                    Comment on LOL (September 4th, 2015 at 09:05)

                    LOL

                    LOL (Laugh Out Loud)

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                      Nicholas
                      Comment on Enlightening (September 6th, 2015 at 07:53)

                      Enlightening

                      Well, this has been an eye opening read! I certainly see what you are saying about the Swartzentrubers and Charityites being similar, Jonathan, and I think I agree. Is it just my observation, or is it corroborated by others, that when a religious (or political, for that matter) group views their ideology as the best or only way, they tend to splinter when anyone disagrees with them? In my readings on the early Anabaptists, this happened quite a bit after persecution eased up.
                      I wonder the same thing as Mark, whether these folks move around so much as to avoid putting down roots. But perhaps they are running from something instead? Like church trouble? Maybe they are just literally practicing being “strangers and pilgrims.” I would also suspect with Jonathan that the pristine NT church may never have existed. Where there are people with opinions, there will be disagreements.
                      I would caution against being to idealistic as it will lead to disillusionment when people show their humanity in their shortcomings. Isn’t Christ’s teaching to help each other out with these struggles? Why then do we feel the need to divide the churches over certain issues?
                      Jonathan, do you know of anyone writing about the Charity movement? Is there any study done on them like there has been about the Amish?

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                      Jonathan Edwards
                      Comment on Studies on the Charity folks; and comment on those who wander (September 9th, 2015 at 04:30)

                      Studies on the Charity folks; and comment on those who wander

                      I am not aware of any studies that have been written on the Charity Christian Fellowship denomination.

                      “Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

                      Okay, the discussion isn’t about ‘those who wander’ and I’m not sure that Tolkien is a trustworthy source for spiritual insight but it sounded good so here it is.

                      Although it might seem logical to suppose that folks who move often are not willing to put down roots, I think there are alternative explanations in at last some cases.

                      I’m doubtful that moving so often is an effort at being literal sojourners and strangers. I think a lot of it has to do with the relationship between idealism and disillusionment. A disillusioned person in a traditional Anabaptist setting has the option of forming a new group (and thus causing a division) or moving away. There aren’t too many other options. So I think moving is partly the result of trying to recreate an ideal Net Testament church that is not quite realistic. But I’m not pointing at anyone here. Just an idea that has been rolling around in my head.

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            Nicholas
            Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 3rd, 2015 at 07:42)

            Geniene, I am familiar with this. I was at the conference itself and didn’t think that the focus of it was the rejection on Fundamentalism. I actually know both persons in the photo. The one on the left is German Baptist and is highly opposed to internet usage. He knows his picture is online and said he’s not quite sure how he feels about it! The other is part of a group that was once affiliated with Charity Christian Fellowship. I won’t give out any more details as I want to protect their identities. I just thought I’d share that so you could see what diverse groups were at the conference. I quite enjoyed it and would agree with most or all of what Chester Weaver said.
            Peace.

            Oh, Jonathan Edwards, let me know when you do a bit of time travelling next. I’d like to meet some of those folks like Pelagius! 😉

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          Geniene
          Comment on Or David Bercot's (September 3rd, 2015 at 07:19)

          Or David Bercot's

          Session at the Anabaptist identity conference titled “Why Anabaptists are not welcome in “Anabaptist” churches”

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            Jonathan Edwards
            Comment on Bercot presentation (September 3rd, 2015 at 14:11)

            Bercot presentation

            I did not attend the conference so cannot comment on Bercot’s presentation. Perhaps someone else would like to comment?

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              Nicholas
              Comment on Anabaptist Identity Conference (September 3rd, 2015 at 17:32)

              Anabaptist Identity Conference

              I was at the conference, but I think I left before the talk about “Why Anabaptists aren’t Welcome in Anabaptist Churches.” The other David Bercot lectures were good, so I imagine this was of the same quality. The whole conference is available both on CD and as a transcript for those who don’t use audio recordings.

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                Linda
                Comment on Bercot Lectures (September 3rd, 2015 at 21:14)

                Bercot Lectures

                At the links below, you will be able to Download or Listen to MP3 files from the 2015 Anabaptist Identity Conference. Click on the play arrow of the session that interests you, to play or download that session.

                Secrets Of The Kingdom Life
                AIC 2015 | Session #14, Saturday, March 14, 2015
                By: Bro. David Bercot from Chambersburg, PA
                http://www.anabaptistslive.org/?p=648

                Why Anabaptists Are Not Welcome In Most “Anabaptist” Churches
                AIC 2015 | Session #17, Saturday, March 14, 2015
                By: Bro. David Bercot from Chambersburg, PA
                http://www.anabaptistslive.org/?p=654

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          Amish Girl-Rebecca
          Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 7th, 2015 at 09:01)

          Don’t get it. Guess I’m no theologian. I just know that as a child of God, we are saved through grace, by faith, not by works alone lest any should boast, but also that faith without works is dead. Read Romans 5:1-19 and Matthew 16:27.

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            Nicholas
            Comment on Amen! (September 7th, 2015 at 10:39)

            Amen!

            Rebecca, this is the simplicity of Christ’s Gospel that I love so well, and I think matters most! Danke!

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              Amish Girl-Rebecca
              Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 7th, 2015 at 10:58)

              Amen, Nicholas, I also have to think of James 2:14-17.

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                Jonathan Edwards
                Comment on I'm not a theologian, or a preacher (September 9th, 2015 at 04:49)

                I'm not a theologian, or a preacher

                I don’t think it is problematic that you are not a theologian. If you had claimed the opposite or announced that you are ordained to the ministry in an Old Order congregation, that would have been problematic.

                I agree with your statement regarding salvation. I hope you don’t mind if we comment back and forth about rather arcane and recondite matters, even if we drop a flapdoodle here and there.

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      Genuine
      Comment on gewunernosing (September 5th, 2015 at 07:12)

      gewunernosing

      I was talking to a friend about your big word. He suggested that semi pelagianism is the more authentic Anabaptist position. I’m not quite schmart enough to figure it all out, but maybe if I hang out with guys like you, I’ll get schmarter. In practice though, it would appear to me that, moving away from semi pelagainism would be moving towards fundamentalism. We’ll have to see if we can do this without provoking the ire of the tone monitors on this site, but from your favorable remark, that the list didn’t highlight their semi pelagainism, I conclude that, if my original assessment is correct, you’re in favor of a drift towards fundamentalism.
      I’ve very little experience talking about this, so I may just be talking .

      Gewunernosing means to wonder or be curious.

      • *
        Jonathan Edwards
        Comment on Fundamentalist drift or..? (September 5th, 2015 at 10:34)

        Fundamentalist drift or..?

        It is one of the more disappointing truths about early Anabaptism but yes they seem to have been semi-Pelagians. Perhaps just by accident, kind of like when a child bumps their head. 🙂

        However, history indicates that the descendants of these Anabaptists have consistently been semi-Pelagians.

        I wouldn’t suggest drifting toward Fundamentalism but rather to take Scripture more seriously about divine providence. I would see it more as moderating the way the early Anabaptists “pushed away” from their Reformed–and occasionally Lutheran–roots. The Amish have moderated on some of the radicalism–mostly for the better–but I think a return to a higher view of providence would be healthy.

        We will have to see if this slips past the tone moderators. Lol

        I hope this post doesn’t make anyone “dummer”! 🙂

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          Jonathan Edwards
          Comment on Semi-Pelagianism and the Martyrs Mirror (September 5th, 2015 at 12:38)

          Semi-Pelagianism and the Martyrs Mirror

          The Schleitheim and Dordrecht confessions are rather basic in theological terms. There is a confession in the Martyrs Mirror that goes into greater detail. It seems to reflect the views of early Anabaptism. It is very specific on the subject of free will. The author(s) maintains that human persons retain free will after the fall.

          I am not entirely sure what to make of the article. The arguments…should I chalk them up to simplicity of thought, or what?

          Think with me for a minute. Suppose that we would randomly select ten Swartzentruber Amish persons and ten New Order Amish persons to answer a variety of questions. Suppose that one of the questions is whether or not the assurance of salvation is a true doctrine. What is the likelihood that we will find unanimity on this subject? Is it really the case that all ten New Order persons chose to believe in the assurance of salvation on the basis of free choice? And that all ten Swartzentrubers freely chose to reject the doctrine without any other determining factors? (Assuming that it is a 0-10 split, which in all likelihood it would be; if not, it would be very close to that figure) Or were they significantly influenced by their upbringing and church? If so, is it true to say that we have ‘free’ will? Or would another adjective be more appropriate to attach to ‘will’?

          And I haven’t raised the McDonalds objection to free will, or even begun to address the consequences of the fall.

          Speaking of our post-lapsarian environment, that’s the reason it is raining now, and only 48 degrees!

          Not too long ago I was discussing this statement of faith with a certain Old Order friend. I thought his congregation held that confession on an equal plane with the Dordrecht but learned that they do not. They agree with it on the main points but there is freedom of opinion on the details. I was surprised. They’re not usually so flexible.

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            Geniene
            Comment on free will (September 5th, 2015 at 19:06)

            free will

            I appreciate your depth of knowledge on the theology. My thoughts on free will are that the Amish were reversing away from free will from their founding. Today’s Amish, like all movements tend to do, have completely atrophied and fossilized on the original inspiration regarding freewill. How is that for a provocative statement to get the party started? The way forward is to be honest about that. It’s not like this is the first time this happened. A functioning movement stays grounded with reality and moves forward.
            I appreciate your willingness to engage!

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              Jonathan Edwards
              Comment on On atrophied and fossilized Amish (September 9th, 2015 at 05:03)

              On atrophied and fossilized Amish

              I am astonished that your controversial statement did not prompt an immediate reply, or two dozen hostile responses. If you had posted it under my name I’m sure this thread would have, to paraphrase another reader, “blown up like crazy”! All the JE-lovers from around the world–and those who had never heard of either him or this thread but had been called up for duty (that is, to defend the Amish from careful analysis)–would have been mobilized.

              To finally reach the content of your post, I don’t think that there was any original “inspiration” regarding free will. Perhaps you can explain how belief in free will (as radical reformers usually saw things) changes the way that Christianity was lived by the people. Please keep in mind that the contrast is between free will as held radical reformers versus free will (or a nearby concept) as taught by Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Bucer, Melanchthon, Beza, etc.; not between voluntarism and fatalistic (especially naturalistic) determinism.

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                Geniene
                Comment on adult baptism (September 9th, 2015 at 08:46)

                adult baptism

                I think of the rejection of child baptism as the original inspiration for free will. I’m concluding that, wanting an adult to choose church membership, is synonymous with free will. I’m also concluding that adult baptism wasn’t a random inspiration, but was a direct response to social and cultural conditions of the era it arose from.
                I need to use Rebecca’s disclaimer. I’m also not a theologian. My interest in Amish faith is primarily secular in that I’m not religious. I believe that, if we presume to respect and admire the Amish, we are beholden to engage their issues, just like we would our own. Otherwise, our relationship with them becomes the opposite of respectful.
                There is almost universal acceptance that today’s Amish youth make a valid choice regarding church membership. But if we examine the context of how church membership plays out, by any reasonable standard, it isn’t a valid choice. Donald Kraybill admits as much in “The Riddle of Amish Culture” (can’t find the page now) but he plays it as a functional thing. It is a functional thing. In a cultish kind of way, pretty much the opposite of the inspiration for adult baptism.

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                  Jonathan Edwards
                  Comment on Baptism and free will (September 9th, 2015 at 10:31)

                  Baptism and free will

                  If we follow the debates of early Anabaptists the issue was fundamentally about reforming the church. It was strongly moralist but always had a significant spiritual aspect. If I have read the sources correctly I would say that the doctrine of free will was an outcome of their reform movement just as was their eventual belief in separation between church and state. It was the only option left to them. To historicize for a moment, there was no elector of Saxony or city council of Geneva to protect them. So they took the only remaining course of action, to break from the state and with infant baptism linking state and church in a very practical way they were forced to make a choice. I don’t recall seeing a strong belief in free will leading to rejection of infant baptism. I think the relationship operated in reverse. Even Hubmaier tried to have a reformed state church until the Waldshut administration was defeated.

                  To your comment about contemporary Amish baptism, I don’t think it’s cultish as much as it is everyone’s desire to wish the best for the young folks. The socialization process is rather thorough. But it points to my suggestion that we make choices but we aren’t perfectly free in doing whatever we want.

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                  Jonathan Edwards
                  Comment on Temptation (September 9th, 2015 at 12:23)

                  Temptation

                  I appreciate your engagement with the Amish even though you are not religious. There is a temptation to engage these issues on our terms. If for no other reason, the historical milieu can be complex and obscure. The center on which these factors play out is based on our being created by an almighty and loving God. We as humans rebelled against God. He calls us to return. God showed the depth of our sinfulness by dying in our place, condemning our sin and offering a path of forgiveness and reconciliation. By faith we turn to God confessing our sins. God accepts us, puts his Spirit inside us, and strengthens us to live in his Kingdom. It is out of this center that life develops. All other topics are centered by the fundamental reality of life lived in God. It is not freedom for freedom’s sake but freedom to walk in newness of life as a member of the only kingdom that truly matters at the end of the day, the Kingdom ruled by the only wise God, world without end.

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          Geniene
          Comment on predestination (September 5th, 2015 at 20:06)

          predestination

          Isn’t your comment of it being a “disappointing truth” prejudicial with no supporting evidence? Just seeing if I can sneak that one in while the tone monitor dogs are napping.
          Wasn’t predestination a major force in the reformation and the Anabaptist contribution was to insist that man can bargain with God? Your actions, your choice made a difference. Calvinism (I think I have the name right) insisted that your destiny was predetermined. Which I think is a pretty raw deal. But Anabaptism had the more humane response. You could influence your destiny. Your actions mattered.

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            Nicholas
            Comment on Fundamentalism and Free Will (September 6th, 2015 at 08:22)

            Fundamentalism and Free Will

            The drift toward Fundamentalism is troubling to me for several reasons. 1) I have noticed that Fundamentalist Evangelicalism seems to breed apostasy. I am not yet sure of the reasons. Perhaps the militant way they go about proselytizing is a factor. Another might be placing the need to proselytize above the needs of the local congregation. Another could be the idea that if one wants to serve God, or even give one’s life over completely to Him, one must “spread the Word,” usually by getting involved in some kind of ministry (i.e., becoming a pastor, a missionary, etc.). Living in accordance with His commandments is part of this, but not stated hardly at all, at least in my experience. At least, it’s not stated as to WHY you need to follow God’s commandments. I also see a lack of a unified group identity in these churches. I wonder if this leads to a feeling of not belonging? Compare to the desire of traditional Anabaptism to make one feel like part of the group and the strong group identity. 2) I remember from my Evangelical days a strong, very strong emphasis on salvation by faith where your deeds have little or nothing to do with it. But there was always concern if one didn’t act in accordance with Christian morality. They just never seemed to be able to explain why one needed to do so satisfactorily. Anabaptism included one’s deeds as a part of salvation, just not as the cause of it.
            On the subject of free will, I would argue that free will is indispensable to Christian belief, as it is in Judaism. Without free will, how can one come to accept Christ? I could go into how making a scripted world fits in more with Greek thought than Hebrew thought and how God becomes a Greek god and not the God of Abraham and Israel if He determines peoples fate without their input. Jewish thought has it that one can argue or barter with God (see Abraham bartering for Sodom in Gen. 18). Predestination was a believe of John Calvin’s Reformed church, not of Anabaptism or of the Catholic church (one of my best friends is a Catholic and is very easily riled if you suggest that predestination is true). I could wright more, but that’s enough for now and I would like to hear what other’s say rather than my own voice!
            Interesting that your friend’s group held the Dordrecht confession higher than Schleitheim, Jonathan. I would also be in favor of more focus on divine providence, but how do we prevent the slip into “faith alone” for which Luther argued so vehemently? Is the semi-Pelagianism a protection against that, whether intentionally or not?

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              Jonathan Edwards
              Comment on Faith and Works; Accepting Christ; Fatalism; Calvin; Catholicism (September 9th, 2015 at 10:09)

              Faith and Works; Accepting Christ; Fatalism; Calvin; Catholicism

              You raised many points that deserve more space than we have.

              Your desire to hold faith and works together is admirable. Anabaptism seems to do that. The so called New Perspective on Paul offers interesting parallels.

              A friend questioned whether it is advisable to view the relationship between God and persons as persons accepting God, rather than the other way around. In any case, it requires genuine choice but I would suggest choice does not require “free” will in the sense that the will is entirely determined by an individual.

              Bercot popularized the idea that Calvin and others sided with Greek fatalists. I have not read any scholarly historical writings that suggests this. The reason is that there is not a historical linkage, as far as I am aware. Do you have any light to shed on this? From reading a variety of Calvins works I wouldn’t call him a fatalist.

              Predestination was held by a wide range of teachers over the years. It was the orthodox position for well over a thousand years. As noted, the Council of Orange condemned semi-Pelagianism. So predestination has been a teaching of the Catholic Church for centuries. Jansenists emphasized this doctrine. Gottschalk held firmly to the doctrine.

              Predestination was not only taught by Calvin but by nearly all Protestant congregations in the first generations of the Reformation. The folks who resisted it were radicals and spiritualists and later pietists. Many of these folks were violent or antinomian. A small portion formed what would later become the thread from which present Anabaptists descend from. Rather than seeing Calvin as an utter foe, there was so much he and Grebel shared in common. Calvin expected the highest ethical practices of the citizens of Geneva. In so many ways his vision was similar to what the Amish pursue. The primary difference is the relation between church and state.

              I agree that sola fide can come across as troubling. I am interested in prescriptive theological work on this important subject.

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            Jonathan Edwards
            Comment on Bargaining with God, Open Theism, and Calvin and Amman as two peas in a pod (September 9th, 2015 at 05:15)

            Bargaining with God, Open Theism, and Calvin and Amman as two peas in a pod

            I don’t think any of the magisterial reformers would have used the concept of bargaining with God. Nevertheless, they held that humans persons make genuine choices and that these choices have real consequences. Also, that humans are responsible for the choices to the extent that they will be held accountable for their decisions.

            You probably didn’t intend to support the view of divine providence known as “open theism” but it seems your concept is susceptible to that interpretation. Bargaining suggests that God changes His mind. Although Scripture seems to suggest this at times, I tend these texts are giving the human perspective on certain situations and thus does not impinge on God’s immutability.

            By the way, Calvin has as much to commend him as Jacob Amman.

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          Geniene
          Comment on predestination (September 6th, 2015 at 08:23)

          predestination

          I should also add that, during the time of the reformation,the idea of personal agency was a under utilized concept, at a great cost to human development. Anabaptism was a major force for equality between the sexes and for human dignity, because of its embrace of the agency of the individual. We take it for granted now, but it wasn’t always that way.

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            Jonathan Edwards
            Comment on Dignity and Equality (September 9th, 2015 at 05:17)

            Dignity and Equality

            Do you mind defining the equality of the genders? For example, does equality of personhood imply equality of role?

            And what precisely does contemporary dignity entail that sixteenth-century persons did not also maintain?

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    Nicholas
    Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 2nd, 2015 at 17:07)

    Thanks for sharing, Rebecca. These sound in line with the German Baptist beliefs, as well as what I understand are the beliefs of Mennonites and Hutterites. I always thought the four groups weren’t that different in theology or doctrine, just practice. Mach’s gut.

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      Comment on Visiting the Amish at Belle Rive, ILL /Kalona IA (September 2nd, 2015 at 18:58)

      Visiting the Amish at Belle Rive, ILL /Kalona IA

      Don Burke: Could you tell me please where you stayed in Kalona, Iowa? We were going to stay in Coralville, but some info I received from the Kalona C of C (we talked with Nancy) showed several places to stay. It would be great if I could get a line on one that someone had stayed at and a recommendation that would be a real bonus. Thanks, Don, for your advice and, again, for your beautiful pictures.
      Judy in MN

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      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 7th, 2015 at 09:17)

      Very true, Nicholas ! Vielen Dank !

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    Adam
    Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 2nd, 2015 at 22:31)

    Who do the Amsih/Mennonite Repent to?

    Are there any sins that aren’t forgiven? For example say fornication while on rumspringa?

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    Osiah Horst
    Comment on repenting (September 4th, 2015 at 15:40)

    repenting

    Confession would be made to God and/or men. Repentance is an issue between the person and God. All sins repented of are forgiven by God.

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    Amish Girl-Rebecca
    Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 7th, 2015 at 09:19)

    Thanks for answering that one, Osiah and a hearty Amen !

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      Adam
      Comment on What Do The Amish Believe? 20 Faith Statements (September 7th, 2015 at 15:18)

      Thank you very much for your response to my question, Osiah Horst. It’s very appreciated.

      Rebecca, I replied to your comment on a older topic from a few years ago (not sure if you saw it or not) regarding pen pals. If you’re still offering to be a pen pal I would be interested.

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      shawn believer
      Comment on believer (November 19th, 2015 at 20:30)

      believer

      how do I go about being accepted in and part of the amish family in Kansas I haven’t found in my search until now fellow believers that are following the truth the way I was instructed by the divinely inspired holy bible I might have found were I belong but don’t know exactly what door to knock on first can some one help me Shawn # 16204753797

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      shawn
      Comment on believer (November 19th, 2015 at 20:32)

      believer

      how do I go about being accepted in and part of the amish family in Kansas I haven’t found in my search until now fellow believers that are following the truth the way I was instructed by the divinely inspired holy bible I might have found were I belong but don’t know exactly what door to knock on first can some one help me Shawn # 16204753797 please call me if you can

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    Sheryl Walker
    Comment on Tithing (October 20th, 2015 at 14:23)

    Tithing

    How does the Amish view tithing? Thank you.

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