Are There “Different Levels” Of Amish?

Gloria Yoder answers questions from time to time in her Amish Cook column. In her latest, she gets an interesting question from a reader:

another friend and reader, Betsy, from Lebanon, Ohio…wondered if there are different levels of Amish and how we believe about our relationship with Jesus, which is so very sweet and important.

Her answer:

Thanks for asking Betsy, your question blessed my heart. Yes, our relationship with Jesus is far more important to us than that of driving a horse and buggy and wearing plain dresses, or not having the latest technology. I do appreciate our simple way of life, which allows us more time together as families, and in our way of thinking is also compatible with Scripture. I do not believe for one moment that being Amish is enough to get you to heaven. Once I see my Jesus’ face, I’ll know it was because of what he has done for me, not because I was good enough or did all the right things.

Now, as Betsy inquired, there are “different levels” of Amish. Some are Amish because that’s what they have been taught and they never really read the Bible a lot. Therefore, they believe that living a “backward” life, as some may call it, will get them to heaven. I’m not here to judge others; may we all seek the Savior’s face wherever we may be at this very moment. I love the countless promises sprinkled throughout the Bible that promise that if we seek, we will find, and that when we meet Him, it’ll have been worth it all.

Gloria suggests that some Amish feel that their plain lifestyle will gain them Heaven – as opposed, it’s implied, to salvation granted by Christ.

This is a distinction that I think you will more often find members of New Order Amish churches (of which Gloria is a member) to express. This group of Amish commonly professes a belief in assurance of salvation.

Still she is careful to say she is “not here to judge others.” Gloria’s attitude towards non-Amish reflects this – later in the column, she says that

I have come to see that I do need my friends from all sorts of denominations and backgrounds…I’m fine if we don’t dress exactly the same; in heaven, all who have served the Lord with their whole heart will be robed in white.

To expand by adding my two cents to this answer, we could also think of “different levels” of Amish in terms of a wide array of groups with differing -sometimes slightly, sometimes greatly – material standards, religious practice, and worldviews. Chapter 8 of the book The Amish gives a good overview of the different Amish affiliations.

“Levels” implies a hierarchy and value judgment though, so maybe that doesn’t quite fit.

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    1. Larry Simon

      One in Christ

      Gloria’s spirit immediately reveals her love relationship with Jesus and his word. When the Holy Spirit lives in a person’s life through faith it shows in words and deeds. Thank you for sharing her response to the level question. Joy is even more joyful when shared. Amen

    2. Richard

      Are there different levels of Amish

      No.because if we are all equal, under the eyes of that cruel deity, we have freedom to worship as we please. We’ve been trying to tell yo
      u this for a long time. All Amish peope1 are equal. That is the foundation of our faith.1

      1. Levels of "Amishness"

        Richard: I’m not sure I understand your comment.

      2. Larry Simon

        Children of God

        “Once I see my Jesus’ face, I’ll know it was because of what he has done for me, not because I was good enough or did all the right things.” This statement by Gloria determines the level. Knowing Jesus and loving him makes us his children. If you don’t know him then are you a child of his? Children call out to God Abba Father by the Holy Spirit. Unbelief often curses him!

    3. Carol

      Why have the Amish communities merged with Menonites or left Europe??? Does it have to do with the laws there??

    4. Cynthia Bliss

      Gloria Yoders Column

      How do I subscribe to Gloria Yoders column?
      Does she have an address that I can write to her at?

      1. Gloria’s column is published online by several news outlets. The one I linked in this post, Mansfield News Journal, I didn’t realize requires a subscription. But there are others which do not. It looks like the Kokomo Tribune might be one:

        I am not aware of another way to subscribe as I think it’s only carried in newspapers each week. So you could bookmark one and check in regularly, or maybe there’s another way to get an alert from them. Here’s another one, which also includes her address:

        “Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. The Yoders travel primarily by horse-drawn buggy and live next to the settlement’s one-room school-house. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427”

      2. Mette M. Karlsen

        Yeah, how do I subscribe to this column?

        I agree! I mean, can someone tell me how to subscribe to Gloria Yoder’s column, please?

    5. Stephanie Berkey

      Is it possible to be so Amish your no longer Amish?

    6. Stephanie Berkey

      Can people be so Amish they’re no longer Amish? For example, if Martin Luther were alive today, would he be Lutheran? Would he or his true followers practice infant baptism today?

      1. Do you mean something like Amish being so focused on being “culturally Amish” that they lose sight of being Christ-focused?

        1. Stephanie Berkey

          Yes, Erik, exactly! I just read on another thread on here some of them telling their people not to read the Holy Bible apparently…? That is just like the false teachings in the Catholic church for so long that caused so much oppression.

      2. Levels of Amish

        Ms. Berkey: Why would Martin Luther not be Lutheran today? Do today’s Lutherans not practice their version of Christianity differently from when it was practiced in Luther’s time? I think the better question would be : “Are today’s Christians so focused on being “Christian”, that they are no longer true Christians?” What is your concern about infant baptism?

        1. Stephanie Berkey

          I believe he was against infant baptism at first, and that it was a major reason why some people followed him, but because of powerful Catholic threats and pressures, it was changed. Some of my ancestors followed him at first, then became Anabaptist.

          1. Stephanie Berkey

            I believe infant baptism is an abomination (Moroni 8:8-14 Book of Mormon).

            1. Levels of Amishness

              Ms. Berkey: Infant baptism an abomination? Egads! I’m always astounded by the criticisms of Catholics by non-Catholics. As for the Catholic church pressuring Lutherans into accepting infant baptism, I cannot find any proof of it. There is no age requirement for baptism in the Bible. In fact, the Bible does not even require baptism. It is a ritual that became tradition long after Jesus had died. Organized religion is the bane of many believers.

              1. Larry Simon

                Baptism is important in the Bible

                Jesus said it is not what you put into the body, or what you wear on the body that is important but what comes out from the heart. When God gives you a new heart then good and righteous words and deeds flow out of you. The new testaments if full of the word baptism. John the Baptist was baptizing and evening baptized Jesus. The Holy Spirit will come and fill (baptize) you. Baptize means many things like clean, fill, empower, and others. Debate over when is ongoing but most believe it should occur in a believers life. I just saw someone being baptized in the ocean this morning as I walked the beach. The joy and love of all that were there was so evident. They ended us getting in a circle holding hands and praying and thanking Jesus. I was blessed by the whole event and I just was passing through. Thank the Lord for baptism.

                1. Levels of Amishness


              2. Stephanie Berkey

                Janice, I’m not criticizing Catholics, but an very oppressive doctrine, which encouraged a view of children that they are born evil and need to have the devil beaten out of them. It has been responsible for terrible abuse and victim blaming for centuries.

                Martin Luther’s reforms caused his own life to be threatened, he was excommunicated, and there were uprisings where droves of people were persecuted and slaughtered. Amish people know how horrible unrighteous “authority” was for generations. It is pretended authority which has been a bane throughout history.

                Jesus Christ himself organized his religion with his holy priesthood anciently and in these latter days to bless true followers. He still leads us as individuals and as a church with scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and holy prophets in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

                Larry, baptism by immersion is biblical, but not infant baptism.

                1. Levels of Amishness

                  The Catholics have done many horrible things to people over the years. All people were very superstitious thousands of years ago. Most people are still superstitious! After Jesus came and the Christian religion became organized, superstition became the leading factor in the practice of Christianity. While Catholics did many horrible things to many innocent people! Still, it wasn’t Catholics who burned or drowned “witches” in Puritan times in the colonies. If we’re going to bring up the various crazy stuff Catholics did or believed in, I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the atrocities the Mormons perpetrated on non-Mormons, Native Americans, as well as on Mormons who disagreed with their leadership. And then there’s polygamy. A practice that only became “illegal” for Mormons because the federal government legislated it to be illegal. Yet, it is still practiced today, behind closed doors and in secretive militaristic compounds. The evil Warren Jeffs comes to mind. What are your fellow Mormons doing about him and his evil cohorts? He in prison but, not because the Mormon church helped put him there. The federal government had to go after him. Organized religion sometimes brings out the worst in people! By the way, didn’t Jesus warn us that after him would come many false prophets? Would that not make Joseph Smith a false prophet? I might not agree with your beliefs but, you have the right to believe in what works for you. For me, Jesus came to ask people to be more like him; not to entitle people to claim that this church or that church is the one and only true church.

                  1. Stephanie Berkey

                    Jesus called and organized 12 Apostles, giving Peter the keys of the kingdom, which was why Peter became the prophet after Jesus left the earth. Deep superstitions came in the dark ages, after all the original apostles and prophets were killed. Sometimes God gives people over to what they think they want so they can realize it isn’t really desirable. God restored His church in these latter-days, after much darkness and persecution.

                    Perspective is vital when trying to understand history. Christians aren’t perfect, but the organization Christ set up helps us be better. Putting it in perspective, false Catholic doctrine has done much more harm, and oppressed more people throughout centuries, because of susceptibility to corrupt authority. True followers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live(d) in peace with the Native Americans and others for the most part. However, we do believe in defending ourselves as a last resort. We’ve had discussion on here before addressing your other concerns. It’s entitled “Amish & Mormon”: 8 Things That Caught My Eye In The Latest Video.

                    Jesus did warn us about false prophets, but that doesn’t mean all of them would be false, or he wouldn’t have called and organized his church that way in the Old Testament and when he was on the earth personally.

                    1. Levels of Amishness

                      Ms. Berkey: As I said, you are entitled to believe whatever you choose. As for Jesus organizing anything in the Old Testament, you lost me there! I’m not a biblical scholar, but, I thought the New Testament was about Jesus? It is very self-serving to say that Jesus did warn of false prophets but that doesn’t mean all prophets coming after Jesus are false. I think that in fact, that would indeed mean that all prophets coming after Jesus are false! I could mention many things the Mormons did to non-Mormons, and you could come back with the many things Catholics did to non-Catholics, but, that wouldn’t make either of us right or wrong. Believe as you wish. Organized religion causes more confusion than clarity, resulting in divisiveness rather than togetherness.

                      1. Stephanie Berkey

                        Janice, it is very good to be careful of false priests & prophets, as well as false Christs (AKA as priestcraft or any fake and malicious practice of religion).

                        Most Christians, including Amish, believe Jesus Christ organized and created our wold, appointed holy prophets in ancient times to lead his children back to him through the tests and trials of this life, hopefully to dwell worthily in his presence. It is the devil who has provided suffering and division on this earth, but who won’t be in the realms of glory throughout all eternity.

                    2. Levels of Amishness

                      Ms. Berkey: You are correct; Jesus did not say that all prophets coming after him would be false prophets, just that there would be false prophets after he was gone. Which is why, I guess, we have had and continue to have, so many false prophets.

    7. Yoder in Ohio

      Oh dear. I was all ready to jump into this one with interest, but I see it has turned into another Mormon-related thread. Sigh. Count me out.

      1. Stephanie Berkey

        Hello again, Yoder. It’d be more accurate to write another Amish & Mormon related thread. Perhaps being truly Amish includes considering, seriously, the divine restoration of proper priesthood authority and the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why would a testimony of that prevent you from expressing whatever you desire?

    8. Larry Simon

      Give glory to Jesus

      When Gloria stated that a relationship with Jesus is what brings you closer to God it made my spirit joyful for Jesus’ glory is what is most important. It seems people of faith start with Jesus and add to him. It is normal and often beneficial if the added stuff doesn’t become more important than Jesus. We all can agree and be much more joyful if we remember to give Jesus all the praise in all things for his glory and our joy. Amen!

    9. Levels of Amishness

      Ms. Berkey: Please elucidate false Christs, practices and priestcraft? Thank you.

      1. Stephanie Berkey

        Hallmarks of Priestcraft

        ~ Compelled to lie blatantly, decieve, works in darkness
        ~ Contention – stirs up the hearts of men to be unnecessarily angry, not forgive, and not self reflect honestly and repent
        ~ Focused on faults, blows them out to proportion
        ~ Maliciousness – secretly if not openly or both
        ~ Prideful, focused on own glory rather than to God’s

        1. Levels of Amishness

          Ms. Berkey: I know what false prophets, priestcraft, etc. are. I just wanted you to name examples. Every religion has them. The Amish are not exempted from such persons, but, neither are the Mormons. The irony of organized religion is that followers of every denomination or different religion consider themselves to be the one and only true religion. I know some very devout evangelical Christians who don’t believe that the Mormons or Amish are true Christians. I don’t believe in proselytizing. I believe every religion exists for different reasons; some good, some bad.

    10. Stephanie Berkey

      Levels of Honest Worship & Leadership

      Janice, a good example of priestcraft is the how the Pharisees worked to have Jesus killed for what they claimed were good reasons. They pretended to be righteous, but were really using religion out of selfishness. The devil often poses as God or imitates the things of God but twists them into evil for power, to manipulate mankind, create confusion and mistrust in God, and make all men miserable like himself.

      Priestcraft includes doing good or the right things for the wrong reasons, for gain or glory of the world, or power and to manipulate others rather than out of love for God and mankind. Jesus warned repeatedly against these things. In Mathew 24 he tells of great calamities that will precede his Second Coming, including false prophets and false Christs.

      He also taught us how to detect his true leaders. Looking at the fruits of a prophet or patriarch over time can tell us if they are truly of Christ, if they’ve persuaded others to believe in Christ, move toward him in the light, and follow him consistently with meekness and selflessness.

      I think of it also like the difference between magic and miracles. Magic works by trickery and deception in the dark, but miracles work in the light, by obedience to laws, including laws of physics, in much higher ways than our present ability to understand. God wants us to understand, and to help us daily build upon our eternal education and edification.

    11. Kate

      Yoder, Please Come Back!

      I’d be a lot more interested in what Yoder in Ohio has to say about Amish matters than this Mormon content. Could you take it elsewhere, please? I’m frankly rather disgusted that when I do come here to learn and contribute, I find proselytizing and debates going on that have nothing to do with what the Amish.

      1. Levels of Amishness

        Kate: Indeed.

      2. I would agree with Kate. The topic of this post is really about something else than what I see the above discussion has developed into.

        All respectful commenters are welcome here, but if it is going to be a discussion on a separate topic, it would be good to redirect that to a thread more focused on that topic. There are several other threads on this site which would more align with the above discussion. Thanks in advance.

        1. DF

          Thank you!

          Thank you Erik!