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.
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.