“Amish don’t read the Bible.” You might have heard this claim before. But is it true?
I covered this question in a video. I based a good chunk of it on what’s covered in Chapter 3 of The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World on that subject. Here are a few excerpts from that text:
The Amish accent on the community can also be seen in their approach to the Bible, which they consider to be God’s word. They believe its contents are literally true, though they rarely use the terms inerrancy or infallibility to describe it. Like many other Christians, Amish people read the Bible as part of their private and personal devotional lives. Many families have morning and evening devotions together, during which the father reads scripture and a prayer from Christenpflicht or another Amish prayer book.
But even though they use the Bible in devotional settings, they understand it to be primarily the church’s book, a resource that – like every other part of life – cannot be properly or fully understood by a lone individual, or even by a small group of individuals apart from their local church. Thus schoolteachers read aloud from the Bible at the beginning of the school day, but Bible classes are not part of the school curriculum.
Private devotional reading of scripture for personal inspiration is encouraged, but in-depth Bible study that might lead to individualistic interpretations is not. Those who show off their biblical knowledge or claim special revelation for their acts are seen as haughty and divisive because they turn the Bible on its head, using it as a tool for self-interest rather than as an authority to which individuals must surrender.
I should note that you might find different groups approaching reading and studying the Bible in different ways. For example, New Order Amish churches hold Sunday School. On the most conservative end, you’d be less likely to find anything like devotional readers in those Amish homes, for instance.
In the video I explain more what I think is going on when you hear the “Amish don’t read the Bible” claim. Runtime: 5:44.