In today’s society, we know the Amish as peaceable people who usually stick to farming, woodworking, etc. They stick together as a community, and have a very strong interdependence upon each other and a separation from the modern world around them. They drive horses and buggies, we drive cars. They have letters, we have cell phones. What could be inherently wrong with that?
It is true that the Amish do embody some very strong and very positive characteristics in their society. However, when their doctrine is reviewed from an eternal standpoint, we can see where the flaws in their thinking derive from.
On the outset scripturally, the Amish also seem like upright people. They are a people that stick to the Bible as a source in their doctrine, and they try to remove themselves from the sinful influences from the world. This is true that they do hold these standards, but they also put much stock in the traditions of their community. One interesting thing about the Amish is that you will never find two communities that are exactly the same. True, it can also be said that you will never find two churches that are exactly the same, but the reason for this is different. As Baptists, we invoke the law of Christian liberty for these differences by, among other passages, Galatians 5:13 – “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Our way of salvation is not hindered at all by this liberty. The way to salvation is exactly the same for everyone, as Titus 2:11 says, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” The Amish, on the other hand, base their additional rules upon the tradition handed down to them from their parents and the opinions of their local bishops. This is why no two Amish communities are the same: because their standard for salvation and their eternal destination is placed upon the opinions of their ancestors and their current bishops and elders. There is nothing wrong with following a precedent for a way of life. If we did not do this, we would never progress and build our societies the way that they have been advancing, and we would be stuck in an eternal rut of base knowledge. However, that being said, basing the eternal destination for each person in society upon the works and traditions of men beyond the scope of the Bible is when the doctrine of any society falls apart. Colossians 2:8 warns against this when it says: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
The peculiar lifestyle is more than just a choice for an Amish person. It is the security of knowing that they have a chance at an eternal destination of Heaven. The major flaw in the Amish religion is that they are relying on following the Amish rules to abstain from sin in order to get them into Heaven. The Bible tells us the flaw in this is that eternal security does not rest with the acts of the person in order to get them into Heaven, but through the person of Jesus Christ, as we see in Romans 5:1-2: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We are further told of the specificity of salvation in Christ alone in John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This truth that our works do nothing for our salvation is even further cemented by what we see in Ephesian 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” For more on what salvation is, please click here.
Most Amish people would agree that you must be “saved” in order to get to Heaven, and some may even believe that they are “saved”. However, true salvation means being saved forever, as we see in John 10:27-28: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
Those Amish that believe that they are saved also believe that they could lose their salvation based upon their adherence to the ordinances of the Amish; this puts salvation in their own hands. According to this belief, if they were “bad” on the day of their death, they would spend an eternity in Hell. They believe that Jesus had to die in order for them to get Heaven, but that they also must be “good”. They hold the belief that you cannot know until the day you die where you will spend eternity. The Bible specifically speaks against this in 1 John 5:13, where it says that we can know right now that we have eternal life if we believe: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
If you go and ask any Amish what the most important commandment is, they will answer that it is to “honor your parents”. Due to that and the Amish fallacies found in the section above,they hold to the theory that you must be Amish to be saved (because their rules keep them from sin), and that if you leave the Amish, you would have no hope of getting into Heaven. Christ was asked what the most important commandment is in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22, and He gave us the perfect answer in verses 37-40: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Christ gives us the order of our priorities in these verses: the Lord, then others. Amish people have these priorities mixed up. They put their authorities before God, and so end up trusting in the traditions of their communities to get them into Heaven rather than the Lord alone.
These are a few of the major doctrinal issues in the Amish community that make them people that need to be witnessed to so that they will achieve true salvation, and for them to attain Heaven. In fact, we see in John 3:36 that they will end up in Hell if they continue on the path that they are currently on: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” The smaller unbiblical issues, such as in their services, were not mentioned here because it is not our goal to nitpick at the Amish people. We wish to lovingly open the eyes of the Amish to the salvation that can be found in the the Word of God, in the Gospel (Good News) of Christ: a salvation that breaks through the chains of sin and mediocrity and into a glorious relationship with the Lord of all.
We hope now that you, too, understand where some of the flaws are in the Amish way of thinking, and that even you would go out and witness to the Amish with the power of the Gospel. Jude 1:22-23 exhorts us to do just this very thing: “And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”
If you are not sure yourself if you are saved, check out our page here, and feel free to contact us with any questions that you may have. Please check out our YouTube channel, where we answer the questions that are asked of us. You may discover more questions that you have, or your questions may even have been answered!