Overview of the Amish Faith

The Amish
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The Amish are among the most unusual Christian denominations, seemingly frozen in the 19th century. They isolate themselves from the rest of society, rejecting electricity, automobiles, and modern clothing. Although the Amish share many beliefs with evangelical Christians, they also hold to some unique doctrines.

Founding of the Amish

The Amish are one of the Anabaptist denominations and number over 150,000 worldwide. They follow the teachings of Menno Simons, founder of the Mennonites, and the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession of Faith. In the late 17th century, this European movement split from the Mennonites under the leadership of Jakob Ammann, from whom they derive their name. The Amish became a reform group, settling in Switzerland and the southern Rhine River region.

Mostly farmers and craftsmen, many of the Amish migrated to the American colonies in the early 18th century. Because of its religious tolerance, many settled in Pennsylvania, where the largest concentration of Old Order Amish is found today.

Geography and Congregational Make-Up

More than 660 Amish congregations are found in 20 states in the United States and in Ontario, Canada. Most are concentrated in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio. They have reconciled with Mennonite groups in Europe, where they were founded, and are no longer distinct there. No central governing body exists. Each district or congregation is autonomous, establishing its own rules and beliefs.

Amish Beliefs and Practices

The Amish deliberately separate themselves from the world and practice a strict lifestyle of humility. A famous Amish person is a true contradiction in terms.

The Amish share traditional Christian beliefs, such as the Trinity, inerrancy of the Bible, adult baptism, atoning death of Jesus Christ, and the existence of heaven and hell.

However, the Amish think the doctrine of eternal security would be a sign of personal arrogance. Although they believe in salvation by grace, the Amish hold that God weighs their obedience to the church during their lifetime, then decides whether they merit heaven or hell.

The Amish people isolate themselves from "The English" (their term for non-Amish), believing the world has a morally polluting effect. Their refusal to connect to the electrical grid prevents the use of televisions, computers, and other modern appliances. Wearing dark, simple clothing fulfills their overriding aim of humility.

The Amish usually do not build churches or meeting houses. On alternating Sundays, they take turns meeting in one another's homes for worship. On other Sundays, they attend neighboring congregations or meet with friends and family. The service includes singing, prayers, a Bible reading, a short sermon and a main sermon. Women cannot hold positions of authority in the church.

Twice a year, in the spring and fall, the Amish practice communion. Funerals are held in the home, with no eulogies or flowers. A plain casket is used, and women are often buried in their purple or blue wedding dress. A simple marker is put on the grave.


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Zavada, Jack. "Overview of the Amish Faith." Learn Religions, Sep. 8, 2021, learnreligions.com/the-amish-denomination-699945. Zavada, Jack. (2021, September 8). Overview of the Amish Faith. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/the-amish-denomination-699945 Zavada, Jack. "Overview of the Amish Faith." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/the-amish-denomination-699945 (accessed January 18, 2022).

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