The Amish way of life is the most Christian


#1

I saw an excellent documentary about the Amish people. In my opinion, their approach to Christianity is excellent, and they as a people better reflect Christ’s teachings than any other group. They are like a Catholic order, but for married people.

You pretty much have to be born into this way of life, so I won’t be joining soon, But, I’m considering how I can imitate some of their virtues in my own life, and disengage from the frantic, soul killing pace of modern life.

The documentary explained how the Amish people were extremely careful to review any new technology by the elders of their community, in order to assess the impact in would have upon their goal to live in the world but not of it, and to maintain the integrity of their community. They see the community as an intregal part of living out the gospel, and it’s integrity is paramount.

I’m most impressed with their philosophy. Most Christian groups of today embrace the values of the world in too many ways.


#2

The Amish try to earn their way into heaven by their own good works and clean living. Don’t get me wrong, both good works and clean living are - well - good. But we can’t earn our own salvation on our own by doing either.


#3

They don’t have the Sacraments, either. I believe the Amish are a spinoff of the Mennonite sect.

I have a copy of the Rule of Benedict. I would recommend reading that, as it has the simplicity of the Amish, but with a Catholic focus.


#4

I’m not leaving the Catholic religion, but in my opinion the Amish have attained a much more accurate reflection, as a community, of the teachings of Jesus. You can feel free to pick them apart, but I personally think that they have a more Christian way of life than most Catholics.


#5

Not really. The Amish are a reclusive sect. (I grew up in Philly and actually lived in a Mennonite farm household as a child). I love the people as individuals, but as far as them ‘living the teachings’. . .not really. Jesus was not reclusive or restrictive. You know, the gospel woul never have been spread if it had been up to the Amish, because they would refuse to associate with “the English”, they would miss out on opportunities to evangelise because they would not have the capacity to go very far from their own homes. . .

Community is ‘other Amish’.

Yes, the simple life is attractive. But the Amish are not blind to material goods. As noted, there are no sacraments, and the ‘closed community’, while it may keep ‘disharmony’ out of the group, does so arbitrarily. We Catholics have an assortment of people who are baptized Catholic in our community, and they range from people who ‘follow the teachings’ to people who "question the teachings’ and people who outright ‘reject the teachings.’ With the Amish–you reject, you’re rejected. There is no incentive for growth. They’re ‘preaching to the choir’. They do not adjust to ‘the world’, but neither do they adjust to God. It is in a sense one-sided.

And just how many Catholic groups or individuals have you knowledge of? There are lay associations who live simple, penitential lives. Very “Amish” like in simple living but with outreach that the Amish would never do outside their own group. We have individuals who work with the poor, the sick, the ‘outcastes’–people who would seldom be allowed to be seen, let alone allowed to live, near most Amish.

God bless them, they are as a group obviously sincere, and as individuals many of them are living as godly as life as the next person.

But 'the most Christian way of life"?? No. Not at all. The Catholic way of life is the most Christian, even if there is no highly visible group of Catholics living a homogenous life and as publicized as the Amish . . .IMO.


#6

I totally disagree. Our religion has entirely adapted to the world. We have no accountablity to our community as Paul exhorted the early Christians to do. Our Church has had unholy alliances with corrupt rulers and kings many times in the past.

If I had a personal catastrophe, I would get very little assistance from my parish, this is a fact. The Amish have no need to carry insurence because the community is your insurance. They actually live the gospel as a functional Christian community.


#7

Well, Wenchebach, you are entitled to your opinion. But as far as equating the “most Christian way of life” with having to carry insurance. . .:confused:

The fact of the matter is, there are a lot more “non Amish” in the world than there are Amish. In fact, you are proving my point about ‘community’ and exclusiveness by saying that, were you Amish, they would ‘take care of you’ so that you would not (in the normal course) need ‘insurance’ (though personal catastrophe such a child needing cancer treatments might not be ‘covered’, for example).

If they were to ‘take care of me’ should I live in their town and yet not be Amish, to the very same extent that they ‘take care of their own’, you might have a point that they extended ‘care of their neighbor’ in that instance ‘more’ than the average Christian. Nothing more, nothing less.

Believe me, I know the ‘pull’ of things like the ‘simple life’ of the Amish, the ‘pull’ of “old fashioned days, times, and societies.” Life seems so much better than it does today. But the Amish (men anyway) still put their pants on one leg at a time, like any other man.

And having lived on the other side, just remember that the Amish girls don’t even have as much opportunity as the Amish boys do. Sewing by hand, cooking without electricity, the farm and household chores, unrelieved by outside agents (no phone, TV, radio, even piano), would pall on you VERY quickly. It’s easy to think how idyllic life would be ‘back on the land’ until you actually have to live it. You wouldn’t even have much chance to read your Bible with the chores you’d have to be doing, let alone be discussing it freely. Life is not just ‘simple living’ and meekness, and hiding from ‘the world’.

Our “religion” has not adapted to the world at all. Our people have. If you really feel that the teachings of today are not the same as those of yesterday, I recommend reading some good solid Catholic “history of the church”. Even the Amish do not live ‘exactly as the people in the Bible did’ . . . (sandals being a bit impractical for chilly Ohio and PA winters). Certainly they have completely bypassed 1500 years of Catholic teaching on the Eucharist for starters–I mean, right there, I’m sorry, no matter how admirable a ‘life style’ may be, it is NO SUBSTITUTE for the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Christ.

The people in Jesus’ day did not live just as the patriarchs of Jewish history did. . .but Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to live in the past, or even ‘remain just as you are today’. He warned them that the world was always there and that we were not to live in it but rather be ‘of’ it, not hiding from it, not stubbornly refusing to adapt to totally outside matters like electricity or clothing zippers.


#8

“They actually live the gospel as a functional Christian community.”

Not quite - look at them more closely. There is a great
emphasis on conformity as defined by a select group of
male clergy - bishop and ministers - from which NO appeal
is possible. Read:

TRUE STORIES OF THE X-AMISH Horse Cave, KY:
Neu Leben, 1999.

AMISH CONFIDENTIAL The Bishop’s Son Shatters the
Silence by Chris Burkholder. Argyle, Iowa: Argyle Publ.,
2006.

Study the effects of the unChristian Amish practice
of “shunning” which destroys marriages and families.

Also, read a balanced history of the Amish:

A HISTORY OF THE AMISH Revised and updated by
Stephen M. Nolt. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 003.

Nolt is an Anabaptist who, as associate professor of
history at Goshen College, has worked with sociologists
to document the history and contemporary life of Old
Order Amish communities. He shows the minor and
frequent schisms which split the Amish churches into
smaller and smaller sects.

We “English” see only the part of Amish life which they
allow us to see because of their self-imposed isolation.
I am NOT saying that they are not Christian. I am only
saying that there is more to their life than we outsiders
see on the surface.


#9

I wouldn’t throw stones in your scrutiny of the Amish. Our church is a much bigger glass house with many more scandals. We have little to boast about, often. Yet, when people critize our church, many will say “Oh, but we are made up only of flawed humans, we are all sinners!”.

I admire the prinicipled and practical approach that these people take to the gospel. I believe that mainstream churches have conformed to the world much too much. I agree with the Amish approach to the gospel.

I’m surprised that Catholics would not feel much kinship with their organized way of life, since we also have a structured approach to the gospel, and we too value works and sacrifice, rather than the quick fix approach to Christianity found in many Protestant sects.


#10

Are they ‘King James only’?


#11

They speak three languages, Low German for every day speech amongst themselves, English for interacting with outsiders, and High German for their worship services. They read the Bible in German, therefore I’m sure it’s not the King James version.


#12

Maybe it’s Luther’s Bible?


#13

“I wouldn’t throw stones in your scrutiny of the Amish.”

I am NOT “throwing stones”. I am only asking everyone
to open their eyes and minds. Look at the FULL story
of the Amish and read some books by people who know
a lot more about the Amish than we do. THEN, come
to your OWN conclusions.


#14

You could always go live in a monastary or convent. That’d do it! And you’ld still be Catholic to boot!

Sub


#15

The Amish way of life is the most Christian

Not without the Eucharist it isn’t.


#16

Amish puppy mills are horrible. Warning - graphic pics and video on this link.

awawatchdog.com/0205/index.htm


#17

Well, you know, the biggest question that I have is this:

If “the Amish way of life is the most Christian”–what does the OP (or anyone else) plan to do if they take this statement as true?

If we are trying to be most Christian, then we certainly need to live the most Christian life, right?

Now, how exactly do we know what is ‘most Christian’? Is it the life style where people look or live in a way we associate with the earthly Jesus–poor or certainly not wealthy, possessing little, eating simply, living as a community?

Sounds good. . .but is it enough?

Not when you read the entire Bible. Not when you take into account the Holy Spirit’s teachings through Sacred Tradition.

For the Amish and other ‘simple’ livers, like the Shakers and Quakers, do not possess “the source and summit of Christian life”–which is the Eucharist.

They may look the part of humble followers of Christ–they may even be less tied to ‘the world’ than your average Catholic or mainline Protestant–but being frugal in material goods and being a community (but only of those who ‘belong’ to the community) is not the be-all and end-all of Christian teachings.

So I say, if you (generic you) are feeling the need to make life less ‘cluttered’ with wordly goods–fine. If you need to have your church feel more like a community–start working for that FROM WITHIN, really working, not just complaining. But remember, as a Catholic you have the greatest gift–the Eucharist. What you need to be emphasizing as the HEIGHT of Christian living is the Catholic life which holds that we receive into our beings in communion the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Jesus Christ Himself.

That is “the most Christian way of life.”


#18

It is quite possible to live simply and be Catholic, but I would stop short of taking up particularly Amish practices for the same reason other PPs have stated: we have the Eucharist, we belong to Christ’s True Church.

A point of clarification: the Mennonites branched off the Amish, I believe, not the other way around.

Also, many Old Order and Conservative Amish believe in the use of what they term Black Magic to relieve physical ailments. They also have a special term for the “doctors” who admininster these treatments.

One last thing: depending on the order and level of conservativism you’re talking about, many Amish do not believe that Christ is the saviour of the world or that He died for our sins. Nor do they believe in the reception of communion, and certainly not the Real Presence.

That said, I will reiterate what I stated above: it is quite possible and acceptable to the Church to live a simple Catholic life without “becoming” Amish (in theory or in fact).


#19

The Amish are a closed society to themselves…they don’t trust for the most part the English. Many Amish…most Amish have a limited education because the elders must offer schooling per federal law…but only to the 8th grade I believe.

Amish tend to rely heavily on folk medicine…some of the old German beliefs border if not are downright “occult.”

People comment on the beauty of Amish quilts…and they are beautiful…but many of the designs are Amish “hex signs”…protective symbols.

Remember…Amish practice believer’s (adult) baptism…they have a 97% “conversion” rate of their young people…very few leave the community.

Once a person is baptized into the church it is “social suicide” to leave…one would be shunned and the “ban” imposed if they ever left. Their family would not be able to have anything to do with them.

I have been acquainted with some Mennonites who had Amish grandparents…they must do without modern convieniences…they can’t own a car…but they can ride in one…they can travel by train…they can’t own a phone…but they can use one…there are phone booths out in the middle of no where in Amish country. They cannot utilize electicity in their homes…but can in their barns…they can utilize modern farm equipment with the bishops approval.

A good movie that gives a real understanding of Amish life is “The Devil’s Playground”…it portrays the trials of young Amish people before they join the church.

If you want to consider a “simple” life and are interested, the Hutterian Brotherhood does take outsiders…my wife and I considered for a time to join a community in Washington…but communal life…real communal life…wasn’t for us.


#20

Simplicity is a state of mind.

Just because a person is living a “rural” lifestyle doesn’t mean that their mind is free of strife.

True simplicity is to be at peace in every situation, in the midst of the hustle and bustle, even in the face of adversity.

True simplicity is to become detached from this world and in constant communion with God.


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