Trouble in Amish Paradise

This post in Welsh | Y cofnod hwn yn Gymraeg

AmishLast night I watched an interesting program on BBC iPlayer, Trouble in Amish Paradise. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s sill up there so if you missed it I can’t think of a way for you to watch it for now – they might put a repeat out though. The program was very interesting and I felt there was a lot in it for us Christians in Wales – especially evangelical – to learn from.

First of all the program made it clear that the Amish today are a cult to all extends and purposes. They manage to persevere as a cultish community because of the absolute subordination of their members to their elders, called the amish bishops. The program followed the story of one particular brother; he had broken away from the cult side of amish through looking at God’s words for himself and refusing to accept the bishops leadership and guidance un-questioned. He was like a modern amish version of Martin Luther I guess. I very much admired this brother and found him to be a very humble and gracious man. But one of the most interesting things about him was that he wanted to keep to most amish traditions and culture despite his new life in Christ.

Are there any lessons to be learnt from this story then? Well, for starters it teaches us again that we must search God’s words and follow it rather than follow our movement, denomination, organization or tradition unquestioned. For example is it really wrong to play ball on a Sunday? No it’s not! Is it really a sin to have a pint or two? No it isn’t! I remember hearing a story once about a little boy who had a rather conservative evangelical upbringing; he saw a car drive past and declared that they were not Christians because the wife was driving and the husband was in the passenger seat! That goes to show how the power of tradition can deviate the word of God. Ok, the boy was little but there must be something wrong with the culture he was bought up in that he was lead to make such a remark in the first place.

The second lesson that can be learnt from the amish brother is that we shouldn’t turn our backs on our communities and culture after coming to Christ but rather we should commit to it anew so to serve humbly. This is a real problem in Wales today because some Christians leave Welsh churches to join English evangelical/charismatic churches after coming to faith. On one hand I understand why; trying to bear witness in a lot o Welsh churches is hard, unfruitful and disheartening; but when we have new energetic Christians leaving it just makes it much worse. Is this the right thing to do? What about your responsibility to your people? It would have been easier for the amish brother to turn his back on the amish community after coming to faith in Christ; but no, he was determined to stay with his people so to witness to them and to serve them. I have huge admiration for him.


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7 Responses to “Trouble in Amish Paradise”

  1. » Blog Archive » Trouble in Amish Paradise Says:

    […] Y cofnod hwn yn Saesneg | This post in English […]

  2. Jim Van Says:

    I work with many Amish & Mennonite and they are not a cult. Like in other Christian faiths, some were never taught properly the foundation of their faith and why they believe the way they do. So there are some Amish living the ‘Amish’ life, but not the Christian life. I grew up in a strict Catholic home. My parents said they would never change. Why? Their parents were Catholic, and their parents were Catholic, and so on. Religion was like a nationality, something that we were born with and can’t, or should not change. Many Amish are that way, too. Most that I know are beautiful Christian people, and their life examples puts most other Christian religions to shame.

  3. Magdalena Julie Bragdon Perks Says:

    I must agree with Jim Van. Don’t trust everything you see on television. Many people (including Amish) don’t understand the doctrine of separation – be ye not conformed to ths world… Amish and Mennonites aren’t the only Christians who practice this doctrine. I grew up with it in a conservative Baptist church. And as a Conservative Quaker, I also agree with it.

    Televison likes to sensationalize the simplest things, like a disagreement in Biblical authority amongst a small community. It happens all the time.

  4. Debunking the “Leaving the Amish Paradise” myths « annabaptist Says:

    […] -Rhys […]

  5. Lucy Says:

    Rhys, your remark about the Amish being a cult is saddening.

    I was born into a real cult and left for a Beachy Amish group.Let me assure you that I know a wide range of Anabaptists and Anabaptist groups like the Amish are not a cult.

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