While many people are familiar with the conservative, Old-World lifestyle of the Amish, few truly understand their beliefs and tenets of faith. While the Amish are Christians — they believe in Jesus and in the Holy Trinity — they have some beliefs that set them apart from Protestants and other Christian denominations.
Here are five beliefs that set the Amish apart from other Protestant Christians:
1. Nature of Salvation: While the Amish share the belief of most Protestants that salvation is an unearned gift from God, they don’t believe that faith automatically guarantees salvation. Many reject the belief common to other Protestant denominations that anyone can be certain that his salvation is guaranteed. They consider such certainty to be arrogant.
2. Separation from the World: The Amish, who are well known for their horse-and-buggy lifestyle, live separately from the world and modern technology. That separation extends to foregoing electricity, since being tied into the electrical grid would constitute a connection to the outside word. This stems from the desire to avoid being “polluted” by the sin they see as rampant in the modern world.
3. Evangelization: Most Christians see spreading the word of God as a central responsibility of their faith. Many Amish, on the other hand, feel no obligation to evangelize, preferring to let their faith show by the way they live. In fact, the Amish rarely accept converts.
4. Separation of Church and State: Amish grant primary authority to the church and reject any civilian authority that contradicts it. Amish beliefs, for example, forbid acceptance of any public funds.
Therefore, retired Amish receive no Social Security benefits. On the other hand, they’re not legally obligated to pay Social Security taxes, either (per a 1961 Supreme Court Decision). They don’t educate their children past eighth grade, and they avoid joining the military. In addition, when required to testify in court, they do not swear oaths. Instead, they make “affirmations of truth,”
5. The Ordnung: The Ordnung is an oral tradition of rules and expectations that govern every aspect of Amish life, private, public and ceremonial. Rather than being a written set of rules that must be memorized, the Ordnung is taught by living it, much like children absorb and learn their native tongue by living it. It’s a code of conduct that evolved over decades, and it differs slightly from one Amish congregation to another.