The Amish rely on Martin Luther's German Bible for religious services. The Amish also mainly use the King James English Version of the Bible, although others use the New International Version (NIV).
However, attempts have been made to construct a Bible in Pennsylvania German, the language used by the Amish, which is not typically a written language.
Amish people believe that God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son to die for our sins and that it is only by trusting in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus that we may be made right with him.
They hold that the Bible is God's inerrant word and that all Christians should treat each other as brothers. Also, they hold that church and state should be separated, we should be dedicated to promoting peace, and that true faith necessitates a life of discipleship and good deeds.
The Amish Faith
The Amish have a monotheistic faith in which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all aspects of the same God (Romans 8:1-17).
Amish adhere to the doctrine that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, shed his blood on the cross to pay for the transgressions of the entire human race. Believers are not only convicted of their sins by the Virtuous Spirit but also given the strength to serve God and live a holy life.
We hold that God saves those who confess, repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ and that Salvation is a gift from God.
The Amish commonly quote Romans 12:2: "Do not conform yourselves to this world, but change yourselves by renewing your minds, so that you can see what God's good, acceptable, and perfect will is." They are encouraged to lead a secluded existence.
The Amish believe that the Bible is God's unchangeable word, but, like most Anabaptists, they put much more weight on the New Testament, particularly the synoptic gospels.
They know the scripture stories from the Old Testament and often use them as examples, but the passages they choose to read in public almost always come from the New Testament.
Their principles are usually centered on simple, factual readings of New Testament scriptures. Most Amish speak English and Pennsylvania Dutch, a unique form of German.
However, most Amish churches use an old high German Bible translation that goes back to Martin Luther, while a few Amish people use the KJV. Many people also believe the Apocrypha is holy writing.
Most Amish people have a high opinion of God's providence and believe God has a strong hand in everything.
They also place a lot of importance on actively submitting oneself to God and accepting His will. Amish believe that violence is always wrong and should never be used.
They don't believe in using force to protect themselves or others. It is against the law for them to be police officers or soldiers.
Amish people believe if you do not follow the Bible or the Amish scriptures, especially after you've been baptized, you will be automatically shunned. The Amish have strict church rules, and members are prohibited from talking to Amish people who have been kicked out of the church.
The exact limits of this vary from community to community and sect to sect, but all Amish strictness emphasizes the separation.
The Amish think that faithful Christians should live entirely differently from the rest of the world, even in how they dress and cut their hair. They believe that Christian communities should be completely different, not just in their beliefs and morals but also in how they look and do.
But there are other sects among the Amish, and even within a given sect, beliefs and practices can differ from one community to the next. Any summary of what the Amish believe in will be a flawed generalization.
The Amish Ausbund
The Ausbund is another essential religious book for the Amish. The Ausbund is a collection of hymns from the middle of the 1500s.
According to tradition, the original songs were written by Anabaptist prisoners held in Passau Castle from 1535 to 1540. In 1564, the Ausbund was printed for the first time.
The tunes have been passed down from generation to generation, so there is no way to write them down. Usually, the songs from the Ausbund come from the New Testament or Psalms and are sung in a German dialect.
The Amish believe that simple worship that motivates modesty is shown by the fact that congregational singing is usually done without music.
Do Amish read the Bible?
The German/English Bible is quite thick because the English version is on one side and the German version is on the other.
Many Amish read it in German and tend to stick to the more well-known parts of the Bible, like the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
Also, most Amish people are often told not to read their Bibles. They think that if you read the Bible too much, it can lead you astray. And they are afraid that people will misinterpret the Bible by mistranslating it. So it is the preacher's responsibility to explain and share what God's Word says.
Many people eager for God's Word begin reading and studying the Bible, come to understand the truth, and abandon the Amish church, which is the root of their fear of being misled.
That's when some members of the Old Order began to realize the Bible for what it really was and why they wanted to study it, leading to the creation of the New Order Amish. The New Order Amish communities are encouraged to study the Bible regularly and develop a relationship with God.
The German/English Bible is still in use, but the King James Version is the most popular among readers. Despite Amish belief of not often reading the Bible, most or all Amish homes have Bibles.
Amish families use Holy Scripture as a source for their daily devotions. Amish people also talk about Bible passages and may have other books, like concordances or Bible encyclopedias, to help them understand.
Amish people often use sermons from church that they remember as a point of reference in these conversations. But different Amish groups may be more or less willing to talk about Bible passages and use the Bible outside of the church.
What do the Amish believe about Salvation?
The biblical gospel of redemption by grace alone through faith in Christ is authentically upheld and taught in some Amish communities.
These groups consider non-Amish to believe in the same gospel as brothers and sisters in Christ. Sad to say, they are not the majority.
In general, the Amish see Salvation as something that happens throughout a lifetime in the community. One must first believe in Christ.
Then, one must be baptized and join the Amish church, live apart from the world according to Amish customs, and be obedient to one's parents, church leaders, and the local ordinance letter.
Different Amish communities will put more weight on other parts of this, so there is no simple way for an Amish "plan of salvation," but in general, Salvation comes from Jesus, baptism, good works, and the faith community.
The Amish believe that people can lose their Salvation and think that claiming to be saved is a sign of pride, a sin.
Amish Traditions or the Bible?
The Amish try to live according to the Bible's teachings. And their understanding of the Bible becomes the basis for many of their policies.
In contrast, many of their regulations have been handed down from generation to generation and have become traditions. In all honesty, they value upholding traditions more than they do obey God's Word.
Whenever they come upon a passage of Scripture that runs counter to their beliefs, they tend to brush it off and focus solely on the Bible's scriptures that affirm their customs.
How is the Scripture Read in an Amish Church?
The Amish have an annual plan they stick to when reading the Bible in church.
The deacon is responsible for reading a set number of verses from a designated Bible passage each Sunday. And the same Scripture passages are read year after year.
So, given that they only go to church every other week, they only hear from about twenty-six distinct passages of Scripture. And most of them come straight out of the New Testament.
What is the Amish Ordnung?
Apart from the Bible, Amish people follow the Ordnung rules. "Private, public, and ceremonial life are governed by the Ordnung, the Amish code of conduct.
The Ordnung, which is often referred to as "ordnance" or "discipline," is best understood as an ordering of one's entire way of life. This is because it is more of a tradition than a set of systematic or explicit laws that the church upholds.
"The order is not written down," a participant observed. The Ordnung is the "accepted" manner by which the Amish are expected to live, as opposed to a packet or set of rules to memorize.
Over the years, as the church attempted to achieve a careful balance between tradition and reform, the Ordnung steadily changed. The Ordnung's specifics differ between church settlements and regions.