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Anyone curious about real Amish??

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#1
ajchurney

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The Amish have become a fairly popular subject of reality TV shows and docu-dramas. I happen to live in one of the largest Amish settlements in America in Northern Indiana, and I have visited many other Amish areas in the midwest repeatedly. I work side by side with Amish men, and I have my own side business driving them around anywhere they can't make it by their buggies (or just don't want to!). I have had long discussions with Amish bishops, and many of my close friends grew up Amish. I don't know everything about them, but I probably know more than the people who make those TV shows! Anyhow, I just thought it would be fun to offer to answer any questions the best I can for those unfamiliar with real Amish folks. You can also personal message me if you don't want others to scrutinize your question (there are some odd stories out there, not all of which are entirely true). I intend to be respectful of the Christian aspects of being Amish, but I won't shy away from truth if I am asked about some of the cultural stuff that they practice.

Teaser: The men kiss each other square on when they "holy kiss" (mints and/or gum suggested!)



#2
EnochBethany

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I used to live in Philadelphia.  I think I saw them walking barefoot in the streets one day.



#3
ajchurney

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Hey Enoch!

Amish like to go barefoot more than most people. I have seen Amish teenagers running around the farm doing all kinds of chores barefoot that I wonder how their feet can take it! The Amish around here normally wear shoes in public. but many almost never at home



#4
nebula

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Hey Enoch!
Amish like to go barefoot more than most people. I have seen Amish teenagers running around the farm doing all kinds of chores barefoot that I wonder how their feet can take it!


I believe a lot more people would walk barefoot if we had more ground and grass to walk on, and our parents didn't force us to put shoes on when we were younger.



#5
ajchurney

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Hey Enoch!
Amish like to go barefoot more than most people. I have seen Amish teenagers running around the farm doing all kinds of chores barefoot that I wonder how their feet can take it!


I believe a lot more people would walk barefoot if we had more ground and grass to walk on, and our parents didn't force us to put shoes on when we were younger.

 

Personally, my feet are ugly, so I hide them most often lol



#6
OakWood

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What time in history do Amish believe is the time that technology stopped? Or if I rephrase that, what era are they living in?



#7
other one

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Hey Enoch!
Amish like to go barefoot more than most people. I have seen Amish teenagers running around the farm doing all kinds of chores barefoot that I wonder how their feet can take it!


I believe a lot more people would walk barefoot if we had more ground and grass to walk on, and our parents didn't force us to put shoes on when we were younger.

 

Personally, my feet are ugly, so I hide them most often lol

 

LoL   mine are tender.....   never liked to go barefoot



#8
ajchurney

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What time in history do Amish believe is the time that technology stopped? Or if I rephrase that, what era are they living in?

Hi OakWood!

The Amish do not really claim a certain time period as Holy. They even use quite a bit of technology in many Amish settlements. Some examples are solar power, wind generators, and "skid loader" tractors. It is really entirely up to the leaders to decide what is acceptable and what is not. I am told that 100 years ago, you  could hardly tell the difference between Amish and other conservative Christians at the time. Nearly everyone drove horse and buggy and wore similar clothing. It was in the late 1800's and very early 1900's that certain Bishops began to equate technology with "the world" in the scriptures. This idea took hold, and by the mid 20th century was an entrenched tradition and defined the Amish more than anything else. 

The Amish have a meeting in each local church district (divided strictly by geographic bounds encompassing a certain number of families) each year called "rules and regs" (english translation loosely). It is during this meeting that they discuss and decide on any new prohibitions, but seldom if ever lift any of the existing ones, though at times they make exceptions or change something. One thing that has changed much in recent decades is that most of the larger Amish settlements allow the Amish businesses to use all kinds of technology and machinery. This can include cell phones, computerized machinery, heavy construction equipment, power generators, and much more. The strange thing is that often the Amish are allowed to use all kinds of things in their business that they cannot have in the house. If it involves making money, apparently the Lord is OK with it, but not if it is only for use in the home!??!

The Amish are not so much trying to live in another time period, it's just that they value "simplicity" and try to shun things that are too fancy or deemed unnecessary extravagances. Once you get to know them, though, you find that most of them love really nice and expensive things, and they just attempt to keep it within the boundaries (just barely!) of what the rules dictate. I could go into much detail about thousand dollar barbecue grills, ten thousand dollar special breed horses, five thousand dollar lawn mowers, and many other "acceptable" extravagances that many Amish indulge in. They are also famous for their rich and fattening foods......another story!!

There are very conservative and staunchly backward Amish, but only in smaller groups, usually separated from the majority Amish. 


Edited by ajchurney, 28 February 2014 - 11:36 PM.


#9
OakWood

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What time in history do Amish believe is the time that technology stopped? Or if I rephrase that, what era are they living in?

Hi OakWood!

The Amish do not really claim a certain time period as Holy. They even use quite a bit of technology in many Amish settlements. Some examples are solar power, wind generators, and "skid loader" tractors. It is really entirely up to the leaders to decide what is acceptable and what is not. I am told that 100 years ago, you  could hardly tell the difference between Amish and other conservative Christians at the time. Nearly everyone drove horse and buggy and wore similar clothing. It was in the late 1800's and very early 1900's that certain Bishops began to equate technology with "the world" in the scriptures. This idea took hold, and by the mid 20th century was an entrenched tradition and defined the Amish more than anything else. 

The Amish have a meeting in each local church district (divided strictly by geographic bounds encompassing a certain number of families) each year called "rules and regs" (english translation loosely). It is during this meeting that they discuss and decide on any new prohibitions, but seldom if ever lift any of the existing ones, though at times they make exceptions or change something. One thing that has changed much in recent decades is that most of the larger Amish settlements allow the Amish businesses to use all kinds of technology and machinery. This can include cell phones, computerized machinery, heavy construction equipment, power generators, and much more. The strange thing is that often the Amish are allowed to use all kinds of things in their business that they cannot have in the house. If it involves making money, apparently the Lord is OK with it, but not if it is only for use in the home!??!

The Amish are not so much trying to live in another time period, it's just that they value "simplicity" and try to shun things that are too fancy or deemed unnecessary extravagances. Once you get to know them, though, you find that most of them love really nice and expensive things, and they just attempt to keep it within the boundaries (just barely!) of what the rules dictate. I could go into much detail about thousand dollar barbecue grills, ten thousand dollar special breed horses, five thousand dollar lawn mowers, and many other "acceptable" extravagances that many Amish indulge in. They are also famous for their rich and fattening foods......another story!!

There are very conservative and staunchly backward Amish, but only in smaller groups, usually separated from the majority Amish. 

 

 

Thanks. That's the sort of answer that I was looking for.



#10
walla299

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<snip>

 One thing that has changed much in recent decades is that most of the larger Amish settlements allow the Amish businesses to use all kinds of technology and machinery. This can include cell phones, computerized machinery, heavy construction equipment, power generators, and much more. The strange thing is that often the Amish are allowed to use all kinds of things in their business that they cannot have in the house. If it involves making money, apparently the Lord is OK with it, but not if it is only for use in the home!??!

 

The Amish are not so much trying to live in another time period, it's just that they value "simplicity" and try to shun things that are too fancy or deemed unnecessary extravagances. Once you get to know them, though, you find that most of them love really nice and expensive things, and they just attempt to keep it within the boundaries (just barely!) of what the rules dictate. I could go into much detail about thousand dollar barbecue grills, ten thousand dollar special breed horses, five thousand dollar lawn mowers, and many other "acceptable" extravagances that many Amish indulge in. They are also famous for their rich and fattening foods......another story!!

There are very conservative and staunchly backward Amish, but only in smaller groups, usually separated from the majority Amish. 

 

 

There is a lot of wisdom in what some of the Amish groups do regarding the use of technology is business. Wisdom perhaps many others could use to their benefit. Keeping the unnecessary stuff (technology included) out of your home could be a good thing when it comes to certain things. Television comes to mind here. Now, I'm not advocating tossing the TV, but not having one has some benefits for families who choose to do that. Some close the set up in a cabinet that's only open when the set is being used. These folks also tend to spend more time actually talking to their kids, playing instruments, singing, and otherwise building relationships within the family as our ancestors once did. That's a good thing in my book.



#11
Maui Ice

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There are a ton of Amish near the area I live in Pennsylvania. We've had them replace a roof on our house, we love their foods they make at Farmer's Market's and town stores, and when we play softball in their towns, kids come out of the corn fields in our outfield and steal the softballs we hit, then run back into the cornstalks.

 

Overall, I do see an increase in their media-fame as of late. It's almost like each year a new culture is the reality winner and is protrayed on a show or in-depth in some way. Rednecks, Jersey-Italians, Hillbillies, British, etc. That's how shows like Duck Dynasty, Jersey Shore, Honey Boo-boo, and such get popular. I'm not grouping Duck Dynasty in with those other 2 shows in terms of quality! I actually think DD has some value to it very much unlike JS and Honey-Boo Boo.



#12
Butero

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There was a documentary done by the BBC at YouTube on the Amish.  They visited with an Amish family.  You could tell the woman who was doing the program was bothered by some of their beliefs, so the program showed an anti-Amish bias, but I still found it interesting, watching the way they lived day to day.  I have a lot of respect for the Amish.  There have been times I have gotten so disgusted by the things I see around me in the modern church, I have thought it would be nice to convert to their religion.  I was actually looking into whether or not it was possible to become Amish for a time, like a year or so, to see if it is something I would really want to do permanently, when I stumbled upon the documentary.  I didn't find what I was looking for, but the documentary was quite interesting.  There is a group called the Beechy Amish, that use modern technology, but still dress conservative like the other Amish, and have similar values.  There are some of them in my area.  I tried to visit one of their churches one Sunday, but for some reason they had cancelled the service.  I never got another opportunity. 

 

As far as the Amish people go, I have a very positive view of them.  I travel through Amish country quite a bit.



#13
ajchurney

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Thanks for the recent posts!

I agree that there are some positive benefits to not having television and some of the things that Amish avoid. IMHO, it would be better for people to choose these options for themselves instead of it being made into a bunch of rules and forced upon you as one huge package that you must conform to or be disciplined and censured. As with many other religious groups that have ultra-conservative or unusual rules and practices, there is something nearly always going on behind the scenes. That something is an extreme peer pressure and control in order to keep the status quo. 

I am posting this only because Worthy is a Christian discussion board, and I believe that control and manipulation is an important topic in discussing religion and extremist religious groups. People who drive through Amish areas, buy some goods, and have 30 second chats with the folks really have no idea what may be really going on. Yes, the Amish way is quaint and rural and an interesting throwback and all of that. There is nothing sinful at all about choosing to drive horse and buggy, use gas lights, shun electricity for the most part, and wear 1800's style clothing. Any one of us is free to choose how to eat, drive, and clothe ourselves. The question that really merits asking is when is it sin for church leaders to IMPOSE such things upon their congregants, either on a small scale of one church body, or within a whole movement like the Amish? Christ has set us free from a legalistic base of faith, and given the Holy Spirit to each and every true believer to empower and guide them in righteousness. Hyper-religiosity may look quaint or effective on the outside looking in, but isn't something wrong when every minute detail of clothing, hair, and other things is strictly dictated to people in the name of Christ? 

Amish people are still people, and many of them are kind, loving, and good hearted. I am not attacking any individual people in this line of questioning, but simply asking where it is right and scripturally permissible for such control and legalism to be employed. Any thoughts??



#14
walla299

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<snip> 

Amish people are still people, and many of them are kind, loving, and good hearted. I am not attacking any individual people in this line of questioning, but simply asking where it is right and scripturally permissible for such control and legalism to be employed. Any thoughts??

 

In the context of a community setting, like the Amish, I suppose there needs to be some set of rules that everyone agrees on otherwise the community won't work very well. Its hard for me to say having never lived under those conditions. I tend as a general rule to be very cautious around those who immediately start trying to tell me how to live my Christian life.

 

From a scriptural standpoint I don't see where legalism has a place in someone's relationship with Christ. That's supposed to be a relationship, which means what's in our hearts (Christ) is supposed to work its way out into our daily lives. We're supposed to live differently than the world, not because of outside rules, but because we're new creations in Christ. A church congregation may have some rules, common beliefs, etc. that they all agree on, but that's a bit different. 

 

Here's an example: When I came to Christ I was a homeless drug addict. Smoking, drinking, drugs, etc. were all a part of how I lived and wanted to live. That changed after meeting Jesus. The desire for all those things went away over time, and I don't miss them now because I'm a new person with different desires. I can still do all that stuff if I wanted, but I don't want to any longer. My desires are different because my heart is different, like Paul said.

 

Legalism is just a set of rules that try to govern from the outside in, and that won't last in a true believer's life. Another example: a halfway house, or "sober living" house. To live there you agree not to use alcohol and drugs, and you are held accountable via random or other testing. Violate the rules and you're out on the street, which isn't a good outcome. You might still have a really strong desire to use alcohol or drugs, but the rules do nothing to help with that other than provide consequences if you break them. You are still stuck with the desire to get wasted. For some this is too much and they go back to using again, others are okay until the rules are no longer there - then look out because its party time.

 

Anything else is religion -- and that's something man made up, not God.



#15
ajchurney

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<snip> 

Amish people are still people, and many of them are kind, loving, and good hearted. I am not attacking any individual people in this line of questioning, but simply asking where it is right and scripturally permissible for such control and legalism to be employed. Any thoughts??

 

In the context of a community setting, like the Amish, I suppose there needs to be some set of rules that everyone agrees on otherwise the community won't work very well. Its hard for me to say having never lived under those conditions. I tend as a general rule to be very cautious around those who immediately start trying to tell me how to live my Christian life.

 

From a scriptural standpoint I don't see where legalism has a place in someone's relationship with Christ. That's supposed to be a relationship, which means what's in our hearts (Christ) is supposed to work its way out into our daily lives. We're supposed to live differently than the world, not because of outside rules, but because we're new creations in Christ. A church congregation may have some rules, common beliefs, etc. that they all agree on, but that's a bit different. 

 

Here's an example: When I came to Christ I was a homeless drug addict. Smoking, drinking, drugs, etc. were all a part of how I lived and wanted to live. That changed after meeting Jesus. The desire for all those things went away over time, and I don't miss them now because I'm a new person with different desires. I can still do all that stuff if I wanted, but I don't want to any longer. My desires are different because my heart is different, like Paul said.

 

Legalism is just a set of rules that try to govern from the outside in, and that won't last in a true believer's life. Another example: a halfway house, or "sober living" house. To live there you agree not to use alcohol and drugs, and you are held accountable via random or other testing. Violate the rules and you're out on the street, which isn't a good outcome. You might still have a really strong desire to use alcohol or drugs, but the rules do nothing to help with that other than provide consequences if you break them. You are still stuck with the desire to get wasted. For some this is too much and they go back to using again, others are okay until the rules are no longer there - then look out because its party time.

 

Anything else is religion -- and that's something man made up, not God.

 

Walla,

I heartily agree! Paul stated that one of the weaknesses of the Law was that the exceedingly sinful nature of sin actually used the Law to stir up rebellion to it. The Law diagnoses sin but lacks empowering grace to actually overcome it. The evidence of this in the Amish is that the majority of them push the limits of the rules that are over them, and when away from the community and its enforcing oversight, many dress in more normal clothes (like when they are on vacation somewhere), and watch television like crazy in the hotels. For myself, it has become a very interesting case study in the attempt to use legalism heavily in a Christian movement, and its results. 



#16
Butero

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First of all, they are not in sin to be legalistic.  The Bible itself gives us a definition of sin in 1 John.  Sin is the transgression of the law.  No law of God is being broken because you have church leaders imposing strict rules on the people.  It is like when I have considered the Amish lifestyle or something similar.  I would be freely choosing to place myself under their leadership.  The Amish people are free to leave anytime they like.  If they choose to remain, they need to submit to the authorities. 

 

There is an interesting documentary at YouTube where they actually spent time with an Amish family, and even though it had a bias against them, you could see first hand how they live.  It was done by the BBC.  I like what I saw of how they live. 



#17
ajchurney

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First of all, they are not in sin to be legalistic.  The Bible itself gives us a definition of sin in 1 John.  Sin is the transgression of the law.  No law of God is being broken because you have church leaders imposing strict rules on the people.  It is like when I have considered the Amish lifestyle or something similar.  I would be freely choosing to place myself under their leadership.  The Amish people are free to leave anytime they like.  If they choose to remain, they need to submit to the authorities. 

 

There is an interesting documentary at YouTube where they actually spent time with an Amish family, and even though it had a bias against them, you could see first hand how they live.  It was done by the BBC.  I like what I saw of how they live. 

Butero,

We are not under Law but under grace. Grace is the direct influence and empowerment of God's Spirit. If the Law that was given by the mouth of God Almighty to Moses is inferior to living by grace, as Paul argues, then how is it a good thing for NT Christians to now come up with their own lists of superficial laws to bind upon one another in order to walk a sanctified life? The true grace of the Holy Spirit walks in agape love and NEVER breaks a true command of God. How are Christians improving upon the Spirit walk by adding a rule book of laws loosely based upon their private interpretations of scripture? How is this not doing precisely what Paul rebuked the Galatians for, except they substitute their own rule book for that of the Jewish ceremonial laws as in Galatia? The principle is the same. Paul was abundantly clear that such, "don't taste, don't touch" rules were purely aesthetic and profited nothing in the real subduing of the fleshly nature. Buggies, hooks no buttons, bowl haircuts, and beards for married men have NOTHING whatsoever to do with following the Spirit of God, but only conforming to ideas of certain men. What you obviously fail to grasp is the danger of growing up in this system and coming to believe that the cultural system is what saves you, and let me tell you a fact that this is epidemic in these sorts of societies. I have been told this by literally hundreds of people that have grown up in that and became born-again, then suffered under the oppression of it all. Many born-anew believers are persecuted ad disciplined for having prayer and bible study meetings in these communities. Are you a proponent of the perfect law of liberty or of laws of man-made rules that take people into bondage? You cannot have it both ways, brother, and in this case I do not believe that you have enough information to determine which is going on in the real Amish community. You watched a documentary on this. My life has been intimately interwoven with this community for 15 years. Many of my closest friends grew up Amish, and I personally know Amish and interact with them every single day. In all due respect, you are looking at something from the outside without a knowledge of the inner workings of it and the spirit behind much of the control and manipulation that occurs continually, and the destruction that causes, not to mention the suppression of spritual truth in favor of traditions of men. 

As far as Amish being "free to leave anytime they like", you are in extreme ignorance regarding this. Yes, they can leave....their families, often their jobs, their friends! do you know nothing about "the ban" or of "shunning"? There is virtually no freedom to live by your own convictions when it comes to the exhausting lists of rules that they adhere to. This is an all or nothing deal for them. This would not be as bad, if the name of Christ was not being attached to the whole thing. When Amish are baptized, they submit to the organization utterly, they join the Amish church, not just join themselves to Christ! They are made to take a solemn vow of obedience to the Amish church, and leaving the Amish church is breaking that vow, and there is incredible pressure applied to individuals who decide that following Christ and obeying the Holy Spirit leads them out of the Amish culture. If you agree with these tactics, then I question your grasp of scripture and its right application, and make no mistake that these are the standard practice of the Amish church, even in its milder forms. The smaller, hyper-conservative groups are brutally controlling, even cultish in radical devotion to non-scriptural cultural practices. Do you believe that one must literally kill those who leave, like radical muslims, before crossing the line of control and manipulation? 



#18
Butero

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In the documentary, the family being followed around were in danger of being shunned for simply agreeing to the interview.  They knew others that were shunned.  The woman had tears in her eyes thinking about the possibility they could be ex-communicated.  I am not ignorant of the pressure they are under to conform.  I simply said they can make the choice to leave anyway and deal with the fact others in the community will no longer have any dealings with them.  If someone is content to live like that, so be it.  I don't see anything wrong with it, so long as they are not having a gun put to their heads requiring them to stay.  I believe in the freedom to choose what kind of congregation you want to belong to, even if it is ultra controlling.  In the same way, people are free to belong to no group, fellowship or church, or they can belong to a very liberal church.  I don't feel like it is my place to look at them and think to myself that I have some duty to free them from oppression.  They have every right to live that way, and no, it is not a sin.  Sin is the transgression of God's laws. 



#19
ajchurney

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In the documentary, the family being followed around were in danger of being shunned for simply agreeing to the interview.  They knew others that were shunned.  The woman had tears in her eyes thinking about the possibility they could be ex-communicated.  I am not ignorant of the pressure they are under to conform.  I simply said they can make the choice to leave anyway and deal with the fact others in the community will no longer have any dealings with them.  If someone is content to live like that, so be it.  I don't see anything wrong with it, so long as they are not having a gun put to their heads requiring them to stay.  I believe in the freedom to choose what kind of congregation you want to belong to, even if it is ultra controlling.  In the same way, people are free to belong to no group, fellowship or church, or they can belong to a very liberal church.  I don't feel like it is my place to look at them and think to myself that I have some duty to free them from oppression.  They have every right to live that way, and no, it is not a sin.  Sin is the transgression of God's laws. 

If what you are saying holds water, then what is Paul's problem with the Galatians? Amish are made to feel that their obedience to these things has a bearing on their salvation, as Amish are very Arminian and do not emphasize being born again or being filled with the Holy Spirit. Do you see a problem with such an approach? Brother, this is more than just cultural choices. The Amish way is extremely works-oriented, and many of the works are Amish distinctives. You see no danger here? Also, you do not think that control and manipulation is equal to witchcraft in God's eyes (which is a serious sin)?



#20
Butero

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In the documentary, the family being followed around were in danger of being shunned for simply agreeing to the interview.  They knew others that were shunned.  The woman had tears in her eyes thinking about the possibility they could be ex-communicated.  I am not ignorant of the pressure they are under to conform.  I simply said they can make the choice to leave anyway and deal with the fact others in the community will no longer have any dealings with them.  If someone is content to live like that, so be it.  I don't see anything wrong with it, so long as they are not having a gun put to their heads requiring them to stay.  I believe in the freedom to choose what kind of congregation you want to belong to, even if it is ultra controlling.  In the same way, people are free to belong to no group, fellowship or church, or they can belong to a very liberal church.  I don't feel like it is my place to look at them and think to myself that I have some duty to free them from oppression.  They have every right to live that way, and no, it is not a sin.  Sin is the transgression of God's laws. 

If what you are saying holds water, then what is Paul's problem with the Galatians? Amish are made to feel that their obedience to these things has a bearing on their salvation, as Amish are very Arminian and do not emphasize being born again or being filled with the Holy Spirit. Do you see a problem with such an approach? Brother, this is more than just cultural choices. The Amish way is extremely works-oriented, and many of the works are Amish distinctives. You see no danger here? Also, you do not think that control and manipulation is equal to witchcraft in God's eyes (which is a serious sin)?

 

Rebellion is as he sin of witchcraft, not control and manipulation.  You say the Amish believe that "obedience to these things has a bearing on their salvation?"  What things specifically?  The family on the program didn't believe the use of a horse and buggy and many of the other things they do had anything to do directly with their salvation.  They had reasons for them, but they weren't salvation issues.  You could argue that going against the leaders could effect salvation, as once again, rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.  What specifics are you talking about? 

 

My belief is that you are saved by faith in Christ.  You are then required to live according to the teachings of scripture.  I am not speaking of the laws of separation the Jews lived under or the laws dealing with the Levitical priesthood, but the laws having to deal with God's standard of holiness.  In that sense, I believe in a type of works oriented salvation.  Faith without works is dead.  We do good works because we believe.  If you return back into sin after accepting Christ, you will lose your salvation.  I don't believe in OSAS.  I have no problems with legalism, unless we are talking about a religious system where they are claiming they can save themselves without Jesus by simply living by a code of conduct.  I believe that when you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, all past sins are under the blood, but not all future willful sins.  In that sense, you must live right to remain saved.  When Paul spoke of people going back under the law, he was speaking of the laws of separation, where Israel was a separate people from the idol worshipping gentile nations around them.  He wasn't speaking of moral laws.  This often gets mixed up and leads to a false grace message. 






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