How many Amish people are born again? 20%? 50%? 100%?
By Joe Keim
September 17, 2012
Questions and Answers
Coby: I am Presbyterian but I strongly agree with Simons that "faith without works is dead," and with Amman that you need to take a stand for Jesus.
Joe: We believe the Bible teaches that salvation is by faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone. However, we also believe the Bible teaches that when someone is converted (born again), there is repentance and a life of godliness and holiness that follow. If there is no life change, then the person did not experience a real conversion.
Coby: I am shocked to find that you believe that the Amish in general do not have a saving relationship with Jesus.
Joe: More and more Amish are coming to the truth and understanding the difference between a personal relationship with Christ vs. following a system of rules and traditions. I was talking with an Amish man last week who had a clear salvation experience. He is still Amish and desires to stay that way. During our conversation, I asked him how many Amish people he thinks are truly saved. His reply: about 5,000-10,000 out of total population of 270,000. This number was of course a guess, but I don’t think he is too far off.
Coby: I know many ex-Catholics who have the same story, my own pastor included.
Joe: Yes, I’ve found that ex-Catholics can relate with our ministry as much as anybody when it comes to finding a true relationship in Christ. Just like so many Amish people, Catholics in general are taught a works and traditions salvation, rather than a new birth conversion. Both Amish and Catholics base their salvation on following the teachings of the church, rather than the teachings of Scripture. They, for the most part consider salvation a lifelong process, whereas, true born-again Christians base their salvation on an event that took place in their lifetime.
Coby: I am taking the trouble to write to you to ask how this can be. How can a church that began with some of the strongest preaching in favor of a conscious personal experience of meeting God that I have ever read have degenerated into one that does not believe in such a thing?
Joe: Your question haunts me too. How could an entire movement come full circle and fall right back into the old trap? Most Amish ministers teach their people that they should be careful to only read the Bible in a language they do not understand very well (German) --- German is the least understood language of three. They forbid Bible studies unless it involves only family. They frown on leaders who get too carried away with the teachings of scripture, fearing it will lead them and others away from the Amish system.
Coby: Is it possible that you see the world only through the naive glasses of your own experience?
Joe: I don’t believe so. The truth is, I have met and discussed God’s Word with hundreds of Amish and former Amish converts during the past 25 years. Among those, were ex-Bishops, ex-ministers and ex-members who were excommunicated and shunned for believing in the assurance of their salvation and for being involved in Bible study groups where the truth was being taught.
Coby: Maybe you are preaching a faith-alone gospel, that despises the value of good fruit? Or is this really true that absolutely no Amish are, as Amman would say, truly and personally born again?
Joe: As explained before, we do preach a faith-alone, grace alone, Christ alone gospel. But again, someone who experiences the new birth, also walks in Christ; not in the world and its pleasures.
Coby: I see testimonies on your site of lots of kids who grew up Amish and really did not know Jesus as their loving Savior. How common is that in the Amish community? 20%? 50%? 100%? I need some perspective, from people who know the situation first-hand.
Joe: Most of the young folks who come to our ministry for help are living a life of rebellion. They know very little about the Bible. Many are hooked on alcohol. At least 65% of the girls carry scars of sexual incest and abuse.
I would guess, at most, about 10% of the Amish understand salvation and are truly born again.
Coby: I also would like you to define, in a nutshell, what you base your definition of "saved" on.
Joe: Salvation is understanding:
1. I am a sinful person, incapable of saving myself from sin and the lake of fire.
2. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid for all my sin – past, present and future. If I believe that in my heart, I will be saved.
John 1:12-13 (KJV)
But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
1 John 5:12 (KJV)
He that hath the Son hath (eternal) life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
For a more detailed understanding of salvation, please go to Salvation: Event or Process?
-- Joe Keim
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