Letter to the Amish Church
July 6, 2021
I am addressing this letter to the entire church. I think that when you read this letter, it will be easy to harden your heart against it because it reveals the truth about Jesus Christ, which is convicting. It will be easy to run, but I encourage you to keep reading.
John 14:6 says, “I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through me.” From my understanding and viewpoint, you feel that you are going to heaven through the church. To you, it is as if the church is the “way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through the church.” This is in no way the path to Heaven.
I know that if I were to ask you if you were saved, you would respond with “I hope so” or “I don’t know.” This is because you truly don’t know. You have the hope of being saved versus the knowledge of being saved.
John 10:10 says, “I have come that they may have life more abundantly.” The word abundantly means “living life to the fullest; plentiful, or overflowing.” In order words, Jesus did not come to make us miserable or to make things difficult for us on this earth. He came to enhance our lives in ways we could never dream of or ask for.
Ephesians 1:7 says, “By the blood of Christ we are set free.” This verse does not say that by ordinungs, tradition, rules, or the Amish are we set free, but by Christ Jesus and Him alone. He is the only way to heaven.
Looking back, I still remember the painful, abusive treatment I received as a kid in the Amish. Ephesians 6:4 speaks against being abusive to your children; it says, “Fathers don’t stir up anger in your children but bring them up in their training and instruction of the Lord.” In other words, Fathers do not abuse your children as that stirs up anger. Fathers are supposed to discipline your children, but not in such a way that it makes them think that they are hated.
Also, this verse is not commanding fathers to bring their kids up with man-made rules from the church, but rather, with the instruction of the Lord through the Bible.
There are more verses that cover this topic. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift not from works, so that no one can boast (brag).” We are not saved by doing good, but rather by relying on God’s grace that we don’t deserve. We are very sinful, yet God sent His only Son to save us from ourselves and the sins we have committed.
I remember growing up as a kid and going to church. I’d be listening to the pastor every other Sunday, but there was not much to listen to or understand because it was all preached in High German. Not many Amish understand High German because it is not taught well in school. Also, the Amish pastors I listened to didn’t actually teach the word of God; they just stood up there in auto-mode preaching what they had memorized, and I highly doubt they even knew what they were preaching.
It is plain to see that you and many other Amish churches are made out of rules and traditions. You follow the church in the same way that a newborn calf follows its mama cow. You submit to the church so much that you have made a god out of your church.
You have forgotten all about the part of the Bible that commands us to walk by the Holy Spirit of God. You don’t walk by the Holy Spirit of God. Instead, you follow what man has to say.
When I got to the age of 16, I started to realize that the Amish church didn’t make sense. Why would I go to a church filled with elders that do everything in secret and keep it from the congregation? This is not a good example for kids that are growing up.
For this reason, one day, I decided, “I’m going to get out of here.” To this day, I know that God was there leading the way.
I ended up coming out here, and I felt so free. I basically became like a wild animal running lost. I strayed away from God from about 2 ½ years. Then, I made friends with a group that invited me to Bible studies and encouraged me in my life. This is when I found God again.
Today, I know that I am saved. As Galatians 2:20 says, “For through the law I have died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” I use these nine verses from the Bible to back up my confidence in knowing that I am saved: John 3:16, Acts 16:31, Romans10:9-10, Ephesians1:13-14, Romans 8:1, John10:28-30, Ephesians 2:8-9, Mark 16:16, and John 5:13.
Another thing that I have found fault with in your church is the practice of shunning. This is how I feel about shunning:
You shun people when they leave your church because of your inability to forgive them. The whole reason you shun them is that they don’t follow your traditions or your rules anymore. Am I wrong? Nobody has to follow the rules or traditions of a church. We are all to follow Jesus Christ and only Him despite what many of your church elders and pastors preach.
If a brother does something wrong against another brother; the one who has the offense against him should forgive the other immediately, whether the wrongdoer asked for forgiveness or not. Where is love if this forgiveness is not offered but is actually discouraged or frowned upon? Love is not shunning but rather loving no matter what. Another word for this is grace.
1 Corinthians 13 speaks well of love. It says, “If I speak in human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor and if I give my body in order to boast/brag but do not have love I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, love is not boastful/bragful love is not conceited, love does not act improperly, love is not selfish, love is not provoked, and love does not keep record of wrongs or wrongdoings.”
What I have noticed is that the Amish church goes out of its way to keep record of my wrongdoings and everyone else’s wrongdoing. You remember, or keep record, of somebody’s wrongdoings for a long, long time. Again, where is the love?
According to the Bible, “Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things believes all things hopes all things endures all things. Love never ends, but as for prophecies, they will come to an end. As for languages they will cease. As for knowledge it will come to an end. For we know in part and we prophecy in part but when the perfect comes the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. For now, we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part but then I will know fully, as I am fully known. Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
We are not only to love our neighbor or people on the street, but we are supposed to love God over all. First, we must love God, and then second, we must love our neighbor: Matthew 22:37 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your might. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets depend on these commandments.
2 Timothy 2:22-26 says, “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of truth and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil who has taken them captive to do his will.”
These verses remind me of what the devil has done to your religion. He has taken your religion captive, and he’s got you right where he wants you. But there is freedom in repentance, which leads to the knowledge of true life in Jesus Christ.
Forgive me if I have not come across gently enough in my instruction. My hope is that you all will turn from your rules and tradition and live your life for Jesus instead.
Hebrews 9:14 say, “How much more will the blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God, for by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.” Read the whole chapter for yourselves. I wish nothing more than for you to read from the Bible, so you can understand!
What I see in this particular verse is that it talks about walking in the Spirit of God. I know that you don’t walk in the spirit of God because your rules and traditions keep you from doing so. Christ offered His blood to purify our conscience from dead works. When I look at your church, I see nothing but dead works or good things that you are trying to do in order to gain Heaven, but there is no way to gain heaven through works. Only through the blood of Christ we can get to heaven.
It looks to me like the Amish think that living for Jesus Christ is like playing some sort of game. The goal is to see which church or culture can gain the most points or do the best works or be the strictest in order to get to heaven. But this is far from the way to heaven.
The way we get to heaven is through Christ, which is explained well in Ephesians 1:7, in the nine verses I previously mentioned about knowing that we are saved, and Philippians 3:8-10, which says: “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for who’s sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law but that which is through faith in Christ the righteousness that comes from God in the basis of faith. I want to know Christ. Yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participate in His sufferings becoming like Him in His death.”
So you see, we don’t get to heaven by our own righteousness but through Jesus’ righteousness. Paul, the writer of this passage, had every right to get to heaven based upon his own righteousness. He was born a perfect Jew, lived a life devoted to the law, learned beyond his classmates in school, and killed people that opposed the law, which he considered blaspheming God. I know this about Paul because in Acts, he told the people who were persecuting him for preaching about Jesus being the only way to heaven that if anyone was going to get to heaven based off of good deeds, it would have been him. However, his life was meaningless that way until Jesus showed him the true way.
When I read Mark 7, it reminds me so much of the Amish church. Jesus called the people of this passage hypocrites. Mark 7:1-9 says, “The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Him. They observed that some of His disciples were eating their bread with unclean that is, unwashed hands. (For the Pharisees, in fact al the Jews, will not eat unless they wash their hands ritually, keeping the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, jugs, copper utensils, and dining couches.) Then the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why don’t Your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ritually unclean hands?” He answered them, “Isaiah, prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain teaching as doctrines the commands of men. Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.” He also said to them, “You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition/rules!
In order to keep their rules and traditions, the Pharisees left out the importance of feeding the hungry. They didn’t love their neighbors enough to let them eat. In many ways, I feel that describes the rules and traditions that you all uphold. In order to maintain strict discipline of your “modest” clothing, you ridicule those that have altered the form or appearance of their clothing in order to be able to work better and easier. Things such as rolling up sleeves to work better or making a dress a bit shorter so it doesn’t drag on the ground are frowned upon. Do you see how that describes your lifestyle? You have made your rules out of jealousy. One brother is jealous of the other brother. Your rules are not based off of God and what he says; they are based off of jealousy.
Now, I have some questions for you, and I really do want to know the answers to the questions. If you could send them back, that would be great.
First, if I were to join your community, why would I have to wear your kind of clothes? What makes those specific clothes so special to God? Did He bless them and say that everyone has to wear them to go to heaven?
Second, why do you not drink wine? Jesus himself drank wine in the Bible, and Paul the apostle specifically told Timothy in 1Timothy 5:23 to drink wine to help with his sicknesses. True, we are not to drink to get drunk as that is not good, and some people may have convictions against wine and drinking, but the longer you suppress or put down the community, the more they are going to want to try the things which you have forbid them from.
Third, if you are so religious and so right in your ways, then why don’t you tell all the world that you have the right way to heaven?
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Why don’t you care about the outside world if you think you have the truth? Why don’t you care enough to tell them? That verse does not tell you to go and baptize people in the name of the church, but to go and baptize people in the name of Jesus Christ. and the Father, and the Holy Spirit.
Fourth, why do you think doing good will get you to heaven?
Isaiah said in Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
This scripture basically says that nothing we do is “good enough” for God because even our righteous or good things are considered filthy rags. This verse also points back to Ephesians 2:8-9, which talks about our good works not getting us to heaven.
Fifth, I was born Amish. If I were to die tomorrow, and my will stated that I wanted to be buried in the Amish cemetery, you would debate about burying me inside or outside the fence. Why? Does my earthly body matter so much that having it buried next to your earthly bodies would somehow pollute them? Or can I not be buried there because I was so wicked in leaving my family and becoming an English? Isn’t that judging when you bury me outside the fence? I thought you all were not supposed to judge.
For in the Bible it says in Matthew 7, “Do not judge or you too will be judged, for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged. And with the measure you used it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of saw dust in your brother’s eye, and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
Doesn’t that make you think that you would be judged with the same measure?
Sixth, why do church members not bring a Bible with them to church? That seems fishy to me. Are they not allowed to follow along and check over the scriptures to make sure the pastor is preaching the truth? Or is it just shameful that they don’t have the whole Bible memorized? If church people cannot or do not bring a Bible to church, it is much easier to be led astray by man-made rules and traditions.
Seventh, why do you confess your sins through the church when you can go through Jesus Christ the Savior? Don’t you know that man can’t save you? Only God can save you through Jesus; the church had nothing to do with it. All the church is supposed to do is encourage you in Jesus, and help you to see your wrongdoings and to teach the true gospel. It looks to me like you put the church before God!!
Lastly, God can find a person or be found by a person anywhere. Why do you judge a person for leaving the Amish to look for God? Don’t you know that God is everywhere and all around you at all times? A person doesn’t have to be in the church, not even an English church, to be saved through Jesus.
I want to leave you all with 1 John 5:12: “The one who has the Son has life the one who does not have the Son does not have life. I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Jesus is ready for anyone to follow him. He’s just waiting for you all to say “YES!,” and you don’t have to follow manmade rules! You only have to follow Jesus and what He has commanded in the Bible. There are no manmade rules involved in order to follow Jesus.
I wish I could read you this letter in person or been there myself to tell you these things, but as it is, I now live farther away from my home community. I also wish you all could see Jesus, and I pray for many of you still.
I write today on behalf of my brother Jacob. Both of the notes that you wrote Jacob weren’t even letters; they are what I call notes. And that’s not even the sad part. The sad part of it is the fact that you are so focused on shunning him that you don’t even care what is in his heart. You all should be ashamed of the notes you wrote. You are so blinded by your rules and traditions that you don’t even see what you are doing to one another.
According to both of the notes that you wrote, all you are focused on is shunning him and leaving it unforgiven. You don’t care what his beliefs were in his heart. It also didn’t help that you were so short and convinced that he is going to hell now. The devil has destroyed the truth of God to you, but you don’t see it.
This same devil took the speech where Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me,” and turned it into, “We are the church, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through the church.”
You completely ignored Jacob’s letter, which emphasizes the problems he encountered among the Amish. He would probably still be Amish today if those problems had not forced him to choose between old patterns or newer ways. Instead, he chose the way out.
Jacob now goes to church at a little church that preaches from the Bible, but just because he goes to church doesn’t mean that he is saved. We don’t have to go to church to be saved, but we have to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved. We go to this church and continue to try to teach him from the Bible as that is one of the best ways to Jesus. It has never been changed and it never will be without major consequences on the one who changed it.
You can grab an English, German, Russian, Chinese, or a Pennsylvania Dutch Bible, and they all will say the same thing only in other languages. If you think that your German Bible is better than my English Bible, I want nothing more than for you to prove it. God is not dead, but surely alive.
He is the only way the truth and the life. Without this saving knowledge- we have no God, no Christ, no grace, no faith, no union with Christ, no actual justification, no pardon of sin, no peace, no eternal life. But whoever has found Christ, the Pearl of great price, the hidden Treasure, has found a matter of great rejoicing! For I was poor before -and this Treasure enriches me. I was naked before, but finding this treasure I am gloriously clothed. I was forced before to feed upon husks, but now I feed upon the bread of life. I was far in debt before, but now I see that the debt is paid, that I am justified from all things and pardoned forever. I was a child of wrath before, but now I am a child of God I was a captive and in chains before, but now I am set at liberty. I was condemned before, but now there is no condemnation to me, nor to anyone that is in Christ Jesus. I was a fool before, but now I am made wise to salvation. – This is my story. Revised by me and originally written by Heinrich von Bogatzky in 1690-1774
Ezra D. Shetler
May God Bless the Church
Here are the verses my wife and I put into this letter. We have also provided them in German for you too! Enjoy
John 14:6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh
unto the Father, but by me.
Johannes 14:6 Jesus spricht zu ihm: Ich bin der Weg und die Wahrheit und das Leben; niemand tommt zum Fater den durch mich.
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Johannes 10:10 Ein Dieb tommt nur, dafs er steble, murge und umbringe.
Ephesians1:7 In whom we have redemption
through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of his grace;
Epheser 1:7 an welchem wir haben die Erlosung durch sen Blut, die Fergebung der Sunden, nach dem Reichtum seinger Gnade,
Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Epheser 6:4 Und ihr Fater, reizet eure kinder nicht zum Born, sondern ziehet sie auf in der Bucht und Vermahnung zum Herrn.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Epheser 2:8-9 Denn aus Gnade seib ihr selig geworden durch den Glauben und das nicht aus euch: Gottes Gabe ist es, nicht aus den Werten auf dafs wir darin wandeln sollen.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ:
nevertheless I live yet not I, but Christ liveth
in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Galater 2:20 Ich lebe aber; doch nun nicht ich, sondern Christus lebt in mir. Denn was ich jetzt lebe im Fleishch, das lebe ich in dem Glauben des Sohnes Gottes, der mich geliebt hat und sich selbst fur mich dargegeben.
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Matthaus 22:37 Jesus aber sprach zu ihm: “Du sollst lieben Gott, deinen Herrn, von ganzer Seele und Von ganzem Gemute.”
2 Timothy 2:22-26 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
2 Timotheus 2:22-26 Fliehe die Luste der Jugend; jage aber nach der Gerechtigkeit dem Glauben, der Liebe, dem Frieden mit allen, die den Herrn anrufen von reinem Herzen. Aber der torichten und unnutzen Fragen entschlage dich; den du weisst, dass sie nur Zank gebaren. Ein Knecht aber des Herrn soll nicht znkisch sein, sondern Freundlich gegen jedermann, lehrhaft, der die Bosen tragen kann und mit Sanftmut strafe die Widerspenstigen, ob ihnen Gott dermaleinst Busse gebe, die Wahrheit zu Erkennen, und sie wieder nuchtern wurden.
Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Hebraer 9:14 wie viel mehr wird das Blut Christi, der sich selbst ohne allen Fehl durch den ewigen Geist Gott geopfert hat, unser Gewissen reinigen von den toten Werken, zu Dienen dem lebendigen Gott!
Philippians 3:8-10 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Crist Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Philipper 3:8-10 Ja, ich achte es noch alles fur Schaden gegen die uberschwengliche Ertenntnis Christi Jesu, meines Herrn, um welches willen ich alles habe fur Schaden gerechnet, und achte es fur kot, auf dafs ich Christum gewinne und in ihm erfunden werde, dafs ich nicht habe meine Gerechtigkeit, die aus dem Gesetz, sondern die durch den Glauben an Christum kommt, namlich die Gerechtigkeit, die von Gott dem Glauben zugerechnet wird, zu erkennen ihn und die kraft seiner Uuferstehung und die Gemeinschaft seiner Leiden, daafs ich seinem Lode ahnlich werde,
Mark 7:1-9 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Him. They observed that some of His disciples were eating their bread with unclean that is, unwashed hands. (For the Pharisees, in fact
Jews, will not eat unless they wash their hands ritually, keeping the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like
the washing of cups, jugs, copper utensils, and dining couches.) Then the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why don’t Your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ritually unclean hands?” He answered them, “Isaiah, prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain teaching as doctrines the commands of men.
Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.” He also said to them, “You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition/rules!
Markus 7:1-9 Und es kamen zu ihm die Pharisaer und etliche von den Schriftgehlehren, die von Jerusalem gekommen waren. Und da sie sahen etliche seiner Junger mit gemeinen das ist: mit al the ungewaschenen Handen das Brot essen, tadelten sie es. (Denn die Pharisaer und alle Juden essen nicht, sie waschen den die Aufsatze der Altesten; und wenn sie vom Markt kommen, essen sie nicht, sie waschen sich den. Und des Dinges ist viel, das sie zu halten haben angenommen, von Trinkgefassen und Krugen und ehernen Gefassen und
Tischen zu waschen.) Da fragten ihn nun die Pharisaer und Schriftgelehrten: Warum wandeln deine Junger nicht nach den Aufsatzen der Altesten, sondern essen das Brot mit ungewaschenen Handen? Er aber antwortete und sprach zu ihnen:; Wohl fein hat von euch Heuchlern Jesaja geweissagt, wie geschrieben steht: “Dies Volk ehrt mich mit den Lippen; aber ihr Herz ist ferne von mir Vergeblich aber ist’s, dass sie mir dienen, dieweil sie lehren solche Lehre, die nichts ist den Menschen Aufsatze von Krugen und Trinkgefassen zuwaschen; und desgleichen tut ihr viel. Und er sprach zu ihnen: Wohl fein habt ihr Gottes Gebot aufgehoben, auf dass ihr eure Aufzatze haltet.
Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Matthaus 28:19-20 Darum gehet hin und lehret alle Volker und taufet sie im Namen des Vaters und des Sohnes und des heiligen Geistes, und lehret sie halten alles, was ich euch befohlen habe. Und siehe, ich bin bei euch alle Tage bis an der Welt Ende.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Jesaja 64:6 Aber nun sind wir allesamt wie die Unreinen, und alle unsre Gerechtigkeit ist wie ein unflatig Kleid. Wir sind alle verwelkt wie die Blatter, und unsre Sunden fuhren Uns in unsern Sunden verschmachten.
1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
Johannes 5:12 Wer den Sohn Gottes hat, der hat das Leben; wer den Sohn Gottes nicht hat, der hat das Leben nicht.
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