The Amish Repent from their Retreat

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 22nd, 2005

(There is likely to be some spelling and grammatical errors in this musing of mine, as I penned it on the fly while I had a few spare minutes to do it. Sorry, the Missouri Rev)

In one community it appears the Amish are repenting from their long-held worldview of cultural retreat and pacifism. According to an Associated Press article, it looks as if difficult economic factors have driven the Amish in Middleton, Ohio, the fourth largest settlement in the world, to take a rare step of entering the public square to fight for the right to conduct business as they feel led. Contrary to their doctrine, which one of them articulated in the article, “There’s three words that I don’t like: court, suing, judge. It’s not scriptural to sue someone,” they have filed lawsuit to get the zoning laws changed which forbid them to build business facilities larger than 1000 sq ft. Not surprisingly, given the ever increasing encroachment and takeover of land and agricultural production by corporate agribusiness funded by the world’s moneychangers, the small family farms of many of the Amish are no longer profitable. There are other factors also involved in their failing profitability, including debt and famial breakdown, but this is a big one that is slowly devouring all of us. As it is in the case of the Amish here, is it not amazing how a people’s religious practices can change by the difficult circumstances God brings His people and I, for one, am glad to see the Amish turn this small corner. Perhaps we should take a lesson from this and examine where we have compromised or retreated from pressing the Crown Rights of King Jesus within the culture we live?

Of course many of us have experienced or seen the lack of justice within our pagan court system, which, like the Amish, many of us do not like, but to say that the use of courts, lawsuits, and judges by the believer is unscriptural is typical of the Amish antinomian legalism behind their retreatist worldview. Now that their legalism is failing, which is inevitable and a good thing, maybe they will turn the corner and start to live by the Law of King Jesus, whom they profess. After all, they, like all believers, do the King’s kingdom (governmental) business on a daily basis as they worship and obey the King, Jesus Christ.

All true believers in Christ, having been justified by His blood, have lawful standing before His court bench, that is, His throne of grace, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father. It is here before His mercy seat, the court bench of His justice and mercy, that the believer, by faith, petitions Him in prayer, seeks redress, seeks His interceding advocacy, and seeks grace and wisdom for the duties He has called them to do as His people. More so, in fulfilling Christ’s mandate that the Father’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, the Church militant, commissioned and empowered as vicegerents of King Jesus by the Great Commission, is to make disciples of the world and teach them to obey all His commandments, which, when accomplished, establishes His rightful authority on the earth as its Supreme Sovereign. This seat of Christ’s authority on earth within His Church is a lawful one, that is, it operates by His law, which is why we can confidently go to Him in prayer because He is faithful to keep the Everlasting (New) Covenant with His people in enforcing His law on their behalf. Unlike fallen man’s top down, tyrannical governmental structure, Christ’s earthly authority is established from the ground up and locally — in regenerating the believer first and causing him (her) to walk in the Spirit in obeying His law written on their hearts, who then function as members of a family within the locally covenanted congregation, which together comprise the local Christian community, by which other realms of earthly authority, civil & economic (to name a few primary ones), are established under Christ. This is the true biblical foundation for earthly authority that establishes national liberty and God-blessed prosperity. The entire chain of Christ’s authority on earth involves judges and courts at all its various levels, though not like the pompous priests of modern pagan law that rule unrighteously, as we saw in the dreadful case of Terri Schaivo. The unbiblical, pacifist notion that God’s people are to stay out of the earthly governmental things of the world because they are unscriptural is an open denial of Christ’s present authority over Heaven and earth and the Church’s calling to exercise His delegated authority as His vicegerents. No, it’s not the use of courts, judges, and suits by the believer that is the problem, but whose courts, judges, and suits, and by what standard?

It is within this framework of Christian community built upon godly civil and ecclesiastical government that we can understand the words of Paul in 1Corinthians 6:

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (v 1-3).

Far from a mandate that prohibits believers from using courts, lawsuits, and judges, it’s a rebuke against believers that use the lawless justice system of the unbeliever, rather than the rightful one established by Christ within His Civil Body Politic (Ecclesia), the Church. The Bible commands that the Lord’s people are to judge matters pertaining to this life by establishing godly courts, ecclesiastical and civil (to maintain the biblical separation of powers), to effect justice and mercy throughout the various levels of a Christian society. This was the case in the early days of the American colonies when they had, for the most part, godly government at all levels of American culture. Today, we live in captivity under a wicked pagan government, which is no fault of the Lord or the Devil. Long ago the American churches abandoned the law of the Lord in adopting the secular law of the heathen around them or in creating their own legalism, as was the case with the Amish. In so doing, the biblical civil and ecclesiastical justice systems of the Church that protected their lives, liberty, and property were destroyed, leaving us where we are today and rightfully so, I might add. And for the Church to pragmatically seek protection from the state through making various corporate covenants with it, though it may give temporary aid and comfort, only adds to the growing disobedience of God’s people in unequally yoking to the unbeleiver in direct violation of God’s Word.

We live in the exact same circumstances that the children of Israel did when they confessed the truth concerning their dreadful circumstances under captivity and the reason behind it, their own covenant breaking:

However You are just in all that has befallen us; For You have dealt faithfully, But we have done wickedly.
Neither our kings nor our princes, Our priests nor our fathers, Have kept Your law, Nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, With which You testified against them. For they have not served You in their kingdom, Or in the many good things that You gave them, Or in the large and rich land which You set before them; Nor did they turn from their wicked works. “Here we are, servants [ebed – slaves] today! And the land that You gave to our fathers, To eat its fruit and its bounty, Here we are, servants in it! And it yields much increase to the kings You have set over us, Because of our sins; Also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle At their pleasure; And we are in great distress. Nehemiah 9:33-37

This is easily paraphrased to fit the circumstances of our present captivity: However, You are just in all that has come upon us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly. Neither our elected officials nor our judges, our ministers (pastors, elders, etc) nor our fathers, have kept Your law, nor heeded your commandments and your testimonies, with which You testified against them. For they have not served You in the republic you gave them, or in the many good things that You gave them, or in the large and rich land which You set before them; nor did they turn from their wicked works. “Here we are, slaves today! And the land that You gave to our fathers, to eat its fruit and its bounty, here we are, slaves in it! And it yields much increase to the wicked civil and economic authorities You have set over us, because of our sins; also they have dominion over our labor and our wealth, at their pleasure; and we are in great distress. Whether they admit or not or even can see it, this is where all believers are today in our nation, no matter where they live, be it in isolated communities like the Amish or unequally yoked within the communities and cities of our pagan captors that dominate our nation.

It was only a matter of time before the veneer of cultural isolation that the Amish live behind would thin down to the point where their very way of life was directly threatened. It is going to get far worse for them as well as for all believers. Being in captivity, without the protection of lawfully established Christian government and justice system, makes it very difficult to survive day to day, let alone to function biblically in obeying God. I think all of us are growing increasingly aware of the predicament that God has brought us under in letting us eat the fruit of our secular ways. The good news is that God does not suffer His people to stay in captivity forever; He will finish His judgments and rightfully restore them as the head of all culture.

In His wonderful mercy, God does make provision for His people in the dire circumstances of biblical captivity, as we see in the life of Daniel and other faithful believers that triumphed during times of captivity. Daniel actually served in the civil courts of his wicked captors, who were eventually destroyed by God. Imagine that! We must never forget that absolutely everything the wicked possess — authority, land, wealth, yeah their very lives — is the Lord’s and given to them to serve His purposes, not theirs. When the righteous live righteously the Lord turns over to them the wealth of the wicked so that it can also come under the lawful and righteous stewardship of His people. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22) But when the righteous live wickedly, as it has been for many generations in our nation, the Lord turns them over to the wicked to be plundered until they repent . . . or, as history also has shown, until they die. How long must we be plundered through debt-based economics and government theft before we get the real picture of our rebellion to God in robbing Him of our covenantal faithfulness in obeying and serving Him in His Kingdom?

Under our present captivity we will have to take dominion wherever God, by His providence and grace, gives us a place to do so. But do so we must, and it will be very difficult and fraught with many trials and costly sacrifices. For the Amish this has meant taking a stand and entering the public square to fight for their God-given rights to provide for their families in keeping covenant with Him, which is no small thing for them. Have they violated Paul’s mandate in seeking redress in the courts of the heathen? No, for in their case as ours, there are no godly courts of the righteous to speak of and so we must seek redress where God has established authority, like Paul did in seeking an appeal before Caesar. For the Amish, however, it is going to take far, far more than this, but this is a beginning for them . . . I hope. The same applies to all who name the Lord. Ultimately, all true believers face a huge battle with the heathen around them in taking back the dominion they are called to exercise on Christ’s behalf, but rightfully forfeited because of their generational disobedience. Biblical history has shown that for all those that name the Lord it comes down to this: obey God or be judged and replaced by those who will. We need to examine ourselves as to whether we are the remnant that will turn to the Lord in repentance and obedience in coming out of captivity or whether we are one of the blind majority that remain in Babylon because we like the lifestyle and security it provides better than the Law of God and His courts. We are at these crossroads right now!

History has clearly proven that the heathen in power will not let go easily, but will fight tenaciously to keep thier hold until their end rightfully comes. Thank God our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual to the bringing down of every stronghold, both within and without the believer. Even so, come Lord Jesus and bring the apostasy and disobedience of your people to an end, so they can retake Your land and steward it to Your glory. Perhaps the Amish will repent from their generational retreat, will the rest of us that name the Lord do the same?

6 Responses

  1. Straw Conservative Says:

    Very nice piece. You do a very good job on writing on the issues we Christians face in this day and age. Keep it up!

  2. Missouri Rev Says:

    Straw Conservative, thanks for the encouraging word. I sometimes wonder if my lengthy diatribes are too much to read. Your comments are much appreciated.

  3. Straw Conservative Says:

    Oh no your writing length is just fine. The truth of the matter has no limit of words I don’t think. You write what is true and I commend you for it. God Bless!

  4. Randall Gerard Says:

    Missouri Rev,

    I second the opinions of Straw Conservative. I am encouraged as well that the amish have taken this step. I think the two communities (the reformed & the amish) have much to learn from each other. They can teach us agrarian ways and sound economy, and we can teach them reformed soteriology and (hopefully) something about being involved IN the world, yet not OF the world. As christians in America are more and more pinched between a rock and a hard place, may God grant more unity to His body, as long as it comes according to Scripture.

  5. Missouri Rev Says:

    Balestacker,
    I heartily concur with your hope that the Amish and reformed communities can come closer together in true Christian unity based upon Scripture. I have had some very interesting conversations with the Amish close by, as there are many, and that doesn’t include the large numbers of Mennonites, as well. Besides, there are a whole lot more of them then reformed folk in my neck of the woods. Perhaps I should make a more concerted effort in acquiring more of their goods to open the doors to meaningful dialogue. As always, I give you thanks for the word of support

  6. Theophilus Says:

    Excellent post. I often find that when legalistic sanctions are imposed, God’s law is neglected. Legalism and antinomianism always go hand in hand. Keep it up.

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