Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Worldlings and the Amish

10/17/07 - 4th Day - After Breakfast. Scattershooting...

NEWS FLASH! Philistines act like Philistines! I am continually sent articles (and I see them posted regularly on BiblicalAgrarianism.com) announcing with shock the latest governmental or public outrage. They always scream with indignation "When will the people DO SOMETHING?" As if the world is supposed to act in any way other than according to their worldliness. The worst ones usually are prefaced by some angst laden rant about how all these bad things are happening because the corrupted 501c3 "church" will not DO SOMETHING about it. You see, apparently the reason the world acts like the world is because the "church" and its "pastors" will not stand against it. Rather than be outraged by the content of the articles, I am outraged at the outrage of the outraged. Here is my shorthand imitation of these posts:
Subject: GOVERNMENT ORDERS BABY JESUS THROWN OUT OF NATIVITY SCENES!

(personal note preface example) This kind of thing would not happen if the churches had not submitted to the 501c3 IRS shackle scam! If the pastors weren't too afraid to preach against it, the world's baby Jesus's would be safe and sound in their mangers! When (OH WHEN?!?) will Christians stand up and protect the plastic and porcelain baby Jesus's from this outrage!

(Here is where you would find the story about the government banning baby Jesus from Nativity scenes and gay bars)
Ummm... some questions...

1. Exactly why would you expect modern seminary graduates (public schools for pastors) to turn out anyone who would righteously stand for anything other than comfort and security?

2. Exactly why would you expect the corrupt and apostate "church" to be led by anything other than a corrupt and apostate leader?

3. Exactly why are you still calling the apostate religious system of this world the "church"?

4. Exactly why are you concerned for one second what the world is doing to themselves?

5. Exactly why are you still calling apostate goats "christians" and expecting them to act like sheep?

Ok, you will notice that (like in the example I have created) none of the people who write these things ever question the presuppositions of their position. Like... for example... why in the world should we care if the world bans violations of the 2nd commandment from other violations of the 2nd commandment which are placed illegally in violations of of the constitutional amendments? I bring to your attention by way of example the uproar from "christians" over images of the Ten Commandments being removed from courthouses. Modern apostate "christians" want the Ten Commandments of God to still be written on stone and hidden in government buildings (where, by the way, they almost never go) precisely because they don't have them written on their hearts (2 Cor. 3:3)... but I digress...

News flash! It is not news when worldlings act according to the abundance of their wicked hearts, and nor is it news when the apostate religious system either participates in it or refuses to stand against it. The problem is not the wicked world, or the apostate religious system, or the dearth of plastic Jesus's in the world... the problem is that Christians who say they are different and that they have been enlightened and that they are somehow separate from this wicked world, continue to show their love for it and their unity with it by claiming that it should be righteous contrary to its nature, and by calling apostates by the appelations "christians" and "the church" (without the quote marks, of course). Ok, enough of that. Next topic...

I was reading an interesting post about the Amish the other week over at Herrick Kimball's blog when I came across in the comments section the somewhat trite accusation that the Amish are "hypocritical" in what they allow and disallow as it relates to technology. We have dealt with that accusation ad nauseum and have answered it fully, but one of the accusations was interesting and I responded to it. It was stated that, though the Amish do not own or drive automobiles, a cottage industry has arisen which provides rides to the Amish (for pay) to local stores, etc. This, of course, was considered hypocritical, which it is not. I initially responded that there are many valid and even Biblical reasons not to own a vehicle, and that to choose not to own one, while still making use of rides in them, is not hypocritical at all. Once we have recognized the dangers that come from the ready use of certain technologies, it is incumbent upon us as leaders in our families (or in our Churches) to restrict use of those technologies in order to advance our goals and desires for our families. Now, the Amish recognize that the immediate and ready access to a vehicle has many negatives. First, there is the cost of maintenance and insurance on a vehicle. Second, the temptation to misuse the technology is very evident. Most people use their vehicle just because it is gassed up and readily available, and very few count the cost. Third, the Amish believe that ready access to an automobile is a negative impact on family life and peace, and on the life, peace, unity, and safety of the community. In many cases, the imposing growth of the surrounding urban and suburban areas has made it more and more difficult for the Amish to safely and peacefully procure supplies via their usual mode of transportation, therefore some Amish have solved the riddle by paying for rides to town. This allows them to more safely traverse the roads, sometimes for long distances, without imposing what they think would be a dangerous temptation and diversion on themselves and their community. Also, the fact that the Amish must pay for the ride, makes it easier for them to stop and think about the necessity of doing so, and to properly measure the cost - something which the world rarely does. So it is clear that there is no hypocrisy in the decision, though there are other inherent dangers that would need to be addressed by the elders to limit the possible damage of even this freedom.

Now, the nice lady who first posted the hypocrisy charge later explained that her objection was NOT that it was particularly hypocritical for the Amish to pay to ride in automobiles, but that if the Amish truly believe that owning and operating an automobile is negative to the institution of the family and the Church, then it is hypocritical for the Amish to cause or enable some non-Amish to do so on their behalf. Now, this is no new charge or philosophy, and there are some very notable adherents to this idea, including Stonewall Jackson who refused to even post a letter if it meant that the letter might be in transit on the Sabbath so that he might not cause anyone to work on that Holy Day. I understand this attitude and position, and I have to say I have some sympathy with it, but it goes down to a question of fundamental philosophy. There are two points of difference between this dominionist philosophy and Amish philosophy that I want to mention here.

Stonewall Jackson (and most others who have this type of philosophy) was a Presbyterian and a Dominionist. He believed that governments have the right (and ought to) impel other people's consciences through the dictate of law. Jackson wanted a law forbidding anyone from working on the Sabbath (and in many places there were such laws) and he wanted the law enforced, even to the point that the mails would not move on the sabbath day. Absent such a law, he believed his conscience directed him to not participate in any way with any act that might cause another man to work on the Sabbath - even if, no matter what he did, that man was going to work anyway. This is admirable, though not particularly Biblical in every case - since often the Reformed sought to enshrine opinion on the same altar as what the Bible actually says. True Presbyterians believe they are bound by Biblical law, but they also add-in many man made traditions and opinions and color them with the same brush-stroke as Biblical law. This is why many of the Reformed had no problem murdering the Anabaptists (from whom the Amish descend) for not baptizing babies. So don't think this is an unimportant historical anomaly.

The Amish have two sorts of "laws". They believe that they are bound by Biblical Law - meaning that law which is specific in the Bible, not the stuff they make up. They have a second law, which is called the "ordnung". Ordnung are the community rules of order. These are rules decided on by the community to promote order, harmony, peace, and to protect themselves from harmful influences. Each community has its own set of rules and each member of the community orders their lives according to the ordnung. The Amish (and we here in our community) live by the ordnung, but they do not believe that they are permitted (nor should they) push their ideas and rules on outsiders. The Amish put a very high value on the freedom of conscience, and they do not believe that any man's conscience ought to be seared or hampered by another. They extend to every man the right the right to worship according to the dictates of his conscience. They resist any attempt from outside to pressure them in the practice of their religion. The Amish believe that the Biblical law ought to rule everyone, even outsiders, but having no power to impel it, they demand it of themselves. The Ordnung, however, is for them and their well-being, and has nothing to do with outsiders. The Amish do not believe that the Bible forbids the ownership or use of automobiles, therefore, they do not judge another man on his use or disuse of one. For themselves, many of the communities have forbidden them through the ordnung, and therefore they do not own or operate them. The ordnung evidently permits them to purchase rides, and they make use of that freedom, and they do not judge the "English" who choose to make a living providing them rides. This is a fundamental difference between Baptist belief and Dominionist belief.

There is clearly no hypocrisy in this, and it is only the ignorance of outsiders that causes them to continue to impute this sin to the Amish when they don't take the time to find out what they really believe. Now, I would agree that there is as much hypocrisy in the Amish as there is in just about every other professing believer out there. Our community is not Amish, and we do not hold to every tenet of the Amish faith. But we do agree with them on their position regarding the ordnung and the conscience, and do not find it hypocritical to do so.

I hope this helps.

Michael

4 comments:

Debbie said...

Michael,

Would you be willing to share the ordnung of the Christian community there in Santa Anna?

Also, does everyone in the community help to establish the ordnung or is it the elders?

Thanks!

Michael Bunker said...

Our ordnung is currently undergoing some changes and additions, and will continue to change so long as we exist as a community. The ordnung is unwritten, much as the "rules" of a family or a marriage are unwritten. The principles are well known and often discussed, and are binding on all who willfully choose to remain in fellowship with us.

Also, in reference to what I said in the post about the ordnung being separate from Biblical law, it needs to be understood that often the ordnung expresses our understanding of the law - such as in our women desiring to wear headcoverings.

Primarily our ordnung covers things like modesty and "plainness" in dress for both men and women. Some of these are well known publicly (such as headcoverings and long dresses or skirts for the women, appropriate and modest clothing for men, appropriate swim clothing, etc.).

We have very strict rules regarding behavior between men and women, such as: No man or woman is allowed to be alone with a person of the opposite sex who is not his spouse... period. We have general guidelines concerning our interactions with the "world", such as our work relationships, etc. We have community work days, Ranchfest, etc. We have rules which deal with our interactions with one another in the community, and securing the authority of the father, the man, or head of household over his own family and property. Our rules very specifically lay out the forms of government and recognize the proper authority and realms of authority, and they provide for ways to deal with conflict, error, rebuke, chastisement, correction, etc.

Our rules are changing and always will be changing as we draw closer to Christ, and as we learn more about how to properly guide ourselves through the dangers and morass of modern living.

Personally, I like rules. I like to be governed by them, and, like a small child, I find comfort in stricter living - because I am ever aware of the nature of my carnal heart.

Hope this helps,

Michael Bunker

Michael Bunker said...

Debbie,

I neglected to answer your second question concerning who helps to establish the rules, the whole community, or just the elders.

Our community has agreed that the authority given by Christ to the Church is vested in each individual member. We believe that authority is then vested in elders (who each must, themselves, be under authority as well). The way this works with the ordnung, then, is that we all discuss things and events and how we ought to deal with them. We take suggestions about possible rules, and we discuss tendencies in ourselves and in our community. Most of our rules are established by mutual consent during group fellowships as we sit around and discuss life and living. However, like in a family or in a marriage, there must be a final decision made concerning the rules and how they are applied, and those decisions are made by unanimously elected elders. I must repeat that each elder is also under authority, and is answerable for his conduct, and is subject to rebuke, chastisement, correction, and punishment.

This is how the ordnung is established and maintained in our community.

Thanks for the question,

Michael Bunker

Debbie said...

Thank you so much Michael for your reply. I had wondered if the ordung was something that was written out and everyone signed. How much better to have these "rules" written on one's heart instead.

God's many blessings to you and the brethren there!

Debbie