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Amish Origins: 6 Things That Led to Development of Protestant Christian Denomination

By    |   Friday, 06 February 2015 05:50 PM

The Amish Protestant denomination stems from the Swiss Anabaptists and their way of life uniquely differentiates them from other Christian churches. In the United States, the Amish are mostly located in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. Because of their self-imposed social and technical isolation, it is difficult to determine membership numbers but estimates put the Amish population at approximately 198,000.

Here are six things that led to the development of the Amish Protestant denomination:

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1. During the Protestant Reformation in 16th century Europe, religious groups broke away from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church to form their own Christian faith groups. Some of these groups subscribed to the view that they should be "free churches" not subject to the strictures of organized state churches.

2. In 1525, one group of Protestant reformers in Switzerland rebelled against religious authorities and began secretly baptizing each other as adults. At the time, this was considered a religious crime that carried a sentence of death. These reformers did not believe in the validity of infant baptism, rather they thought baptism should only occur after a person has the ability to understand the meaning of sin. These reformers became known as "Anabaptists."

3. According to an excerpt from "Mennonites in Europe" by John Horsch, "Anabaptism was made a capital crime. Prices were set on the heads of Anabaptists. To give them food and shelter was a made a crime. The duke of Bavaria, in 1527, gave orders that the imprisoned Anabaptists should be burned at the stake - unless they recanted, in which case they should be beheaded. In Catholic countries the Anabaptists, as a rule, were executed by burning at the stake; in Lutheran and Zwinglian states, Anabaptists were generally executed by beheading or drowning."

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4. Between the years 1496 and 1561, an ordained Roman Catholic priest named Menno Simons became the Anabaptist religious leader. Having heard of the beheading of a reformer for being "rebaptized" he began a thorough study of the scriptures and claimed he could not find a reference to infant baptism in the Bible. This convinced Simons "that 'believer's baptism' was the true Christian practice." Anabaptist's soon became known as Mennonites.

5. A Mennonite Swiss Bishop named Jakob Ammann subscribed to the strict practice of "shunning" which holds that disobedient members of the church must be socially excluded as a way to enforce church rules. Between 1656 and 1730, he led a movement to reform the Mennonites, which resulted in a schism within the church. The Mennonites that followed Ammann came to be known as the Amish.

6. According to Every Culture, "Searching for political stability and religious freedom, the Amish came to North America in two waves—in the mid-1700s and again in the first half of the 1800s. Their first settlements were in southeastern Pennsylvania. Eventually they followed the frontier to other counties in Pennsylvania, then to Ohio, Indiana, and to other Midwestern states.

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The Amish Protestant denomination stems from the Swiss Anabaptists and their way of life uniquely differentiates them from other Christian churches.
Amish Protestant, Christian, Denomination, Origins
Friday, 06 February 2015 05:50 PM
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