Nonconformity to the world

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Nonconformity to the world, also called separation from the world, is a Christian doctrine based on Romans 12:2, [1] [2] 2. Corinthians 6:17 and other verses of the New Testament that became important among different Protestant groups, especially among Anabaptists. The corresponding German word used by Anabaptists is Absonderung. [3] Nonconformity is primarily expressed through the practices of plain dress and simple living.


Biblical basis


Even though not unique to Anabaptist Christians (such as Mennonites), the concept of nonconformity has found an unusually intense and detailed application among these groups. [5] Other groups that practice forms of separation from the world are the Exclusive Brethren and the Church of God (Restoration). 20th century minister and religious radio broadcaster Carl McIntire stressed the doctrine of nonconformity to the world.

Practice by Christian denomination


Among traditional Anabaptist groups nonconformity is practiced in relation to dress, the use of technology like horse and buggy transportation instead of cars, the rejection of television and radio, the use of language, that is German dialects like Pennsylvania German, Plautdietsch and others instead of English or Spanish, nonresistance, avoidance of oaths, avoidance of lawsuits, and other questions. [6]

Anabaptist groups that practice nonconformity to the world today, belong either to the Old Order Movement, the "Russian" Mennonites the Hutterites or the Bruderhof. [7] These groups live either in Canada and the US or in Latin America ("Russian" Mennonites).


Methodist theology traditionally emphasizes the scriptural injunction "be ye separate", which lessens temptation. [8] The doctrine of separation from the world continues to be emphasized by Methodist connexions in the conservative holiness movement, such as the Evangelical Methodist Church Conference, which in its 2017 Book of Discipline, teaches: [9]

We believe the scriptures teach a clear separation between the church and the world. Such must ever exist if the church is to make her witness felt in a world committed to evil and darkness. Chaste and holy conversation as well as honesty in business transactions are rules of this separation. In matters of entertainment and recreation, our people are to avoid such pursuits as contributes to worldliness. We admonish our people to live in carefulness as instructed in Philippians 4:8, "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Also bearing in mind Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." Since sports have assumed a position in modern life out of all proportion to their value, our people are instructed to refrain from attendance at or participation in organized professional sports. We hold, further, that due to the influence/effect of media entertainment and social media upon spiritual life, our people should strive to harmonize with Philippians 4:8, when utilizing media devices or social media. Ungodly media entertainment and social media will be defined as those things that promote unbiblical values and philosophies. Philippians 4:8-"...whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." James 4:4; I Thess. 5:22; II Cor. 6:17 —Evangelical Methodist Church Discipline (¶26-¶27) [9]


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Anabaptism is a Christian movement which traces its origins to the Radical Reformation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mennonites</span> Anabaptist groups originating in Western Europe

Mennonites are groups of Anabaptist Christian church communities of denominations. The name is derived from the founder of the movement, Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland. Through his writings about Reformed Christianity during the Radical Reformation, Simons articulated and formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders, with the early teachings of the Mennonites founded on the belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus, which the original Anabaptist followers held with great conviction, despite persecution by various Roman Catholic and Mainline Protestant states. Formal Mennonite beliefs were codified in the Dordrecht Confession of Faith in 1632, which affirmed "the baptism of believers only, the washing of the feet as a symbol of servanthood, church discipline, the shunning of the excommunicated, the non-swearing of oaths, marriage within the same church", strict pacifistic physical nonresistance, anti-Catholicism and in general, more emphasis on "true Christianity" involving "being Christian and obeying Christ" however they interpret it from the Holy Bible.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Schleitheim Confession</span> Statement of Anabaptist principles

The Schleitheim Confession was the most representative statement of Anabaptist principles, by a group of Swiss Anabaptists in 1527 in Schleitheim, Switzerland. The real title is Brüderliche vereynigung etzlicher Kinder Gottes siben Artickel betreffend ....

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plain people</span> Simple lifestyle Christians

Plain people are Christian groups characterized by separation from the world and by simple living, including plain dressing in modest clothing. Many Plain people have an Anabaptist background. These denominations are largely of German, Swiss German and Dutch ancestry, though people of diverse backgrounds have been incorporated into them. Conservative Friends are traditional Quakers who are also considered plain people; they come from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Missionary Church</span>

The Missionary Church is an evangelical Christian denomination of Anabaptist origins with Wesleyan and Pietist influences.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Old Order River Brethren</span>

The Old Order River Brethren are a River Brethren denomination of Anabaptist Christianity with roots in the Radical Pietist movement. As their name indicates, they are Old Order Anabaptists.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anabaptist theology</span>

Anabaptist theology, also known as Anabaptist doctrine, is a theological tradition reflecting the doctrine of the Anabaptist Churches. The major branches of Anabaptist Christianity agree on core doctrines but have nuances in practice. While the adherence to doctrine is important in Anabaptist Christianity, living righteously is stressed to a greater degree.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peace churches</span> Christian churches advocating pacifism

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Old Order Mennonite</span> Christian denomination

Old Order Mennonites form a branch of the Mennonite tradition. Old Order are those Mennonite groups of Swiss German and south German heritage who practice a lifestyle without some elements of modern technology, still drive a horse and buggy rather than cars, wear very conservative and modest dress, and have retained the old forms of worship, baptism and communion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Radical Reformation</span> Anabaptist movement concurrent with the Protestant Reformation

The Radical Reformation represented a response to corruption both in the Catholic Church and in the expanding Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther and many others. Beginning in Germany and Switzerland in the 16th century, the Radical Reformation gave birth to many radical Protestant groups throughout Europe. The term covers radical reformers like Thomas Müntzer and Andreas Karlstadt, the Zwickau prophets, and Anabaptist groups like the Hutterites and the Mennonites.

Donald B. Kraybill is an American author, lecturer, and educator on Anabaptist faiths and culture. Kraybill is widely recognized for his studies on Anabaptist groups and in particular the Amish. He has researched and written extensively on Anabaptist culture. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Elizabethtown College and Senior Fellow Emeritus at Elizabethtown's Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Amish Mennonite</span> Anabaptist sect

Amish Mennonites came into existence through reform movements among North American Amish mainly between 1862 and 1878. These Amish moved away from the old Amish traditions and drew near to the Mennonites, becoming Mennonites of Amish origin. Over the decades, most Amish Mennonites groups removed the word "Amish" from the name of their congregations or merged with Mennonite groups.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plain dress</span> Clothing worn by some religious groups

Plain dress is a practice among some religious groups, primarily some Christian churches in which people dress in clothes of traditional modest design, sturdy fabric, and conservative cut. It is intended to show acceptance of traditional gender roles, modesty, and readiness to work and serve, and to preserve communal identity and separation from the immodest, ever-changing fashions of the world. For men, this often takes the form of trousers secured by suspenders, while for women, plain dress usually takes the form of a cape dress along with a headcovering.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Conservative Mennonites</span> Conservative Mennonite or Anabaptists

Conservative Mennonites include numerous Conservative Anabaptist groups that identify with the theologically conservative element among Mennonite Anabaptist Christian fellowships, but who are not Old Order groups or mainline denominations.

Over the years, as Amish churches have divided many times over doctrinal disputes, subgroups have developed. The "Old Order Amish", a conservative faction that withdrew in the 1860s from fellowship with the wider body of Amish, are those that have most emphasized traditional practices and beliefs. There are many different subgroups of Amish with most belonging, in ascending order of conservatism, to the Beachy Amish, New Order, Old Order, or Swartzentruber Amish groups.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Old Order Anabaptism</span> Branch of Anabaptist Christianity

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charity Ministries</span>

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The Kauffman Amish Mennonites, also called Sleeping Preacher Churches or Tampico Amish Mennonite Churches, are a plain, car-driving branch of the Amish Mennonites whose tradition goes back to John D. Kauffman (1847-1913) who preached while being in a state of trance and who was seen as a "sleeping preacher". In 2017 the Kauffman Amish Mennonites had some 2,000 baptized members and lived mainly in Missouri and Arkansas. In contrast to other Amish Mennonites they have retained their identity over the last hundred years and also largely the Pennsylvania German language and other Amish Mennonite traditions from the late 1800s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Conservative Anabaptism</span>

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  1. J. R. Shank: Nonconformity to the World, in Bible Doctrine: A Treatise on the Great Doctrines of the Bible, Pertaining to God, Angels, Satan, the Church, and the Salvation, Duties and Destiny of Man, ed. Daniel Kauffman, Scottdale, PA 1914, page 510.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ro 12:2
  3. Donald B. Kraybill, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, Steven M. Nolt: The Amish, Baltimore 2013, page 73.
  4. Daniel Kauffman: Manual of Bible Doctrines, Elkhart, Indiana (1898), page 188.
  5. Donald B. Kraybill (2010). Concise Encyclopedia of Amish, Brethren, Hurtterites and Mennonites. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 152.
  6. "Life Among The Bruderhof". The American Conservative. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  7. Lyerly, Cynthia Lynn (1998). Methodism and the Southern Mind, 1770-1810. Oxford University Press. p. 13. ISBN   978-0-19-531306-2.
  8. 1 2 Evangelical Methodist Church Discipline. Evangelical Methodist Church Conference. 15 July 2017. pp. 18–19.