#1 Are Mennonites Allowed to Dance?
No, most Mennonites do not dance. Seen as a form of temptation that can lead to premarital sex, adultery, or other sinful behaviors – Dancing is one of the many forms of expression that Mennonites place restrictions on.
Despite this, it is not unheard of to see a Mennonite dancing. Some find dance to be a well-referenced verse in the Bible, commonly referred to during times of joy and celebration. Because of this, many Christians believe that God embraces dance, possessing no qualms against it.
In this case, a Mennonite may be accepting of dance – under the condition that it is done in a context of joyful expression (as opposed to sexual expression). It is becoming more and more accepted across the religion, but only progressive and liberal Mennonites would allow dancing.
- “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,” – Psalm 30:11.
- “And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.” – 2 Samuel 6:14.
- Dance? – Mennonites; April 14th, 2015.
#2 Are Mennonites Like the Amish?
Mennonites and the Amish are often conflated or referred to in the same context. The major difference is that Mennonites drive cars and embrace modern luxuries with a more casual attitude, while the Amish reject all of these electrical amenities.
There are no limits surrounding technology ownership for Mennonites, and therefore, a Mennonite is likely to have a phone and running electricity in their home (unless they are of the Old Order Mennonites, who live closer-aligned to the Amish lifestyle of electrical-abstinence).
Despite minor differences, they each approach Christianity with similar foundations and morals.
The key similarities and differences between these self-proclaimed ‘plain people’ are:
|Salvation||No discussion of salvation||Open to salvation|
|Missionary work||Less so||More so|
|Evangelical worship||Each home may rotate hosting the service (no automobiles so they cannot travel far)||Mennonites evangelicalize and will focus on missionary outreach to communities outside of their local areas|
|American Population||270K in the U.S.||672K in the U.S.|
|Origin/History||1693 – Anabaptist (Amish and Mennonites were led by Jakob Ammann. Those that followed Ammann). Mennonites kept separate but immigrated with the Amish/Anabaptists to escape persecution in Europe.||Originally from the early 1500s in Netherlands and Switzerland. The founder was Menno Simons, a Netherland leader that helped them escape prosecution in 1525; Reformation in the 16th Century.|
- “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:18-21.
- Courierpress.com – Differences Between the Amish and Mennonites; February 16th, 2019.
- Answering Your Questions – Mennonite Mom – Amish and Mennonites; Published April 24th, 2019.
#3 Are Mennonites Quaker?
No, Mennonites and Quakers fall into separate categories because of their diverging beliefs.
Although these two denominations are often referred to collectively with the Amish as ‘plain people,’ – there is a reason they identify by different names.
Each of these faiths split from one another after escaping persecution from the Church of England. Because of their noncongruent ideas, each decided to form their own Christian denominations and establish independent moral codes.
Important to know about Mennonites; they:
- Worship God and live a Christian life
- Do not reject technology entirely
- Embrace tractors and cars for work
- Own ‘basic’ and modest belongings (tools, clothes, car, etc.)
- Men wear beards without mustaches
- Women wear bonnets
- Everyone is modest
Important to know about Quakers; they:
- Believe that God is in everyone
- You can be Quaker and still be Atheist
- Considered a non-theistic religion; often Unitarian members
- Sit in a silent circle to meditate and pray to God
- Possess principles centered on ‘integrity, equality, simplicity, community, stewardship of the earth, and peace’
Where Mennonite and Quaker theologies intersect:
- Pacifistic nature; do not fight in wars
- Modest lifestyle
- Modest dress
- Christian moral code
- Each care about community considerably/want a better world
- Each care about an actionable life of Christian conduct
- Each embraces simple, plain, and basic things
Where Mennonite and Quaker theologies deviate:
- Mennonites are more evangelistic than Quakers; spread the word of God more openly
- Quakers are less Christian than Mennonites; believing in the power of self instead of the power of God (similarly to Buddhists).
- One can be an Atheist, a Muslim, a Buddhist, etc. – And still, be a Quaker.
- Do not have to be a Christian to be a Quaker, but you do have to be Christian to be a Mennonite
- “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” – Proverbs 14:15.
- “The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.” – Psalm 116:6.
- Photospeaker.org – A Mennonite and a Quaker; June 24th, 2019.
#4 Are Mennonites Catholic?
No, Mennonites are not Catholic, but the two denominations share a foundation of the Christian faith.
The main similarities and differences between these denominations are:
|Infant Baptisms||No (Anabaptist)||Yes|
|Church and State Should Be Separate?||Yes||No|
|Pacifistic/Anti-War||Yes||No, the Church has released statements that war is permissible to defend one’s ‘country, friends, or oneself.’|
|View on Mary and Saints||No, only one God||Yes, prayers for specific Saints|
|Communion||Yes, symbolic||Yes, literal (transubstantiation)|
|Modest Dress||Yes||No, less conformist than Mennonite|
Leaders at Bridgefolk, the North American Mennonite-Catholic Dialogue, wrote in their part-two evaluation of the two faiths from the perspective of a Theologist Mennonite:
“Despite the painful divisions we face over the Eucharist; however, Mennonites have much to gain from understanding Catholic approaches to the Eucharist and the sacramental life. As a Mennonite, internalizing a sense of the Eucharist as the heart of Christian life has been enormously life-shaping for me. Mennonites are too quick to see communion as an optional part of Christian life. I deeply believe that we need a more sacramental understanding of who we are as God’s people in the Church.”
- “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” – James 2:24.
- “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Acts 2:21.
- From Catholic to Mennonite – Reagan Schrock; April 20th, 2016.
#5 Are Mennonites Polyamorous?
No, Mennonites do not typically enter polyamorous relationships.
Believing similarly to the Amish, Anabaptists, Protestants, and other Christian denominations that arose during the movement of radical Reformation – Mennonites believe that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman, with additional members of the union being sinful or adulterous in nature.
The Bible references many male characters that had many wives, but most of them are not referred to in a positive light, such as David in 2 Samuel 5:13:
“And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David.”
“There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins without number.”
Taking the Bible at its word, Mennonites do not read into scripture abstractly. Meaning, they do not feel that the Bible is open for interpretation, opting for a more literal translation of these texts. Due to this, Mennonites follow God’s direct word and avoid relationships that could be construed as adultery.
Genesis 2:24 says:
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
- “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights.” – Exodus 21:10.
- “And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.” – Genesis 4:19.
- No resources on Mennonite Polygamy but here is an except of the subject at large – Multiple Husbands – National Geographic; May 18th, 2007.
#6 Are Mennonites Evangelical?
Yes, Mennonites can be Evangelical if they spread the gospel of their religion. Still, besides this, there is an entire denomination called Evangelical Mennonites (that focus more prominently on missionary-work than general Mennonites).
You can find Mennonite Evangelicals here:
Any denomination that focused on converting outsiders can technically be labeled as evangelical. In this sense, most Christian denominations fall under this category. When a person refers to themselves as an ‘Evangelical Mennonite’ or ‘Evangelical Christian,’ this can also mean that they take a more progressive approach to that faith.
As described by The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online Organization regarding the relationship between Mennonites and Evangelicalism:
“The relationship of Mennonites to Evangelicals is quite complex and reflects the broad diversity among and within the Mennonite groups. The interaction can best be understood in terms of institutional relationships and theological relationships.
At a denominational level there are four Mennonite bodies with membership in the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE): The Brethren in Christ, the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren (Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches), the Evangelical Mennonite Church, and the Mennonite Brethren Churches (USA). There are also a number of General Conference Mennonite congregations which have joined the NAE. The Canadian counterparts of these groups have tended to join the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, as has the Canadian-based Evangelical Mennonite Conference. Although statistics are not available, it would appear that these Mennonite bodies also have more significant involvements in other Evangelical institutions and hence a greater evangelical identity.”
- “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28.
- “The Defenseless Mennonites were charter members in the founding of the National Association of Evangelicals in 1942.” – Fecministries.org
#7 Are Mennonites Calvinists?
No, Mennonites are not Calvinists. But each were established in the 16th century period of Reformation in which Protestantism divided from the Roman Catholic Church.
Martin Luther, a religious leader, spurred multiple movements during the period of Reformation. Two significant movements that spread from Reformation were the Anabaptist Movement and the Calvinist Movement.
- Arminian (as opposed to Calvinistic)
- Radical Protestants
- Reject the clergy/priesthood
- Support separation of Church and state
- Anti-infant baptisms (shorted to Anabaptist)
- Collectivists, community-oriented
- Calvinist (as opposed to Arminian)
- Hold scripture to the highest regard
- Believe in Predestination
- Do not worship Saints
- Believe original sin caused all of man’s sins
- Eucharist and certain sacraments are purely symbolic (not transubstantiation)
The most considerable difference between the two is that:
- Mennonites are rooted in an Arminian theology
- Calvinists are innately Calvinistic
Therefore, their biggest discrepancies are related to conflicting views on salvation.
- “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9.
- 9.5 Anabaptism and Calvinism; Mr. Hurdle History; May 12th, 2013.
#8 Are Mennonites German?
Yes, there are German Mennonites and Germany was significant in the history of the Mennonite faith; however, Germany was not the first nation to adopt the Mennonite theology.
Originating in Switzerland and the Netherlands during the 1500s, the Christian belief system of Mennonites is a religion that spread throughout Europe during the period of religious Reformation. The first group of Mennonites were considered Northern Dutch, with groups later being led to the South of Germany and Switzerland.
Despite not being the first country exposed to the Mennonite faith, Germany was exceedingly significant in the Mennonite history. German settlers were among the first to arrive in America, founding a town in 1683 called ‘Germantown.’
The culture of Pennsylvania Dutch is greatly-influenced by the German heritage – yet out all countries, Russia has the most prominent Mennonite population. After splitting with Germany, there are more than 200,00 Russian Mennonites today that live by German-Mennonite-traditions.
Undeniably, Germany was (and still is) prominent in the Mennonite history – most notably throughout North America, Asia, Europe, and large populations of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Estimated populations today:
- North American – 672,000
- Europe – 63,000 (lowest population)
- Asia – 420,000 (77% of Russia’s land in Asia)
- Latin America and Caribbean – 270,000
- “As he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” –2 Peter 3:16.
- Swissinfo.ch – German Dialects to US Anabaptists – ‘I recognize every word but I have no idea what you’re saying’ – Pennsylvania Dutch is not German; November 1st, 2017.
#9 Are Mennonites Pacifists?
Yes, Mennonites are considered one of the most intrinsically pacifistic denominations in the Christian faith. As an Anabaptist group that originated post-Reformation, Mennonites were known throughout history as one of the leading ‘peace churches,’ that avoided violence, brutality, and war.
During major World Wars and the American Civil War, thousands of Mennonite males were forced to serve, but the Mennonite Church fought with conviction to subjugate all nonresistance.
By the 1950s, Mennonites were able to take a firmer stance against war and obligatory drafts, publishing a pamphlet titled, ‘A Declaration of Christian Faith and Commitment with Respect to Peace, War, and Nonresistance’ (1951).
In 2017, Mennonite Mission Network wrote in their piece, Active Pacifism:
“Our institutions have been weakened. Mistrust between people has undermined our political systems. The anxiety of these stressful times can make the best of us want to throw up our hands and focus on seeking peace for our families and communities only.
Now more than ever, we can’t be tempted to retreat into a “passive” pacifism. On the contrary, we need to redouble our efforts to find ways to bring our faith in Jesus to a world that cries out for healing and reconciliation.”
- Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
- “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” – 1 Peter 3:9.
- Desiringgod.org – Mennonites (Menno Simons (1496 – 1561)) The Fearless Pacifist; October 7th, 2017.
#10 Are Mennonites Amish?
No, Mennonite and the Amish are distinctive Christian denominations. Mennonites use cars, minimal electricity, and other luxuries that separate them as being more liberal than the Amish.
Related by their shared Anabaptist-roots, Anabaptism evolved from the split of the Protestant and Catholic Churches during Reformation.
At this time, many subsects of Protestantism arose, one of which was the Anabaptist theology (Anabaptist translating to anti-infant baptisms. Infant Baptisms are very significant in the Roman Catholic Church, with Catholics generally having their babies baptized on their 8th day of life).
After these disagreements between the Catholic Church and Anabaptists in the 1500s, Anabaptists began to have their own conflicts by the late 1600s.
Jacob Amman (an Anabaptist Church leader) supported shunning and excommunicating members. The Swiss Anabaptists did not agree with shunning, leading to the creation of two new branches in 1693 – Mennonite and Amish.
As stated above, the major differences (and some similarities) between these two denominations are:
|Salvation||No discussion of salvation||Open to salvation|
|Missionary work||Less so||More so|
|Evangelical worship||Each home may rotate hosting the service (no automobiles, so they cannot travel far)||Mennonites evangelicalize and will focus on missionary outreach to communities outside of their local areas|
|American Population||270K in the US.||672K in the U.S.|
|Origin/History||1693 – Anabaptist (Amish and Mennonites were led by Jakob Ammann. Those that followed Ammann). Mennonites kept separate but immigrated with the Amish/Anabaptists to escape persecution in Europe.||Originally from the early 1500s in Netherlands and Switzerland. Founder was Menno Simons, Netherland leader that helped them escape prosecution in 1525; Reformation in the 16th Century.|
- “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17-21.
- “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’” – Acts 22:16.
- Mennonites and The Amish People; Lifey; September 25th, 2015.