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[edit]

  • Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
  • Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate. 2. Corinthians 6:17
  • If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15
  • Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity against God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:4
  • That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15
  • Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people. 1 Peter 2:9
  • Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27[4]


Even though not unique to Anabaptists or 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).

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 USA or in Latin America ("Russian" Mennonites).

20th century minister and religious radio broadcaster Carl McIntire stressed the doctrine of nonconformity to the world.


  • John C. Wenger: Separated unto God: a Plea for Christian Simplicity of Life and for a Scriptural Nonconformity to the World. Scottdale, PA 1951.


  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, IN 1898, page 188.
  5. ^ *Nonconformity at Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online
  6. ^ Donald B. Kraybill (2010). Concise Encyclopedia of Amish, Brethren, Hurtterites and Mennonites. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 152.
  7. ^ "Life Among The Bruderhof". The American Conservative. Retrieved 2017-05-26.

External links[edit]