"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Tipping Points

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Tipping Points

One day last week, leaving the pediatrician's office, the kids and I found that night had fallen. We gazed at the moon, a high thin crescent right out of a storybook. "A full moon!" exclaimed our 5-year old, always eager for delight. Her elder brother, always eager for facts, sighed dramatically. "I'm afraid that is NOT a full moon."

They looked to me to settle it, but I ignored them, enjoying the balmy air with its promise of spring. I opened the car and shooed them in. "It's a crescent moon. It's the kind of moon that has a face, or that you could go fishing off of," big brother lectured from the back seat, drawing his references from picture books.

We drove away in silence, and I thought the matter settled. But little sister had the last word.

"Well. It is TOO a full moon," she said at last. "We just can't SEE all of it."

This made us all laugh. How sage.

Troll has given us a good assignment, asking us to identify the tipping point that sent us out of Laestadius' orbit. I'm reposting excerpts here so it is easier to follow the thread.

Perhaps my own tipping point was at 16, sitting at the dining room table with an OALC preacher. My parents had arranged this meeting because of my increasingly vocal questioning of the church. (Looking back, the preacher must have been 65, but he seemed ancient and grave.) I asked him why God would create black people to abandon them to hell. He explained the curse of Ham, then insisted that at some point God gives each person -- every person on earth -- a chance to join the living Christianity. So blacks are cursed, but not if they live in Brush Prairie?! I'm sure I shook my head in disbelief and dismay. There followed five or ten minutes of admonitions to be wary of the Devil, to hold fast to what my dear, precious parents had taught me, not to question, to have a simple faith, like a child's, and so stupifyingly on.

I was offended. I knew my questions were legitimate, and I knew he was bullying me, trying to shame me. I'm sure it was clear that "my heart was hardened" when I left the table without "repenting" of my "intellectual pride." Looking back on that scene, the retired mechanic in his thick glasses and cheap blue suit, the feisty, vain honor student with her confirmation Bible at hand, I feel sorry for them both. She was exploring, and insisting on, her full humanity. He could not see it, as if it was a moon, shadowed.

Troll said...
Re: Scales of Belief
Tipping Points

Your negative kitchen experience got me thinking about tipping points. I am sure it added some weight to the disbelief side of your scale.

My experience was a steady adding to the disbelief side until a final event tipped the scales permenantly.

The final weight was a sermon in which the preacher said if we had any doubts that sin was forgiven. When asked about it afterwards he said he would forgive such a sin if I requested it.

It struck me as the height of arrogance.

Bingo! The scale tipped permanently.

The event was much like the TV commercial I previously mentioned hurling the axe and smashing the screen of brain-washed beliefs.

Others I have talked to about their change tell a more painful drawn out experience,back and forth ,shifting weights, which took years to complete.

It would be interesting to hear
other's journeys and trigger
points of disbelief if any. =

sisu said...
Dear Troll,
My experience has taken years, as I've mentioned earlier, and I went through a very long Dark Night of the Soul. However, one comment had great impact early on. Like you, it was my tipping point. I remember being told that no one in The World could love me like the Christians do. I was a teenager at that time and did not find the Christians very loving toward me. My several "worldly" friends were much more caring and compassionate. Bingo! My perception shifted and continued in that direction for years.
Troll, your identity intrigues me, and I like your thoughts and comments.

Anonymous said...
The beginnings of disbelief for me starting at confirmation. Listening to the preachers, with no formal training, say the following:

Why the men don't wear ties-because a farmer was wearing a tie while driving a tractor. He was a
Christian, but he did not wish to give up his tie. He got stuck somehow and almost got strangled to death. The farmer realized that he did not need the tie. He was being vain for wearing one.

My question-Why would he wear a tie farming?

Another one-Jesus said to "Love thy neighbor, but don't hang out with Catholic children because they gamble in their church.

My question-Does it say that in the bible?

I left at 18 years of age-as soon as I could.

God's Peace.


  1. jumalan rauhaan3/08/2006 10:04:00 AM

    said i wouldn't be back, yet here i am. "uskovaiset" is finnish for believers-pretty much any laestadius based church. i was raised in a f.a.l. church, the one that split from the "reed bunch" in the 60s. the tipping point for me was the realization that theres a great big world out there and that "worldly" ain't all that bad. i am not a bad person, yet i have no time for christianity in any of its forms. dancing is good for the soul. a drink now and then is good for you. its okay to have your picture taken or to look in a mirror. having curtains on your window doesn't mean you are trying to hide something from your neighbors. when i was a small child, church was fun. when i became a teen it was just plain repressive. sometimes i long for the days of kool-aid and flatbread...

  2. Dear Free,
    I commend you for being able to stand up for your beliefs at the tender age of 16. I have never been able to do that. For many, many years, I wondered what was wrong with my thinking and understanding, why I couldn't "see" True Simple Faith, and, like the poster above, longed for the innocent years of kool-aid and flatbread. I fought against all the discrepancies I saw in the preaching because I, for one, didn't want to go to hell. And that's a VERY strong motivator, isn't it? Then I read M. Scott Peck's books which helped me clarify my thinking. He talked about Adam and Eve being a story about humans growing into consciousness. That was another milestone in my long road: we must move through the desert, we can't go back to the womb, we must strive for more consciousness, and with it comes more understanding, more pain, and hopefully more growth toward God. I began to see a lot of OALC preaching as repressive in the conscious sense to the same degree that it pushes toward conscience-cleansing. I don't know if this makes any sense to you, but it has helped me on my long, and often difficult, road.
    God's many Blessings to you and your precious children.

  3. As far as I know, the "Reed" or the "Auneslaiset" bunch (Pollarites, split from the FALC in the 20s) does not forbid neckties, curtains, mirrors, photos, etc. and hasn't for as many years as even the old folks I checked with could remember. Dancing and drinking, yes. That is not to say that there aren't a number of them who probably do it anyway. Ditto for some of the restrictions on appearance, though I do have to admit I do find some of the tattoos, slow-slung jeans with thongs showing so obviously at church a bit offensive myself for a believer. But at least they are there?

  4. Yes, the Pollarites are an interesting group. I find it interesting how they do not focus on how people dress, while that seems to be the only focus of the OALC. They are the most different from the OALC than all of the other Laestadian divisions. A nice group of people :)

  5. Re: Hell

    Of course sisu brings out the
    crux of the problem, fear of

    Your can be sure in most cases
    that no matter how much load the
    disbelief side of the scale gets
    it will not budge because of the
    enormous weight of hell.

    An aside to Free2b:

    I am struck by how pedestrian my
    language sounds compared to your
    flowery and metaphorical descrip-

    My language is much more a
    utilitarian style useful in
    designing bridges that won't
    fall down because of mis-

    Quit bragging about how smart
    your kids are although I must
    admit you are very adept at
    unconsciously (?)making them part
    and parcel of your response! LOL

  6. Free2b;
    My previous aside didn't come
    out right.
    My intent was to show that
    your writing skills are to be
    admired and far superior to
    mine in your skillfull use of
    metaphors etc.
    I hope you are using these
    writing skills for more than
    this blog.

  7. Ah, Troll, I can take a ribbing much better than a compliment. Thank you. You write perfectly well, but I'm a little concerned about your line breaks. Won't your return key wear out? (smiley face emoticon here). Now about my kid-bragging, feel free to skip paragraphs and roll your eyes, as it will continue. I consider it my sacred parental duty. My folks were/are, on principle, unproud of me, no matter what I did/do. Even on the day I bore my first child (you'd think that would bring on the accolades), my parents' phoned-in response was "Congratulations! Did you know your sister-in-law just bagged a 14-point elk?" LOL.

  8. Sisu, I'm glad you are back to posting and I look forward to looking up your references. Are you still considering FinnFest? I've blocked out that weekend and would love to meet people from this site.

    I'd like to share an earlier point that might have contributed to my final tipping. When I was 6 or 7, I attended a birthday party up the block. Perhaps my parents were not aware it was a party, or perhaps they had a lapse of rectitude that one day (as I would never attend another). In any case, there was a clown there who asked us to draw his likeness. The best drawing would win a prize. I drew hard (how I loved to draw!), won the contest, and hurried home with my dazzling prize, a beautiful, tiny gold cross on a chain. Well, it was the loveliest thing I'd ever received and I couldn't wait to show it to my mother. Her reaction stunned me. Of course I knew that wearing jewelry was vain, but for some reason I expected her to allow me to keep it, to hide it in a drawer or something. Instead she reacted with disgust at "those Catholics", took my prize, and threw it away. I was hurt and confused. How could something so harmless be wrong? Did this mean I was bad, because I wanted it? That inner conflict would build and build and finally demand resolution.

  9. I wore a small gold cross for many years after my emancipation. The only reason I'm not wearing it now is that my 30 year old chain finally gave up the ghost. I never saw it as an icon. To me it was just my statement that I was one of his. It is also nice to wear a cross because every time it pokes you or you have to straigten it out it brings to mind the one who hung on it for you. At least for me.

  10. Funny how people are... I wonder if the wearing the cross was banned because we try so hard to be different... thus we can't be like Catholics, or because somehow it seemed like "bragging" that we're a Christian? I also find it interesting how raising one's kids diffently brings on a whole new attitude and thought process. My kids would be more likely to think, and rightly so, that I would be pleased if they had a "pretty" that had a cross on it. And that it should be MORE special, not less. As my children get older, I see jewelry and other things that might have a cross depicted, as a way to witness to others.


  11. LLLreader: I have been gone for a couple of months, and am glad to catch up with my fellow travelers. Interestingly enough, I asked my husband to buy me a cross for my birthday in Feb. Obliging fellow that he is, I am now sporting a beautiful gold cross. When my grandson asked me why I wanted it, I told him that it reminds me of Jesus, and he allowed as how that seemed like a good idea. I can't believe that it has taken me this many years to get over the taboo of wearing a cross!!!!! It's strange how some of the OALC teaching stay in your head, even though you aren't aware of them. My "tipping point" came at age 13 or 14. I was riding with my folks, (I remember the exact spot near 50th Ave.) when I suddenly had the thought "it isn't true" about the idea that only the members of the OALC are saved. From that point I listened carefully to what I heard in church, and what I was told by relatives, and I KNEW their teachings had to be wrong.

  12. I've been wearing a silver cross for a while now. Just like LLLReader above, its main purpose for me is to be a remainder of Christ. It's under my shirt (=the traditional Orthodox way) so most people don't see it unless I take off my shirt. I've got both negative and positive comments from "oalcers" who have seen it, but nothing really nasty. By the way, it seems like it's getting more popular among younger "oalcers" in Finland to wear a cross, and many of them wear them visibly even at meetings. But some people still consider it "sinful jewellery".

  13. I'm still "in" rather than "all the way out" but I've had my tipping points, too. When I was little, I found it hard to believe that all the people in the world who don't "believe" would be doomed to hell. I just couldn't see how a poor person, for example, from some out of the way Amazonian river village who had never seen even seen white folks, much less any uskovaiset, could have the chance to believe but rejected that chance. The artist in my soul became fascinated by people of other cultures, foreigners, Native Americans, etc. and I leaned toward drawing pictures of them and reading stories about other cultures in order to understand them. I was already college-age when I realized I, too, was part of a minority culture, one that was influenced greatly by Finnic (Finnish and Saami) culture and world views. I love my sisters and brothers in faith, and consider them believers, but I prefer to keep an open mind. It is dangerous for anyone to believe they alone know the mind of God. At one time, I don't believe the laestadian movement was so exclusive. I believe the exclusivism was born in the United States starting in the 1920's through the 1950's, when Laestadians began to become more mainstream in U.S. society. Think about all that was happening then--television and radio, and consolidation of public schools in which Finns and non-Finns began to mingle and even marry. People went off to war, saw the world, and it changed them forever. Their little microcosm became macro, so to say. People left their "little Finlands" and even moved to a more urban existance. Think of all the little communities in the Upper Penninsula and northern Wisconsin and Minnesota who no longer have a little local church to go to, and the great gains which have been made in the population of our churches in our urban centers. Deciding to stay or go has preoccupied my mind during the last twenty years. I would miss no longer having a community and I would miss not having my family close to me. But it also means sitting in church and at times hearing things I don't believe, even though I hear many things that I do. I've considered mainstream Lutheranism, too, and oddly enough, I find all the rituals a bit too formalized for my personal taste. I find a simple service much more pleasing. I used the Belief-O-Matic, and found I was actually...theologically...hmmmmm...a Quaker. Who would have known?

  14. Many Trails Home3/14/2006 05:20:00 PM

    Hello, Anonymous, I consider myself theologically a Quaker as well, so I do not consider that surprising at all. I am not officially a Quaker as I have not gone through the trouble of joining (yet) and don't feel the need/desire to go to meetings regularly (yet). But I love silent meditative meetings; am rather sick of talk, talk, talk, especially when I want to get close to God, which, frankly, I think talk inhibits. Nothing more personal than communicating with God directly, or having the holy spirit speak through you or me directly. "Where two or more are gathered . . ." Many blessings. MTH

  15. I would like to know if any male Scandanavian OALCer types wear a wedding ring. It sounds like the Finns are a little more liberal then the others, so maybe an answer for both Finns and non-Finns would be in order.

  16. Among the Pollari groups, the married men always wear a wedding ring and I have observed more than one pieced ear(s) on males as well.

  17. jumalan,
    I'm with you! "Worldly" isn't all that bad AT ALL. Music and dancing were designed by God. And as long as it doesn't get out of hand, a drink or three can make for a fantastic night of dancing! But I would encourage you to ask the Lord to lead you to a BIBLE-based church in which you can sing, dance, laugh, cry, or whatever (not drink :). And where they accept you no matter what you wear, or what you do and where they allow the LORD to do the work in you and don't try to do the work for Him. They DO exist...go find one before you write off Christianity in all of its forms.

  18. Many Trails Home3/16/2006 07:27:00 PM

    Dear Anonymous-replying-to-Jumalan-Rauhan: I agree with all you lovers of joyful expression, whether its enjoyment of life and its offerings or joy in the Lord. However . . . I do not think it is at all necessary to find a "BIBLE-based" church or any specifically "Christian" church. I personally think that Jesus himself exists in a purer form outside this constellation of beliefs, rituals, conventions, and interpretations that we call "Christianity" - in that "still small place" for instance and in the privacy of our prayer "closets".
    Many blessings. MTH

  19. Many Scandinavian, "oalcers" wear a wedding ring. In Finland and Norway probably the majority of the young men who get married nowadays wear a ring, but I don't think it's that common in Sweden. I know it used to be quite common among the Finnish oalcers that both the man and the woman bought a ring but only she actually wore the ring. For example my father who got married in the late 1950s has a ring in a drawer somewhere at home. Some of those older men have recently started wearing their rings as it has gradually become more acceptable among the Finnish oalcers.

    Actually in Finland it should be called 'engagement ring' because the wedding ceremony of the Lutheran church in Finland only allows the use of a female wedding ring. In Finland, married women usually wear two rings, the engamenet ring and the wedding ring, while married men only wear one ring, the engagement ring. In Norway, the wedding ceremony of the Lutheran church allows also the use of a male wedding ring, so the Norwegian men's rings can rightly be called wedding rings because they play a role in the wedding ceremony.

  20. My best friend was an OALCer from the U.S. I asked her about the ring-thing when we were growing up. She said that if a man was from outside the church before marriage, he would wear a ring to show he was married.

    However, if he had always been an OALCer, he would not wear a ring. This is because men are allowed to hit on women (thus they need to know who is married and who is not). But women are not allowed to ask men out, so they do not need to know if someone is married by checking out their left hand.


  21. I'd like to comment on 'AUGH!'s "women are not allowed to ask men out". That is false.

  22. MTH, I totally understand how you say that you can have a personal relationship with Christ with or without any certain church, but why do you think that we don't need the Bible to be the basis of our relationship with Him?

    I'm from a non-denominational church now, and there are NO "rituals" or "conventions" only a group of people and a kind, honest, and loving pastor who speaks the truth from the Word. We wear jeans and tee shirts or a dress and cute heels, but nobody cares what anyone wears.

    Some of us have a drink or two now and then, some don't. Some raise their hands and dance during worship, some don't. Some are rich, some are poor. Everyone's accepted. But there is ONE thing that we all believe: The Bible is the true and living word of God.

    I mean no offense, I'm just very curious.

  23. PS-I'm not the non-denom from the "cartoon" discussion.

  24. Many Trails Home3/17/2006 05:23:00 PM

    To Anonymous: Well, frankly, I don't believe the Bible is the "true and living word of God." It was created by man with some inspiration from God, and certainly is valuable to the extent that it documents the life and teachings of Jesus. But it is full of distortions, inconsistencies, changes inserted by the early Catholic church for its purposes, etc, to say nothing of the fact that it was partially the result of "committee negotiation" (study the early history of the church and you may be in for some surprises.) We have frozen the "word of God" into static dogma, and God is if anything not static.
    Many blessings to all in our search for truth. MTH

  25. Okay, MTH. I didn't realize I'd hit such a hot button. I was curious and you definitely answered my question as to your point of view.

    Although I wholeheartedly disagree, I won't argue with you. It's certainly interesting to hear your point of view. I'd be even more interested to know how and why you came to believe so strongly against the Bible, yet still believe in Christ.

    God bless, M~

  26. Dear M at 6:42,

    I think you may have read emotions into MTH's comments that he/she didn't necessarily feel. If you read other authors more, such as Pagels, Armstrong, Ehrman, and even Yancey, Cahill, and Zukav, you would become aware of how the message was changed from the first year onward. That doesn't mean that one wouldn't believe in Christ. It just means that humans have distorted the message for their very human, personal reasons. We can, in many ways, go back to the original message of Jesus and still believe in Him. In fact, the message feels much more powerful and His life feels much more genuine when you remove many of the layers we have placed on it.

    Dear Free,
    I'm hoping to make it to Finn-Fest, but we have a family event the following weekend, so I'm not making definite plans yet. It would mean so much to me to be there and met some of these folks in our online community.
    The topic of consciousness I referred to in my last posting is discussed in M. Scott Peck's book "The Road Less Traveled and Beyond", chapter 2.

  27. Thanks for the news, Sisu. Our friend on the island will not be at FinnFest as he is going to Finland. Let me know what you decide. I'm still planning on attending.

    Troll, where are you? I hope my teasing didn't go too far. Come back!

    There is a new book out by historian Gary Wills called "What Jesus Meant." Is anyone interested in reading the book and having an online discussion about it?

  28. Dear Free,
    I'm interested in reading the book you suggested. I'm currently reading "Misquoting Jesus", by Bart Ehrman. It's interesting and he certainly comes with credentials. In the past I've read "Stealing Jesus" by Bruce Bawer (rather strident), "The Hidden Jesus" by Donald Spoto (this one had an impact), and "Jesus Against Christianity" by Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer (he says Christianity in content and practice is disconnected from the Jesus of history). An author's voice always comes through the writings, and it's interesting to read different perspectives.

    My daughter told me about our mutual friend going to Finland. I need to email him to see if he wants me to house-sit. I have offered so he wouldn't worry about leaving. We could perhaps be in contact through him?

  29. sisu,
    First of all, I don't think you can answer for MTH. And second, is God not big enough to use the Bible even though human hands were the ones who penned the words?
    And how can you "go back to the original message of Jesus" without the Bible unless you were THERE??
    MTH-I'm still interested in your response...

  30. I regards to the person who was wondering if people from this site would like to read the book "What Jesus Meant" by Gary Wills.

    I would love to! I have read a few of the book out re: the lost gospels. I am currently reading
    Dr. Spong and the New Christianity.

    I actually woke up this morning wishing I could find a group of people interested in this topic.
    And...it was on this site.

    So-I will pick up the book-What Jesus Meant.

    God's Peace!

  31. Many Trails Home3/19/2006 11:07:00 AM

    Dear M,
    I found it rather amusing that you think you hit my "hot button". I don't consider it a hot button at all; it makes me wonder if I hit YOUR "hot button!" But I do appreciate that you wish not to be argumentative; that accomplishes nothing but ill will in my experience.
    Secondly, au contraire, Sisu actually can answer for me to some extent. If you have followed our commentary, you will see that we are rather of like minds and he/she answered for me more eloquently than I will likely answer for myself! We have both asked, asked, asked, and have received.
    Thirdly, of course God is "big enough" to use the Bible, but I would suggest you ask him directly if he maintained strict control of the whole thing, or if it's possible that he let human free will and limited human understanding have some part in its final composition, free will that might have (intentionally or not) distorted the message. If you ask those kinds of questions, you will get answers. Conversely, if you are happy with what you believe (and there is certainly nothing wrong with that), you will not get answers to questions that you never asked!
    Finally, you can get closer to the "original message" of Jesus if you want to know what it was. There are ways, but you have to ask, dig, be open-minded, and eventually accept that we can never really know exactly for sure but we can get close enough - with God guiding our quest.
    So here is the "bottom line" of what I have learned from my asking, asking, asking. And you will see that it is very personal for me, so therefore I do not need to proselytize anyone else (no "hot button"), as what you believe is also very personal and right for you.
    I believe that the core of Jesus message was "love one another." If we love one another and the Lord, all the rest is trivia. Period. So our understandings are interesting, even entertaining, but not essential. I would go so far as to say that God does not care a fig for what we believe, as long as we love Him and one another, and live in such a way that we hurt no one. Very simple, very simple. Many blessings to you, M~ Many Trails Home

  32. MTH-

    This topic has hit many a "HOT Buttons" with many people. I find that I am not able to discuss this topic with many family members. The Bible is said to be God inspired. Even though Gospels were hidden and found in Egypt in 1945, people still wish to say that these gospels were not included because they were not God inspired. How does anyone know this? How do we know that God did not wish Mary Magdeline's words of Love to be included in the Bible. Was it only because the men of the time were not ready for woman to speak in the temples? Jesus allowed women to speak and was even crticized for discussing doctrine with a woman.

    Since the beginning of time people have needed to feel close to their god and to feel that they were the chosen ones. This they hoped would protect them and their people. This is not a bad hope.

    People have wanted to personalize God and make him their father to protect them and to guide them.
    This puts human words to what God is. I don't think explaining who God is, can be that easy. Nor, do I think that creating a bunch of rules will make us closer to God.
    I think we get caught up in the rules and forget to focus on our own souls and our purpose for being here on earth.

    The rules written in the biblical early times, kept order and kept people alive. We certainly are not following all the rules laid out in Leviticus. That would certainly be interesting in today's world.

    Jesus came and told us to love God and to love one another. This is the most important commandment.

    As we struggle with the God described in the Bible. The one who brought plagues on people and
    set Job up to be tested by the devil. The God, man says will not have woman hold head positions in churches. The God, we know cannot protect us from all the world's evils, even if we are so trying to live the life he intended. We need to focus on what Jesus peached in the short years that he was here.

    This is to LOVE, as you said. This love incompasses all of us. I find this the hardest of all commandments and rules that the churches have put on us.

    It is hard to love your neighbor who does not look or act like you.
    It is hard to love a group of people who may hate you because you are not from their religion.
    It is down right hard.

    As we struggle with our questions, I once heard a Catholic priest say that it is good to question. It brings us closer to God.

    So, are we to take the Bible literally? I think it is good to question and to seek answers to our questions.

    I think we all do that at this site.

    And God's Peace.

  33. MTH,
    First of all, allow me to thank you for your response. Your points of view are interesting and I can tell that you are an intelligent person. (ha,ha-no, you didn't hit my hot button, I just took the "well, frankly..." part as a little snappy, that's all)
    My understanding is this: In the early days, when the Old Testament was written, they were under the law. False prophets were punished by death. (Deut. 13:5 & 18:20)
    God says in Proverbs that "Every word (in the Hebrew, this word means 'the word of God, the Torah') of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar." (30:5, 6) So through even just these two examples, you can see that God would defend His word. Had the prophets who wrote the OT been false, they would have been exposed and put to death (because Christ had not yet paid the price for sin). And the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old.
    I agree that the core message of Christ was that we love one another, and I agree that we certainly do focus a lot on trivial things. But-and maybe you just worded it differently than I understand it-I know that I know that I know that God cares what we believe, and that is this: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (Jesus' words in Jn. 14:6) If we don't have Him, we don't have anything. Very simple, indeed.
    May the Holy Spirit make the truth real to us daily.

  34. Dear Anonymous 3:53,
    I agree with you concerning other writings. The more one reads, the more one is aware of other writings out there. You could add the Dead Sea Scrolls to new-found writings, most of which are just now entering main-stream reading. I think this will have a huge impact on the direction of spiritual thought and belief in Christianity. I just learned from reading "Misquoting Jesus" that people have questioned what was put in the Bible, as well as changes made in the text, for several hundred years, and we have extensive writings on this subject. Now isn't THAT interesting to us ex-OALCers who were taught that the Bible is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I remember our Dad reading the Bible (he is the only one I know of who read it on his own at home) in Finnish because he said the translation was better since it was done directly from Greek. I don't know how he knew that.

  35. Interesting how this thread developed -- from how we "tipped" away to questioning the bible! There have certainly been some thought provoking and interesting comments made.

    I like this forum -- albeit I'm on the road so much that I don't get on as often as I'd like -- because it seems folks are able to discuss these issues without resorting to flaming.

    I guess I have a lot more trust in the bible than some of the writers, but I respect their right to believe differently. I do like the theme that it is all about love, although I think that's a manifestation of belief and not the belief itself.

    Free, I plan to be at FinnFest and would like to meet you if we can figure out how to do that. Of course, between now and then, my company might decide they need me in some far flung spot around the globe as they have the last three times there's been a FinnFest close to me. :-(

  36. Dear Free,

    Could you please post the dates for FinnFest again? I have conflicting information and would like to start making some travel plans. Thank you.

  37. Anonymous @ 6:04 pm

    I have read some of MHT postings a find it to be a riddle. MHT never directly answers many questions. I see this person just a minister at the leastadian based churches who not able to answer questions.
    I also have observed that quoting bible verses just gets you nowhere with MTH. Also I near as I can tell MTH does not believe in Christ. Or at least does not accept Jesus Christ as "personal Lord and Savior"

    God Bless

  38. I recently began reading "Misquoting Jesus." What a fascinating book, and how interesting that some of the early scribes copying or translating the Bible complained about earlier scribes either mistranslating or copying words incorrectly. And it's not just one example. There appear to be lots of "errors" for lack of a better word.

    I haven't finished it yet.

    I do consider myself a Christian but also believe that the Bible contains errors. Maybe the word was perfect back in those days they were living out New Testament events. But as time went on, errors crept into the texts (especially since they were only written down years after Christ's death). It's kind of like playing "telephone." Where one person whispers a sentence to the next person and that goes around the room until the person at the end states what they heard and it is very different from the original sentence!

    I do accept Jesus Christ as my Lord. I do not believe that Christianity is the only path to God.

    God's Peace

  39. Free:
    Re: Teasing
    I considered your minor teas-
    ing as just a rejoinder to
    my jab at your bragging.
    You will have to do a lot
    better than that to get under
    the skin of this bull-headed

  40. Many Trails Home3/20/2006 05:51:00 PM

    Greetings. I do have to respond to Anonymous @ 6:04, as that posting was very intriguing indeed. So I write in riddles, you say; well, Jesus wrote in parables, so maybe I'm in good company! (just kidding). I wonder what questions I did not answer directly. And you are right: quoting Bible verses gets you nowhere. I ignore it; I don't want to argue. But one thing I have learned since participating on this site: you cannot expect closure all the time, or even most of the time. Loose ends abound in these conversations, and apparently arriving at some conclusion or concensus is not the point: we are just sharing and conversing and taking tangents right and left, losing our train of thought and maybe coming back to it again. It's a different way of communicating, that's for sure, and I've come to rather like it.

    As to whether or not I believe in Christ: I don't think it is absolutely necessary to believe in Christ and so I do not make a big deal out of it. But since you asked, I love Jesus as my Lord, the Lord of all humanity and the created world(s). That's who I happen to believe that he is. Having never been a "born again" Christian, I never quite got what the "personal Lord and Savior" thing was all about, but I do believe that that is a cut above the Laestadian version of the Christ. Personal is good. Jesus and God are very, very personal.

    Many blessings to you all, and I hope no one takes offense, as I mean none. I am as strong in my beliefs (knowings) as I am sure you are in yours, and I also do recognize their limitations. MTH

  41. This is an interestin discussion, indeed... I'd like to comment on a few things.

    -Someone mentioned the Finnish translation of the Bible being a direct translation from Greek. Well, that's true about the more modern translations, like the ones done in 1933/38 and the one done in 1992. However, the translation used by the Finnish Laestadians, usually referred to as the 1776 translation, is not a direct translation from Greek and Hebrew. It was mainly based on the German and Swedish translations. There's also another difference between that translation and the more modern ones: the modern ones are based on so-called critical texts (mostly the one done by Nestlé-Aland I think), while the old one is based on the textus receptus, which I believe is very close to the text of the NT the Greek church has passed on from generation to generation. The critical texts have been compiled by comparing different pieces of manuscripts, choosing the manuscripts the scholars have considered to be the most reliable ones.

    -My personal opinion on Bible is that it shouldn't be taken literally (by literal I mean making interpretations based on every single word and sentence structure, I do believe that all the teachings and the stories told in the Bible are true). And if it is taken literally, only the Greek text can be taken literally because the other texts are only translations, and a translation can never transmit the message in its fullness. But if you want to take the Greek text literally, the problem is that there are so many different Greek texts. There is the text version that has been passed on from generation to generation in the Greek church, and then there are old manuscripts that contain only pieces of the NT books. None of them is complete, and there are minor differences in the words and the contents of those manuscripts. So, I think those who want to interpret the Bible literally, are walking on a thin ice.

    -As for believing in the Bible, I'd actually put like this: I believe in the Church, and hence I believe in the Bible. I believe the early church fathers were more capable of seeing what was safe and what was unsafe teaching than me, and were able to choose the books that were safe and included them in the canon of the Bible, leaving other books outside of the canon. But this doesn't mean that all the other books are wrong, and that they don't contain anything useful. There are many things the Bible doesn't say, but to which you can find answers in other early writings. The Bible is the most valuable part of the holy tradition of the Church, but it is not the only part. However, whenever we read writings that were not included in the canon of the Bible, we should exercise extreme caution. For example the Nag Hammadi books I believe someone mentioned above (the ones found in Egypt), many of them are worth reading and contain valuable spiritual treasuries, but some of them also contain erroneous teaching, like the Gnostic idea of a good supreme god and an evil creator god (which makes everything physical in essence evil, which is quite the contrary to the Christian view of all the creation being good).

  42. Anon-replying-to-me-about-MTH,
    You may know a lot more than I do about these people because I only found this website a few days ago. First thing, let me say that I appreciate you trying to fill me in. But I'd also like to point out that you seemed a little cold in your description of MTH. If he/she, in fact, does not believe in Christ shouldn't we have compassion? (we now know from the reply to you that he/she does)

    I'd also like to point out that I haven't quoted Scripture in order to prove I'm right or even to sway anyone's beliefs. I quoted Scripture because I prayerfully asked the Lord how to respond kindly and lovingly, and He gave me the answer there.

    MTH-I'm hurt that you answered the anon replying to me, but you had nothing to say to me. I thought we were having interesting conversation...

    Have a blessed day, M~

  43. Many Trails Home3/21/2006 11:08:00 AM

    Dear M~ I am quite sorry, I did not mean to ignore you or hurt your feelings! You are a sweetie.

    I have to say, it does bother me a little that your prayerful request to the Lord resulted in the references to the OT. The OT is full of absolutely awful stuff!! Such as Lot's daughters getting him drunk so he has intercourse with them to impregnate them, because they have no access to other partners. And these are God's people?? God's chosen? Ugh. It makes me shudder. Even the Psalms, which are some of the most beautiful pieces written, are full of references, over and over again, to "enemies, enemies, enemies." Save me from my enemies; give me dominion over my enemies so I can slaughter them. We certainly see that attitude in full flower in the Middle East as we speak, and it is not yielding healthy fruit! So no, I do not consider the OT the unadulterated, pure word of God, either.

    I do love "I am the Way," etc and subscribe to it absolutely, but I suspect my understanding of it is not the same as yours. Many blessings to you, gentle M~

  44. Many Trails Home, You didn't hurt my feelings THAT bad...just a teeny bit. ;)
    I agree with you that a lot of the Old Testament is rough, but I assume that, by His mercy, God allowed a lot of those weird things to be written so that we wouldn't feel inferior. I figure God could have written only the "good" stuff and left out all of the things that make us cringe, but then we'd feel like we could never measure up or be accepted by Him. He is full of wisdom, and, not being bound by time, He could see our lives at the same time they were living theirs. I don't know about anyone else, but I know that I daily struggle with feeling "good enough" in life, never mind before God (I have to remind myself that all is paid through Christ). Maybe He could see that about us before He even wrote the book. I don't know, I can't speak for God, but I feel I know something of His heart. And I know that He created us, He loves us, and He has compassion for us.

    Allow me to share with you how the Psalms have deeply touched my life. I've struggled almost my whole life with deep bouts of depression (undiagnosed and untreated until about a year and a half ago) and low self esteem. As I got older, anxiety, fear, and confusion have added to the mix. To me, THOSE are the "enemies" of today. During the most difficult times, the times when it seemed like no one could possibly understand how I felt, I would open the Word and read how David would plead with the Lord to deliver him (and he'd always end up praising Him in the end) and I knew that God understood. To me, the Psalms are not just beautiful poetry as they are to a lot of people. They have reached into the depths of my soul, and I dare say that they have saved my life.
    And, just so people like me wouldn't idolize King David, God showed us what a flawed individual he was by including how he had sex with Bathsheba and murdered her husband. That doesn't mean that God didn't love him or use him.
    WOW--MTH, maybe you hit a tender spot with me that time, hmmm? (well, I guess you can't see the tears soaking my face)
    Many blessings to you as well.
    "Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
    My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?
    Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love."
    Psalm 6:2-4
    This is just one of the many sections I've underlined in my Bibles.

  45. Great posts, all.

    MTH, another name for this site could be "learning to live with loose ends." Spot on.

    M, thank you for sharing your struggles. Depression is indeed an enemy, one that I have encountered several times. Thank God for modern pharmacology (as well as those incredible Psalms). In the paper this morning, I read that treating mothers for depression decreases depression in their children. No brainer, right?! If only our mothers had had the resources we do.

    M, I'm puzzled by the suggestion that God would allow bad things to be written so that we wouldn't feel inferior. How does reading about a God that kills Egyptian babies make one feel less inferior? This is a god made in our image, a tribal God, not the God who is the Ground of All Being, the God of Perfect Love,

    It is well past time in human history for Christians (and Jews and Muslims) to let go of the doctrine of election. It is barbaric in its consequences and the war that is currently claiming so many lives is one of them.

    Theoforos, I'm very interested in knowing why you trust the early church fathers' judgment as to what should be considered the Word of God. Is it the position of the Orthodox Church that they were inspired in their choices?

  46. Hi Free, I hope I didn't sound too "weepy" but as I was writing, this amazingly grateful spirit came over me and I just thank and praise the Lord for being with me when I was in it, and also for taking me out!

    Allow the not-always-pretty truth to be written is what I said. (truth being the operative word) I think the "Egyptian babies" you're talking about were the firstborns that the angel of death took during the passover. Yes there probably was a baby or two, but "firstborn" doesn't necessarily mean "baby". And I don't think we should forget that in that instance, Pharaoh renegged on his word to let God's people go. God then sent multiple plagues which were disgusting, but not deadly, and gave Pharaoh a chance each time to do what he had already promised to do. And each time, he refused. And then, there was a way that they could have saved their firstborn by putting the blood on their doorposts. But they refused to believe that God meant what He said through Moses. If God had just said, "Oh well, I guess Pharaoh just won't give in. I said the firstborn of every house without the blood would die, but that would be mean so I guess I won't do it after all," what kind of god would that be? How could any of us ever trust in what He says, good OR bad, if He hadn't been trustworthy and done what He said He would do? And that was the "straw that broke Pharaoh's back", wasn't it? He finally let Moses and his people go. That makes me feel less inferior because I know that God will stand up for me. Because God has proven that He does what He says He'll do, I know that when I read in Revelation how Satan and all evil will be overcome, God won't change His mind just because it won't be pretty. To me, "a god made in our image" is a god who doesn't follow up on what he says he'll do, and who allows man to dictate how things are done. It's not like God didn't give Pharaoh at least nine HUGE chances before taking such drastic measures. But if I'm in the place where the people of Israel were, I'm going to be thankful that God would take such measures to ensure my freedom and safety.

    I know that God is big enough to defend His Word, so I know I don't have to do it for Him, but you asked how that particular instance would make me feel less inferior. I grew up AFRAID of God. I always thought He was just watching me, ready to hurt me or send me to hell when I did the least thing wrong. That's not really Him!

    Wow, I hate to write such LONG segments...people might get bored.
    Blessings, Free, and all o' y'all :)

  47. Free2beme, yes, the inspiration and the guidance of the Holy Spirit is probably the most important thing as it comes to the fathers choosing the books to be included in the canon of the NT. But if I compare myself to them, also the fact that they were historically closer to the moment those bookes were written makes them more capable of choosing the right books than me. So, if I read something in some other texts that seems very contradictory to the contents of the canonical books, I find it safer to trust the canonical books.

  48. Thank you, M and Theo, for your responses. It is not surprising to me that we have very different perspectives . . . but it is thrilling, as a former OALCer, that we can discuss them with respect. I hope our angry flamer (whose comments I have removed) can see this kind of dialogue as an alternative that deserves a try. Isn't this one way we put Christ's love in practice?

    God bless you all.