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

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Getting Philosophical

Thanks to our anonymous Spinoza / Einstein quoter (please send me an email, by the way, I have a question for you), here is a new topic in the heavyweight category. Enjoy or ignore, as you please. Don't feel obligated to comment on topic, but if you have wrestled these guys, please share your experience. (And if you enjoy this kind of thing, check out this interesting review of a book about religion by an atheist.

Our quoter's post:
"Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just and omnibeneficent personal God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance; also, by virtue of its simplicity it is accessible to the most undeveloped mind. But, on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses attached to this idea in itself, which have been painfully felt since the beginning of history. That is, if this being is omnipotent then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?"

And, Einstein replied to a man asking him whether he believed in the God of Spinoza:

"I can't answer with a simple yes or no. I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza's pantheism, but admire even more his contributions to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to deal with the soul and the body as one, not two separate things."


"Baruch Spinoza was a 17th century Dutch philosopher of Jewish heritage whose major work entitled Ethics that began with words, "By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite — that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality." Spinoza later continued, "Whatever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived."

Einstein first discovered Spinoza while working in the Bern patent office and, throughout the rest of his life, he referred to Spinoza's guiding determinism in which nature operates according to immutable laws of cause and effect. When asked by a rabbi from New York in 1929 if he believed in God, Einstein sent this message by telegram: "I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."


  1. I am here, please converse.

  2. Do you come from a Laestadian background?

  3. More to the point, if you are familiar with LLL, do you think his science affected his theology?

  4. Sometimes I question whether our idea of free will is an illusion, and everything is deterministic. If so, the existence of God wouldn't make much difference. One study showed "The onset of cerebral activity clearly preceded by at least several hundred milliseconds the reported time of conscious intention to act."

    Einstein said, "I do not believe in free will. Schopenhauer's words: 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper."

    Ultimately, I don't think it makes too much difference whether free will exists, because it feels as if it does. In the same way, even if love is a deterministic result of evolutionary adaptation to allow for better gene transmittal, I still feel it. The love is still real to me.

  5. Horatio Mattila1/20/2007 10:59:00 PM

    There is no god. That sort of simplifies all kinds of things, doesn't it? History will judge us as simple minded and naive. Belief in god belongs in the same rubbish bin as the idea that the sun revolves around the earth.... which by the way is flat and has dragons at the edge of the map.


  6. Research I read in a Psych. and Religion class claimed that scientists in biology and medicine tend to be less likely to believe in God, while those from the "hard sciences" like physics were more likely to believe, or accept God's likelyhood.

    I am curious if LLL had any educated contemporaries who wrote about him that would provide insights?

    I also am inclined to wonder if the basis of his theology might be similar to St. Augustine. Augustine spent his younger years basicly living the wild life, then later preached on and on against the "flesh" and worldly concerns. He had alot to do with the whole mind /body ( body/ soul) split in western thought. How else does your theology get to be a big list of what not to do?

    I think free will is a requirement, or why would God bother?

  7. Re:Neckties,the Milky Way,and
    the Universe.

    I have my own philosophy based in
    part on this quote by Carl Sagan
    in Comos and my own study of the

    "A handful of sand contains about
    10,000 grains ,more than the
    number of stars we can see with
    the naked eye on a clear night.
    But the number of stars we can
    see is only a fraction of the
    number of stars that there are
    ---The total number of stars in
    the universe is greater than all
    the grains of sand on all the
    beaches of the planet earth."

    Our sun is only one of these
    grains of sand with a small
    blue planet orbiting it at
    exactly the right distance and
    tilt to make life and this
    discussion possible !

    Considering the scope,grandeur,
    and mystery of the above do you
    honestly think God is concerned
    with your neck attire ?

    I am with MTH on this. God sent
    Jesus to this planet to instruct
    us to "Love thy neighbor" and how
    we do this is up to us.

    P.S. Free will is a tough one.
    I will however use it to
    comment later.

  8. Many Trails Home1/21/2007 01:53:00 PM

    Ditto to anonymous: "I think free will is a requirement, otherwise why would God bother." Well put.
    Here I will go out on a limb. If one does not accept the possibility of reincarnation, then a lot of the experiences and predicaments of mankind seem hopelessly unfair. What good is free will if we are born into some hopelessly abusive circumstance? Or mentally deficient, physically handicapped, psychotic, etc etc. That aspect of existence - what we are born into - would certainly appear predetermined and I believe it is. What we make of it is up to us: free will.
    The corollary is: we are not "punished" because we got an apparently "raw deal" in the birth-attribute sweepstakes. We make of it what we can and "will." Whether we consider it "good fortune" or "bad fortune" to have been born into Laestadianism, it was part of the deal. And I am quite sure "God" takes all that into consideration. The universe is magnificent and orderly, and I believe so is our own existence and place in it.

    I love the quotes of Einstein, Sagan, et al. MTH

  9. Living in what I admit is a pretty black and white world, I usually don't get into philosophical discussions where there is no data but no shortage of opinions! However, I am finding this discussion quite interesting. I believe that God is interested in us, listens to our prayers, and protects us from a lot of dragons that we don't even know exist. I agree with Trails that we are dealt a hand and what we do with it is where the free will comes in.

    People are born into the world in every conceivable situation possible, and some rise to great heights regardless of where they started, as others fall to great depths from similar beginnings.

    One concept that I've mulled over many times is that of predestiny. When in a situation where I have little control over the outcome, I have a deep and abiding faith that what is meant to be, will be -- and whether or not I agree with the result matters not a whit. How many times have we all had something happen in our lives that caused us great angst, only to look back on it much later and realize we need to thank God because it was exactly the right solution?

    That said, I also believe that we have free will to do or not do, to believe or not believe, to love or not love, and so on. While I believe God has given us an intellect and certain level of understanding that will allow us to exercise that will and serve him, I wonder sometimes whether we shouldn't turn more of our lives over to him and worry less about steering the ship ourselves...

    Perhaps unfortunately, as a Myers/Briggs ESTJ, my prayer could too often be described as "It's all in your hands Lord, but if you need any help..." :-)

  10. To the coward who posted that hateful message about my wife (which the host deleted for good reason): You know who you are. Why are you arfaid of attacking us outside the cloak of anonymity? Like it has been said here befofe, guerilla warfare is OALC specialty. When I have a problem with an OALC member, I call them. Just ask your preachers. Not only do I call them, I have e-mailed two of them but have not gotten responses nor do I expect they will. You dont have to post your name on the blog, just give me a call. Obviously we know each other.

  11. Also to the yellow OALC'er Artie is refering to...

    Does it bother you that your "leaders" would LIE to get hold of web domains and stifle free speech?

    Your rude, hatefull, ugly comment shows the OALC teaches a basic lack of respect for women in particular, and anyone who does not agree with you in general.

    If you do not like freedom of thought, speech, religion, freedom for women to think for themselves, dress how they would like to without being stoned... maybe The United States Of America really isn't the country for you and other like minded people????

  12. The attitude of some in the OALC is becoming more & more apparant in their postings. I am not saying all, but some. Exactly the way they have been described is coming to fruition on their own behalf.
    I for one could never be a member of a body of "christians" who act, treat & speak to others outside their reality, the way that they do.
    I wish they would all read their bible....the word & instructions of God. They would find great error in their teachings, practices & attitudes.
    It would scare the skirts off most of them & at the same time it is so sad to see folks just wanting to do right by God, but being led by men & preachers to go directly against what Jesus Christ came to earth to live & die for.
    Attitudes & actions of some in the OALC make the plight of Jesus Christ worth nothing.
    The bible doesnt say only love those who agree with you. It says love your neighbor (no matter who it is....like Jesus did) AS YOURSELF.

  13. adding to above -

    If you give someone a long enough rope, they will eventually hang themselves.

    If you give a ignorant minded person a shovel, they will eventually dig their own grave.

    It looks like you have handed a few people a shovel & a rope. It's up to them (by actions & comments) what they do with them!

  14. Wow, the post from the yellow-belly oalcer must have been a hum dinger, to get everyone so riled up! It was deleted before I could read it. I am not surprised. Unfortunately, there are some hateful people in the oalc, not all, but some.
    Isn't it interesting that the oalc preaches that the internet is a sin, but they violate their own words and come on these sites to argue and try to stifle free speech. Of course, they should put up their own web site, but they can't as long as they preach against it as sin! If it wasn't so sad it would almost be funny.

  15. stranger in a strange land1/22/2007 08:54:00 AM


    No, am not a janitor, rather a research and program assistant working on my master's degree. And yes, its possible even I can make a typo although I generally spell quite well. I never claimed to be pefect.

    And in case you hadn't noticed, the clown college link was a bit tongue-in-cheek.

    I don't look down on anyone for not going to college. I didn't start myself until I was in my mid-twenties, when it became obvious I had to begin means to support myself. My own grandparents had less than an 8th grade education. My great-grandfather, an Apostolic Lutheran Lutheran minister who started out preaching with the OALC in North Dakota, was self-educated to the point he was able to act as a lawyer and was called upon to help draw out wills and other legal documents.

    My problem with you is that you so obviously pretend to be a professor of a university, when its obvious you don't have enough knowledge of academic work to even place yourself in the right discipline. Do you think that among this "worldly" audience, identifying yourself as a pedagogue will shame us into quitting this blog?

    The fact is, its a free country, and we have our right to express ourselves as we wish.

    Why don't you start your own blog that is pro-OALC to refute this blog? It seems it would be a better use of your time rather than falsely identifying yourself as an adademic.

  16. The continued generalizations kill me. I regret any inappropriate messages, but do you have to likewise respond with the statements which link most OALC'ers as haters. You don't know who is writing to incite. I can't think of one relative of mine who would. Opposing opinions and even a little testiness is obviously going to occur in a blog of this nature, but STOP PUTTING ALL OALC'ers under one label. Free, can you not see this? Do you label your own family this way? I surely would like to see a little defense stated in behalf of a group that is getting attacked from all sides. I've looked at myself as an observer, but am really wondering now what the invitation to OALC'ers is all about.

  17. I think we should use this discussion to teach them what they believe in. I feel most of them do not even know themselves. Still no response from the OALC preachers if "Faith to Faith" is how they believe. I am sure they have read it by now.

  18. Anonymous, I would never label the OALC haters, least of all my family. They are sweethearts.

    Sure, there have been overgeneralizations . . . but there has also been restraint. I let it all go -- but when it gets personal I have to draw the line.

    The hateful message (advocating violence) named names, or I too would have suspected that it was a prank designed to draw fire (or to demonstrate how low this blog can go).

    Now, can we get back to free will and the nature of God? Thanks for all the intriguing posts on that subject. Horatio, you don't believe in the same God I don't believe in, if it is the old man in the clouds we're talking about.

    As for LLL having a wild youth like St. Augustine, I don't think so. He was very poor and a dedicated scholar. Perhaps he envied wild youth, though (he complained about his fellow researchers -- on the French excursion to collect botanical samples from Lapland -- wining and dining on the boat while he tramped around the tundra). Perhaps the source of his legalism is revenge?!

    Now about free will and all that, I suspect that like Ilmarinen, it doesn't matter. But fun to ponder. The other day our 6-year old daughter was musing about where we go after we die: "Maybe now we're in a bubble, and outside of that bubble, there is another bubble, and outside of that there is the real world, you know, with unicorns and fairies and stuff." A little girl's fantasy of heaven! It reminded me of CS Lewis and his idea that in heaven the grass is so real, so sharp, it cuts mortal's feet.

  19. Many Trails Home1/22/2007 12:14:00 PM

    Free, I was pondering this last little conflagration at some length. I was admiring your restraint in pulling out the offending OALCer post, as I probably w/have been inclined to leave it in and let "him" hang by his own petard - however, I don't remember the details and it was definitely inflammatory. But it certainly was proof from their own mouths of the attitude of at least some.
    So regarding lumping all the OALCers under that umbrella: of course they don't all fit that venomous mold BY ANY MEANS. However, in a closed-belief system such as the OALC (or fundamentalist Islam), the most extreme have the strongest influence. Whoever heard any preacher preaching "moderation" in anything? I never did. In fact, the more moderate were less likely to be sent on the missionary circuit. The OALCers who actually BELIEVE and live moderation do it quietly, keeping their attitude more to themselves and toeing the line publicly. The hard-liners have the appearance of strength and righteousness, and they are difficult to argue against from the inside. Therefore they carry more weight and influence than their numbers would suggest. That's why I think it does matter what the hard-liners think, more than the moderates.
    One of the ABSOLUTE BLESSINGS of a site of this sort is the OPENNESS, the "glasnost," the pursuit of the TRUTH about which so many of us are passionate. The TRUTH is something that will forever remain buried in absolutist organizations such as the OALC, where to think is to question is to "doubt" is to jeopardize one's eternal salvation. Therefore is "doubt" considered one of the most treacherous of sins. BS I say, triple BS. The squelching of questioning leads to tyranny, in this case "spiritual tyranny." The very inflammatory nature of the yellow-OALCer would support that. Whew, I wish him freedom, freedom from fear and tyranny, the poor . . .
    One of my brother's friends, a very moderate fellow, standing with me in the food line after church, said "It's important to keep busy so we don't have time to think." Supposing we ran our country like that, we'd be under some hard-line dictator for sure. But they don't see the analogy.
    Yet all in all, we must wish them well, wish them God's peace, wish them wisdom and understanding. I have great love for many of them. MTH

  20. I think doubt can actually be the Holy Spirit trying to tell you something. To not be able to doubt, is not being able to think objectively.

  21. to anon Jan 22, 932

    I was very surprised to hear, what sounds like a current oalcer, upset that all oalcers were put under one label. In my experience being raised oalc, and still every current member I know, that is exactly what they want and must have: one mindedness, one everything: the oalc. And there are two categories of people: oalc and non oalc.

    However I think its healthy to be upset at a "one label for all" judgement, and Im personally very excited to see a current oalcer with that upset. I have always had a pet peeve about being judged as a "one label non oalcer" this way by current oalcers. you are absolutely right, and I have always felt: stop judging me by what church I do or do not attend!!! Please get to know me for who I am and what I believe!!!

    I am not the one who extended the invite to current oalcer, however I wholeheartedly agree and second it because I love to discuss issues with people, regardless of our differences. The difficulty comes, when just as you stated, generalizations are used as content and people are not really listening to each person as an individual.

    So my understanding from reading these posts: the "generalized" comments can apply directly to the individual involved. If you are not like that, please by all means let us know what you are like, what you do think, feel, believe, etc. We would be happy to get to know you and have discussions with you!

    anon jan 22, 956

    It would be nice to be able to teach the oalcers what we think they believe, but that puts us in the same boat I get so peeved at them for: them trying to tell me what they think I believe. It seems to me the best we can do is stick to free's statement: can we get back to free will and the nature of God, encourage them to read the bible. We cant speak for them or to them, anymore than I want them to do that for me. We all have one great resource to use as our foundation and I think we should stick to that.

  22. Free I respect that you keep this blog open to differences, and still prevent it from becoming personal. That is a great middle ground.

    MTH I always respect and appreciate your love and kindness that shines through in your posts. I aim for that, but often fall short with my temper. Thank you for being a calm anchor here.

    cvow I completely agree with your statement about usually not participating when there was little to no data but no shortage of opinions. I had to ask myself why? I think its because Im still sorting out my own opinions and beliefs. I find so often that I havent come to an opinion on my own yet, and I refuse to follow someone else's, that are as variable as there are individuals, so I absorb and digest for awhile first. But yes this conversation is interesting and I will be following along :)

  23. I am an OALCer. I am here to converse on the subject of the church. Any topics?

  24. Welcome, OALCer. Please clear something up for me. I recall in my youth that the OALC taught that it was "the Only Living Christianity" and that other churches, including the ALC, were "heresy" or "Dead Faith." Is this your understanding?

  25. cult

    Collective veneration or worship (e.g., the cult of the saints — meaning collective veneration of the saints — in Roman Catholicism). In the West, the term has come to be used for groups that are perceived to have deviated from normative religions in belief and practice. They typically have a charismatic leader and attract followers who are in some way disenfranchised from the mainstream of society. Cults as thus defined are often viewed as foreign or dangerous.

    Ran across this definition of a cult and wanted to share. This does not fit the OALCer's that I know. I have never none them to be dangerous. The ones I know are kind and loving and would go out of their way to help me or anyone I know. To bad that the ones that come to this site are giving all of their other followers a bad name. Have a great day!

  26. Horatio Mattila1/22/2007 02:23:00 PM

    "Horatio, you don't believe in the same God I don't believe in, if it is the old man in the clouds we're talking about."

    free2bme, I don't believe in ANY superstitious fairy tales. Holy Spirits, Sons of God, it's all a cult to me. A cult of ignorance.

    Rather makes the whole free will discussion a bit academic.

  27. I, too, do not consider the oalc a cult. I do have serious problems with their doctrine however.
    Also,I hope I didn't leave the wrong impression in my previous post that I think all oalcers are hateful. Far from it. I have family and friends there and I love them dearly.
    Can't wait for the reply to Free's question about the one and only "Living Christianity".....

  28. Many Trails Home1/22/2007 02:43:00 PM

    Whooee, Horatio, you are a bit uppity, aren't you? "Holy Spirits, Sons of God" all a "cult of ignorance?" Better watch your arrogant backside; I'd say you were ripe for a comeuppance. Even the likes of Einstein was acutely aware that we have no idea how much we don't know. Go ahead, worship at the altar of science. You are likely to find it a cold, harsh place. I'll take the warmth of the "Holy Spirit" myself, and the comfort of the "Comforter." MTH

  29. free, this is absolutely how it is taught. It is believed that the OALC is the church established by Jesus and passed through time by John Hus, Martin Luther, and finally LLL. The current time is considered the fourth and last 'visitation' of true christians on the earth and all will end when the last name written in heaven is called into the flock. I would like the blog to know that I wish to have a peaceful dialog.

  30. Originally posted on XLLL, this seemed like a good post to introduce myself here.

    I am new to the online world of ex-laestidians (sic)

    I am fascinated. I was raided in the Independant Apostolic Lutheran
    faith, part of the Pollarites that split in 1963. Largest
    Congregations are in Minneapolis, Duluth, Negaunee, MI, Cedar
    Valley, Merengo/North York,Kenosha/Waukegan. Mostly in MN, WI, Upper
    MI, some in NH, and Hemet, CA.

    Are there any others out there like me? Hmmm.

    Anyway, I phased out in my early 20's, although I really started
    pulling away when I was 17/18. No fireworks, no fighting, no tears
    from the parents. I just moved away and managed to avoid going for
    8 years now. Cowards way, sure. But it seems to make Mom and Dad
    happy to have the microsm of hope that I haven't openly rejected the
    faith to their face.

    I suppose I really started questioning when I was 13, and it only
    grew from there. For a few years (3-4) I thought I would be a
    faking active (which there are alot of!), then thought I would be a
    lifetime fringer, then just eased out. I am Jeffersonian in my
    religious views, mostly a Deist in the John Locke vain.

    My experiences were mostly positive growing up. We dressed the way
    we wanted to, listened to the music we wanted to, went to the
    movies, played sports at school, etc... Just no drinking, dancing,
    card playing, or pre-marital sex (sort of, always weird how we were
    so encouraged to "go out" with church girls which basically
    consisted of making out in the back of car or utilty closet). I
    was very popular with my social group at church and we had the
    freedom of no curfew, as long as we were hanging out with each other.

    I just never quite understood the religion part of it, and the fake
    rejoicing (30% of the time), and all the fakers who were there.
    Having weird old men corner mr by the bathroom and tell me that my
    particular hair style etc.. was not ok and paraphrase bible verses
    at me was weird. Also as I grew older I started to hate how
    restrcictive and controlling the social pressure was there. I could
    be anything I wanted to be, except a lawyer, barftender,
    entertainer, or cop, or anything else that might make people
    uncomfortable. This was never really overtly said, just
    undrestood. Also, god forbid I have an active social life outside
    of the church. I hated how for 2 glorious nights a week I was King
    Cool with my church friends, and then for the rest of the week at
    school I was just another guy with few friends.

    So long story short, I am out, and am very very glad. The freedom
    of making all my own decisions and not worriing about what the other
    believers would think is fantastic. I do miss my childhood friends
    though, I envy my friends who still have great relationships with
    their childhood friends. At least my college days were different
    and I am still very good friends with them.

    Enough rambling..

    So Hello everybody.

  31. So, Introductions out of the way, some musings on the topic from an amateur sociologist and philosopher (someday i will finish writing the gospel of ***) (name edited for obvious reasons).

    As stated previously, a bit of a Deist. I accept that it is impossible for me to grasp or understand exactly what sparked that first moments of existense as we know it. So it would be foolish of me to categorically deny the existence of a high power. But, knowing that there are such historical inaccuracys, historical simularities in mythical stories, and the follies of man attached to all the worlds religions, I can not subscribe to any of them. I am not a christ denier, but I am not a christ affirmer either.

    So what does all that mean for my personal ethics? Well if the monotheistic God of the quaran, Torah, and New Testament exists at all, he would have to understand my confusion and reluctance. He gave me free will and intelligence and curiosity, how could I not be a doubting Thomas. So I subscribe to Mills harm Principle, as long as my actions do not cause harm to other people, they are just fine. Also Locke's "right persue Life, Liberty, and Property (or Happiness as Jeferson preffered" as my actions do not infringe on another persons rights of persuit. What those limits are are the endless debate. As long as I attempt give back more joy to life and the people around me then I suck from it, I die a good person. Could a compassionate God fault me? But what if god is a vain and vengeful God like in the Old Testament? Well then he sounds like a bad time anyway and I'll take my chances. I can't stand arrogant blow hards here on earth.

    I have rambled again. Bad Habit.

  32. LLLreader sez: This is about the history of the OALC--so skip over it if you aren't interested. I ordered the book "A Godly Heritage" that someone mentioned here. It was written by six theologians, historians, and such--along with two pastors of Apostolic Lutheran Churches. I compared it to the "History of Living Christianity" written by a committee of OALC members in 1974. I wanted to know, once and for all, when the OALC actually started. The OALC was founded in 1903 in Calumet and has stayed seperate from the other groups since then. There have been no major spits in this group, and the Heidemen, ALC, and all the other splinter groups have nothing to do with the OALC, since they split off in 1903. It's the biggest Apostolic group--having around 10,000 members.
    The OALC book says that Andrew Brenner, a Finn from Hammerfest, Norway was the first in the US to preach the true word. He arrived in Calumet around 1867. He sent a ticket to his friend Solomen Korteniemi to come help spread the word--big trouble followed! In 1872 the first Apostolic congregation was formed, called the Solomon Korteniemi Lutheran Society. The legal papers were signed-- Auguest Tapio and 118 others. I gotta' go--will finish this later this evening. God Bless.

  33. To anon 03:13

    "It is taught", "It is believed", mmm... Familiar phrasing from the oalc. Do you have any scriptural references? I am not an expert on scripture, but no one has been able to show me in the Bible where it says the oalc is Gods true Church. Please provide the chapter/verse to validate your teachings.

  34. Many Trails Home1/22/2007 05:03:00 PM

    Thank you, anonymous OALCer. You seem to be the first OALCer to come on the blog who doesn't have an axe to grind. I will watch with fascination how this dialog unfolds.

    Welcome "Mr. Smith." I enjoyed your "ramble." Some of us love to think! And share. MTH

  35. Free will and an omniscient God is one of those topics that has been around tantalizing us all for eternity and I am sure it will stay. Augustine over 1600 years ago advised us that we have free will even though God knows how it is going to turn out. Aquinas essentially agreed with him. Later, Calvin did not. Even later Tillich went the other way. On the secular front you can get philosophers on both sides of the equation without dealing with the issue of the existence of God. So it seems that free will and God are not connected as you can have one without the other and the other without the one. Take your pick.

    I think the interesting part of this debate is the consequences of each belief. Free will advocates seemed to reach their apogee with the existentialists and specifically Sarte. He phrased it as being “condemned to be free” and here, in my view lies the rub. Yes, we do have free will and it isn’t the easiest way out. Because then we have to take responsibility for our state in life and that is one of the reasons that in our post-modernistic world “free-will” has become less popular. So victimology has entered center stage and we have the debate again.

    As for reincarnation… I find it wonderful to believe in it… I am going to come back as a giant sequoia pine cone… think of the potential. I’ll get to live for ages… it will be slow at the start but in my senior years, I will be admired by millions and worshipped by nature lovers… and best of all, I’ll escape the condition of not only the Augustinian but also the Green Peace “original sin” that we humans find ourselves in.

  36. oalc-doubter, I was simply answering free's question. I do not wish to divulge into a 'I'm right, you're wrong' discussion for that leads nowhere. That being said, I can point to Ephesians 4:5 'One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism' but this is an ambiguous phrase that is commonly interpreted to include all those that believe in Christ. This is where faith comes in. If it were not for faith, I would find it impossible to believe in Christ. As Mr Smith points out-there is a plethora of evidence refuting the validity of the bible (I have read much of it). I believe (I could be wrong) that much of the distaste for the OALC arises from the relatively modern concept of 'having an open-mind'. For if there is one thing an open-mind can't accept, it's a closed-mind and I must whole-heartedly confess that the collective mind of the OALC is clamped shut. Now whether this is right is a matter of perspective and faith.

  37. Horatio, you're a voice of reason in a sea of insanity. Please stick around.

  38. insanity: extreme folly; senselessness; foolhardiness

    above anon, please point out the 'insanity' of people having a discussion concerning matters that are important in their lives

  39. What time is it?

    Augustine wrote in his Confessions about the mystery of time and tried to understand how God, who operates within eternity, could have created the physical universe, which functions within time:

    For what is time? Who can easily and briefly explain it? Who can even comprehend it in thought or put the answer into words? Yet is it not true that in conversation we refer to nothing more familiarly or knowingly than time? And surely we understand it when we speak of it; we understand it also when we hear another speak of it. What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks me, I do not know.
    Like Einstein's description of people's stubborn insistence on describing the discrete states of time, Augustine also observes that the past and future are only known as certain types of experiences in the present, the eternal present:
    Thus it is not properly said that there are three times, past, present, and future. Perhaps it might be said rightly that there are three times: a time present of things past; a time present of things present; and a time present of things future. … The time present of things past is memory; the time present of things present is direct experience; the time present of things future is expectation. … See that all time past is forced to move on by the incoming future; that all the future follows from the past; and that all, past and future, is created and issues out of that which is forever present. Who will hold the heart of man that it may stand still and see how the eternity which always stands still is itself neither future nor past but expresses itself in the times that are future and past?

    … Suppose now that a bodily voice begins to sound, and continues to sound — on and on — and then ceases. Now there is silence. The voice is past, and there is no longer a sound. It was future before it sounded, and could not be measured because it was not yet; and now it cannot be measured because it is no longer.

  40. PROP. II. If we remove a disturbance of the spirit, or emotion, from the thought of an external cause, and unite it to other thoughts then will the love or hatred towards that external cause, and also the vacillations of spirit which arise from these emotions, be destroyed.

    Proof.--That, which constitutes the reality of love or hatred, is pleasure or pain, accompanied by the idea of an external cause (Def. of the Emotions, vi. vii.); wherefore, when this cause is removed, the reality of love or hatred is removed with it; therefore these emotions and those which arise therefrom are destroyed. Q.E.D.

    by Benedict de Spinoza (1677)

  41. HUMAN infirmity in moderating and checking the emotions I name bondage: for, when a man is a prey to his emotions, he is not his own master, but lies at the mercy of fortune: so much so, that he is often compelled, while seeing that which is better for him, to follow that which is worse. ...


    by Benedict de Spinoza (1677)

    Farewell associates.

  42. Horatio Mattila1/22/2007 07:52:00 PM

    many trails home...

    I wouldn't really characterize myself as uppity or arrogant. I've never so much been the type of person who believes a thing simply because I would like it to be true.

    It appears my remarks annoy you. Although that is not particularly my intent, I can live with it.

    As for finding the altar of science a cold and harsh place, so be it. In my life I seek truth, and if the truth isn't as warm and comforting as I would like it to be, I can at least take solace in knowing I'm intellectually honest with myself. If you find warmth in a "Holy Spirit" that's OK. Maybe someday while walking in the woods you'll find a house made out of gingerbread, and find Humpty Dumpty inside... as it turns out all the king's horse's and all the king's men worked something out with some of Jack's magic beans.

  43. Wow. Traffic is spiking and we're talking about, erm, I can't keep track. Please, if you haven't already, choose a moniker for yourself so we can follow your comments. Just choose 'other" instead of "anonymous" and type in a user name.

    Welcome, Mr. Smith.

    What say we start a new thread. Shall we take on atheism, free will/determinism, relativity, Spinoza on emotions or the OALC?

  44. You have a captive audience of oalcer's and they should be engaged.

    Good job!

  45. atheism, please

  46. Anyone with a knowledge of history know when the term "open minded" came about? I dont know a lot about this one, but Im thinking its not even remotely a relitively modern concept, since the 21st century?

    Maybe start two new threads? I am interested in following philosophical (probably spelled wrong) conversations, but I like that you are an extoots website, which of course leaves room for other topics, but its not really what led people here to start with, nor what we all have in common. I kind of like who you are. THere are plenty of websites already dedicated to athiests and the discussion of the cosmos vs grasshoppers and I can look them up when I chose to, which I have because they can be interesting. Just my two cents.

  47. I, for one, have no desire to worship a God who is thought to favor the war in the Middle East in order to accomplish some obscure prediction found in the late first century book of Revelation, who suppresses women in the name of ancient patriarchy, or who is so deeply homophobic that oppressing homosexuals becomes the defining issue of church life.

    Such an irrational, superstitious deity has no appeal to me and the attack of atheists against this kind of God is welcome. I also do not want to be told that the “true God” can be found either in the inerrancy of the Bible or in the infallibility of a Pope. Both are absurd religious claims designed not to discover truth but to enforce religious authority and conformity.

    I believe, therefore, that atheism as a challenge to organized religion has a worthy vocation to fulfill. The real atheists are saying that the God they have encountered inside the life of the church is too small and too compromised to be God for their lives. If the church is dedicated to such an unbelievable, magical and miracle-working deity that it cannot admit to any genuine probing of the divine, then the atheist speaks a powerful truth.

    Atheism, technically, does not mean a denial of the existence of God. It means literally a denial of the theistic definition of God. That is to say, theism is not what God is; it is what human beings have decided that God is. Human definitions of God can die without God dying. Theism means that we perceive of God as “a being, supernatural in power, dwelling somewhere external to this world (usually conceived of as above the sky), who periodically invades this world in miraculous ways.”

    This is the God who split the Red Sea to rescue the chosen people and who invaded the world in the person of Jesus to rescue the fallen creation. This is also the deity displaced by Galileo, made impotent by Isaac Newton, ridiculed by Freud and relativized by Einstein.

    The theological question that needs to be explored in both church and state is this: Can God be understood in some way other than through these infantile and tribal images? Can Jesus be seen in some way other than as the divinely appointed sacrificial victim who paid the price owed to God for our sinfulness? Because I believe that both God and Jesus are so much more than these distorting images suggest, I am confident that a dialogue with those who call themselves “atheists” would not only be good for the church but it would also allow deep and profound truth to emerge.

    Among the issues for discussion between atheists and believers would be: What leads human beings to seek to define God in the first place? Is it the human experience of transcendence? Otherness? Divinity? How then do we conceptualize that experience? If the worship of our God leads us to justify our killing religious prejudices that have throughout history created such things as the Inquisition, the Crusades, religious wars and even the current ecclesiastical attack on homosexual persons, can this God really be anything other than a creature of our own making? Will we remain deluded enough to call this creature God? Since that is what the theistic God has so regularly given us, would not the world be better off without such a deity?

    The choice between the theism of the church and the atheism of those who reject the God of the church is to me a sterile and lifeless choice. Such a meeting between believers and atheists might lead us to examine what Paul Tillich called “the God beyond the gods of men and women.” If believers cannot have that conversation because it compromises their God definition, then that is a tip-off that the God they serve is in fact an idol and atheism is always a proper response to idolatry.
    -- John Shelby Spong

  48. I was not referring to the term 'open-mindedness' nor the general concept itself. I am speaking, rather, of the specific doctrine of diversity instilled in the American education system-beginning roughly 70 years ago. This openness ideology teaches that truth and morals are relative and that one mustn't judge. Of course the concept isn't new to the world, but it is this certain strain to which I refer.

  49. Wow. Talk about a dog's breakfast of topics all spinning around in one place. I go away for a half a day and come back to find everything from pleas for discussion about OALC related topics to all manner of philosophy, some of it great and some unintelligible in its rambling!

    Stylux, glad to see you back. I was getting concerned that you had become bored with us!

    I love it when I see Trails getting steamed about something, because then I know there will always be something interesting and intelligent to ponder!

    I love it when I see a current OALCer onboard and waiting and willing to have a calm discussion. Welcome!

    I'm not interested in discussing atheism or responding to ignorant Catholic bashers so I'll leave those to others.

    What I do want to discuss is issues of faith, and I rediscovered a compelling portion of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, in Chapter 12. I thought it hit the nail right on the head with regard to our different interpretations and beliefs in God. Because I liked it so much, I'll break my own rule about quoting scripture again and see what y'all think about it:

    12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.
    13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
    14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
    15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
    16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
    17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?
    20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
    21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"
    22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
    23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,
    24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
    25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
    26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
    27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
    28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
    29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
    30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret?
    31 But eagerly desire[e] the greater gifts.

  50. Ooh, cvow... suddenly a Scripture quoter. We'll convert you yet. :)

    To both the atheist and the OALCer I ask (curiously and with zero attitude): Do you feel there is a purpose to your life? I am not offended by your beliefs, although they are different then mine.
    Some days life is hard; others are good. But something that always pulls me through is that I am here for a reason, and the purpose is part of a divine plan. Call that whatever demeaning term you will, but without it I would be certifiable.

    Any thoughts?

    BTW-Re: the long rants... I start to go cross-eyed and the words all blur together.

  51. Good question exoalc. I don't have the time to answer now but I will return when time allows.
    -Goodnight all

  52. LLLreader sez: more history--There was so much fighting going on that the Elders sent Henry Parkajoki and Aapo Tapani to Calumet to calm things down. Arguing increased, so in 1877 John Takkinen and Frans Niska from Oulu, Finland were sent. Takkinen was a force to be reckoned with, it was said he ruled with an iron hand, just as Kortetniemi was doing. Both had fiery tempers and from what I can understand, much of the dissension in the Apostolic congregation was as much a result of these two personalities as anything else. Takkien's side accused Kortetniemi of drinking and spreading lies. In 1879 the church name was changed from "Solomon Kortentniemi Lutheran Society" to "Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Congregation". Takkinen became part of a publishing company around 1880, and produced an Aapinen in which the words "descended into hell in Gethsemane" were inserted. That made people mad, saying things like, "Who does he think he is? Even Luther hadn't changed any words in the Apostles Creed." I understand that today the only group that uses the altered creed is the OALC in America. It isn't used in Finland.
    The Elders continued to send other preachers to try to reconcile the Apostolics. Some of the preachers who were sent were Henry Berg, John Mullo, Peter Stolberg, Eliel Juola,and John Rovanpaa. These men were all considered by Takkinen's followers as false teachers. Takkinen was voted out of the Apostolic Lutheran Church on Pine Street. He and his group built a new church in 1892 and called it the "Finnish Laestadian Lutheran Sunday School and Mission Society". John Raattamaa was still the leader of the Apostolics in Scandinavia. He wrote to Takkinen and advised him to change the name to the Old Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Congregation (later tweaked to Old Apostolic Lutheran Church)---and tra-la the OALC was born.
    Under Takkinen's leadership the services were simplified. They quit standing for the Apostles Creed and kneeling furing the general confession of sins, which had been done by the congregation in unison. Organs were no longer used, and taking oaths and making the sign of the cross at baptisms was eliminated. An alter railing was added for communion. The ministers didn't wear vestments. The service usually was two hours long, with hymn singing and mostly preaching. It sure looks to me like Takkinen was actually the person who shaped the OALC into it's modern form. So, this is where we came from----

  53. LLLreader to cvow--Wow, Pauls letter really speaks to our issues doesn't it? Thanks

  54. The OALC is believed to be the only true Church, established by Jesus and passed through time by John Hus, Martin Luther, and finally LLL. Did you ever wonder where the OALC was for the 1000 or so years between the apostles and John Hus? :)

  55. Free,

    I join with others in thanking you for this blog. As far as I know, it's the first LLL site that has promoted such open and intelligent exploration!

    LLL reader - thank you for posting the history. It helps in sorting all out, and it's very complicated indeed!

    Cvow, I love your posts - BTW, that's wonderful that you will sing those old Finnish songs to your future grandchildren. Although I can read Finnish and understand some, I speak very little- hoping to change that, it's on my list of things to do 'one day' :-)

    Bwahaha - Harris and Spong make the case for atheism, but to believe what they say would require faith also, would it not? If, as Bishop Spong says "we do not, in any important sense, get our morality from religion; the Bible and the Koran are not, even remotely, the best sources of guidance we have for living in the 21st century" - then what ARE the best sources of guidance? To me, it seems that the alternative is free will, or individual will.. which, as has been posted elsewhere, is a bondage of another kind.

    Great reading here, this from a current ALC member. Thanks again Free, for this site.

  56. Bwahaha - actually, what I meant to ask was where _does_ our morality come from, if not from religion or from the Divine. Is it from within ourselves, then?

  57. I'd like to ask the atheist where he/she believes man came from? What about the planets, nature, animals, dinosaurs, plants? How did the universe evolve?

  58. There was a time in my life that I questioned the existence of God. And I thought religion was just a way to keep people in line. After experiences I have had with the Holy Spirit, I am a firm believer forever! When your whole life changes and your heart changes because of it, its simply amazing and powerful. I believe!