"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Principles of the Doctrine of Christ

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Principles of the Doctrine of Christ

I was rooting around on the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America (ALC) web site recently, and stumbled across Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, one of the most comprehensive statements of Laestadian belief that I've seen thus far. Does anyone know if any of the other branches of Laestadianism have tried to "codify" to this extent?

I was raised in the ALC, and my immediate reaction to the document was one of surprise. I don't remember this document ever being referred to in sermons, confirmation class, or Sunday school. Who wrote it, and by whose authority is it a doctrinal statement? Gotta love unsigned documents. Did it pass through the Central Board? Did some seminarians think it was a good idea? ;)

Another thing that struck me was how it didn't mention any of the "don'ts" that so many of us were raised with. Nothing in there at all about drinking, dancing, TV, and keeping separate from "the world." In that sense there seems to be a real disconnect between the document and what is often stressed as important in real congregations.

Talk about proof-texting! I was amazed at how little the document tries to truly argue for its position. Instead it merely asserts its position, and then cites a number of Bible verses as if their application to that particular doctrine were self-evident. I found myself rolling my eyes even for doctrines I agree with! I think it goes beyond proof-texting, and into "puke-texting."

For instance, here's the section about The Baptism of the Holy Ghost and of Fire. Is this even coherent?

Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that He said John indeed baptized with warer; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost (Acts 11:16). John the Baptist witnessed of Jesus, saying: ...He shall baptize ye with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:11,12). The Apostle Paul refers to the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, as he writes: And hope maketh not ashamed: because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:5). Likewise John writes, ...and every one that loved Him that begat loveth Him also that is begotten of Him (I John 5:1).

This divine love binds the children of God together by the Holy Spirit which is in them. This ...is the bond of perfectness (Colossians 3:14). All who are born of the Holy Spirit are the children of God. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16).

This love of God, which is given to the children of God, is the motivating force in God's kingdom on earth. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again (II Corinthians 5:14, 15).

But this love is not understood by everyone in this world, as the Apostle John writes: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not (I John 3:1).

Jesus made it known what His own can expect: I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? l tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law (Luke 12:49-53).

Here is where one learns what true cross-bearing is. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27). This is because the seed of the woman (Christ by His Spirit) has come to abide in the hearts of the true believers. Therefore, it follows as the Lord God spoke to the serpent, the devil, after the fall of Adam and Eve: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed... (Genesis 3:15). The Comforter of God's children, the Holy Spirit, with which they are empowered and enlightened to confess their faith and to proclaim the true doctrine of Christ, will reprove the world of the sin of unbelief, the righteousness of the world and its judgment. For they being ignorant of God 's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth (Romans 10:3,4). This is as Jesus says: And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged (John 16:8-11). For this cause, the ...adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).

The Apostle Peter, having experienced much tribulation because of faith in Christ, was able to write: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified (l Peter 4:12-14). Also in the first part of his epistle: Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: What the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (7 Peter 1:6, 7). Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Matthew 5: 12). These things I have spoken unto you. that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).




  1. Tomte, that document has been around for a very long time.. at least 30 years and probably more. I have no idea who wrote it, but I've read it several times over the years. You are right, the references are vague, and definitely have a Laestadian flavor rather than simply presenting Biblical faith. These passages 'hint' at the Laestadian Christian walk of faith, but are not specific. Most likely only someone who was familiar with Laestadianism would understand what the underlying message is.

    I'm also familiar with some in the ALC who, rather than depending on this document, are formulating a "Foundations of Biblical Faith" point of view which is not pointedly Laestadian, but is based on the Bible, and which emphasizes grace and the love of God. I heartily agree with this, and I hope the ALC and others continue in this direction.

  2. Hello Free: Haven't heard from you in ever so long--I figure you need a break from all of us once in awhile. Hope all is well with you and family (including that impossibly cute puppy). Have seen several of my OAL relatives lately---and was greeted with the usual lovingkindness. I know I am so lucky to come from a family that doesn't practice that horrible shunning behavior. Blessings all around.

  3. No hard feelings, Free. I do get carried away and if anyone was offended I'm truly sorry. (but calling your audience limited, is that the same as namecalling? And I thought being a neocon was a good thing! Oh well.)

    It would be so easy to say something flippant and lighthearted, which is truly the spirit of my posts, if only that would come through.. but alas, I do not do that very well.

    Blessings to all, and I'm going to work hard at being either just an occasional lurker, or try to leave this happy party behind altogether... Say a prayer for my success :-)


  4. Don't go away, Norah. Some of us with "limited intelligence" will miss you. :).....

  5. Thank you 4eyes :-).

    Here's the thing. This blog has been interesting to me because it was the first of its kind that I was aware of where people discussed the various Laestadian movements, and we could learn about each other. That still remains an interest to me; as we all know, if you are raised this way it is part of your world view and will always be a part of it. But if Free would like to encourage political discussions that is fine, too - it's her prerogative. The problem for me is that the politics of the left is supported but those of center or right are not, in fact they are denigrated. That too, is fine. But I am what I am and if those types of discussions are not of interest to me then there will be conflict. So it really makes no sense to visit here or post here - DUH, sometimes it takes me awhile to 'get it' lol. The Laestadian part, and getting to know all of you who post here, is interesting, but the rest of it is not. But who knows, maybe it will change some day, or maybe there'll be another forum somewhere which is comprised of all of the different branches of Laestadians (or former Laestadian) believers, and where we find we have much in common. If such a place appears, let me know!!

    Take care!!

  6. Many Trails Home6/11/2007 12:45:00 PM

    OK Free, so I am doing an end-run since you closed comments on that inflammatory topic, but I do have to respond to Anonymous #25735: I DO SO understand "free enterprise." I run my own business, for heaven's sake, and worked for a major oil company, bank, etc in the past. I can identify myself as "conservative" if I want to. And I do totally agree that "Big Govt" has gotten totally out of hand, growth and cost-wise. Does that not make me a conservative? But you act as tho govt is separate from us. So if "We the People" want something else, then by gum we had better get on it and create it. We have more control over that than we do any specific corporation - or even all corporations.
    Free enterprise is not democratic, it does not respond to the will of the people except as consumers. Is that all we are, consumers? Is consuming the be-all of our lives? It would appear so. Woe is me, yet again. MTH

  7. AF,

    I wasn't alleging anything, I was encouraging you, as an individual, to cherish freedom. The US is a country that people do immigrate to, in huge numbers. So there must be something good in this country. That was my point, in contrast to the dark picture you painted of the US and its government.

    I have no idea what Finland's part in the war in Iraq has been. You give me too much credit. My thoughts and questions are from the simplest and most transparent perspective. I rarely research anything, I write whatever comes to mind as quickly as possible because I'm usually short on time.

    I don't agree that Bush will go down in history as the most disastrous president ever, however, he is the first president to have a major attack on US soil during his watch since Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor. Johnson didn't start the VietNam war, but he did escalate it.

    "And then comes along somebody like you, Norah, who actually has the nerve to start speechifying that the Finnish people supposedly doesn´t cherish freedom just because Finland, as a country, doesn´t participate in the Iraq war."

    "Norah, I would say that you have cause to feel more ashamed of yourself than you have ever been during your whole life."

    Don't forget, AF, no personal remarks here. But to this and the rest of your expanded remarks on what you perceive are my intentions, all I can say is "WHAT THE????"

    (I hope none of this is over the line cuz I don't like gettin' paddled.)

  8. I've already told you what I was thinking about. You have the right to express your opinions, thank you for sharing them with us all.


  9. Norah,
    I think ´ve said about all I´ve felt like saying on this subject. Perhaps, strictly speaking, there might be a thing or two to add, but on second thoughts I don´t think it would do much good, so why don´t we just call it quits?

  10. Many Trails Home6/12/2007 03:24:00 PM

    Free, it occurred to me when you called posters on "name calling" that I should apologize to cvow, as I called him (indirectly) a "red neck" and I will have to admit that I do not consider this a positive appellation. So I hereby apologize to cvow. I do try to not be insulting to individuals but still express my opinions in a "fiery" way if I feel so inclined. This is occasionally a fine, but critical, line and I do not expect to be exempt from chastisement when warranted! Your job has been a bit tough lately, Free. Blessings to you for taking it on. MTH
    PS: I would still like to know what other people's conception of "conservative" is. Has some authority come out with a definition by which we all must comply? Or might there (gasp) be shades of gray? Or even stripes? MTH

  11. “If this Virginia Tech shooter had an ideology, what do you think it was? This guy had to be a liberal.” direct quote by popular conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Liberal = maniacal assassin. How's that for nuance?

  12. AF,

    According to Wikipedia, as of 2006 the US allows more immigrants to become permenant legal residents per year than the rest of the world combined.

    Ta Da!!!

  13. So?
    I already said that the US has, in international comparison, a very liberal immigration policy and that´s precisely what the figure you just quoted shows. Immigration policy is much more restrictive in most EU countries. In spite of this, the EU took in 1.8 million immigrants in 2005. A considerable number, I should say.
    In Europe (as in the US) immigration policy is a very important and much-debated political issue. The debate is mostly between those who want to make immigration policy much more restrictive and those who´d like more or less to maintain the present policy or to make it just a little more restrictive. Those who´d like to make it as liberal as the US immigration policy are very much in the minority.
    Another Finn

  14. More precisely:
    That 1.8 million is just the net gain due to movements of population. The total number of immigrants into the EU in 2005 was, of course, higher than that.
    Another Finn

  15. What about me AF? Am I an original and creative thinker?

  16. Anon,
    maybe you are and maybe you aren´t. Given that you´re just another Anon among a crowd of Anons and I´m not psychic, it would be kind of difficult to assess the degree of originality and creativity in your thinking...

  17. Anon,
    your rather strange (to put it mildly) question got me thinking about originality and creativity and the kind of atmosphere where these qualities can thrive as well as, on the other hand, that kind of atmosphere which nips these qualities in the bud where they are unwanted.
    Somebody on this forum (I think it was free) has already quoted the Danish-Norwegian (he was from Denmark but wrote in Norwegian)writer Aksel Sandemose on this subject. Sandemose is famous for coining the "Jante law", named after the fictive small town in one of his novels.
    "Jante" is described as a very conformist small town with a stifling atmosphere. The town has a strongly enforced unwritten law which serves the purpose of nipping all originality and creativity in the bud as it protects the inhabitants´ unalianable right to maintain their tunnel vision intact. The law contains the following paragraphs:
    1) Don´t think that you are special.
    2) Don´t think that you are of the same standing than us.
    3) Don´t think that you are smarter than us.
    4) Don´t fancy yourself as being better than us.
    5) Don´t think that you know more than us.
    6) Don´t think that you are more important than us.
    7) Don´t think that you are good at anything.
    8) Don´t laugh at us.
    9) Don´t think that anyone cares about you.
    10) Don´t think that you can teach us anything.

    Sandemose has succeeded so well it´s creepy in describing a certain mentality, according to which all originality and creativity are forbidden, with the help of this "law".
    Some food for thought indeed for all of us...
    Another Finn

  18. AF, those statements included in that law could, in no small measure, be describing the church community of my childhood. It took me years and years to break free of that "law". I still have a fair amount of insecurity because of it (don't think you are special...don't think you are better than us...etc.) It's probably hard-wired and something I must learn to live with, even at my advanced age.

  19. I meant to say, Don't think you are smarter than us." It was taboo to show any kind of intelligence above very average, and frowned upon to have any ambition above desiring to sack groceries at Red Owl.

    I think my cynicism is showing! Sorry!