"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: American Faith in Flux

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

American Faith in Flux

According to an article in the New York Times and another in the Associated Press yesterday, nearly half of Americans adults leave the faith tradition of their upbringing to either switch allegiances or abandon religious affiliation altogether, a broad new survey finds.

From the NYT: The report, titled “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey,” depicts a highly fluid and diverse national religious life. If shifts among Protestant denominations are included, then it appears that 44 percent of Americans have switched religious affiliations.

Highest retention of childhood members? Hindus (They keep 84%)

Worst retention? Jehovah’s Witnesses (37% stay)

Does anyone want to guess at the American Laestadian retention rate? Do you think it is increasing?


  1. Im thinking the percentages would be distorted because they have such a larger base than average. I wouldnt think most religions have 7-15 children per family added each generation, so that would somehow have to be taken into consideration.

    I know the meetings throughout the year are getting larger and larger, and there never seems to be enough room, but its hard to say if its people who were born in, converts, or simply so many putting in their annual appearance :p (times 7-15 each family) I personally dont know too many converts, but I have over 500 cousins :)

    I think people are searching and there is a lot of wonderful, irreplacable, culture the oalc has to offer. Some cannot differentiate between that and salvation, and some may feel what they gain is worth it (what they didnt have in the first place so dont know they dont have. ie a relationship with Christ is replaced by the cultural relationships within the church)

    Also, the leaving process is made so difficult by the very close minded teachings within the church, so the retention rate may be higher due to fear of leaving and all the ramifications that come with leaving. I would be more interested in the number of those who stay, but have secret doubts and wish they could learn more, and explore other alternatives.

    These are my thoughts based on my experiences and experiences with people in the church.

  2. It would be hard to get useful information from surveying Laestadians. Imagine cold-calling the membership of a church (getting a phone list would require a miracle in itself).

    Hello. I'm conducting a survey. Would you please describe your religious affiliation?

    . . . .



  3. Can't you just hear what they would say to that? They would either be rude and hang up or not answer, or you'd get the whole bit about them being the only ones going to heaven and that you have to be in their church to be saved. I don't think one would get much information surveying Laestadians.

  4. RWB here....

    First of all the 2nd and 3rd comments here don't even address the questions posed. Are these topics selected with the thought of "how can this be turned into something negative about the OALC and others?"?

    hp3 said...."Also, the leaving process is made so difficult by the very close minded teachings within the church, so the retention rate may be higher due to fear of leaving and all the ramifications that come with leaving."

    How do you explain the lowest retention rate of all with the Jehovahs Witnesses? If close-minded teachings and fear of leaving were reasons for people staying it seems the JW's would have a very high retention rate.

    I think people stay in the OALC because they want to follow what they have been taught as a child follows their parents teachings. They stay because in their minds (yes we do have minds) they are doing what is right and just before God. They stay because they believe this is the best path for them to get to Heaven. They don't stay based on fear. You may have had that experience, perception, or feeling, but I think you are a very small minority in quite a large group. I say this because in a forum where anyone could complain, disagree, or pervert on a completely anonymous basis not many have done so.

    I have said much of the above before, but I will say it again and again. I know this bores many of you. I know I am not perfect in this either, but I would ask that we all stick to facts and actual experiences. It's OK with me if you have had a different experience than me. It's OK with me if you perceive things to be different than I think they are. But it really grinds me when statements are made based on how you "think" someone would respond or react to a given situation or scenario. Especially when some of you base your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions on your experiences of 20 or more years ago. What purpose does this serve? Does this show anyone with potential interest how "bad" and "wrong" we are? I hope this would not be the case and that anyone with a mind of their own would come and see for themselves without having that negative seed planted.


  5. RWB, I understand your frustration with this site. Sometimes I recognize in myself and others here that familiar glee, or schadenfreude that we once found in criticizing "the world," and now find in lampooning Laestadians. Please forgive this impulse. Rejection is a nasty cycle.

    I should have added to the phone scenario above that I myself don't answer telephone surveys. Anything that I can say to a stranger in two minutes about God is not worth saying. (I often feel that anything I can say online is not worth saying. Too much is lost in translation.)

    Clearly, this blog is a mixed bag, but in its better moments, we are meeting new people and new ideas, exploring our own, disagreeing with one other, offering advice and comfort, expressing ourselves, and enjoying a virtual community.

    While it has been decades since I left the OALC, I am still affected by its teachings every day, as are my children and husband. That's worth talking about.

    On an inpersonal level, the themes that arise from a discussion of Laestadianism are universal. That's worth talking about.

    You write: "in a forum where anyone could complain, disagree, or pervert on a completely anonymous basis not many have done so."

    I'm not sure what you mean. Are people within the church, other than yourself, visiting this blog? How would one know?

    If you are concerned those with potential interest could be turned off, I encourage you to start a "pro-Laestadian" blog today. I'll post a link to it, and encourage those who want a different perspective to go there and read it.

  6. RWB

    To start I will let you know I "left" the church officially about 5 years ago, but have gone back occasionally since then. I can see similarities from Free's experiences 20 years ago, and others over the various years and various churches. Many of the details are different, yet so many of the underlying issues are the very same. An experience can still be valid regardless of when it occurred.

    you state:

    "They don't stay based on fear. You may have had that experience, perception, or feeling, but I think you are a very small minority in quite a large group. I say this because in a forum where anyone could complain, disagree, or pervert on a completely anonymous basis not many have done so."

    In my experience, I am not in the minority. Most of my family and friends that still attend the church will admit (only to me in private) that they have doubts about the church, the teachings, the preachers, thier faith etc, and they fear them greatly, as in thier and my experience, it is preached the above is SIN.

    I have been asked to "corrupt" other family members by speaking to them about the bible and its teachings, still secretly of course. Its amazing what types of conversations can be had when the one is not surrounded by "like minded" oalcers and the pressure to conform to that perceived like mindedness.

    Then of course, there are the ones who will not discuss thier thoughts and feelings, but cling like a life vest to the phrase "believe as a child believes a parent" Well they have never met my children then!!! :) THere is also a HUGE difference in believing GOD as a child and believing another MAN's interpretation of God, as a child!

    You continue to state:
    "I say this because in a forum where anyone could complain, disagree, or pervert on a completely anonymous basis not many have done so."

    Please clarify, which forum do you mean?

    Here online there are many who are anonymous and come here with questions and doubts. Yet in my experience, the church preaches these sites to be evil and sin. What is your experience?

    If you mean within the church, I again can easily resort to my own experiences to dispute that statement with passion. I have been full of questions my entire life. Ever get laughed out of Sunday School? Escorted out of confirmation? Ever been told you were going to hell in front of a gathering? Ever been brought into a back room behind the alter and told to repent or walk out the door and never darken thier church doors again? Ever had all of this done to you with no one ever asking you a single question about where you were coming from or what really happened? Just told you to be quiet and stop causing discord? Ever had people cry on your shoulder and tell you they are desolate you are going strait to hell, yet havent seen you in many years and didnt bother to even say "hi how have you been?" first??? I beg to differ that the oalc fosters an atmosphere of openness, to disagree or complain. My life is a testimony to the opposite.

    I remember the preachers sermans from the pulpit condemn questioning the sermans, and thier words. Its taught as sin! What is your experience of the sermans regarding this?

    Your experiences may have been different than mine. In my travels and communications with others around the world, I have discovered that each branch of Lastadiasm thinks they are the only ones saved and thier doctrine is the only correct interpretation. Yet even within one brance, say the oalc, they claim one mindedness with ALL the other oalcers worldwide, yet each locality has its own set of sub rules and list of sins and "allowances" Its amazing to me that they refuse to see these differences to their "like mindedness"

    If your experiences have been different, then I am grateful. I would not wish my experiences on even my worst enemy.

  7. RWB:

    In my experience with the JW church, I researched thier doctrine and discovered they dont even have a historical basis of truth. I would hope advanced access to histoy and information is helping many people with lots of decision.

    I do know a few who have tried to leave JW, and thier horror stories are wore than any I have experienced, seen anywhere else or even imagined. Mothers losing children by current members taking them into hiding (kidnapping), children told the parent who had left died, neighbors selling all thier belongings and locking them out of their own house, yet following the one who left around the world by forwarding thier info to the new location and the JW's there pick up where the old location left off, harrassing them to come back -to name a few. Just because one tried to leave, doesnt mean the church is letting them.

    I dont know if that would explain a retention rate of positive or negative though. Maybe physical intimidation is less powerful than emotional and psychological intimidation? I can only speculate and thats probaly not very accurate.

  8. Ok, you want to throw bible verses out there RWB, what is your response to this one?
    John 3:14-18
    14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    I am not condemned before God because I have faith in Jesus Christ! I am saved because I have faith in Jesus Christ!
    Can you HONESTLY say that our loving, heavenly father is going to turn his back on 99.99% of the rest of the people in the world that have faith in JESUS CHRIST?? People that have given their lives to Christ, that have accepted him as their personal savior, that want to do HIS will, not their own. What kind of God do you believe in that would do that?

    Your perception of the world is anything non-OALC. My perception of the world is people or things that are not godly.

  9. I'm sure maybe a response would be, well, the bible says many are called few are chosen. Who are we to decide how many few is? Few could be 2 billion out of 6 billion.

    Or..There is only one true faith. Yes, I agree, I believe its a faith in Jesus Christ! There are many other faiths out there besides Christ. I don't believe one true faith means one physical church building or name. All Gods people belong to Jesus church which has no physical boundaries.

    Or...we must be all in unity or one minded. Unity and one mindedness go alot deeper than surface issues. Husbands and wives disagree on issues, but usually agree to disagree. So are they out of union in their marriage? NO! When you concentrate on petty differences it leads you away from what is really important. Everyones walk with Jesus is personal, its their own. For one to say their relationship with Jesus is more real or true, is just wrong. Let him be the judge.

  10. RWB, your quotes from John are familiar, but let's think about them. They clearly state that a Christian should love God and not the world. Period. In your argument and use of those quotes, I see the old OALC stand coming through loud and clear -- you might as well have said it straight out; if you are not OALC, you are a lover of the world, because the OALC is the only right group. Therein lies the rub, RWB. Most of us dearly love the Lord Jesus Christ, have accepted him as our saviour, and believe that our redemption lies only and completely in belief of him -- just like you do. However, the OALC looks at those of us who have left and judges us and says we are lost and are liars and lovers of the world because we simply cannot love the Lord. Why? Because we are not OALC.

    Let me ask you your own question. No wandering off on bunny trails now -- just answer the question:

    "How do you know that the OALC or any other church for that matter does not teach the doctrine of Christ?"

    By the way, even though we disagree, I am very happy you are participating in the discussions. It is through communication that we understand each other.

  11. RWB here...

    Anon 9:48

    First...John 3:16 is a powerful place. Does this mean that there is no darkness out there? That everyone is saved? Where did I say "that our loving, heavenly father is going to turn his back on 99.99% of the rest of the people in the world." The only statements I made were what the teachings of the OALC are and how they relate to doctrine of Christ and what is written in the Bible.

    Where did I say that anything non-OALC is the world? I believe the world are those that don't believe. I can't say I really know who believes and who doesn't. I only know what I myself believe. I can't really say I know for sure who is godly. Is that godly or ungodly in an outward way or and inward way or both? What things are godly or ungodly? Do you have a definitive all inclusive set of "rules" that tells you what those things are?

    Anon 10:00
    You said..."There are many other faiths out there besides Christ."

    What are they? Who are they?

    In closing:

    I'm only trying to point out here that the OALC is a Church that teaches the doctrine of Christ and that I believe that this is the best way (the doctrine of Christ) for one to get to Heaven. I believe that very firmly so I wonder why anyone would go anywhere else? Why would you need to? I am trying to show examples why I believe the doctrine of Christ is taught there. If you read my earlier posts maybe you will see that...if you don't see it then I guess I failed to get my point across.


  12. RWB here,

    Everyone is so good at putting words in other peoples mouths. I really don't like other peoples words in my mouth...I mean who nows where they mighta put them things.

    CVOW....Read my closing in 11:08 post. That will answer your/my question. Just for good measure I will restate what I believe and what the OALC teaches in the following words that I have heard spoken many times from behind the table by many different preachers: Just because a person attends the OALC does not mean they will be saved! Clear enough for you? Let me know if I can be any clearer.


  13. RWB - you rock! I wish all OALC were like you. You are speaking some wise words here and are a shining example of what many OALC could be. Many of us have experienced the OALCers to be rude, disrespectful and act self-righteously toward outsiders and dissenters. And to the moderator of this site - I second the motion for a pro-Laestadian thread! No snide remarks or sarcasm allowed. RWB deserves this request.

  14. RWB, I'm glad that you have the outlook that you do, since it is much more open than many that I have known over the years. I don't think that very many of the OALC members share that outlook though.

    Think of what OALC members call everyone who is not of the OALC faith -- they call them the "worldlies". (BTW, I believe the other Laestadian faiths besides the OALC do the same thing, so I do not mean this to be just pointed at the OALC.) They don't refer to non-OALC Christians as "Christians" or "Catholics", or "Baptists", or whatever -- they are simply lumped together as "worldlies". It's the same bucket they put not only non-OALC Christians in, but also people of other faiths or agnostics or atheists. I suspect I could ask just about anyone in the OALC from the oldest to the youngest, and they would tell me that if a person isn't a member of the OALC, they are "worldlies".

    Now I'm having a hard time understanding how all non-OALC people are worldlies, followed by cautions from John about what it means to be "worldly", and not subsequently assuming that your selection of those passages wasn't to drive that point home. That's why I took offense to your selectively quoting the passages from John that seemed to be building that argument for you that you either believe the way the OALC does, or you are of the world.

    I did not say or imply that the OALC professes that everyone in the OALC will be saved, so you misunderstood me. What I was objecting to is that they do profess that if you are not OALC, you will not be saved. Why else the sentiments (and I know they are well meant and loving -- no argument there) that they sure hope a person will return to the OALC so that "they too will be saved"? I have similar sentiments, but I say I hope all would come to the belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their saviour and redeemer, and the belief that he died on the cross for all of our sins. If you believe that, then I don't think it matters what you call yourself. Catholicism works for me. Other venues of belief work for others. As long as they keep you steadfast in faith, then praise Jesus unceasingly.

  15. To RWB:
    You use the fact that the OALC has gone through trying times, with splinter LLL groups as a result, and that the OALC has come through with the doctrine of Christ still intact, as proof that they are the chosen. What you don't mention is that there is a strong liklihood that you believe those other LLL groups to be wrong in their doctrine...otherwise, why split? Have you ever given a thought to the fact that the other LLL groups make the exact same claim you are making, and use those times as support to themselves being right also? Every single thing you write in your posts as giving evidence to the rightness of the OALC (the bible verses, the examples) is exactly what the other LLL groups say also. Do you think those groups are right? The other LLL groups also preach, exactly as you ended your last post, that you are not saved just because you attend that particular LLL group. BUT, they all (almost always) think that it is IMPOSSIBLE to be saved if you are not part of their particular LLL group. From what I have read in previous posts by other OALCers I make the assumption that is also what the OALC believes. If you don't believe that, I think you are in the minority within your group.

  16. I wasn't meaning to just repeat what cvow was thinking, but we must've been posting at the same time. I posted my comment and noticed as it was saved that there were now 16 comments (I should have been 15). I went to read the post, and it seems we basically said the same thing.

  17. I don't want to put words in your mouth, RWB, but if you are saying that if a church preaches the doctrine of Christ then it is the correct doctrine. And if a person believes the doctrine of Christ, that person will be saved, and that is the only way to be saved. So then, if ANY church preaches the doctrine of Christ, or if ANY person believes the doctrine of Christ, then they will be saved. Not just LLL churches/people, but ANY who believe in this one, true, saving faith. That is what I believe, do you believe that as well?

    In other words, the doctrine of Christ saves apart from any denomination.

    All the splinters and splits -- I believe it is because of power, politics, personalities and pride. Those things have been allowed to take precedence over Biblical faith and how to live out that faith - obedience and submission.

    One thing about more orthodox denominations (such as Catholic, mainstream Lutheran, and Orthodox) is that there is a better structure, not so based on personalities as the LLL churches are. I think these various LLL preachers leading people to follow them have been the cause for the divisions.

    But regardless of the divisions, when Christians are in the presence of other Christians, there is no mistaking it. The Holy Spirit unites them.. they are united in spirit no matter who they are, what church they attend, or what part of the world they live in.

  18. Well put, Norah! And I also agree about the pride, personalities, etc. being a large cause of the splits. I think it's difficult to see it any other way.

  19. rwb
    please do not assume the details behind my above described situations; you are entirely wrong in each of your example responses. Why do you assume my questions were asked at the wrong time, wrong place, with the wrong spiritual condition, wrong manner, etc? Why must I have been so wrong all the way around?

    What is the "right" way to question the preachers about thier teachings? You never answered as to your understanding on whether this was ok?

  20. RWB

    I'm from a different LLL branch and your posts could have come word for word from a member of my branch. With the exception that instead of you writing about how we are going to hell; we would be writing about how you are going to hell. Same with the whole "surviving the turmoil with the true faith thing". We'd sure flip flop that one also. Everything else would be spot on the same. It's very interesting for me to read! Makes me wonder who's plagiarizing who? Your guess is as good as mine.

    Please use the Bible to explain the LLL concept of forgiveness; and also how it ties in with faith and salvation. In my view that's the 800lb gorilla that no LLL church member wants to talk about in detail. Why? Either they secretly don't buy it or they know it cannot be found anywhere in the Bible without having a very creative imagination. Or they've never read the Bible and wouldn't have the capacity to discuss for longer than 30 seconds anyway.

    Without this bedrock of "forgiveness" LLL style, the whole unique LLL doctrine and culture falls apart.

    Now I'm not doggin' on forgiveness LLL style. It's a wonderful ritual and I readily participate in it. But I don't think, nor does the Bible say, it gives you the exclusive members only front row ticket straight to heaven. I lump it in with baptism and communion; rituals which reaffirm faith and work as a nice reminder to a believer. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I also find it interesting that LLL himself FELT THE SAME WAY! The forgiveness ritual began a decade after the revival started and LLL had serious reservations about it at first. Now how can you have a whole decade of Laestadien repentance sweeping the land with out having the "forgiveness of sins"? Were they believing that Christ died for their sins and all they needed to do was believe in him and nothing else? Heaven forbid that was the situation! I wish I knew a 170 year old Swedish Lapp so I could get some first person answers to these questions.

    One last thing RTW: Rattamaa was on our team, not yours! ;)

    I'm kidding.

    Kind of. :)

  21. Just when I thought I'd seen and heard it all, RWB starts complaining because this site is too critical of Laestadianism.

    Then Free graciously offers to drive traffic to a pro-Laestadian site, if RWB wants to create one.

    Then I almost fall off my chair laughing at RWB's response. He thinks Laestadianism is great, but he doesn't want to be bothered with creating a pro-Laestadian blog of his own!

    Instead he suggests that we who are critical just ought to be less critical and actually create a space to promote the very thing we're criticizing!

    You know, maybe the OALC and other such branches ought to create a web-site promoting their beliefs and create the safe-space that RWB desires.

    RWB, I suggest that next Sunday after church you take your pastor aside and tell him that you've been on the internet reading an anti-Laestadian blog and making posts. Tell him that you'd like his permission to create a blog of your own to provide a pro-Laestadian viewpoint. Tell him you'll be banning anything that criticizes the OALC.

    Then, on Monday, I'd like you to report back here what your pastor had to say.

  22. -Does anyone want to guess at the American Laestadian retention rate? Do you think it is increasing?-

    I don't have any idea what the Laestadian retention rate is, but Laestadianism is relatively young - only 150 yrs or so. It remains to be seen how many will be members in 50 - or 500 - years. Will it be a footnote in history, or will there be a remnant passed down through the generations.. who knows! But one thing we know for sure is that Christianity will still be alive, as God has promised it will always be here, even if as a remnant, until Jesus comes again.

  23. Tomte,

  24. This is anon 9:48 RE: John 3:16

    I did not say that there was no darkness in the world and that everyone would be saved. I do not believe that everyone will be saved. I believe that you must have faith in Jesus Christ in order to be saved. And that doesn't mean just believing that Christ or God exists (Satan also believes he exists), but its putting your faith in Christ, trusting him, giving him your life, allowing him to be in the drivers seat of your life, relying on him for guidance. Its personal for each one of us.

    As far as other faiths you asked what are they? Hinduism, Judaism, Atheism, Scientology, Islam, Buddhist, Kabbalah, and some other faiths I don't agree with such as Jehovah Witness or Mormon (which I believe have deviated from Christian doctrine), plus I'm sure there are many more out there I'm not aware of. To me, those are different faiths.

    But you have the right to believe what you must, that the OALC is the only "true faith", which I believe is just a denomination. I don't believe there is one specific denomination of Christianity that is better than the others. They all have faith in Christ. But, I know you will disagree, so be it. Thats my belief. Jesus is the judge, he's the only person I have to answer to! He's my Savior, counselor, friend, father, my rock! I don't believe he would mislead me! My life is in HIS hands, and where he leads me is HIS choice! I just follow HIM, not one specific branch of churchianity.

  25. RWB here...

    CVOW: Worldlies is a term that is sometimes carelessly used among us. I know there are worldly people. I don't necessarily know who they are. All I can do is try to show what I believe to be a Christian example. I'm sure some of you have heard the example of the drunk (a worldly?) in the gutter. We surely need to show that person a good example by among other things not looking down on him. As it goes with humans we don't always do what is right. I firmly believe my Church and its teachings are the best way for me to arrive at our Heavenly goal. As Luther said: "To gather with God's people in united adoration of the Father is as necessary to the Christian life as prayer." and also "Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church."

    Anon 10:14 asks: RWB
    "Please use the Bible to explain the LLL concept of forgiveness"

    I missed the 800lb. gorilla in church. Must've snuck in at the last minute.

    I maybe be way off the mark here, but I believe the concept of "forgiveness LLL style" comes from the story of the conversion of Paul in the Acts. The obscure Ananias was sent to lay his hands on Saul to convert and forgive him. This shows that this conversion or forgiveness happens through the laying on of hands between man and man. We don't go directly to God for foregiveness. The fact that the Lord sent this average man (Ananias) shows us that Luke did not think the laying on of apostolic hands to be necessary for this.


  26. I think its sad your church teaches that you cannot go directly to God for forgiveness. Where is your relationship with him? Why wouldn't he forgive you? He's the first person you should go to. If I sin against a person, definetely I should ask that persons forgiveness, but if I sin against God, that is between him and I, no one else. The bible says, Confess your sins, HE is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. It doesn't say you must confess ALL sins to another person. It clearly states you can also confess to God. Also the Lords prayer says, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. I just think its sad churches teach you cannot talk to God and ask him to forgive you for something. He hears all and he will forgive.
    Why are you here RWB anyhow? Are you trying to convert us to OALC? What are your intentions? If that is it, I doubt any of us will buy into those teachings again. Good luck trying though.

  27. Wow, that business of Ananias laying hands on Saul/Paul as a explanation for the OALC's approach to asking forgiveness is completely news to me. Any of the rest of you ex'es remember hearing that? MTH
    RWB, I have to admit that I am MIGHTY curious about your motivation to participate in this blog with us, but I also know that it is none of my business and I also know that you may not know yourself. I hope we make you feel (at least somewhat) welcome. Many blessings to you. Many Trails Home

  28. RWB here...

    Like I said I'm not sure if I have that correct, but that's how I remember it. Why do Catholics go to confession? Why not just go right to God?

    MTH and others who wonder why I come here. The short answer is: I don't really know. The reasons seem to change from day to day. I know I'm not "welcome" here by all...I can feel that in some of the responses. I probably should not waste my time here. I know I can't convert anybody or change your minds.


  29. I have also heard the Ananias explanation, in the LLC. I think there is much more to that story than forgiving. Ananias was fearful of Paul--at that time, Paul was a self-proclaimed arch-enemy of the Christians, and had been on a death hunt to exterminate them. I think God used this to humble him and to make him realize that he was attacking the church of God in his zealous efforts.

    There are many other verses throughout the Bible that talk about salvation THROUGH Christ, not through other believers. For example, in Romans 3: 21-24 it says this, But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

    Then you have Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    Or even one of my personal favorites: Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    You could even just do a google search for salvation scriptures, and you'll find dozens of them that don't refer to another person having to bestow forgiveness upon you.

    I don't buy the Ananias explanation.

  30. RWB,thank you for the honesty of your responses. I have a strong hunch that you are here for a purpose, perhaps God's purpose, which may or may not reveal itself in time, and I have an equally strong hunch that your time could not possibly be wasted here. Something is happening, something "good," for you, for us. We'll see. But as to whether or not you could "convert" any of us, probably not. Speaking for myself, my "awakening" took place after I left. I could not possibly go back. Many blessings. MTH

  31. RWB, I cannot speak for others of course, but whatever your reasons are, I am very glad you are participating here. While we may not "convert" each other (and frankly I see no reason to even try since we both have a strong faith in which we believe), I think it helps all of us understand our faith better when we engage in good discussion -- as well as understanding the faith of our sisters and brothers. Just because we do not always meet in the middle does not mean there is no value in the discussion. That trend of walking away quickly when there is any disagreement is what has led to many of the schisms in Christ's church that have happened. Please, let's keep listening to each other!

    You asked about why Catholics go to "confession", so that's certainly a worthy topic for some discussion. Let's start with something basic that the Roman Catholic Church believes, and that is that confession of sins needs to be made to a priest. As with all things, you can believe that is valid or not, but it's what we RCs believe. We believe that responsibility has roots in the apostolic succession.

    By whatever the name, this is one of the seven sacraments of the RC church. It has been known over the years as "confession", then as "penance", and today the term most used is the sacrament of reconciliation -- and I belive that hits it the best, as it is a means of reconciling yourself with God.

    Many people ask why they need to confess to anyone else, rather than just going straight to God. Believe me, many Catholics ask that same question, as I am sure do many members of any of the confessing faiths, including the OALC.

    There are many passages that we could discuss that pertain to the confession of sins, but Psalms 32 seems to say it well, at least to me. "As long as I would not speak, my bones wasted away with my groaning all the day, For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not. I said 'I confess my faults to the Lord,' and you took away the guilt of my sin." This passage seems to me to call for the "speaking" of sins. You might believe that your quiet conversations with God in prayer afford you the same thing and requires no human intervention, and I won't argue with you -- I can only say what I believe and what my church professes.

    While we should always approach reconciliation with a contrite heart -- a sorrow in our recognition of how we have fallen short, rather than some "It's Sunday, so I'd better do the ritual" -- and that we should be ready to unburden our hearts in confession of the sins, it is the reconciliation -- the freedom that Jesus gives us that is the important thing. (Wow, William Faulkner would be proud of the length of that sentence!)

    Do I confess my sins directly to God? Sure, but it is comforting to "speak" them as well, and receive a spoken assurance of forgiveness and love and peace in return. If some other way works for you, I won't tell you that you're wrong.

    So maybe the question isn't really "why do you need to go to another person?" as much as it is "Why don't you want to go to another person?" It's not always easy, is it?

  32. RWB, you wrote that you don't really know why you come here. Of course you know why. Curiosity? Doubting? Growth? All of us have free will and make choices. That is a concept strange to the OALC philosophy. OALCers seem convinced that people can't help what they do, and therefore need constant forgiveness for their actions.

  33. RWB here...

    Anon 4:36:

    Your post showed me one reason why I come here....there are so many misconceptions about what we believe. People post their thoughts based on what they think we believe....many times it is very close, but not quite and that can change the whole spirit of the given matter. I don't have all the answers or maybe not even the right ones all the time, but I try to do my best to show what is spoken, taught, and believed by the OALC. Caution is necessary for me as I don't want to offend anyone or state something that is not what we believe.

    We all sin, almost on a continuous basis. To say otherwise ignores the nature of man. We need foregiveness for that sin.


  34. LLLreader sez: To RWB-I certainly don't want to offend you either, but you can't very well say that we don't understand what you believe. We were members-we were you-we believed as you do-we understand the belief system. Some of us left recently, and others left many years ago, but when we left doesn't seem to matter. Both the oldies and newbies have the same sticking point--not being able to accept the belief that the OALC is the one true church.

  35. What you also need to remember is that most of us have lived the Laestadian life. We have all had different experiences leaving, but we all know the teachings. We grew up learning them. Most of the teachings there are the same today.The teachings in each branch of Laestadianism are quite similiar, with just a few slight twists.
    1. Exclusivity, we are Gods chosen few disciples
    2. Forgiveness of sins teaching
    3. Rigid lifestyle "rules" or guidelines of the Holy Spirit as they are called

    I think those three are probably the main ones that all of us exes disagree with and do not believe to be teachings of God, but of man. And same goes for us, we cannot convince you to believe that these are teachings of man, when you believe they are teachings of God. All we can say is what we believe and why. I should say that you are welcome to post here, I think most of us would agree to that. I for one was just also curious to what your intentions were. But like someone said, maybe thats none of our business. Keep posting though, its good to talk about things. I would just ask that you open your heart too to listen to what some of us are saying. We know where your coming from, we've been there. We understand the teachings, we understand the church. We don't just easily forget it all just because we left.

  36. RWB, I sometimes think you have a little different understanding than many in the OALC, which I don't personally see as a problem except when you suggest you are "speaking" for them, at least in explanation.
    I take a touch of offense at your suggestion that I could not know what the OALC teaches. My grandmother married two preachers (the second one from Brush Prairie), she had two preacher sons who made the US "missionary" circuit, my father was a lukkari and translator who helped translate the Postilla in our living room, and our immediate neighbor owned the Book Concern which printed it initially etc etc. His brother was also a preacher. My mother is about as staunch an OALCer as they come. So do I have credibility? Unless the OALC has changed a LOT - but the teachings don't change, do they? MTH

  37. I decided to listen to some programs on EWTN today. There is such remarkable similarity and consistency in Biblical teachings, passages, and beliefs to those of Lutherans. Earlier today a program featured a former evangelical fundamentalist speaking about why he and his wife returned to the Catholic church. Just now I listened to a program called "Lenten Parish Mission". Here is a link to the series. http://www.excerptsofinri.com/lent-ewtn.html

    It's good to spend time during Lent to meditate on these things, to get away from 'who is right' and just settle mind and spirit on these spiritual things. But something interesting happened! The priest spoke about the one, holy, Roman Catholic church". There are not 1,000 churches, but one - the one built on the rock, Peter. And he went on to say that the Roman Catholic church IS the only true church. He spoke of young people who leave home and go out among their peers and perhaps leave the faith of their youth.. they drift away.. they begin to hear things like "there is no one true church, it's okay for everyone to believe as they will". And he spoke about what a mistake that is.

    It's interesting to hear this perspective.

  38. RWB here...

    LLLreader, anon 10:30, MTH, Free, cvow, and others,

    You may all have an extensive resume as related to the teachings, beliefs, etc. of the OALC. All your understanding and knowledge does not matter if it was never a matter of the heart for you. That's what it is for me. Maybe it was for you at one time, but for some reason things changed along the way. Maybe it never was a matter of the heart for you. What I mean by this is that you could not possibly understand things the way I do because we don't look at it from the same perch. There is this great philisophical/spiritual chasm between us and I feel now that it will never be bridged. I'm sure you will say this is our fault and you are entitled to your opinion. It serves no purpose for us to stand and shout "YOUR WRONG!" at each other. I see that this is what it will come to eventually and I don't feel it is my place to go there.

    Like I posted in another place I take exception to the fact that we are portrayed as limited people, uneducated, child abusers, child molesters, wife beaters, racist, sexist, twisted, dishonest, deceitful, Godless, prejudiced, haters, circumventers of natural law, hypocrites, unchanging, regressive, zealots, vengeful, spiteful, arrogant, likened to terrorists, fundamentalist addicts, uncharitable, unsavory, and butt-tiring. If these kinds of names and statements aren't making a judgement about what we are in your minds then I don't what is.

    I came here with the thought that I could offset the damage that is being done here. If even one person has been turned away from our beliefs, teachings, and faith I believe the damage has been done. I hope and pray that this is not your intention, but when I read what is written in some places here I fear that this not the case. Maybe it helps you deal with your apparently horrible experiences to tear down everything that was built in you for all those years. I will not judge you for that. I can't possibly know what is in each and everyone of your hearts. I can say that this blog in many places is not upbuilding for anyone....you, me, or anyone else. I believe I have my inner peace and I'm sure you are convinced that you have yours. Some of what is posted here indicates that you do not have that peace. If you don't I hope and pray that you search it out and find it.


  39. RWB,

    The kinds of people you refer to are in all walks of life, and in all religious groups. Why should yours be any exception? I think that the reason those things get brought up is because of this veil of hypocrisy that exists in the church.

    What rankles is the assumption that the LLL church (whichever version one attends) is better than any other church. It grates that the members are portrayed as if they somehow have a leg up on everyone else. They act as if somehow they have privileges and understanding that exist nowhere else.

    Just as you say no one here can see it from your "perch," perhaps you are as unable to see it from ours. We have been exactly where you are now. And we have chosen to include a wider perspective in our viewfinder. My view has been broadened beyond the "church" to include Christ.

    This does not preclude OALC/FALC/IALC/LLC members from being saved. But they are not the sole recipients of salvation. And on that sticking point rests the division between dyed-in-the-wool LLL church people and anyone outside those walls.

    I would totally agree with anon 10:30 on the three issues they listed above.

  40. Hey I am REALLY glad RWB posts here. He defends his faith well. -Bunless

  41. RWB here...

    Anybody with any thoughts on Norah's comments about the EWTN program and it's content? When pushed really hard I think you will find an exclusive under-current to many churches. It's seems to be a HUGE "fault" of the OALC in the collective opinion of some who post here. Yet Norah brings this apparent evidence of exclusivism, as in members-only exclusivism, actually being professed by a priest and there is no comment?


  42. So other churches can be stupid and arrogant, too? Shocking, shocking. Religion is for fools.

  43. There are lots and lots of exclusivist churches out there, not just the OALC or other Laestadian branches. Laestadianism is just the one we know and grew up in.

  44. Its not about religion, its about relationship. www.notreligion.com

  45. I asked my Catholic priest if only Catholic's were going to heaven. He said, "Hell no!" - his exact words. He said that if everyone understood the fullness of the Catholic faith, then all would choose to be Catholic. There is truth in every Christian faith, even in non-Christian faiths. We just beleive Catholic's hold the complete truth. You have to be careful in distinguishing the Catholic Church (capical C) from the catholic church (little c). The term "catholic" with a little c means "universal." When used in the little c form, the catholic church simply means all christian beleivers, of all denominations, more or less. The EWTN priest does appear to be making statements of exclusivity about Roman Catholicism. This not what I have heard from most Catholic priests. In fact, no priest that I know would ever make a statement specific to the Roman Rite. There are like 2 dozen recognized "rites" of the Catholic Church - all with allegiance to the same pope, all considered brothers of the same faith. No one rite would ever exclude others... I am not necessarily challenging Norah's comments but perhaps this was misunderstood. No RC priest I know would make those statements. -Bunless

  46. RWB here...

    I've been waiting for some others to respond to the above comments by CVOW and Bunless.....but since no one has....

    It seems to me that the OALC is judged for our supposed judgement of other faiths. Is that a fair statement? If I said the following there would be many negative responses: If everyone understood the fullness of the (doctrine of Christ as taught by the OALC), then all would choose to be (a follower of that doctrine). There is truth in every Christian faith, even in non-Christian faiths. We just believe the (OALC) holds the complete truth.

    I've inserted in parentheses some words, but otherwise the statement was cut and pasted from the last post above. Sound very similar to what I have posted in the past doesn't it?

    CVOW speaks of "exclusionary faiths" and I believe that if you dig enough you will find that the catholic church (the little c or big C doesn't matter as will be seen later in this post) is just as exclusionary, if not more so, as compared to others. Catholics are supposed to refer to Lutheran churches, and probably others, as "ecclesial communities". How can you "hope that ways to work together and eventually worship together" be a realistic statement when these churches cannot be referred to as churches? The following is a response to a question about why the "texts of the Council (the Second Vatican Council) and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?" Here is the response:

    According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense[20].

    The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ratified and confirmed these Responses, adopted in the Plenary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

    Now CVOW, Bunless, and others may say that we preach exclusion. What I hear spoken at the OALC is that there is one faith...one road to Heaven...one Doctrine of Christ. That Doctrine is taught and followed by the OALC. We should confess our faith, show a good example, love others as we love ourselves, encourage others to come to know there own sinfulness, and to come unto repentance. This is according to the Bible and this is what we follow.

  47. Well, "RedWhiteBLue", I don't know why I am jumping into this conversation since I haven't even been following it or have much interest in it. Maybe it's boredom. But I frankly have always thought Catholics were every bit as exclusive as the OALC (I'd be happy to find out they are not). I agree that there is some truth in every religion. I am equally certain that NO church has the whole truth. That seems self-evident to me and no point arguing about it. After all, churches are congregations of humans, EVERYTHING of humans is fallible, and - the claims of Biblical literalists notwithstanding - God has never dictated anything. We are all (individually and communally) growing spiritually, even in the OALC. Just because you in the OALC have such a limited perspective . . . . hey, lighten up. We all do, otherwise we'd be angels rather than humans, wouldn't we? You do fascinate me no end, for the mere fact that you are unaccountably motivated to participate in this blog. Many blessings to you. Many Trails (not one trail) Home