"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: More on FinnForge

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More on FinnForge

I've had a chance to read a little bit more on FinnForge lately, and it's been intriguing. It seems to me like the author is trying to do the following things:

1) Place Laestadianism squarely within the Reformation tradition. In other words, FinnForge doesn't believe that Laestadius innovated doctrinally in any way, but rather hearkened back to Luther and especially the Augsburg Confession.

from A Brief Expose of Errors. . .

Laestadius was an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church of Sweden, who held firmly and taught boldly the Lutheran doctrine, applying it to the heart, and citing the Lutheran Confessions as right doctrine.

2) To the extent that the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America deviates from the unaltered Augsburg Confession it has fallen away from what FinnForge's author considers the truth. Even to the extent that if the ALC's doctrinal statement Principles of the Doctrine of Christ (particularly the 1996 revision) conflicts with the Lutheran confessions, then the Principles are wrong!

3) FinnForge is a right-wing critique of the present day state of the ALC. Its author seems to find the ALC's tendency to become more evangelical in its doctrine and worship disturbing. He wants to return to what he considers an earlier, purer form.

I see now the fruit of division after division, many young leaving our fellowship for other churches altogether, and worldliness coming into the church. I see new music, with guitars and drums, making a noise nothing like the song of a redeemed soul who has tasted of grace.


Their changes have moved us far from the truth, and have made the Apostolic Lutheran Church into another church altogether

I must say that I see no small amount of irony here. It seems classic Laestadianism to me for someone to try to hearken back to an earlier age and circle the wagons around some notion of spiritual/ideological purity. To my mind, this is why there are the variants on Laestadianism in the first place. Everyone who splits off and starts a new group thinks they are "right" or "hearkening back to what the founders originally intended."

At this point in time it doesn't look like FinnForge is trying to split off and start a new variant. I'll give him credit for that. On the other hand, I think he's fighting a losing battle. As I've written elsewhere, I think the current trends in the ALC are moving in the opposite direction of where he wants to go.

I can understand why FinnForge wants to reform his own denomination instead of leaving for a different one. As we "exes" are acutely aware, there is a downside to leaving Laestadianism --even if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

If FinnForge eventually decides to quit the ALC, fortunately there are versions of Lutheranism that purport to follow the Lutheran confessional documents very closely. I'd point him to either WELS or LCMS for starters.

See also: Change in the ALC


  1. Since the present day Laestadian groups are not built on an individual transformation of faith by a new birth in Christ they are extremely vulnerable spiritually when they open the door to any kind of change. That is why most members of Laestadian groups will finally try to get an outsider to 'speak with the ministers' in any serious discussion of their faith as their church really does not give them emotional permission to have an individual Christian walk of faith. The main doctrine of each group is and has been to continue to do things like they used to be done and belong to the 'right church'-wich is theirs of course. The Apostolic Lutherans in the Federation group are finding out that having opened the door to change is like opening Pandora's Box. The Independent Apostolic group is moving even more rapidly than others into mainstream America. I doubt FinnForge would find much commonality by attending a WELS church or any other mainstream Lutheran Chruch. Though they could agree on certain doctrinal statements wholeheartedly the WELS would have a very different outlook on personal salvation and daily living than anyone from a Laestadian background. Once the genie of drums, guitars and amplifiers is opened, (and do not mention the idea that there might be Christians in other churches!) it becomes very difficult to contain things as the younger set will often find that they are far more emotionally appealing versus listening to dry sermons from old men. FinnForge sounds like one of those who can not understand nor grasp why so many prefer a new method of worship and praise as the old ways have lost their meaning to the younger set. From my observations the only way of preserving the original 'meaning' of the Christian faith is through individual conversion experiences by each member of a church versus the 'group type' conversion prevelant within modern Laestadian churches i.e. belong to the right church. The Old Apostolic Lutheran reaction to the 'progressiveness' they hear about in other Apostolic Lutheran type churches is probably a natural reaction and it could probably be described as putting up a high emotional/religious stone wall to try to prevent any change at all and just keep things as they are. They probably have noted the guitar and drum genies coming out of the bottles in other Laestadian groups and it looks terrifying to them given their reliance on a right church group type salvation. Drums/guitars and modern praise songs would probably be considered in the same class as television, lipstick, dancing and miniskirts etc.... Let in one and they all come in. And the truth be told they have a point. Old AP

  2. Having been born and raised in the IALC, I disagree with Old AP that the Independent group is moving even faster into mainstream America than the other groups, although I can see why it may appear to be so from an outsider's point of view. On the exterior surface, IALC'ers seem to be the most progressive of all the LLL groups, and especially if you know them personally. They have a tolerance for cosmetics, modern clothing, etc., and in that I would compare them to mainstream Mormons. You don't necessarily see their fundamentalism by looking at them from the outside. There is a general tolerance for the use of birth control and for receiving higher education. They do not actively disfellowship people for things like divorce and remarriage--though there are plenty of rebukers left. They practice social shunning of people who do not toe the line, but inconsistently. However, in their style of worship, they are nearly as conservative as the Old Apostolics. No musical instruments are allowed. Women cannot teach Sunday school or serve on the church boards except for kitchen and nursery committees, etc. They have tended to keep the charasmatic flavor (i.e. rejoicing) that was with the movement in the very beginning. And last if not least, they believe they are the only group that is truly saved, although there are probably people who silently do not accept this, I being one of the silent until I could stand no more and then left.

  3. Anonymous-I had noticed how mainstream things like movies, higher education, school sports and now even divorce and things like that were becoming more prevalent within the IALC whereas divorce for example, would have been anathema 40 years ago. But thank you for setting the record straight with regards to the IALC. There are many fine people there. I have always enjoyed my conversations with them. Old AP

  4. Yeah I agree that FinnForge would probably not be very happy in the WELS or LCMS --culturally they are just too different from the ALC. I was just trying to think of some other churches that place priority on the Lutheran confessional documents.

    Also, I don't know if I agree with FinnForge's basic premise that Laestadius was not a doctrinal innovator. It's hard to tell where doctrine leaves off and practice begins (as they often inform each other) but I think Laestadius created something new and distinct from other forms of Lutheranism.

  5. Old AP, I agree with your statement "From my observations the only way of preserving the original 'meaning' of the Christian faith is through individual conversion experiences by each member of a church versus the 'group type' conversion prevelant within modern Laestadian churches i.e. belong to the right church." Well said.

    Several years ago I was involved in online discussions with several ALC people who think similarly to FinnForge, and also discussed briefly with him also. This was my take on these discussions..keeping in mind that I am not a Bible scholar and this just a layman's view: While he and others like him sound good at first, and will be at first appealing to what might be considered the conservative "hardliners", (which I am to a certain point) there is more going on than is immediately apparant. There came a time when I had to completely reject their premises. I found problems with what I perceived at that time to be the idea that one who is saved cannot fall, (eternal security) and the calling of God among other things, and I remember very clearly agreeing with him for quite some time and then finally realizing that this was very different from my own beliefs. So this would not be more similar to mainstream Lutheranism, but Calvinism, in my opinion.

    It's unfortunate that there are so many dissident voices. Old AP says it so well, and that is Biblical Christianity in a nutshell. What more do we really need? I think some people just like to discuss and argue and criticize endlessly. If other LLL branches have more unity than this, they I say good for them..as long as it is not 'group think', but individual relationship with Christ.

    We live in especially challenging times, and I think we should all take care that we are properly spiritually grounded. Much prayer and individual study, and not depend on the various voices within the institutional churches, no matter how appealing they sound.

  6. Norah said with respect to FinnForge: "While he and others like him sound good at first, and will be at first appealing to what might be considered the conservative "hardliners", (which I am to a certain point) there is more going on than is immediately apparant. There came a time when I had to completely reject their premises." Norah you summarized my sentiments exactly...at first it sounds so right but later I started seeing subtle differences which, when I later understood their full ramifications and what they REALLY meant, I realized we were not really even reading the same Bible. In fact our 'core' beliefs were like night versus day. The hardline view, no matter how well camoflaged, is and has been, that they have this hidden inner kernel of spiritual truth/lineage/understanding or spirit, which only they possess and that everyone else must kowtow to them and their core beliefs. In other words you basically are supposed to hang out with them and hold them up as some type of spiritual masters cringing at their critiques. It was no different as back as early as the 1930's, according to my father and mother. I think not nor did my parents!