"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: A Father's Day Sermon, Laestadian Style

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Father's Day Sermon, Laestadian Style

If you want to experience a full dose of Laestadian scripture-twisting, intellectual suicide, biblical whitewashing, authoritarianism, moral equivocation, sectarian exclusivity, self-loathing, group emotionalism, and temporary guilt relief (roughly in that sequence), you can do no better than this Father’s Day sermon by the full-time pastor of the Rockford, Minnesota LLC. What follows are excerpts I’ve transcribed of the sermon, which are somewhat lengthy to address the too-often heard charge of “taking it out of context,” along with various images and videos that seemed appropriate to what was being said.

For some reason, I no longer get teary-eyed when listening to a preacher praise a man who kicked out the son he had conceived with a slave once he finally got himself a legitimate heir, and who “shut down his thinking” in preparation for slicing open his 12-year-old boy with a knife because he heard a voice telling him to. My patience has long since run out for the mindset that has so thoroughly surrendered itself to fideism as to assert, “If you don’t understand, you believe.” It’s certainly not a new attitude: Luther said “we must simply maintain that when we hear God saying something, we are to believe it and not to debate about it but rather take our intellect captive in the obedience of Christ” (Lectures on Genesis, Ch. 3, v. 5).

Even if you don’t understand what it is your are professing to believe, you must believe it nonetheless. It’s no less absurd a proposition than the absurdities that are being “believed” in this way. One example is the Real Presence of Christ in the communion wafer, which Luther held to as an essential point of doctrine. How, then, shall we understand those things which are beyond all our senses, in the Word alone? Thus it is in the Word alone that the bread is the body of Christ, that the wine is the blood of Christ. This must be believed; it must not and cannot be understood” (Id.).

The crudeness, ancient sacrificial roots, and circularity of God needing to have his son killed” to appease himself–and rejoicing about it–is all too evident. So is the authoritarianism of a preacher imploring his flock, “Let us trust this congregation more than ourselves.”

And, despite the fundamentalist self-loathing that urges, “Don’t look into your hearts. There’s nothing good in there,” my heart now sings with a freedom, acceptance of self and others, and happiness that I haven’t felt in years.

Sermon of Jouko Haapsaari, given in Minneapolis, MN on June 17, 2012

† Ishmael was a very good archer, according to one Finnish translation. “And the believers have understood that it’s a picture of a person who finds the faults of the believers. So when that kind of spirit left the home, there was freedom and there was joy” (13:00-14:15).
The Sacrifice of Isaac by Caravaggio (Wikimedia Commons)
† God told Abraham to kill his only son (Ishmael didn’t count). This was a great trial. “And I think, when there are people who dare to say that I don’t believe if I don’t understand–that I only am willing to accept and believe this which I can understand–I think they should read about Abraham. He did not understand. Or what do you think? Do you think that he understood? Do you think he saw plainly what was going to happen? No way. He didn’t. He had to take this leap of faith. He had to kind of shut down his thinking. He could not think. He could not use his carnal reason. Because what God asked of him was inhuman, was–if we say, in a human language–it was wrong. It was something nobody should do” (14:30-18:00).

† “[W]e know the children of Israel, like the other nations around them, offered their babies to Molech as a burnt offering. That means they killed their children. They burned them. And that was abomination before God” (18:00-18:30).

“And now God says, take your son and offer him as burnt offering unto me. What would you have done? [Would you have] run away? [Would you have] said, I can’t? This is inhuman. This is wrong. This is impossible. Whatever else, but not this” (19:00-19:40).

† “So what do you do if you don’t understand? There is only one way to go over it. There’s only one bridge, and that’s faith. If you don’t understand, you believe. Then faith is the most important matter. There is no other way to go over it but through faith. So we see how understanding and believing are kind of opposites to one other. It’s not wrong if we understand something about the matters of faith and doctrine. It’s not wrong if we understand the matters of this life well. If we have good gifts for this temporal life, it’s not sin. It’s not a questionable issue. But we see that no one could by their own human reason go over [overcome] this trial without faith. It’s impossible” (21:30-23:00).

†  “[I]n the midst of this trial, God showed him the way. God showed him the place where to go. He may have had so [many] trials, temptations, and doubts that he might have even thought during this trip, [wondering] . . . if God exists, if this is just nonsense, foolishness, the creation of my own mind. Maybe I should turn back, go back home, and try to forget the whole thing. So God showed him, ‘There you are to go.’ It must have been a painful, but also in a way comforting, sight. God is there and he shows me what I am to do” (24:00-25:00).

†  “His son was twelve. I guess there are some twelve-year old boys [here]. Think about, if your father would lay wood on your back and he would have a knife and a fire with him. You would do just like Isaac did. He asked, ‘My father, behold, there is a fire and there is wood. Where is the lamb for a burnt offering? He knew that something was missing, the lamb’” (25:45-26:30).

†  We come up against a brick wall “slightly like it happened to Abraham.” There’s no way out, “and then God opens the way, right before us. And I think it especially happens when we have fallen into sin. And the sin feels so terrible, so ugly, so big that we think, ‘I can’t talk to anyone. I cannot. I don’t dare to. I can’t. This is too big for anyone to understand.’ And the enemy says, ‘Nobody understands you. This has happened to nobody else. You are the only one, and if you are going to tell this to someone, no one will understand you, and no one will forgive you. They will kick you out.’ And that’s a lie. That’s what the enemy does unto us, that we would not take care of our matters. I have been there, before this brick wall. And I’ve thought, ‘Was this the end of my faith? I can’t . . .’ And God gives his strength. He opens our mouths, that we can confess our sins to our near ones” (29:30-31:00).

† God allowed the crucifixion to happen; he “had to go through all this pain and have his son killed, and this is what Abraham was learning in God’s school. This is what God has gone through for himself and everybody else who wants to believe. And Hebrews said, he rejoiced of it. No wonder. Don’t we rejoice  of it, too? God gave his son to die that I could live. It was God’s doing” (33:00-33:50).

† “And I guess quite often we have decided, haven’t we, ‘I want to believe. I don’t want to give up, whatever trials God gives unto me, I want to believe, I want to trust God.’ And sometimes we think that this is so simple and clear. Why have I ever doubted? I’ll stop doubting! I’ll never doubt any longer! That’s what we are. We doubt, and God knows our weakness. Dear brothers and sisters, may this text teach us to put a blind trust on God. What does it mean? Let us trust his congregation. Let us trust this congregation more than ourselves. Let us hear what the spirit teaches in the congregation. This congregation is God’s congregation. God takes care of that. God guides it and blesses it. And if I am a member of this congregation–no matter how small and weak, and tried, and fearful, and sinful I am–when this congregation is being raised from this world, I will be raised, too. Although I am a very small and weak member of it, I will be raised too. So, we have a father in heaven, but we have a mother upon this earth. We are the most fortunate people on this earth, that we can believe” (36:00-38:00).

Nine Patch Self-Portrait by Linda Frost
† “Don’t look into your hearts. There’s nothing good in there. There are doubts. There are all kinds of sins. We are carnal, and we are sinful. There’s no question of that. This is why God gave his son, that we might live. So, believe your sins forgiven in Jesus’ name and precious blood, and be of good cheer” (38:40-39:10).


  1. Dang, this is a good sermon, and I'm not a member of AALC.

  2. Which sermon? the preacher's or Ed's

  3. Well, they’re still using this text for Father’s Day. This past Sunday, a prominent LLC preacher got emotional talking about the business of Abraham being willing to gut his kid for God, not out of any sense of horror or moral indignation, but because

    “already in his heart, even though Abraham did not have to actually slay his son and offer him, Abraham had done it already in his heart. He was obedient in his heart, by faith. And that obedience of faith is required of us, dear brothers and sisters. It is not our way. It is not our mind, our plan, but may we always be tender to the voice of the spirit that speaks within us and speaks within God’s beloved congregation, as it does here even in our home congregation, our beloved home congregation, as it does here and elsewhere in God’s Kingdom. Let us be the brothers and sisters of Abraham and trust in God.”

    Sigh. I’ve written another posting on the subject, with links to a recent podcast and Kindle short book featuring some short fiction of mine about this nasty little story.

  4. Ed, you're my relative, I don't have anything against you, we all have our own problems, my gramma was a suominen girl,I think from New York state.But why is it that the Finns,especially the church, seems to be oblivious to what's going on in this world. They don't seem to connect the dots. The events of this sept and fall are so widely known by the rest of the Church, if you Google........sept 2015,Bible.......you will get informed, and will have a chance to rethink, or at least get your money out of the bank..........Matt

  5. Please, anonymous, get psychiatric help. You are not well.
    I will delete this thread. If you wish to comment in future, please keep it relevant to the topic. Also, please use a pen name. Thanks.

  6. For my part, I apologize. I knew I was poking the bear, but I now recognize the warning signs of manic behavior, and I agree.... this person needs help.