"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Question About the OALC

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Question About the OALC

There is a new private support group on Facebook for those from the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church (OALC). If you would like to join, send me an email at extoots with a note about why you're interested.

I just ran across this "Voice of the Elders" blog and wonder if anyone knows what sect it is affiliated with.

A recent observation that the OALC is "getting more conservative" made me ponder this comment by "Hibernatus" from a few years back:

The OALC elders of the Swedish Lapland split into two groups in the middle of the 1960s: August Isaksson, Levi Älvgren and Sten Johansson on one side and Gunnar Jönsson, William Eriksson, Hugo Gustavsson, Evald Larsson and others on the other side. The vast majority of the OALC chose to follow the latter group. However, there were a few hundred in Finland, and some dozens in the US, Norway and Sweden, each, who chose to follow the first mentioned group of elders. 
This group later split into two, and its membership has decreased over the years. In Norway I think they ended up getting reconciled with the mainstream group, but there are still a couple of hundred left in Finland (in two or three separate groups), and small remnants in the US and Sweden. 
It's a common opinion among the supporters of the liberal "party" in the Finnish OALC now that the elders of the Swedish Lapland, since the 1980s, have moved more towards the opinions held by August Isaksson, Levi Älvgren and Sten Johansson, abandoning the reform tendencies of Gunnar Jönsson & Co. Their theory is that although most of the OALCers chose to follow Gunnar Jönsson in the 1960s split, many of them still secretly resented Gunnar Jönsson's reform tendencies and clung to the ideas held by his opponents (August Isaksson, Levi Älvgren and Sten Johansson). According to them, the death of Gunnar Jönsson in early 1980s opened the way for his secret opponents to take the power in the OALC. (Actually August Isaksson died before the split was complete, but he played an important role in the events that led to the split and he was clearly on the side of the opponents of Gunnar Jönsson).
Any thoughts?


  1. It appears the "Voice of the Elders" blog is an offshoot of the ALC church in Greer, SC.

    "Having been swept along by the recent controversy to the point of breaking of fellowship at the Rutherford Rd., Greer, SC Apostolic Lutheran Church, we wish to set forth an explanation of the issues which were under debate."

    Talk about your dense reading material btw. Uffda.

  2. Thanks, FreeThinker.

    This may be of interest to some folks: a website with information about a split in the OALC.

  3. THE VOICE OF THE ELDERS is nothing more then whats been going on in the Laestadian movement for over 100 years and counting. PEOPLE with, right church, correct doctrine mentality. HOW MANY splits is that? Not that it matters anymore. JUST SOME MORE POOR FAMILIES THAT ARE SPLIT UP. AND WILL NOT BE WORSHIPING TOGEHER ANY MORE. I think the Apostolic Lutheran and Laestadian Preachers ought to go and buy themselves asbestos under wear, I fear they are all going to need some. Just one of them must understand That the Kingdom of God is within you. THEREFORE WE SHOULD NOT COUNT THE NUMBER LARGER THEN THE NEAREST BELEIVING SOUL.

  4. I was with you, Anonymous 3/14/2013 08:17:00 AM, until you got to the part about asbestos underwear.

    I'm assuming you're referencing the fact that they're hell-bound. It is always amusing to me that many commenters here rail against the doctrine and fallacies of their Laestadian church of origin, but continue those fallacious judgments with their *new* understanding of the Bible.

  5. I HAVE SIBLINGS IN 3 DIFFERENT branches of the apostolic Lutheran Laestadian movement churches We all beleive in Jesus but because of what is preached from the pulpit my family is split up and definitely harmed by the teaching of the church. I THOUGHT I was doing the preacHers A FAVOR AND GIVING THEM Fair warning. GOD ISNT GOING TO ALLOW PREACHING OF RELIGIOUS PRIDE TO BREAK UP SO VERY VERY MANY FAMILIES OVER SO MANY YEARS WITHOUT THOSE THAT WERE IN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY PAYING A PRICE..matt

  6. Or ... or, the God of the Bible is an entirely human invention, and nobody is damned to hell (also a human invention, of which there is actually little reference in the Bible including Zero in the Old Testament -- an odd omission, doncha think?). But I agree with you regarding human ego and pride in relation to Preachers and splits, and it's heartbreaking that families like yours are split up due to such hubris.

  7. You have to wonder when human awareness or even common sense will get ahead of religion. I am always blown away by how the religious code sits in front of all thoughts and actions, EVEN when it is totally insane to do so.

    How so many will use their religion to take actions that go against doing what is right in life....forgetting about which church is going to heaven, but rather which action is going to allow you to do the right thing.

    I happened to have a long conversation with a woman of the OALC, about the ways in which that church has dealt with abuse. It is beyond shocking and horrifying to say the least. It is there, and it is handled within the walls of the church. The preachers are involved and both parties are brought together, words are spoken and then back to life as usual.

    No police intervention, no courts, no outside therapy offered for the victims...for what means the most is to adhere to the 'laws' of the church.

    When will the squabbling stop and who is right and which preacher is on the right path etc...
    When will folks start thinking for themselves or at least admitting to the brainwashing that is going on where adult men and women are okay in doing the 'blessing' of the pedophile and not give consideration to the victims.

    It seems to me, that the dialoguing that goes on should be more current and see how affective these religions are to everyday life.

    What I have experienced and bore witness to, is how these religions are the biggest contributor to allowing pedophiles to be preachers, board members and members.....without any reprisals at all.

    It is my hope that someday, the bottom will fall out and it won't matter which church you split from or which one you sit in today, but rather are you silently allowing abuse to flourish while you hold sacred your faith in a religion whose sole concern is erasing away actions that have lingering affects.

    I would like to have a website that has a dialogue of how the affects of these religions have on life, family and self.

    If only, these religions crying high morals and value would really hold water.

    Appalled by the silence of the christians,
    Beth Jukuri

  8. I'm 24 and leaving OALC. Yesterday I talked to a preacher and explained everything I felt, we left with him "praying for me" which I'm fine with. I said a little to my older married sister who passed word to my mom (I okayed it). Mom came over today and sobbed for 2 hours. We did have a good conversation. Ultimately, she wanted me to promise her that I would keep coming to church, just for her. I said I may, for a little while, but it will be "sleepwalking" and living a lie.
    I intend to find therapy. I intend to build a support group. I'm sure there will be rocky times ahead, but thanks for doing these blogs, I am finding support here reading them.
    -Single, 24, female

    1. That is so wrong. What do you not agree with? You are a shun and need help. You need to pray for yourself that you can get better. I'm praying for you. I go there and it's amazing. Once again pray for yourself. Thanks

  9. Dear 24 above, I'm glad you plan to get therapy, and that this blog is of help to you. If there is anything I can do personally to help, let me know.

    If you would like to be part of our support group for ex-OALC on Facebook, send me an email at extoots@gmail.com.

    Would you be willing to share your conversation with the preacher (no names, of course). What were your concerns? What was his response?

    As you discover your path, I hope you find that helping others is an essential component of your happiness. We can lose our tribe but gain a vastly larger, more beneficial one when the entire planet is our home, and everyone in it, our kin.

    Take care,

  10. Hey 24, I was in the LLC, but otherwise in your exact same position several years ago. Build an outside support group as soon as you can. Regular interaction with others helps immensely when dealing with the inevitable depression that comes with having nearly all the relationships in your life change in negative way.

    The pity party I got from my family and "friends" in the LLC was so depressing because I felt I was still the same person, but there was no way they could ever treat me as such. Of course, they'll say you are depressed because you left "faith" as they define it, which can make your depression worse because you know that your faith hasn't left you. That kind of loving pity, more accurately described as passive aggressive judgement, can really get you down.

    Find others to spend time with; former OALCers, and new people who only know you as you and not as an OALCer, etc. Don't get caught in a negative feedback loop with other former members. Its good to connect with those who have had the same experience, but if that is your only social interaction, you'll mutually dwell in the depression of leaving a repressive group. Sharing your experience with those who've experienced the same thing will help your depression some, but its not the only medicine you need. I used meetup.com to meet people who shared similar interests as me and I developed some strong friendships through my work. All of this helped, along with therapy.

    Be thankful you are single. I still have a few friends in the LLC, who are married with children, who haven't believed in that church for years. They struggle daily with these issues because their spouses still believe in the church, so they feel they don't really have an options other than to fake it, and keep their true beliefs private. Its not an easy road and I don't envy them at all.

    Good Luck to you on your journey! You'll look back a few years from now and realize it was the best thing you ever did!


  11. Leaving at 24 is so impressive, and to face the preacher and tell him why and to continue to stand steadfast with your feelings.

    I too echo going into therapy and in finding a support group. A mindful therapist and one who can fully appreciate the intricate dynamics of how the family and 'faith' are not separated, but how family is secondary to their faith. One who can appreciate the closed environment you came from and how different it will be living outside of the community you used to find comfort in.....will now be the current that wants to pull you back.

    Your mother wanting you in church for her comfort shows the co-dependent living style...how her happiness depends upon what you do...and her unhappiness also will be placed upon you, as you find your own life.

    I too wish you courage, which you have already displayed, but continual strength as you find your way.

    I left the FALC, but also would be willing to talk and be part of your support group.
    bjukuri@hotmail.com or friend me on Facebook.

    Beth Jukuri

  12. A thought came to me, do you all think that there are more members leaving the churches that are spoken about on this blog, or is it just that we have access to each other via the internet?

    Is it a trend or evolution of mankind, that we are unable to remain brainwashed our whole lives or are even not so susceptible to its indoctrination?

    I tried to recall back when I was a member, it seemed it was a rarity for people to leave, for families to be broken apart. Perhaps I was too young to realize. But now, it appears that more and more families are experiencing the exit of family members from the church.

    In my family of 14, only two remain in church.

    Just curious if there are more leaving or just that we have access to knowing more about it.


  13. Beth said, "In my family of 14, only two remain in the church." The same thing has happened to my family over the years. One by one they leave or sort of just drift away. When I was looking at the birth rates within the Apostolic Lutheran groups I thought that the church membership levels should be much larger than what they were. I then realized that just as many people are leaving as are being born but many do not leave until they are in the 20's & 30's so it is not that apparant. I have noticed that a fair number of younger ex-members remain 'quasi-members' as they 'sort of join' semi-splinter groups and periodically they will attend a service or two back at their original maintstream Apostolic Lutheran/Laestadian church. Quasi-membership seems to be a growing trend amongst the young people. Quasi-membership allows people to nominally remain a member of the group yet still sort of be separate and it also allows people to keep their circle of friends. I think that many parents are keeping a blind eye about all of this as they do not want to cause a permanent rift with the younger generation. Old AP

  14. "Quasi-member" is a great description, Old AP. I think a ton of young people like myself attend strictly for the social aspect, and out of habit.

  15. I too was a Quasi-Member before I left...and I can see the benefits, but I also believe it leads to living a lie on both sides of your life. Where you are not in nor are you all the way out. Confusing to your own sense of self.

    I felt much better being completely out. No socializing for me.

    Interesting note about the sheer numbers of kids, and yet the congregations are not booming...which has to account for the actual numbers that leave.

    In leaving I wonder how many find a confident sense of self esteem and value....or how many leave and are in then living a life of drinking, drugs etc.

  16. THANK you for the support! I can't explain how calming it is to come back and read these words (and other blogs/comments) from others who possibly understand my position. I also am aware that this is just the start and I have a long road ahead of me. I look forward to it but also anticipate some rough patches. I am strong and I am brave, and I will make it through.
    When I went to the preacher I started the conversation with the fact that I cannot believe that of the billions of humans on this earth, only the 30,000(?) who belong to the OALC will be going to Heaven. He said that we know that the "children" and other souls out there will also go to heaven, and we don't know in the last times how many will repent. We just really had a good visit, I was there for one and a half hours. Many times he would refer to a place in the Bible--for which I usually had a valid response. One of which was regarding God's children, he believed that these children were the true christians who belong to the OALC. No...all of the people on this earth are His children. I also noted that the Bible can be interpreted a million ways by anyone who wishes to do so. He told some personal stories and reviewed the history of why we are here and why the OALC is the "one true faith". At the end of the conversation, he understood that I would not be swayed and I asked what to do from this point. Poor man, I don't think he often is asked advice on how to leave the church. He did tell me to keep ties with my family and friends, which I plan to do. My fear is that they will cut connections, but after my conversation with my mom, that seems unlikely. He also said that he will pray for me which I thanked him for. And added that I pray that God will continue to lead me in the right direction. He said that he hopes so, as "misfortune comes to many unbelievers". He also thanked me for coming to talk. I assured him (and my mom) that I mean no harm upon the church or anybody and did not wish to push my beliefs on anybody. My beliefs have changed, but I respect that each person chooses their path. He said he did not get feelings of ill will from me at all, which comforts me. I understand that I could have slowly faded from the church, but for me, I wanted to explain myself and why I was making the choices I am. It is a complete shock to all who surround me (and the word isn't really out yet), but I hope that having an explanation will help. Instead of everybody saying, what happened?!
    One of the reasons I made my final choice was the fear that I would meet someone in the church and would be forever trapped. As hard as it will be now, it would be almost impossible to find the strength once you are married with children. As far as depression goes, I've dealt with it on and off for several years. Living a lie is no fun. Now that I've made my decision I feel more calm and free then I have in years. My mom sensed that, and she questioned how I seem almost "emotionless". Well, that's the feeling of freedom, mother-dear.
    I personally do not know anybody who has left the church, but I do have the support of some coworkers, another student at college, and one of my professors. I also have talked to a former boss of mine (who I was like a daughter to) and she has offered tremendous support. I met with a therapist who I felt super comfortable with and we meet again Tuesday. She understood how deep this was for me.
    Thank you for your responses. Whenever I feel lonely, I will come here to be reassured. Even now, I know how easy it would be to just go back, make things right, and continue living, but I can't do that any longer. However bumpy the road, I will keep carrying on.


    1. 24, thanks for sharing your experiences and insights. Please consider writing a guest post (or two or three) about your journey.

      Your "calm and free" phrase reminded me of this poem by William Wordsworth. If you learn it by heart, it will come to your mind whenever you see a beautiful sunset. Highly recommended.

      It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
      The holy time is quiet as a Nun
      Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
      Is sinking down in its tranquillity;
      The gentleness of heaven broods o’er the Sea;
      Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
      And doth with his eternal motion make
      A sound like thunder—everlastingly.
      Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
      If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
      Thy nature is not therefore less divine;
      Thou liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year:
      And worshipp’st at the Temple’s inner shrine,
      God being with thee when we know it not.

    2. I would be open to writing a guest post at some point. How would you like me to do this?

    3. Great! Just email me at extoots@gmail.com.

    4. 24, I know I will be looking forward to reading it!

    5. 24, I left FALC about 13 years ago, at age 22. It was just as I was entering grad school and meeting a new group of friends. Life has kept getting better ever since, though it has taken many years to unwind the challenges and problems that life in the church, with all its pecularities, wrought in my psyche. Good luck on your journey and I look forward to reading your guest post.


    6. But the preachers DO NOT SAY Old Apostolic Lutheran is the only people saved. Au contraire. They say "other sheep I have not of this fold (I cant remember the New Test. Passage) for example. Moreover Harold Homola loudly proclaimed we have not the pruning shears. "We are no better than the drunk in the gutter! The label "worldie" has no place coming from the mouths of the believers!" I looked up old letters and Rattamaa said the same stuff. The perception you state is cultural in the OALC but the preachers and folk at the gatherings rebuke such judgementalism. All three Lestadian groups are full of loving people. Till we meet again. Be blessed in Jesus Name.

  17. A liberal Republican is called a RINO which stands for 'Republican in name only.' I guess Laestadian quasi-members could be referred to as a LINO or 'Laestadian in name only.' Like Beth Jukuri, I did the LINO thing for a while and ended up feeling that I was living a life of hypocracy. I finally left altogether too. Old AP

  18. In the Finnish news media they have a term for LINOs that is something like "cultural Laestadian". It refers to people who do not identify as Laestadian at a spiritual level, and are SRK members for social and cultural reasons only.

    As for Beth's question of more people leaving; yep, there sure are more people leaving and/or stating that they don't quite accept the LLC doctrine in its entirety. The easy access to information on the internet has started a slow bleed in many fundamentalist groups, and the LLC is not immune.

    When your doctrine is based on beliefs that are simply not true historically, and in many ways not even biblical, then the only way to maintain the belief system is to have limited access to information... Hello, internet! No such thing as limited access to information anymore. The murmurs and low level turmoil in the LLC right now are not the work of the devil, they are the work of the internet exposing the truth of things.


  19. 24, you are doing what you feel is best for you and that is a awesome way to begin, by following your truth and your feelings. And, it will become easier and easier to explain the more you explore your self...most often it is hard to know what to say, when we ourselves are still confused. But, you sound very self assured. AND, people will respect your authenticity and openness! Mostly, if you are fine with yourself they will be fine with you....UNLESS, their religion refuses to allow them to be with folks who are not within the church, but....that is not your issue, but theirs. It has nothing to do with the way you have presented yourself and the way you have honored your self by following your truth. I again wish you much success as you venture ahead....YOU BE YOU, always.

  20. '24' said she had decided to leave at the age of 24. This is actually not that surprising as psychology studies have shown that personalities do not solidify until the age of 25. So 24 sounds like she is coming of age where she knows herself and what she wants in life. That is why psychologists warn against making big life decision such as marriage when one is a teenager as the individual has not had time to mature as a person in their own right. I made my decision to leave at 25 knowing that there had to be something more fulfilling in life than listening to sin sermons and I set out on my own hoping that I would find my own path. Well sure enough I found it and it was far better than anything I could have even imagined. My suggestion for 24 is to keep being honest with herself and hopefully attend a 4 year college which will open up a plethora of career doors and life experiences. Old AP

  21. Over the years thousands of good people have left the LAestadian movement churches, mainly for the same reason that I left. We were not able to personally experience the loving God that we heard so much about. And that is because most of the Laestadian movement churches have lost thier way to the Living God many many years ago. THE RELIGIOUS PRIDE of making themselves important has placed the church on the wrong road. god turns away from such pride. I KNOW that there are preachers that are aware of this blogsite and read it. I WANT TO ASK THEM: why do you keep your people in bondage,? keeping them unable to receive from God, BY TEACHING THAT a person can only be saved thru a certain church associated with the Laestadian movement. IS IT FEAR? OR IS IT PRIDE?.EITHER WAY YOU ARE DOING HARM THAT LASTS A LIFE TIME. IF ONLY ONE PREACHER WOULD BE HONEST AND PROCLAIM FROM THE PULPIT, that if God decided to wipe out the whole Laestadian movement, Gods work would continue without a glitch. GOD WOULD THEN ShOW UP AND BE FOUND IN OUR MIDST. I think a revival would breakout that very day. BECAUSE THE PEOPLE WOULD BE ABLE BELEIVE IN Jesus Christ alone, and not in the church.Matt

  22. Matt said, "I KNOW that there are preachers that are aware of this blogsite and read it. I WANT TO ASK THEM: why do you keep your people in bondage?" Matt, I would not be surprised if ALL of them had at least surreptitiously (aka sneak into a library to surf the net)read this web site as it has created quite a buzz within Laestadian circles. In answer to your questioning of the preachers the issue is really all about CONTROL. Within any group of people there are always 1 or 2 who have a gift of public speaking. It does not mean that they are spiritually enlightened....it just means that they have the ability for public speaking. These same types of people seem to be nudged towards speaker positions within Laestadian churches as their gift for public speaking is noticed. They may have no real insight into Scripture....in fact they may essentially be only repeating childhood Laestadian mantras but they eventually become sort of a religious authority. Eventually they are voted in or chosen to be a reader of the Scriptures and finally voted in as a speaker after a period of what essentially is an apprenticeship. Unfortunately, this pathway in no way qualifies some one to be a pastor (shepherd) and really they are more like 'orators' versus real ministers to the congregation. Their surreptitious reading of this web site is really due to fear as their position of primacy (the PRIDE that Matt alluded to) can finally be openly challenged with the TRUTH. When one is in a position of authority, such as a speaker or minister, challenges to one's views becomes very unnerving if one is not really a true believer and well grounded in Scripture. Since one's position as a speaker is dependent on the congregational vote it naturally become critically important to quash any challenge or challengers. A Biblical understanding of faith and redemption would threaten the livelihood of many Apostostolic Lutheran/Laestadian type speakers as they would be forced to admit that their stranglehold on the 'truth' is just an illusion and that the foundation of the church doctrine was in turn really quicksand. Matt went on to say, "Therefore why do you keep your people in bondage,? keeping them unable to receive from God, BY TEACHING THAT a person can only be saved thru a certain church associated with the Laestadian movement. IS IT FEAR?" Yes Matt, IMO it is all about fear. The very essence of most Laestadian upbringings is the close fellowship and a way of life that has a type of order to it. IMO the fear amongst the speakers of all the Laestadian-type groups is that any loss of control would open up Pandora's box, so to speak, and in their mind the church would end up with guitars and drums for musical instruments and eventually drag queens would be getting married in the church or something to that effect. Hence the speakers liberally use the terms the 'world and sin' which is really an euphemism for anything outside the boundaries of Laestadianism. So Matt, I agree to a certain extent that fear and pride are definately big factors in the present order of Laestadian type churches. Your verbiage echoes mine when I discovered the truth many decades ago but I was castigated by the speakers of that day as I was considered a threat to the order. You may find yourself also viewed as a 'threat' for essentially believing in the Bible and the gospel should you choose to become more vocal about your newfound beliefs. Old AP

  23. I have a great concern for the young people who leave the church. I beleive they leave because they cannot find the peace and joy that is promised. I was in that condition for 45 years. Until one day in sadness of heart and a lack of peace I cryed out to God for help. God in his mercy began to tweek my APostolic Lutheran mindset. He used the very same language of "forgiveness of sins" that the church uses. I was shown the right way of understanding it, so that I might get a hold of the power of God that is in the true Gospel and be saved. IT WORKED, and that very day like never before I knew for sure that I Was saved. This whole matter was a revelation too me, I may not be able to write it down clearly. The spirit first brought to mind, and I was asked to think on the phrase, "beleive your sins forgiven in Jesus name". WE all have confessed our sins and heard those words spoken to us. But then a BIble verse that we mostly hear at Christmas time was brought to mind. ISAIAH 9:6 . pLease spend some time to get a hold of this verse. Pay attention to the fact that it says "name",singular, yet 5 titles are listed. It doesnt say these are the names of Jesus. ISAIAH 9:6 "His name shall be called, Wonderful, counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace. I DON'T know how the spirit showed this to me, but I could now see that the "name of Jesus" was a powerful package of all his Titles put together. AND when I was instructed to "believe my sins forgiven in Jesus name" it took on a whole new meaning for me. I thought about it for hours and finally I got right understanding, and I thought, I will do that and my "right church" thinking fell away from my mind. That very night I awoke praising God in the Finnish language, that was strange because I has not used the Finnish language since childhood. After thinking about this for many years, I believe both Luther and Laestadian had a lot better understanding of "the name of Jesus ten the church does today....Matt

    1. Matt, I am glad that God was able to open up the light of the Gospel to you after 45 years of being in a spiritual funk. I was only able to put up with it for 25 years before I realized it was time to bail. I finally had somewhat of a similar experience years after I left my branch of the Apostolic Laestadian Church. What I wondered later on was that if the truth is so basic why hadn't the preachers spoke of it in that way? And why had some of the same preachers been so vehemently against the preaching of the gospel when that subject was brought up? I later concluded that there were indeed Christians within the Laestadian movement but that most of the preaching was really in effect the placement of stumbling blocks that hindered most people from coming to a full comprehension of faith. Most of the people who I would call 'grace minded' seemed to retain their faith IN SPITE of the preaching rather than BECAUSE OF the preaching. With regards to your comment that, "Luther and Laestadius had a lot better understanding of "the name of Jesus than the church does today...." I would agree with you wholeheartedly. I have thought it is kind of strange for me to be an ex-member who still strongly agrees with both Luther & Laestadius but who finds little to nothing in common with Apostolic Lutheranism. Old AP

  24. "I believe in God DESPITE people." I continue in the FAL-faith because I believe in the faith preached. Not because I believe its people are perfect. I can say I have been ostracized before for things. Not by all. Not all the time. I am sure I will be again. But...I still live my life the way I want. I answer to God and Jesus which is what is ultimately preached, even if some forget it.

  25. LLLreader pipes up: FALCon I appreciate your belief in the Almighty,your answering only to God, and your willingness to live your life as you see fit. I have sometimes thought of other people as sort of "in the way" of an individual's relationship with the Lord. If I give the guy sitting next to me in the pew the power to evaluate my faith, am I not taking away from what should be the Lords? As Matt said, his clearer understanding took place between himself and Jesus. It couldn't be explained to him by anyone else. I have imagined God having a chat with me saying something like "Say, I thought I had reminded you through the words in the Bible and through your conscience that the poor of the world need your help". What if I answered, "Oh sure, I got the message, but my sister-in-law said that I should only help people that go to the same church". God might say, "Now let me get this straight, I specifically said you are to help the downtrodden. But you decided your sister-in-law's opinion is more important then my teachings?" By discourging individual prayer and Bible study the church plants itself squarely between me and God. It seems like a lot of noise and confusion instead of a simple "Here I am Lord".

  26. I should have also added, one deals with dislike and ostracizing not only in these Lutheran faiths but in many aspects of life. For example, I see many cliques at my work. The reason for these actions are not faith, but because the perpetrators are human beings.

  27. The term "one faith" does not mean a certain church. MY family uses it in that way. That understanding will not lead you God. It simply means that there is one faith acceptable to God and that is we are to trust in Christ. Everything that you add to Christ alone will limit God..Matt

  28. Thoughts thoughts thoughts!!! Ok I respect all yalls beefs. I really do. I can't help but see that some of these "family" issues caught up in all this are purely symptoms of the psychological framework in the christian part of western civilization. I present to you my observation of the major social sets in the christian world. Locally tribal style fraternal orders, ex. Family Penecostal community Holiness, older church of christs some the older anglican and episcopalean, amish, mennonite, jehova wit etc. These are organically formed and grown by small groups initially that form social core groups. there is little fellowship with out town members similar beliefs. Next we have the engineered local franchise "church planted" variety. This pick you a church like its Burger King on the local market attracts probably two thirds the christian world. These members feel normal. church you worship at .. your friends are elsewhere.. only common community is donny mclerkin on tv sunday best and the urban gospel community where unity is mostly music and effemoral praying only across broad ethnic communities to include the evangelical megachurch community like billy Graham and Joel olsteen. this set has the least peer to peer psycological influence and the least intrafamily excommunicating over religious differences. this group is principally speaking most like Israel under the Judges as it functions as its society subset. another set would be arguably like charter style missionary fraternal order. this set has a deeper fraternal society than freemasons. The various Lestaudian origin orders function like this set. in the greater christian world this is arguably the smallest part with probably less than a million worldwide. However i have observed contrary to some of the other bloggers on the family unity factor. Yes the wall to the other sets is very visible. That more deeply splits some ffamilies. However many other dozens of surnames enjoy a far greater transfamily unity factor than can be found anywhere in the entire human species. Many outward church functions make the lestaudian community look very similar to many other churches. However if you take a closer look you suddenly observe this part of the human species is very very different. finally the last set is arguably a true cult. fortunately there are only a few orders of these. This is actually way different than the true charter based fraternal order style. i see all the major religions have a small sub sect that takes the cult path like the wahhabi islam and the fundamentalist LDS.

    On a sidenote. I see on the internet plenty of advise "how to leave". My observation is if you have to study this aspect you are not all the way ready to leave. why throw your life away on the real mental scaring you will inflict. when you are ready you will just know to the point you simply leave move on and dont think about all this. you just do by instinct when you are truely ready to loose fraternal bonds.

    1. "... this set has a deeper fraternal society than freemasons."

      The question is: was there a connection between Laestadius and freemasonry? Was Laestadius ever a freemason? Because why on earth did he do the "hidden hand" sign on his famous portrait? Was he initiated in some lodge in France, perhaps? If anyone knows for sure about this, please reply!

  29. "If you are readying internet advice on how to leave you are probably not all the way ready to leave"
    True. However, finding out how other have left and how their lives have been since leaving helps to prepare a person for leaving. I think most people contemplate this decision for quite some time before leaving the huge support network that they have grown up with. Those who cut ties quickly and abruptly without thought were probably not deeply engrained in the system to begin with. I have considered leaving for 3 years now but I haven't. Mostly because I don't want my parents to feel like failures and my 4 year old sister to grow up thinking I'm going to Hell. So Larson Shiflet, its easy to make observations but not as easy when its your life. But when I do leave, I will not have spent this time"throwing my life away" but building the courage to start anew.

  30. I wish you best of luck Blue Sky! Where your treasure is there your heart be also. In Jesus name...