"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Laestadian Divisions (Guest Post)

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Laestadian Divisions (Guest Post)

Following is a guest post from a reader with the pen name IlmarH. If you would like to contribute a post, please email me using the form on the home page. If you would like to discuss Laestadianism in North America (with insiders and outsiders), join this new  Facebook group. —Free


I am writing from Finland, and am curious to know how recent events in Europe have affected the OALC and perhaps other Laestadian factions. Perhaps readers of this blog could report on the current spiritual weather in North American Laestadian groups. The tumultuous times in America in the period 1880-1900 had an influence in the breaking of the movement here, and more recently the American OALC culture has been a factor in the breach in the European Firstborn flock (separation from the Lutheran Church communion, etc).

I suspect that sooner or later this division will send some waves to the OALC as well.
I find the theological attitudes and arguments on both sides alien at best
There are websites in Finland where the two factions of the Firstborn breach are discussing and arguing, e.g., http://esikoisten.foorumi.eu. I find the theological attitudes and arguments on both sides alien at best, and frequently appalling. My interests and viewpoint are more in the general phenomena of religion-culture-society, interaction of world religions, etc. I am challenging fundamentalism and the fatal neglect and mockery of broad-minded Bible scholars.
The main Laestadian faction, Vanhoillislestadiolaiset / SRK (LLC in the North America) has interesting ripples as well. An active blog (https://hulluinhuonelainen.wordpress.com) has reported some of the waves. The blog was initiated by two bright young theologians, Joona Korteniemi and Roosa Tahkola. Korteniemi was a priest in the Finnish Lutheran Church and also an SRK preacher. Some months ago he posted a message that he is giving up his position as a preacher due to differences between his convictions and Laestadian closed-congregation “only us” doctrine. I can imagine that this man has been quite alone, on a raft on open sea. I feel respect and sympathy for him. His blog contains writings of many thankful supporters but is also filled with texts from hot-head believers and narrow-span fundamentalists, and even hostile outbursts. (Unfortunately indicative of the intolerance justified by religious writings—a common plague all over.) 

The next phase of this story is surprising and unusual. Some weeks ago Korteniemi posted a message revealing that he has decided to join the Catholic Church. Some ex-Firstborn friends have sympathized or joined other denominations, for instance the “orthodox” Lähetyshiippakunta (Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese). See http://www.lhpk.fi/en/.
Christianity worldwide is in disarray and the main reason is . . . sex
Christianity worldwide is in disarray and the main reason is—how original!—sex / gender / reproduction, particularly the question of female priests, birth control, and attitude towards homosexuals. The crucial ideological rift is between two paradigms regarding Bible interpretation. Fundamentalist groups take every line, phrase, and saying in Bible as divine, untouchable truth that should not be analyzed with human reason, intellectual analysis, or socio-historical research. The other faction respects the Bible as the foundation of our civilization providing moral values and humanitarian guidelines of life, but recognizes the historical processes and cultural evolution that have taken place in the past 3,000 years.

I would like to see some signs of global reforms in Christianity spanning Catholicism, Protestantism, and all Christian denominations. The third millennium of Christianity is unfolding—but how, and in which direction?


  1. I am hoping the author of this post might have information regarding the priest he/she mentions...Joona Korteniemi - as a former LLC member who converted to Catholicism, I would love to have contact with him, however, his blog is in finnish, and despite being raised in a laestadian household, and sitting through innumerable sermons translated into finnish or from finnish to english, I am unfortunately unable to speak or understand any finnish other that the swear words i learned as a kid.

  2. Hi,
    unfortunately our language is a problem. I wonder if the modern translation technology might help… Regarding the recent LLC/SRK into RC shift I could recommend the following.
    In the blog “Hulluinhuonelainen” you can find the long and thorough final posting by Joona Korteniemi with title ”Näkemiin” meaning “Farewell”. He is giving his analysis and reasons. If you are able to extract the text and use google translator, you may get most of it..??. Both Joona and the remaining co-author of the blog (Roosa) and most of the readers know English language well. So perhaps you could also submit a message to the blog itself. I am sure the community of the readers would appreciate comments coming from the other side of Atlantic. Also it would be great to read your thoughts on this blog. IlmarH.

  3. Over the years I knew of several Laestadians who joined mainline Lutheran groups such as the Missouri Synod Lutheran denomination. Interestingly enough, both the Missouri Synod & the Wisconsin Lutheran Synod would be in complete agreement with the Laestadians with regards to Luther's official doctrine, especially the creeds and Biblical infallibility. In addition, both the Missouri Synod & the Wisconsin Synod have an air of exclusivity to them. Both groups have a direct lineage to Martin Luther. A key secular difference is that those two Synods believe in higher education in general with regular occupations for their members and they also have an educated clergy. The main religious difference is that while both groups teach confession to the minister neither Synod group has a dependency on personal confession & absolution like the Laestadians. Neither Synod group would absolve some one of child molestation through confession, in fact both groups would immediately call the police without hesitation! It is interesting to note how most Laestadians would vehemently oppose their Synod counterparts stating how they do not have the 'Spirit'-yet wink at child molestation amongst their members. It makes me wonder just what are Laestadians blind to? What are they willingly refusing to see? Who has inculcated so much fear in them? I have wondered if the whole movement will disintegrate at some point in the not too distant future as members increasingly become cognizant of the hypocrisy of their particular group. Laestadianism started out as a Biblical movement but are any of the Laestadian groups still based on the Bible? Old AP

    1. It's because of the "tribal mentality" of the Laestadians that create the issue with suppressing child molestation. The various groups of Laestadians is quite small compared with the WELS or Missouri Synod, and the tightly-woven clan systems makes it very difficult to prosecute an individual who is highly connected and related. The perpetrators offend within the group, as most know that the worldly people are unlikely to tolerate the offenses anymore.

  4. I personally WISH THAT THE FIRST lAESTADIAN , apostolic LUTHERAN PREACHER WOULD HAVE PLANNED TO COME TO America ON THE TITANIC....JUST THINK OF THE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FAMILIES THAT WOULD NOT HAVE TO HAVE BEEN SEPERATED OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS.....The church is supposed to be a good neighbor...the Laestadian movement certainly have not been that.....thousands of neighborhood kids have been told that they were going to hell because they belonged to the wrong church...what kind of Gospel is that?...so much for so called LIVING CHRISTIANITY...and the sex abuse!!! just like the Catholic church!...Matt

  5. Matt, in reference to the Titanic, 43 Finns were lost on the Titanic including William Lahtinen. Peter Raattamaa stated in a
    letter written to a certain brother in Kemi, “Survivors of the shipwreck tell that Brother Lahtinen stood on the deck of the ship, surrounded by his traveling companions, to whom he declared the
    death of the Son of God and the forgiveness of sins.” So it hardly sounds like Mr. Lahtinen & the others deserved an untimely death in the Atlantic Ocean. My conclusion is that the movement started on the right path but then splintered with the passage of time as they lost focus on salvation through faith in Jesus. You mentioned neighborhood kids being told they are going to hell; when I grew up one particular thing I noted was that the Laestadian children were like mutes when it came to their supposed Christian faith. Oh sure, they would not watch the educational program, go to movies or school dances but otherwise they basically could not articulate what their faith was. Much later in life some of the teachers in the local high school privately related to me that they indeed 'knew' about the Finnish church kids and they did not have a favorable impression of the entire clan. They stated to me that the church Finns had a 'third world' mentality. Those same teachers were well aware of the 'dirt' inside the movement including child abuse and how some of the Finnish construction men were committing adultery on the sly while they were away on construction jobs. So the only people who are 'blind' about the realities of Laestadianism in America are those who are within the movement itself. Old AP