Thursday, April 28, 2005

Reforms Suggested

A reasonable reader writes:

I left the OALC years ago and it was by far the most difficult decision in my life. I had lost hope that any positive change would be considered much less made in the church. When I left I experienced sleepless nights and sometimes woke up in a cold sweat. It was a time of great anxiety.

Fast forward to today. I'm relieved it is all behind me.

Is there anything that might draw me back? What would have to change? For myself, the following, not in any particular order (Free sez: I added the numbers for easy referencing):

1. The OALC would have to teach that it is not their place to say who will be saved.

2. Teach respect for other people, other churches, other religions.

3. Teach the value of appropriate behavior, rather than focus on looks and dress.

4. Bring sex abuse out in the open so congregants are aware it has happened in the church, it happens in the church, and they know to be watchful.

5. Teach couples to bear children out of love and want, rather than guilt.

6. Teach that it is right and proper for men to respect women as important members of the church and family. This could easily be done by valuing and encouraging women's input.

7. Discourage young marriages and encourage youth to get an education and be prepared to support a family before marriage.

8. Teach parents to hold children in higher esteem by providing play areas at church with supervision. Children spend hours upon hours at church meetings, and often resort to playing with sticks, rocks, running in the parking lots, etc.

9. Work together as clergy to be prepared to answer tough questions with rational, thoughtful, and useful responses. Society has changed over the past +150 years since Laestadius' time and it would behoove the church to live in the present. Consider reading more present-day sermons.

10. Preach that smoking is wrong. Smoking destroys the body God gave us. How can that be condoned?

11. Encourage members to reach out in their communities. God created life. He has a purpose for His creation and we are all created by Him. None of us gets to choose into which family or which country we are born.

12. Teach that child abuse is wrong. Spanking a child on the bottom is one thing; but pulling hair, pulling ears, flicking faces, flicking heads, etc., is another. This must be addressed.

13. Hold double-ring wedding ceremonies so OALC husbands show the world they are married just like the wives do.

14. Preach against living on welfare except in cases of true need. Able-bodied adults should be working and not cheating the system. If there is no work, people should move where there is work.

25 comments:

  1. If the Lastadian church would get into God's Word then most of the things listed here would take care of themselves if the people followed it.

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  2. Amen, I agree with anonymous!

    True study of the Bible would help. But the real help would be in God saving folks in that group, and showing them that salvation is not of man or assemblies, but all of God!

    Musicteacher

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  3. To all You 3 above: Which would be Your role in this play?

    10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
    10:26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
    10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
    10:28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

    Are you now telling what ones in the OALC should " do to inherit eternal life?" Does it happen by doing this and that?

    b.r. FinnJemmy

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  4. Don't be ridiculous! It is SO ironic that you suggest others are "teaching the Law" by suggesting -- for example -- an end to child abuse. This kind of attitude explains why all criticism of the OALC is rejected as persecution of the faithful. Sad.

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  5. To B.R. above: Of the reforms listed, what, if any, do you disagree with and why?

    And yes, what one does, how one behaves, and the choices one makes, do matter. It's not enough to speak what we believe if we do not live it.

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  6. 1. Ok.

    2. Ok.

    3. Ok.

    4. Ok if it happens.

    5. Ok.

    6. Ok.

    7. Discourage young marriages and encourage youth to get an education and be prepared to support a family before marriage.

    Iam not sure about this. Does this for sure guarantee a better life?

    8. Teach parents to hold children in higher esteem. Ok. Play areas? - Do the kids come to church to play?

    9. Work together as clergy to be prepared to answer tough questions with rational, thoughtful, and useful responses.

    Rational responses or responses of Bible?

    Society has changed over the past +150 years since Laestadius' time...

    Jesus teached about 2000 years ago. Is it also too old-fashioned?

    Luther is too oldish?

    10. Preach that beeing fat is wrong. Too much eating destroys the body God gave us.

    Not Ok. This preach does not save us.


    11. Ok.

    12. Ok.

    13. Its possible to be faitfull without a ring. (I have got one.)

    This preach does not save us.

    14. Preach against living on welfare except in cases of true need.
    - What does this mean? Whats the true need?

    Able-bodied adults should be working and not cheating the system. Ok, this part.

    If there is no work, people should move where there is work.
    - Leave your family and move to Finland and work for Nokia? Hard times...

    (first time I got fast reaction, thank You all!)

    FinnJemmy

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  7. FinnJemmy,
    Your second post is a good one - much better than your first post. For the most part you agree with much of the reforms listed. It's more constructive to debate in a reasonable manner, rather than quote scripture (see above).

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  8. Reasonable reader! What do you think about the comments above? (7-14)

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  9. As for #7, it might not guarantee a better life, but certainly it's better to marry when one is prepared for the responsibility.

    #8, children don't come to church to play, but OALCers spend an inordinate amount of time at "meetings" and play areas would be safer and harmless.

    #9, rational responses. Too often answers to tough questions are evaded, ignored, passed on, or you are told not to question, are made to feel inappropriately guilty, the list goes on.

    #10, who can argue that it's up to us to take care of the bodies God gave us. We have a responsibility to take care of our families, teach our children to take care of themselves, and we do this by our example.

    #13, of course it's possible to be faithful without a ring. That's not the point. The point is, it's often one-sided in the OALC. It's a man's church. Women aren't much in that church.

    #14, you don't leave your family behind - you move them with you.

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  10. I am a former member of the OALC. I just wanted to let you all know a few more things they consider "bad and worldly". I grew up with no tv. We couldn't listen to the radio. I couldn't cut my hair, I always had to wear skirts or dresses that went past my knees (even pajama pants couldn't be put on until you were in bed, and the second you woke up, they had to be taken off, no wearing them to breakfast). We couldn't go to movies. We couldn't go bowling. I very, very rarely would ever get to hang out with people after school or on weekends. No one ever came over to our house. Of course, we couldn't wear make-up. Basically, what we were taught, was that if it is fun, then it is a sin. We weren't supposed to do anything that people of the "world" did. To be honest, I am very bitter about the way I was raised. They gave me a view on the world that is completely wrong. As an adult, I am still struggling with all of this.

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  11. 1. ok
    2. ok
    3. of course they talk about behavior! obviously we want to set a good example
    4. They DO talk about sex abuse in the open, and yes we know how to be watchful
    5. they dont say "HAVE LOTS OF KIDS OR ELSE!!!" but it seems you would want to be obediant to god
    6. it is preached that husbands respect their wives and women women can say their input!
    7. they DO discourage young marriages and also incourage college and a degree.
    8. we had a play place but kids always got hurt so we toook it down.
    9. no
    10. they do preach that smoking, drugs, and alcohol are wrong! obviously.
    11. there is voulenteers in the community
    12. of course abuse is wrong but who is to say you cant spank your own kid? i think that has to do with hou you want to raise your children. some people do and some people dont. even in the world, people do pull hair. but its not like the kids think they are being abused. flicking? i do not think thats abuse. it all depends on what way you look at it.
    13. you do not need a ring to be faithful
    14. people, able bodied adults are working! if there is no work, they go out of town for a couple weeks. its not easy to move all the time.

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  12. Hm...alot of good opinions here. I left the LLC almost 4 years ago, and my opinions have changed on almost all of these things. It's amazing how being out make one see things clearly!

    1.) Agree - everytime I am around relatives, they basically tell me I'm going to hell...and they basically know nothing about me and what I do.

    2.) Agree - everyone is equal!!

    3.) Agree - who really cares if someone is wearing an anklet?! talk about something that MATTERS

    4.) I agree - I had a friend who was touched, she stopped him, but her parents told her she should just forgive him and forget it. How can you?! I sure couldn't, I would like to see that person punished for what he did!

    5.) Agree - you don't have to use birth control to prevent pregnancy, there are natural ways.

    6.) I agree, but I didn't see this in the church I grew up in. The women were treated fairly equal, could put their 2 cents into discussions, and the men even did kitchen shifts at special events sometimes.

    7.) Agree- and alot of them do go to college and university before they get married..or get married and finish college/uni.

    8.) Agree - there were kids running on the highway by the church I was raised in, nobody seemed to notice. They would of course tell them not to play there, but they would anyways.

    9.) AGREE!! Their "questioning is sin, just accept it is as the truth" line is BS!

    10.)Don't agree - there are sooo many things we do that could cause harm to our bodies. How do we pick a few?

    11.)Agree - I haven't seen any of them do much in the community.

    12.) Agree - of course child abuse is wrong. I think it depends how hard they're hitting. If its causing bruises, then yes, that is abuse, but if it's a little flick as a warning to stop doing something, then thats fine. As long as its not harming the children! Child abuse is a big issue everywhere, not just in the laestadian churches.

    13.) agree, and they do.

    14.) Agree, and I haven't heard of anyone living on welfare where I live, but..maybe it's not talked about. IF they only had the ammount of kids that they could provide for, they wouldn't have to go on welfare. I know that what we are living on right now could NOT support any more that 3 kids, so we are not going to have a whole bunch of kids!

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  13. Wow! As a former member, I think it is good to see these comments. It is great discussion!

    I would consider returning if the OALC church members would consider that all Christians are going to heaven. Thou shalt not judge!
    2. The playground is a good idea-
    children do attend church. But the church is a social place, also. The children could run and play after meetings, weddings, funerals, etc.
    3. The child abuse issue is an issue. I think all abuse should be dealt with according to the law. Even Laestadius said to follow man's laws.
    4. Each family should be able to support themselves without the use of the system. It is wrong to keep bringing children into the world and to not be able to support them.
    5. The use of the term, "Those in the world"...This is wrong, wrong, wrong! We are all God's children and we all live in the world. Jesus did. He walked among the sinners.
    6. Our belief should be shared.Our gifts should be enjoyed, i.e. if you are an artist. Use this talent to create. If you have an opportunity to show love. show it.
    7. Say God's Peace to All.

    God's Peace.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I agree with much of what you have said. Judgement is huge. And none of use knows what it the right way to God. I believe there are many ways and we each need to find our own path. Weather that is in OALC or some other church. Love using the salutes Gods Peace and Thanks to God.

      Gods Peace
      And speaking freely about your beliefs to everyone is a great plan. How can you spread your faith if you don't share your faith. Don't fear the others. Embrace them. Share Gods Love. You never know who you maybe helping.

      CLRP

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  14. Confermation should be held a year or two later...I dont think one can realistically make the decision on conferming their faith at 14-15.

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  15. Digging up an ancient post here. Even though these reforms are suggested for the OALC, I thought it might be interesting to see how they relate to the ALCA (Apostolic Lutheran Church of America, known as the "Federation").

    Do realize ALCA congregations are semi-autonomous, so this doesn't apply to every one of them. I'll speak for the ones that I am familiar with.

    1. There are still people in the ALCA who believe that only ALCA-ers are "saved." At a viewing service for an elder preacher who died several years ago, one man told, into the open mic, how he and the preacher would go to Pendleton to minister to believers there, and how the congregation dwindled. When the last member died, "the light went out in Pendleton." The following Sunday, the pastor of the ALCA church where the service was held preached against the belief that "we" are the only church where the Gospel is spoken and where people can be saved.

    2. There is less spite towards outsiders being preached from the pulpit today. One preacher who frequently speaks to "this being the only true faith" has been banned from preaching in at least one congregation and probably others, too.

    3. I can't say we do a really good job of teaching appropriate behavior, but I think you'll find that the dress has become a lot more casual. From a man's perspective, dress should be at least modest if not formal.

    4. The ALCA has adopted a sexual abuse policy, and has required member congregations to do the same. I think, though, that many congregations have yet to adopt a policy. Many of the policies only address sexual abuse of a minor, however.

    5. With no kids of my own, I can't really speak to this issue, but I haven't heard anything from the pulpit that implies that we must have a bigger family than we can effectively manage.

    6. Women are definitely important and valued members of the church family in the ALCA. I'm not sure what is meant by "input," but we should follow I Corinthians 14:34-35, Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

    That is not to say that women should not offer their input; this is more or less a direct ban on having women speaking authoritatively. They should certainly be welcome to participate in Bible studies and other fellowship activities. As for women being members of the board of directors, that is permissible only if there are no men able or willing to fill the positions. Many smaller congregations do have women on the board.

    I also refer to Ephesians 5:22-33.

    To be continued (4,096 character limit!)

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  16. ...Continued...

    7. I'll admit, we haven't done a very good job of encouraging young folks to wait a while before marriage. I'd say roughly half if not more families now encourage their children to advance their educations beyond high school. We're still struggling with seminary education (why should we deny people the opportunity to dedicate a significant portion of their lives to studying the Word of God?).

    8. Not many ALCA churches -- if any -- have any play facilities. Nevertheless, parents are encouraged to have their children join in the worship services. This is a vast improvement over 50 or 60 years ago, when parents didn't even bring their children to church because, well, they wouldn't understand or pay attention or they'd make to much noise or WHATEVER lame excuse du jour they had.

    9. More and more of our pastors are studying other works besides Laestadius, Luther, and the Bible. And they actually ARE studying, to be able to answer the tough questions rationally and thoughtfully, with a solid scriptural foundation. I think this is probably the most important reform, and has the potential to lay the foundation for all of the other reforms.

    10. You got us there. Ouch. There is a lot less smoking than there used to be, though. (I've heard stories of way-back-when where the mem smoked and the women chewed tobacco... during the worship service!

    11. We've isolated ourselves for so long, we don't know HOW to reach out to the community. We (the members, not the clergy) are pastors, serving the spiritual needs of each other, rather than evangelists bringing the gospel to those who don't know Christ. We really need to work hard on this one.

    12. I think some parenting seminars would be in order. Kids don't come with an instruction manual, and some kind of group counseling would be very helpful. Many elders have realized how they have done wrong raising their now-grown children, and have expressed sorrow for the abuses of the past.

    13. I am not aware of any wedding ceremony in the ALCA that hasn't been a double-ring ceremony. The importance of the man loving the wife and the wife respecting the man (as described in Ephesians chapter 5) is part of nearly every ceremony.

    14. I don't know any ALCA members living on welfare, but I can't say there are none. Some of them do draw unemployment benefits, but I think we've done a fairly good job of taking care of our less-fortunate members, and employing church members in our businesses as much as possible.

    ---

    Yeah, we've got a ways to go. If you haven't been in an ALCA church in the last 20 years, I think you'd be surprised at how much change there's been (a few ultra-conservative congregations excepted, of course).

    I sure hope that some of the other branches of Laestadianism can realize some of these reforms.

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  17. LLLreader here: Thanks to il Coro for the post. With the ALCA becoming more mindful of the needs of the members, the contrast with the OALC is becoming more pronounced. My feelings is that the OALC is becoming stricter, if anything. The preachers I grew up with were less harsh--at least that is my memory. Anyone else think so?

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  18. Thanks, Il Coro, for your thoughtful posts on the ALCA. I left a branch of Laestadianism a few months ago. I did not agree with the exclusivist doctrine and it was very hard to leave the church. I attended the ALCA on two occasions. The first time, I agreed with the sermon wholeheartedly and was excited to go back. The preacher spoke about an incident in which he was impatient with another person and in his mind, called him a "jerk" or something of the like, when he realized the man, too, might be a child of God. In other words, don't think you're above other people for being a believer, because you don't truly know the hearts of others. I would have never heard an acknowledgement in the IALC that someone outside the church might be saved, except for a few modest folk who claim that "they don't know for sure." When I returned a couple of weekends later, there was another preacher there who disappointed me. He spoke about the people who left them and how were thus leading terrible, sinful lives." I had no problem with him being concerned about his relatives who were leading morally corrupt lives, but I felt like he tied their leaving with leading immoral lives. Was this true? Was everyone who left the ALCA leading corrupt lives? I know in the IALC people assume if you leave the church, you automatically become worldly. I never had any issues with the moral guidelines the church preached. Although I did cross them a few times, as most do at some point in their lives. I had issues with the doctrine of exclusivity and judging people outside their church, going to the extent of making fun of other denominations from behind the pulpit, as a couple of my preacher relatives have done. Why is that necessary? I'm glad to see the ALCA is moving away from all of that nonsense!

    --Stranger

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  19. We are each different people with different spiritual needs. A ministry that is effective to one person may not be to another. The Apostle Paul recognized this, and spoke differently according to his audience.

    To those who leave the ALCA for other churches, I (and I speak only for myself) do not ask "what's wrong with you?" but rather, I pray that their spiritual needs will be met wherever they go.

    But when they leave, I must ask the question of ourselves, "how have we failed to meet that person's spiritual needs?" You cannot deny this question: if we indeed met their needs, they wouldn't have left.

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  20. LLLReader,
    I agree that the preaching in the "old days" was radically different from the message in more recent times.

    My opinion? When you do not understand doctrine well enough to teach alongside the Bible -- as evidenced by "preachers" talking the same passage over and over and over -- then you hang your hat on rules -- and of course new and more strict rules are the only way to update that message.

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  21. 1. Nobody knows who will be saved , except God and that is what is preached.
    2. respect IS taught.
    3. appropriate behavior IS taught, but there is also appropriate outfits to wear which is also taught.
    4. sex abuse IS taught and watchfulness is taught also.
    5. children are born because of love, the love the couple has for each other and the love fore God, one wants to be obedient to God.
    6. it IS taught that men need to be respectful of the women and women's input IS encouraged.
    7. young marriages ARE discouraged and education IS encouraged.
    8. play areas for the kids? Do you think they are at church to play? did you know, they get hurt more from the play areas? also, at home the kids would rather go out and play in the gravel rather on their swing set anyway, they would rather play in the gravel with their friends than have no friends to play with. I know because I was a kid once and I've watched the kids when they were at home, I've seen their preferences.
    9.so the bible should no longer be read? Laestadius is a whole lot "newer" than the bible!
    10. I believe smoking is wrong and I actually think this is a good idea, in fact it would be better for those (like me) who don't want to breathe in that poison if they would stop smoking. I believe smoking is slowly killing yourself and others you smoke around and "thou shalt not kill" is one of God's 10 commandments.
    11. there are many who help the community, it just isn't noticed all the time.
    12. you say spanking is ok, but the rest isn't? spanking is worse! It hurts worse and it looks worse. so saying to not do the rest is crazy!
    13. There are some men that wear wedding rings, but the point is not to show the world you are married.
    14. I agree that if you can work, you should, and that is what is preached, but there are some who are lazy, but that is not just OALC people, there are many many other people who live off welfare.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Sally Ann,

      I have been considering joining the OALC.

      CLRP

      Delete
  22. I am not sure if anyone noticed but in the past few years some of these things are slowly being brought/taught into the OALC church.I am just going to mention the things that have changed. some a little and some drastic. PS. i often wonder why some things change and other things seem to be firmly stuck. probably wishful thinking but Maybe even these posts help the church see the issues and play a part in the changing.

    2. Now they are Not to say "wordly" but just people of another faith



    4. doesnt all the gossip take care of this one? (except if its a preacher; if it is a preacher then it somehow keeps hush hush for the most part)



    6. In some congregations women are encouraged to vote in the church business meetings but in others they are not even welcomed to attend the church business meetings. As every congregation has a attitude i aslo find that each family has a different attitude towards women. some women run the whole house and sometimes the man has all the sway and sometimes it is a team play.

    7. This is being taught more and more. It is not encouraged to get married at all before the age of 18 unless the girl is expecting and even then, sometimes they are told to wait. boys are encouraged to go to college and get a good job now and i hope that soon this will be the norm for girls as well.


    9. they now hold monthly gatherings to examine the word of God together although i can mention a few reasons why this is not really a learning experience but i will save it.

    10. many many years ago they used to smoke inside the church but Now there is no smoking anywhere on many of the church properties and tobacco use is discouraged but i agree with the other comment above; with so many issues what ones do you choose. after all obesity and weight issues kill more people than smoking.

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  23. If anybody is reading this message, I will tell you which issued
    we have had here in Finland:

    1) Mother congregation has no biblial precessor.
    2) The spiritual government
    3) Gospel must not be a new law: Jesus did not say or demand
    anything how we worship him, he did not give us any rule on
    music, pictures in the church, lithurgy, ministers clothing,
    musical Instruments etc.
    4) When a minister is preaching, we cannot say, that every word
    he is saying, is inspired By the Holy Spirit. Hopefully he is
    teaching the truth, but Paul says: 1 Corintians 14:29.
    Congregation must control his minister. Not even the Elders
    are above the Scriptures.

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