Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Laestadian ignorance about Roman Catholicism

After reading some of the comments Precious has been making about the Catholic Church, I was reminded of identical inaccurate rhetoric growing up in the ALC. My how we hated those Catholics, and loved to hold them up as the prime example of a dead faith that got it wrong! (Looking back the irony is almost overwhelming. :-) I'll post some of my own thoughts regarding the relationship between Laestadianism and Roman Catholicism later on, but for now I thought cvow's succinct and accurate post clearing up some of the misinformation was worth repeating here.

cvow writes:

Precious,
You ask to be educated about various beliefs of the Catholic Church. Let's see if I can help a little.

You stated several OALC commonly held beliefs about the Catholic church. I know that when I was a member of the OALC I heard the same things, along with statements that the Catholics gambled in church, danced in the church aisles, worshipped statues, and all sorts of other outlandish stories. (I also heard lots of stories about other faiths as well, but since you zeroed in on the Catholics, that's where I'll focus as well.) The leader of the OALC congregation that I belonged to loved to pick on the Catholics, although I suspect he had never been inside a Catholic church in his life, as is probably the case with most of the OALC "preachers" who make similar attacks.

Just following your thread more or less in order, you stated that the Catholic Church teaches that you can buy yourself a seat in heaven through charity -- and that they "brag" about their charity. Now I don't really know where this idea got started, because there is nothing in the teaching of the Catholic church to support such a claim. I suppose it hearkens back to the Middle Ages, when the church was "selling" indulgences. I'm pretty sure the error of that was resolved several hundred years ago, but the perception still lingers on. Rest assured, you don't buy your way into heaven in the Catholic Church by charity or any other way except through acceptance and belief in Jesus Christ as saviour and redeemer.

Does the church "brag" about their charity work? Not as near as I can tell. Perhaps the fact that they do ask for donations to support their charitable work -- and it is considerable, believe me -- is what you perceive as "bragging". I will agree with many other posters here -- I was in the OALC for 35 years, more or less, and never, not once, did I ever witness or know about any charitable act to the poor, sick, or homeless by any OALC congregation. I am sure some of the members gave individually to charity as you say you do -- good for you, and I mean that sincerely -- but most did not.

Purgatory is probably one that we could go around on for a long time, since the primary scriptural foundation for that is found in the Old Testament, in Maccabees, which is not part of the KJV bible. If you are interested, in 2 Maccabees 12, the statement is made that King Judas made atonement for the dead, which is held as evidence that there is some kind of purging of sin even after death. In the New Testament in both Peter and Corinthians, the passages about cleansing fire are held as further evidence of this final cleansing. Here again you make the statement that based on money given to the church, a person's soul might be moved from hell into heaven. Nothing could be further from the truth. Period.

You ask why during the Catholic Mass only the priest partakes of the wine. Hmmm..., I went to Mass last Sunday and partook of both species -- bread and wine -- as did most of the people. I know that at one time, only the host was offered and not the wine, but that changed long ago. I did see that still being done in a very small church, and don't know why it was still done that way -- but there is no liturgical reason for the wine to be withheld. I suspect it was one of those man made traditions that come and go as our faith evolves. The church teaches that you can partake of either or both species and have received communion. As an example of this kind of tradition, people note the ringing of the bells during the consecration of the host and wine. The history of this is that in very olden days, the entire congregation in very large churches could not see what the priest was doing (there were no pews in those days so everyone stood) nor could they hear (no PA system, you know). Hence the bells were rung at important times during the consecration and prayers
so that the congregants could follow the order of the Mass, saying common prayers at the correct times, appropriately bow their heads, kneel, or whatever was called for. Many Catholic churches have abandoned the bell ringing, because obviously those needs no longer exist, but others still do it as a remembrance of those traditions. Eventually it will disappear, I'm sure, as again, there is no liturgical reason, only tradition.

And finally the molestation issue. This has been a shameful discovery and recognition of human failure on the part of some priests. We could debate a long time whether the church failed to act in a timely fashion, whether the official reaction was appropriate and swift enough, and whether the consequences have been just. I can only say that since it has come to light -- albeit much too slowly -- the Church has cooperated fully in the criminal prosecution of the sexual offenders, and has tried to make monetary restitution to the victims. Is it enough? I don't know that it ever could be.

Hopefully these explanations make some things clear, put to rest some old wives' tales, and give food for thought. If you ever really want to know what goes on in a Catholic Church, by all means attend Mass a few times. Believe me, this is a place where truly and absolutely, "All are Welcome". You will probably find to your amazement that you can recite most of the prayers right along with the rest of the congregation, with only a few word changes here and there.


-ttg

30 comments:

  1. Jesus was a Jew, and Martin Luther was a Catholic.

    If you grew up OALC, you might not know both of these facts.

    Some other Common lies about the Catholic Church:
    - We worship Mary
    - We think the pope is "infallible"
    - We worship bread and wine
    - We dont read the Bible
    - We can buy marriage annulments

    And just a note. I don't post here to defend the Catholic Church or to convert people to my faith. This is the faith of my own choosing.

    I post here to demonstrate cummunity and support for people who have left or are trying to leave the OALC. Because I beleive strongly that the OALC has comletely missed the mark on nearly every major tenet of the Christian faith as Jesus intended it to be.

    That said, I truly do appreciate the willingness of OALC posters like "precious" to post here and present the other side. I have NO QUESTION that they are genuinely sincere in their messages. By and large the OALC members are good people. Thay have their faults, just like the rest of us. It is my opinion & observartion, however, that their church's theology, traditions and culture do not stand up to true Christian values.

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  2. Many Trails Home1/09/2008 05:32:00 PM

    Bunless, on the "infallibility" issue: I would like you to clarify that. It is my understanding that under some special circumstances (sitting in some special chair or something), what the pope says is considered infallible. In fact, it is my understanding that a pope in the 1940s was planning to "sit in the infallibility chair" and declare popes fallible. He was shortly thereafter murdered.
    I have never been Catholic but I have attended a lot of Catholic services and even traveled to the holy sites in Spain and Portugal with two busloads of charismatic Catholics (during which I received my one and only rosary and learned how to "pray the rosary" - and that tradition is taken from the Hindu, did you know that? Read "Eat, Pray, Love"). Anyway, I ramble. But it is my conviction that all Christians are Catholics at their core, at least 95%, they just refuse to see it. Not that I think we should all become Catholics by any means. I consider myself a Quaker - I can't buy all that dogma. There's my 2 cents . . . MTH

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  3. I kind of figured someone would get around to the infallibility issue in this discussion. The Catholic Church does indeed believe in this concept, but most Catholics do not even understand it, much less anyone else!

    The belief is founded in a tenet of faith that basically holds that God will not allow the Church to err in matters of grave importance -- some truth revealed for the sake of salvation. However, it gets a lot more complicated than that. To really understand it, you have to know that the Catholic Church holds that the College of Bishops (of which the Pope is the head) together and collectively have responsibility for the teaching of the faith -- the authority for which is commonly known as the Magisterium. Then let's muddy it a little bit more by pointing out that there is both ordinary and extraordinary magisterium. Things known as extraordinary are those which result in a solemn act of defining some dogma of faith -- something held to be especially key to the faith. Things considered ordinary are the teachings of a bishop, pastoral letters, and the like, which do not have the weight of collegiality behind them.

    The Church places specific conditions on the concept of infallibility. First it must be teaching taught unanimously by all of the bishops (and this is key -- it cannot be the Pope acting on his personal beliefs alone), and second, absolute assent by the entire body of the faithful must be explicitly called for.

    The key belief behind infallibility is that the power of divine grace cannot allow the Church as a whole to fall away from the truth of God. In other words, God will not allow the church to destroy itself.

    Vatican I, in defining infallibility, in gave rise to the expression that when exercising infallibility, the Pope is speaking ex cathedra -- or "from the chair". Now I seriously doubt it is an actual "chair" or ever was one, but rather denotes that the proclamation is being issued by the "chair" of the College of Bishops. However, remember that this infallibility could also be declared by the College of Bishops rather than declared by the Pope. However since the Pope is a member of the College of Bishops, and infallibility must be declared unanimously....

    Note that infallibility does not mean that the Church will never make mistakes, as has been seen many times over the centuries. However, it does mean that the Church will not self destroy.

    It is also interesting that in spite of non-Catholic's (and some Catholic's!) concerns over this, infallibility has been exercised only once since Vatican I (which was in the mid 1800s), when in 1950, Pope Pius XII made the pronouncement of the Assumption of Mary.

    Did that really muddy the waters? It's almost as confusing to me as trying to understand the Trinity!

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  4. CVOW- excellent commentary. My brief statement was intended to point out that many people misunderstand the "infallibility" concept (even many Catholics I have encountered have this misperception). People think we consider the pope to be "always right" and even a man without sin. This is a completely wrong interpretation of Church doctrine as CVOW clarifies. Ironically the only scenario I have ever seen where someone treated Church leaders as "always right" and even making it sin to question the preacher/preachings, is in the OALC. Probably other fundamentalist sects like ISLAM demonstrate this same behavior.

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  5. I'm not Catholic myself. I'm Anglican though, and we like to fancy ourselves as being pretty close to Catholic. :-)

    In fact, I see a lot of similarities between what I'll call "the sacramental churches" of Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran versus the ones that seem less sacramental like baptist, charismatics, pentecostal, holiness, etc.

    Growing up, I was more struck by certain similarities between Catholicism and Laestadianism. In our neck of the woods, if a family had a bunch of kids they were either Catholic or Laestadian. So I wondered why Laestadians didn't see Catholics as allies, at least on topics like birth control, abortion, etc.

    I think it's telling who the "enemy" is in any group. Growing up, we heard about the evils of Missouri Synod Lutheranism, a conversative branch of Lutheranism that is actually pretty similiar to the Apostolic Lutheran Church (Federation). The Catholics came in a close second, but that "liberal" ELCA only got a few mentions, and something as different as Buddhism wasn't even on the radar screen.

    Freud and Jung tell us that what we hate in others is often a projection of our own insecurities and fears. I wonder if some of the preaching against worldlies, other branches of Laestadianism, other branches of Lutheranism, and even Roman Catholicism came from a fear that these other groups could very well be a viable alternative?

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  6. I think the best think I gained after leaving the FALC was tolerance, for other people's ideas, thoughts, and emotions.

    I never thought that someday, I would want to hear about other's ideas, such as how a catholic really believes, before making an opinion about them.

    I never thought that someday, I would try to understand people, the challenges and struggles that they face, instead of writing them off as part of the world.

    I remember hearing a lot of bad things about Catholics, until I met a lot of nice, caring people in that faith. My judgement has turned to love of these people, even if I disagree with them on some spiritual matters, many catholics have a strong sense of morality, believe in strong families, and a lot of other things that hold this nation together.

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  7. Ex-falc - I too feel blessed to have the gift of tolerance and empathy toward others - directly as a result of leaving the OALC.
    -
    When I have time I will elaborate on the differences between Catholic and Protestant beleifs.
    -
    But for now here’s some history that I never learned growing up. This is the oversimplified nutshell (a bit inaccurate) version.
    -
    There’s more or less two kinds of Christians: Catholics and Protestants. For simplicity I will include Orthodox/Anglican/Episcopals with the Catholics. Laestadians are in the Protestant group. For like the first 1000 years after Christ there was only one Christian Church – the undivided Catholic Church. The Bible was compiled around 300AD and early on there were only a few copies in existence, available mostly to Church Leaders. Christianity (the New Testament) survived its early years mostly by oral tradition, not the written Word. When the printing press was invented and as it became more accessible, suddenly more people had access to the Bible and naturally there arose different interpretations that, over time, caused several divisions (schisms) within the Church. There were also political and social influences at work, such as disagreement with the pope, or wanting to change rules. For example, the Anglican Church (Episcopal Church) separated from Rome initially because the king of England wanted divorces to be allowed. Anyways, Martin Luther is primarily responsible for the “Protestant” split from Church (in the 1500s) which was driven by his well-founded anger towards corrupt Church leaders at the time. This Protestant branch further split into the Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptist, Pentecostals and so on. Today we find numerous “non-denominational” Christians and Bible Churches all originating from Protestantism. Mormon’s, Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the like are offshoots/cults based loosely on Protestant theology but with their own spin added.

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  8. Many Trails Home1/12/2008 07:09:00 AM

    Oooeee, Bunless, better be cautious with your use of the word "cult" - we have had some rather spirited conversations on this site re whether or not the OALC could be considered a "cult." So, just for the sake of discussion, what would you consider a cult? I personally think that even the Catholic church has cultish features, when they use threat to keep parishioners in line - and historically, anyway, and definitely in 3rd world countries, threat has been employed. Did you know (and I repeat myself) that the Inquisition still exists in Peru, under the Dominicans? It is called the "Office for the Extirpation of Idolatries." So there is room for improvement everywhere . . . . And do you know how similar the Catholic Charismatics are to the Pentecostals? They (the CCs) consider themselves the "true Catholics". I personally think all this variety is a good thing and monopoly (in religion and commerce) a bad thing.
    Many blessings. MTH

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  9. Trails, I had seen your earlier statement about the Inquisition still existing in South and Central America, and couldn't find anything to verify that, except that the "extirpation of idolatries" was something that was attempted in the 1560s. Now when you mentioned it again, I again did a search and found a very interesting article written in May of 2007, at http://www.nd.edu/~kellogg/publications/workingpapers/WPS/338.pdf.

    It seems that the Catholic Church, while misguided at times (in the 1560s for example) has done tremendous good in stabilizing and helping those communities and peoples.

    Where can I find something that supports your position that an
    "Inquisition" is still going on?

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  10. For some reason, that URL doesn't seem to want to show up in entirety. I'll post it here in pieces. Just paste them into your browser with no spaces between.

    http://www.nd.edu/~kellogg/

    publications/workingpapers/

    WPS/338.pdf

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  11. Many Trails Home1/12/2008 12:44:00 PM

    cvow, re "The Office for the Extirpation of Idolatries" in Peru: I traveled to Peru 6/06 which is where I got this information. I have not independently confirmed it, but I was told this by a medical anthropologist (PhD) who has worked for decades with the Quero Indians, only remaining descendents of the Inca. They still practice their indigenous ways, dress, "religions" etc and have retreated to the high Andes to escape persecution. As recently as the 1960s, when they came down to the cities in their native dress, they were stoned by the "converted" Indians as idolaters. The shamans / medicine people, even when educated (in the universities), were very secretive to avoid reprisals. Things seem to be considerably more open now, and I do not know what the exact status is of the "Office of Extirpations" as we speak. But it was still in existence a very few years ago. MTH

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  12. I really hadn't put much thought into my use of the word "cult" which has numerous meanings and depends on the context in which it is used. It doesnt necessarily have to have a negative connotation in certain uses. But true, probably not the best choice of words for this blog in particular. I just read "So what's the difference?" by Fritz Ridenour and he uses the term loosely thus it found its way into my vocabulary. There are likely some awful things taking place in the name of "Catholicism" but these things would not be supported by the Pope or Church doctrine. But admittedly I have not researched that issue, sounds like I probably should!

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  13. Reading the some of the comments above made me think of this, somewhat off topic or at least tangental:

    I'm sure that a valid critique can be made of Roman Catholicism, just like a valid critique can be made of Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and any other church.

    This site exists in order to, among other things, make a valid critique about Laestadianism.

    For me the true test of a faiths mettle is how well it can tolerate and accomodate dissent. Spoken like a true Anglican, I know. :-) But I'm also reacting against a Laestadian upbringing where any dissent made one immediately suspect, and called ones faith into question.

    The thing that really sets Laestadianism apart from larger, more mainstream denominations is that it seems incapable of self-critique, and unable to hear any criticism without getting defensive.

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  14. This topic -- and the discussion about the persecution in Peru -- has caused me to think of a peripheral subject that might warrant a separate thread, if anyone is interested.

    We recognize that in other parts of the world, people do not enjoy the same religious freedoms that we do here in the US. Of course, things like the communist states and Arab countries come quickly to mind, but what about more forward thinking places -- such as our ancestral home in Finland?

    I have been led to understand that while other religions are allowed to practice, certain functions such as marriages must be performed in the state church -- the Lutheran church. Is that an old wives' tale, or is there foundation to it? If there is foundation, doesn't that approach religious persecution? Hibernatus, could you clarify this?

    What about other places? I know that in England, there is true freedom of religion, and the only difference between them and the Yanks is that the Brits don't ever talk about it! :-) Of course, they do have their official tie in to the Anglicans, even to the point that part of Queen Elizabeth's title is "Fidei Defensor" or Defender of the Faith. Even the coin of the realm bears the initials "FD". So while there is not official separation of church and state, there are no restrictions on other faiths.

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  15. The situation in Finland is not as bad as cvow made it sound like. :) At least not any more, it used to be more like that, but the present situation is quite different.

    During the Swedish rule (certain Western areas already from 1100, the Easternmost areas from 1600, until 1809), after the reformation, the Lutheran church pretty much had "monopoly" in Finland, but the Orthodox were tolerated to some extent (but they were required to attend Lutheran church services and to participate in paying for the Lutheran priests and church buildings), while all other churches and religions were banned.

    During the Russian rule, from 1809 until 1917, the situation was more relaxed, and also representatives of other churches and religions (Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews, Muslims) were legalized and they were allowed to practice their religion in Finland, while the Orthodox church of course experienced a "golden era".

    When Finland became independent the Lutheran church and the Orthodox church were given the status of "national churches", which gave them a lot of privileges but also made them closely associated with the government. However, they were never really state churches in the same sense as the Lutheran churches in Sweden, Norway and Denmark have been until now, where the parliament has traditionally made all the decisions about church matters, church buildings are owned by the government and the priests are employed by the government. In Finland, also the "national churches" are allowed to make decisions on their own, but certain important decisions need to be approved by the parliament. The most significant privilege the "national churches" have compared to other religious communities is that they are entitled to "church tax", which means that all of their members are required to pay around 2 % of their taxable income as "church tax". The "church tax" is collected by the government as part of the income taxation, and the money is then transferred to the "national churches" by the government. This privilege makes the Lutheran church and the Orthodox church financially better off than the other religious communities which depend largely on donations. The "national churches", especially the Lutheran church, have also played a significant role in the society, but it is gradually decreasing, and some of their privileges have been extended also to other religious communities, for example the right to teach religion at school. In addition to Lutheran and Orthodox religion classes, also many other religions are nowadays taught at school, the most important ones being Islam and Catholicism. If there is a sufficient number of students from a certain confession or religion, they are given an opportunity to study their own religion at school.

    As for marriage, there are two ways to get married legally in Finland:
    -civil marriage by local authorities
    -religious service by one of the official religious communities that have been granted the right to act as a marrying authority

    There are a number of religious communities that have been granted the right to act as a marrying authority, not just the Lutheran church and the Orthodox church. I know that at least Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, and some other Protestant groups, as well as some Jewish and Muslim communities have the right to act as a marrying authority. This means that if you get married in one of those communities, you don't need a civil marriage ceremony. However, if you don't belong to any church or if you belong to a religious communinity that doesn't have the right to act as a marrying authority, you need to get married in a civil ceremony (of course you can also have a religious ceremony in addition, but in that case it doesn't have any legal power).

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  16. Thanks Hibernatus, for your very good explanation. I'm afraid I was guilty of not having all of the facts -- or at the very least, my "facts" were only right to a certain extent! So from your explanation, it would seem that the Laestadians must be married in a state church -- you didn't list them as being sanctioned for that -- and is that because there is the underlying Lutheran faith?

    Thanks also to bunless, for a good treatise on differences between churches. I agree with the vast majority of it.

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  17. Hey a question off topic... does OALC (or any LLL branch) recognize baptism from other Churches? For example, how do they address converts from other faiths? Would they re-baptize someone from another CHristian branch? I never in fact witnessed and adult baptism in the OALC, I only heard of such a thing.

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  18. Bunless, you've done a good job of researching these faiths in an objective way. About baptism, as far as I know the ALC does not believe in re-baptizing anyone. One baptism is all that is needed regardless of where they were baptized.

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  19. That's true in the Catholic church as well. Our belief is that once you are sealed to Christ in baptism, anything beyond that is meaningless. If a person does not know whether they were or not, you can get baptised in a sort of "just in case you weren't, here you go". It is also the one sacrament that can be done by anyone if a priest is not available. I am pretty sure most if not all Lutheran churches accept a single baptism.

    At least some of the Baptist churches require converts to undergo baptism into their faith. I think that might be due to their belief in adult baptism -- that one does not get baptised until they make a decision themselves to accept Jesus Christ as their personal saviour.

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  20. Cvow, the Laestadian communities in Finland are registered as associations and not as religious communities so they don't have the right to marry people. Besides, most of them are members of the Lutheran "state" church. So, the normal procedure for Laestadians in Finland is to get married in the Lutheran church. In Finland, Laestadians also receive baptism and communion in the Lutheran church and not at their own prayer houses by their own preachers. If they wanted, they could legally start having their own baptisms and communions any time, but if they wanted to marry people, they would have to get registered as a religious community and apply for a license to act as a marrying authority. This would also mean that the Laestadians would have to quit the Lutheran "state" church because the law doesn't allow to be member in two religious communities simultaneously.

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  21. Wow, I bet Laestadianism in Finland is a lot different than it is in America, with such strong ties to a mainstream state church. That is just so crazy to think about. The OALC communities here are totally isolationist and regard mainstream Lutheran churches as dead faith churches full of "worldlies."

    CVOW - the Catholic church does not recognize all baptisms. For example, Mormon converts must be "re"-baptized as the Catholic Church doesnt consider their Mormon baptisms to be valid - basically because of the theological differences and their baptism format which doesn't comply with Catholic baptism requirements. Any idea what a Laesadian church would do in this case?
    Has anyone witnessed an adult baptism in the OALC? Is water poured on the head or do they get otherwise dunked? Just curious. Growing up I never met an adult convert thus I never saw an adult baptism. The vast majority of OALC were born into it.

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  22. I should have clarified -- the Catholic Church recognizes baptisms that are done "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". I don't know the wording of the Mormon baptisms, but that could be the sticking point. My source was a priest many years ago, but I've not researched it anymore than that. When I get to my resources, I'll dig around, but at the moment I'm recovering from foot surgery and can't climb upstairs to get to my books. If I make no sense, I'll blame it on the drugs.

    Hibernatus, that is really interesting that Laestadians receive communion in the state church. Does that mean that they have to attend that church when they want to receive communion? When I was growing up, I was told that one of the differences between the OALC and "those other churches" was that in the OALC we received the "true body and true blood of Jesus Christ" and those other churches just said their communion "represented" the body and blood. Of course I always wondered about that as well, since I saw the Mogen David being poured into the cup from the jug and then afterward, the extra was poured back. I've heard they use grape juice now -- apparently it's now a sin to drink wine even in this way? Anyone know?

    As a Catholic, I believe in transsubstantiation. That makes a lot more sense to me than "when the Mogen David goes in the cup, it somehow becomes the true blood, and when it's poured back, it's just Mogen David again"! I'm a lot more comfortable with the fact that once the bread and wine are consecrated, the wine doesn't just get put back in the jug but the wine is consumed, and the consecrated hosts are placed in the sanctuary for future use! Note that just like bunless, I'm not trying to convert anyone here to Catholicism, but that's what I believe.

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  23. "You can't be a rational person six days a week and on one day of the week, go to a building, and think you're drinking the blood of a two thousand year old space god." Bill Maher

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  24. mia from the llc1/16/2008 08:26:00 PM

    In the LLC, adults who convert can be baptized, but I think usually it is used for people who were never baptized at all. I'm not positive, as it didn't happen very often. :)

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  25. Cvow, can you explain how the bread and wine are consecrated?
    I know that certain Protestant churches believe the bread and wine represent the body and blood of Jesus, while others believe that the communion wine and wafer is the true body and blood of Jesus. However, I have never heard of this consecration. Do you know if the Catholics are the only ones who do this?

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  26. Thanks guys for this great information.

    I am still chuckling over Bill Maher's 2000 year old space God comment. Perhaps I am only rational 6 days a week. Good one.

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  27. At the risk of stating the obvious, there are probably more Catholics and Protestants whose personal beliefs differ . . . and even baldly contradict . . . those textbook definitions, than there are adherents in lockstep agreement. Religion is funny that way.

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  28. I apologize if this is the incorrect thread to post on. First of all, I want all of you to know that each post is valuable to me in many different ways.

    Also, please forgive my repeating of ideas/thoughts that may have already been posted.

    Just some thoughts:

    For the first time in my adult life, I am exploring the Bible. This experience has thus far been staggering to say the least. I pray for God to guide me as I read the Bible. For my desire is to know Him, to have a closer relationship with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit.

    For OALCer's, have you heard the term 'babe in the Christianity'? I would use that to describe myself right now. It is such an apt description. For so many years I have been avid in developing a closer relationship with my preachers and other Laestadians. I didn't see this before, but it is evident now. Without a shadow of a doubt.

    Why did I do this? Because I believed. What did I belive? I believed these people were the only ones who could give me the true Word of God. This was WRONG. It is only recently that I have come to know that it is not about a building, Laestadians, rules, appearences. It is only about my relationsip with God.

    The Church. Correct me if any of you feel I am wrong here, I honestly want to know. I believe that there is only one true saving faith, and thus one Church. This is the Chuch that in the bible Jesus calls to his apostles to build. This is the Church of every single last person and soul in this whole entire world that believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. And Jesus instructs us to believe and love one another. Could Jesus have made this any clearer?

    Thats part of the problem, I think. Because we are told that the salvation of our souls is such a weighty and serious matter, we buy into the fact that life must be a continueum of seriousness and weight. The yolk of legalism about our necks is man made, not made of God.

    Now, I do not mean to say that our relationship with God and all he has done for us is not serious. The magnitude of this is something I am unsure we can grasp completly. We might ask ourselves this though; God loved the WORLD so much that he sent his only Son to suffer a death such that we will never know in order to save our souls. Would God then be so quick to have us lost? I think not.

    Oh...she continues to cut her hair!!! Well Jesus died for her, but she cuts her hair! She now inherits eternal damnation.

    How insane is that!?

    Or him...he knows God, loves God, belives in Jesus and all that Jesus did for our slavation...but oops...He is from the ALC, not the OALC, to hell he goes!

    Does anyone really believe that God would send his Son to DIE and then be this fickle?

    Right now I am in a place where I can no longer believe these teachings and others like it.

    Do I believe the OALC is inherently evil or bad. No. I believe there are true believers within. Just as I belive there are true belivers everywhere.

    Who did Jesus choose to surround himself with? Those better than thou people? NO. Look and read in the Bible.

    Should we be obiediant to our preachers, pastors, reverends, ect? Yes, when they teach from the Bible and the Word of God. However, we are under no obligation if the teachings are of man.

    Ramble, ramble. Sorry. I just do not see any more sense in trying to make things more dificult than they need to be. The Bible was written for everyday people. We are not stupid. If using our brains and intellect was so damning, why would God have given us them.

    If we keep a prayer that God guides us as we seek to know him, come closer to him, and love one another, God will have us use our given brains and intellect to do so.

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  29. Dear Anonymous,

    It's exciting when you start reading the Bible for yourself and you find it opening up to you, right now, wherever you're at in your life!

    I remember when I was at that point, thinking those same things. I couldn't fathom how a God so big could make His kingdom so small. I just couldn't. And how about that even if people did exactly what it said in the Bible, they couldn't possibly be saved if they weren't part of the (ALC/OALC/LLC/FALC -- take your pick). How could that be?

    But when that is put into your head from the time you are old enough to understand, it's difficult to set that aside. When I would hear someone from outside the church talk about accepting Christ, I would catch myself thinking it was too simple. There had to be more to it. I thought they must be missing something. I had to go and read the words myself, and look for the catch. There is no catch. That is exactly what it says.

    As a former Laestadian, this is one of the scriptures that completely blew my mind.

    Romans 10:9-11 says, That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

    That's it. Just that. Nothing more is added there, nothing about another person, an intercessor, someone to forgive you with special words...Christ is our only intercessor, our only go-between to connect us to God.

    Just keep reading. It will set you free!

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  30. Hi Anon

    I'm from a different LLL Church but I'm in the exact same position you are in, thinking the same things. Weird isn't it.

    I don't dare write as much as you do for fear someone will somehow be able to detect who I am by how I write or what words I use. I'm not prepared to be outed. That's crazy also.

    I'm not anguished or anything like that. I'm quite comfortable where I am. Although if I ever come out of the "closet", I'm sure I'll go through some extremely difficult times.

    Free, thank you a thousand times over for this blog. I would be a wreck if I didn't have something like this blog and google. Instead, I'm at peace a majority of the time.

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