Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Evolving Out of Laestadianism

This post includes material from Ed’s new book, co-authored with his friend and mentor Robert M. Price: Evolving out of Eden. Many thanks to Ed for another fine contribution to our continuing education on how Laestadianism relates to reality. —Free

Despite protests to the contrary, Laestadianism is very much a fundamentalist form of Christianity, having all five of the distinctive features that Peter Herriot identifies in his textbook on religious fundamentalism. Its holy book, “through its interpreters or read directly, has supreme authority over what to believe and how to act,” yet is selectively adapted, with specific ideas being chosen from it and emphasized, often with the traditional meaning changed in the process. It is reactive (“their religion is under mortal threat from the secularism of the modern world, and they are fighting back. They may resist in different ways, but they are all essentially oppositional; they have to have an enemy”), dualist (“they conceive of the world in binary opposites: God and the Devil, good and evil, truth and falsehood, etc.”), and millenialist (“expecting God to fully establish His rule over the world at some future time”).1


From Evolving out of Eden, p. 99
So it should come as no surprise that Conservative Laestadianism has not been a big fan of Darwin’s theory of evolution. One sermon from the 1950s said the “theory that man came from an animal” is “of those people who have never feared God and never have accepted the word of God as the only truth on this Earth” (Wisuri). An SRK theologian complained in 1961 that

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Questions OALCers Want to Ask But Can't (Volume Two)

Now for the second part of the big OALC question list from "My View." Please refer by number when commenting, and don't forget to include your name (or alias).


  1. How are songs for the OALC hymnal chosen? Why did the OALC church take some songs out of the hymnal? Why don’t they add new songs? Are most songs are from the 1700’s?
  2. How does the OALC trace its faith back to the Jesus and Apostles?
  3. What was the early church hierarchy and how does it compare to today’s OALC church hierarchy?
  4. Is the theology of Lars Levi Laestadius like that of the OALC today?
  5. Did the OALC change the creed? When and why? Do they use this same creed (“descended into hell in Gethsemane”) in Sweden, Norway and Finland?
  6. Why is the Lord’s Prayer worded differently in the OALC than in the Bible?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Questions OALCers Want to Ask But Can't (Volume One)

Thanks to "My View" for the following guest post, and to all of you for helping shed light on the mysteries of Laestadianism, American-style. Let's get some answers here!—Free

Even though most OALCers were born and raised in the church, we never paid much attention to its theology, policy, and traditions as we grew up. Some of us, when we get older, tend to take a closer look. It seems to be offensive to openly ask these questions withink the church, however, so we resort to posting them here, and hope to get them addressed.  
I speak not only for myself but for many others. Some of us have left the church, and some of us are sitting in the pews wondering why we are still here, while others are truly just wanting to clarify the teachings from the OALC so we can understand and answer these questions that the world will pose to us. It has been taught to tell the world to “come see,” but sometimes that’s not enough.
    These are questions we have asked ourselves,  or that have been asked of us, that we didn’t have the answers to. Some may seem simple, but we really don’t want the easy, pat answers. We don’t want speech-making rhetorical answers either.  We want the truth. While some questions are obviously answerable by looking into the Bible, we ask them here to clarify the OALC stance. If the answer can’t be found in the Bible, we want a very clear answer and worthy purpose for it. "That’s how we’ve been taught” is not a satisfactory answer.  


    Monday, May 13, 2013

    What Do You Want?

    Thanks to everyone for maintaining a civil dialogue, and for including a name or nickname with your comments. The following is a guest post by a member of the Laestadian Lutheran Church. Please consider her questions thoughtfully before responding. —Free
    Andrew Z. Colvin, CC-licensed
    I'm not much of a deep thinker. I don't ponder life's big questions, nor do I enjoy "a good debate." I have always said I see too much of both sides. I am often persuaded to see one side, only to be persuaded back in the next moment. I like to think of myself as a compassionate person. I am not a mover and a shaker. But, I am passionate about helping my fellow man in every small way I can.

    When I first approached Free about a guest post, I had a very different post written out. I wanted to share my positive, though not perfect, experience growing up LLC. I ended up with a few days to ponder it, while talking with some of you here, and found that I discovered that many of you would not understand why I thought I needed to share it. If you really do want to know why, just ask. I don't like feeling defensive, and felt that in sharing this particular story I would not be understood, and I'd be left defending my "right to a happy childhood."

    Friday, May 03, 2013

    Seeking Clarity in the Face of Tragedy

    I have watched a child die—suddenly, tragically, accidentally. It was the worst moment of my life, and a far worse one for the child’s parents and siblings. Left with a ghastly void in the space that a vibrant young life so recently occupied, we desperately seek to fill it—with explanations, rationalizations, comforting old sayings.

    Richard George Davis, CC-licensed.
    A preacher in the local congregation did his best to make sense of the senseless, a commendable and compassionate effort. His kind words of comfort at the funeral and in private conversations were pitch-perfect, offering a sense of fulfilled purpose to a devastated family. He shared a heartfelt Christian love with them, and with the shocked and grieving believers around them.

    Their fondest hope for themselves and their loved ones is to reach the glory of heaven, he said. God had spared this child a lifetime of trials and temptations, bringing the reward to hand at a young age. The assurance about eternity was an attempt to offer some consolation, in the face of a very real tragedy that had been experienced right here on earth. It was religion serving its purpose, and doing it well: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55).

    So what are you supposed to think when your religion is widely seen as playing a part in the unfolding of tragic events? It is hard to miss the possible connection when a mother from your church, a religion that strongly opposes birth control, reportedly tells officers she smothered the youngest of her nine children “because she thought she had too many children already and she was jealous of the attention her husband was giving to the baby” (Forghani 2013).