Thursday, December 03, 2015

A Culture of Encounter Not Hatred

Pope Francis called fundamentalism “a disease of all religions” while being interviewed last week on a trip to Africa.

“Fundamentalism is always a tragedy. It is not religious, it lacks God, it is idolatrous,” the pontiff told journalists.

The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics called on Christian and Muslim “brothers and sisters” to end sectarian conflict.

“Together, we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself,” he said.

On the need for inter-religious dialogue, Francis said in a radio interview in September that “in our weaknesses we foster a culture of enmity . . . from the horrors of war to damaging gossip in the workplace, we must work for a culture of encounter.”

How can we foster a culture of encounter in our daily lives? Ideas?

33 comments:

  1. I really admire this pope. He is a compassionate, smart, sincere man who lives out his faith in the best possible way, and I think he's the best thing to happen to the Catholic Church for a long time now.

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  2. Now we know the end is near, apostolic Lutherans and Laestadians, holding hands with the pope, as he holds hands, with the muslims, and everyone blaming the foundation of the church. Bekka

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    1. Hmm, he Pekka, you are aware that the Catholic Church is the foundation of Christianity right? And that Jesus was a Jew? Calling fundamentalism a "disease of all religions" is not blaming the foundation of the church, it is criticizing where people have gone with their absolute beliefs.

      But to quote REM "It's the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fine"
      Unbeliever

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    2. You liberals keep spelling out your own error, who told you that the catholic church was the foundation of Christianity? Paul, in the bible says, I have laid the foundation, let no man lay any other foundation then ,Jesus Christ. Yes Jesus was a Jew, but that counted for, nothing, He was the, son of God, who died for all, that's where. we are to place our faith. Not on Luther, not on laestadian, not on the pope, and not on Muhammed. God's not asking for much,but because of pride, we mess it up,and do without. Bekka

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    3. Bekka, is this your answer to my question: "how can we foster a culture of encounter in our daily lives?" More simply put, how can we love one another?

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  3. I was only trying to ,encounter, my goodness, and right away, because you don't agree, right off you show intolerance, Iv'e noticed that quite often in the past too.Bekka, I won't bother you no more.

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    1. I'm curious about the intolerance you reference. The only labeling was done by you. Jesus didn't walk around saying "nope, can't talk to you, you are a liberal...or a roman, or a leper, or a zealot, or a tax collector" He talked to people, he listened to people...he developed relationship. I find it interesting that you make dismissive comments about the pope, about muslims, label people as liberals. I do agree with something you said.."but because of pride, we mess it up,and do without." I think the Pope is saying much the same thing, that pride leads to downfall...especially when it has to do with fundamentalism, or in the form of clericalism and institutionalism within the Catholic Church as well as in all other denominations and religions. The Fundamentalists of any religion tend to be the ones who are quick to damn, condemn, expel, excommunicate, and historically speaking..put to death those they see as heretics. Growing up, one of the most dismissive thing to call someone else was a "tic" which as any good LLCer will know is short for Heretic.
      As far as Foundation...Historically the Christian Church traces back to Jesus...he said, in reference to Simon, calling him Cephas (Which is Aramaic for Rock) which translates to Petros in greek (Peter in English) saying upon this Rock I will build my church. So the foundation of Christianity is Peter and the early church, which became the Catholic Church...which then has grown and splintered throughout the ages.
      Unbeliever

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  4. C-mon, unbeliever, you are one that has labeled conservatives, as "fundamentalist", and expressed your dislike for them. Just look back on your posts.
    When Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life, and no man can come to the father, except through Me. That's a real fundamentalist speaking. Is that the kind of speech you want to stop? Is that the kind of truth the pope wants hide, so every one can, just get along, or is it that people just want to keep God out of their life, and by striking out against fundamentalism, they think they can do that. Good luck with all that.
    A salute to : Although it is easy to see, that you are as liberal as can be, and can't tolerate a fundamentalist like me, merry Christmas anyway........pekka

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    1. Pekka,
      I will admit my issue with fundamentalist belief is that it/they claim to speak for God. I believe that if someone is sincerely seeking Truth, seeking God, it/He is there to be found, I just refuse to presume to box God into what I want Him to be and say if you don't go to this Church on this Corner with this Label you are damned. I believe that God created man (that is humanity) in his image and likeness, but we humans have a tendency to perceive God in our image, that is Like us, supporting the causes we like, and hating those we hate. If I have come across as intolerant of you, (and I probably have, it is a failing of mine in regard to talking about my old community of worship who consider me damned) allow me to offer my most sincere apology, and may you also indeed have a Merry Christmas
      Unbeliever

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  5. I agree with every word you said, and I know that you like to stretch the envelope, for the sake of discussion, so do I....God bless you all.

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  6. If someone wants to adhere to a fundamentalist belief of any stripe, that's fine, as long as they don't try to force those beliefs on others. But so often, you get fundamentalists who try to restrict freedoms (gay rights or other social issues) or worse, try to kill those who believe differently.

    And yes, I do believe most fundamentalists foster a climate of hate, bigotry, and intolerance, because they believe their tribe or religion is the One True Way and all others be damned.

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  7. The question was, "How can we foster a culture of encounter in our daily lives?" How about by telling the truth to start with? I see that that was exactly what Jesus came here to do. If we look at his example you can see that he was quite patient and friendly towards the Romans, Gentiles and Samaritans even though he was the Son of God himself. Being understanding towards those with strongly opposing views takes patience to start with but it also requires a very firm and well rooted understanding of BOTH your beliefs AS WELL AS the opposition party's beliefs and teachings. Jesus' strongest words of rebuke were in fact, delivered towards those who thought that they were religious. Those whose beliefs are shallow usually resort to name calling, condemnation and threats......something I witnessed often when I was a member of a 'Fundamentalist' Apostolic Lutheran type Church. The Pope decries 'Fundamentalism' but I kind of thought that he was actually verbally chastising non-Catholic Christian groups more so than radical Muslim groups. In other words was the Pope's diatribe really directed against Conservative non-Catholic Christian groups? I have studied and talked at length with Catholic Priests and scholars. The more I reviewed and gained insight into their beliefs the more I realized Catholics are really 'Catholic Fundamentalists' and not really Biblical fundamentalists as such, as so many of their beliefs are based on historical traditions which have no basis in the Bible. The same could be said of some of the Laestadian beliefs for that matter. So then is Christian fundamentalism defined by having a literal belief in the Bible or is fundamentalism really describing a narrow and closed minded approach to religion? I maintain that a person can have a literal belief to the Bible and yet not be categorized as a 'fundamentalist'. Old AP

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    1. Old AP. if one pays any attention to this Pope, one realizes that he is often first and foremost chastising those within the Catholic Church who hold fundamentalist views. The idea is that for any religion, Fundamentalism is more about extreme rigidity and literalism rather than the "spirit" of their beliefs.
      "“In any confession, there’s a small group of fundamentalists whose job is to destroy for the sake of an idea, not a reality,” Francis said in an interview with the Argentinian radio station Milenium.

      “God in Judaism, in Christianity, in Islam, accompanies his people,” he said. “God is a God who comes close to us. [But] fundamentalists take God away from his people, disembodying him. In the name of that ideologist God, they kill, attack, destroy, slander.” This is from the second link above
      Unbeliever

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  8. Unbeliever, you quoted the Pope stating, "God in Judaism, in Christianity, in Islam, accompanies his people.” You correctly quoted the Pope's beliefs because the Catholics have gone over to Polytheism, at least that is what my Fransiscan Catholic friend told me. In other words the Catholics now believe that God can be found through many different religions and beliefs. What the Catholic's DO NOT like are non Catholic Conservative groups like the Southern Baptists etc...who still hold on to the Biblical teachings of Jesus that he is the only way and that his 'way' can only be found through his words in the words in the Bible. I would disagree that he is referring to conservative Catholics as they are viewed on more as a faction but not a threat to the Catholic hierarchy. Once again I see that you as well as some others are attempting to link 'Fundamentalism' to hate, bigotry, killing, violence etc...which seems to be the modus operandi of the left these days. So I would guess we would need clarification from you if you believe that a literal believer in the Bible is also a hate filled fundamentalist. I kind of struggled with that topic myself until I found a number of independent Bible churches whose congregations included large number of educated professionals who also did indeed believe in a literal translation of the Bible yet their focus was on missions, community involvment and good works. Having grown up in Laestadianism I had no idea that such churches even existed as I still saw things through Laestadian lenses without realizing that there were other options out there. It is interesting to note how Laestadians like to rail against education yet ignore the fact that both Laestadius and Luther were highly educated men. Both of them believed in a literal translation of the Bible yet I never read of anyone accusing them of being hate filled fundamentalists. Old AP

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    1. Old AP. There is much to respond to here. As a Catholic, and as someone married to a Catholic Theologian, I would suggest that your "franciscan friend" does not have a correct understanding of the teachings of his church. Polytheism is a belief in more than one God. A basic explanation of Catholic belief is that although the truest understanding of God is found in the teachings of the Catholic Church, because we are all created by God, and we all inside of us yearn for God, the fact is that there is God's truth to one degree or another to be found in all faiths. If you do not believe that the Pope is referring to the very fundamentalist/conservative elements in the Catholic church along with fundamentalists of other faiths, you are mistaken
      Unbeliever

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  9. the world foolishly continues to claim, we are right and you are wrong. the Catholic speaks, you must join the Catholic church, if you have a chance of getting saved, because we are the original church, and besides, we have the pope, he is the true voice of God, and he cannot err. And he smugly believes what he said.
    The Laestadian speaks and says, you catholics are ,hereticks, everybody knows that the office of the pope, is a manmade office, it,s not in the Bible. besides, us Laestadians, have the linnage from Luther,thru Lapland mary ,she blessed Laestadian so much, that he never was the same,at least that,s what Laestadian history claims. besides that, we are the only church with the ,holy spirit, because the Bible says that, the spirit is going to rest, in the north country, and everyone knows that, the north country is Finland
    Backtrack,2000 years, the Samaritan woman at the well, tells Jesus, our Samaritan fathers, taught us , this mountain in Samaria, is the mountain, where we must worship and you Jews say, that you can only worship in Jerusalem. Jesus answers, and we must know this. The hour has come, that neither in Samaria, nor Jurusalem, are we to worship, but God the Father is looking for worshipers, that will worship Him, in spirit and truth. Because God is a spirit,and true worshipers, must worship Him in Spirit and truth. Sadly neither Laestadians nor Catholics, know much about that.

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    1. I have found that too many people are too quick to assume what other people or other religions teach, and not willing enough to engage in dialogue. The reality is that there is much more that we all have in common with each other than separates us. The question then is, how do we foster the culture of encounter rather than a culture of hatred, fear or distrust? It is by engaging in dialogue, and looking for common ground. It is by saying What do you believe...or What does your faith teach about this? or "If you don't believe in God, what helps you determine your values" rather than assume that they don't have values, or that you know their personal beliefs. I stand against any and all attempts to say "I have the truth, and I have no interest in knowing who you are or what you believe ...because only people who believe exactly as I believe are saved. That is how I see Fundamentalism
      unbeliever

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  10. Unbeliever....you said, "(the)Catholic belief is that....there is God's truth to one degree or another to be found in all faiths." I have a very different take on your statement. My conclusion is that all false religions have followers because all false religions have a 'ring' of truth within their beliefs. In other words, they are able to gain followers because God has put the knowledge of right and wrong in all people. Therefore, when a religion teaches that some one should not steal for example, there is a ring of truth to it and thus a false religion gains adherents. The Koran for example, has many plagiarized portions of the Old Testament that were apparantly borrowed as the Koran was written. Mormons have the Bible AND the Book of Mormon while Laestadians cling to Laestadius' writings AND the Bible, so on and so forth....I may use the term 'Polytheism' to describe the Catholic's belief, while you may prefer not to do so, but basically you are suggesting that God can be approached though, "all faiths". I prefer to believe in Jesus' words that no one can come to God except through him. There is a lot of secular talk about 'dialogue' between religions these days and dialogue is certainly better than violence but the political agenda behind the dialogue is for everyone to accept polytheism. However, any objective study of the Bible will conclusively derive that Jesus specifically stated that there is no other way to God nor heaven except through him. I think those words have been a source of a lot of the extraneous 'doctrines' that church's invent. By the way, I see that you avoided answering my rhetorical question asking if a Bible literalist is also a hate filled Fundamentalist. Old AP

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    1. Wow, Old AP. The Catholics are Polytheistic? I'm a Roman Catholic and rest assured the church believes in one God. If someone has told you otherwise, they are really smoking something funny. Because there is an acceptance to be in open dialogue with people who believe differently does not mean that they themselves believe in more than one God.

      I also wonder about your comment about the Quran "plagiarizing" portions of the old testament. What do you think the Christians did? The Jews had the Pentateuch long before there was such a thing as a Christian, so did Christians "plagiarize" as well? Sounds a lot like the pot calling the kettle black.

      I believe that all people are God's creation. While I am a firm believer in my Christian and Catholic faith, I cannot assume that I understand God's intention for the millions of people who have never learned anything about Christianity, but it would surprise me if God simply plans to abandon those folks. The Jewish faith does not accept Jesus as the Son of God, but I don't think I'd bet on God abandoning those that he identified as his chosen people. Perhaps I'm wrong, and that's ok. I accept that God has a plan and he doesn't need to consult me about it.

      So does God have a plan for the adherents to Islam, Hinduism, Shintoism, Buddhism, etc.? I suspect he does, and I refuse to judge whether those folks will ever see the inside of heaven's walls. I used to do that as a Laestadian, but I managed to break that constraint. I didn't escape that only to get into another judgmental belief, and I'm surprised you seem to have happily done that.

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    2. CVOW, the Catholics do indeed believe in one God but they also believe that God and salvation can be found through other religions. So in that sense they are polytheistic. With regards to Christians...they did not plagiarize the Old Testament somehow as you allude to....funny you would make a statement like that as a professing Catholic. Christians look on the the New Testament as a fullfillemmt of the Old Testament. You stated that unlike me, you 'escaped' from Laestadianism judgementalism, but I would say that in reality you went from Laestadianism which is a sect that has the Bible AND 'other' teachings which overide the Bible, to Catholicism that also has the Bible AND 'other' teachings which also overide the Bible. My experience was to find a church body that ONLY uses the Bible and has no inhibiting doctrinal ties to denominational beliefs. You said, "So does God have a plan for the adherents to Islam, Hinduism, Shintoism, Buddhism, etc.?" That is an age old question which you yourself do not answer...consider that many of our foreparents were also steeped in folk religions and paganism in Scandinavia yet they converted to Christianity. In the end God is the judge. However, my beliefs might differ than yours in that those who are Christians who died in faith do not face a judgement of going to heaven or hell since they have already been sanctified through faith in Christ. In contrast the Catholics still believe in purgatory. However Christians will still have to give an accounting. It is the non-Christian who actually be judged by God and I am sure he will do what's right by all people. Old AP

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    3. Old AP,
      First, you are clearly employing opinion and stating it as fact. When the meaning of the word Polytheism is shown to not mean what you suggest it means, you say that they are polytheistic. Again, polytheistic means worship of more than one god. The belief that God is infinite and that there may be more paths to God than through one denomination or even through any one Religion, is not polytheism. Since the Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same God ( the only people who don't accept this are fundamentalist Christians) that is not polytheism, even if one accepts that some may be saved outside of ones own little group. Also, you say that in Catholicism other teachings "over-ride" the Bible. This again is a misinterpretation of Catholic teaching.
      Also..it is interseting to me that so many Fundamentalist sects don't acknowledge that the Catholic Church historically is beginning of Christianity. All Christian denominations come from that first group of jewish followers of Jesus, who came to be called Christians.
      You asked if I believe that a Bible literalist is necessarily a "hate filled fundamentalist" and my answer is absolutely not...nor do I assert that all fundamentalists are hate filled. I know fundamentalists who despite their rigid beliefs are very kind and loving people, who do their best to be "Christ to the other" just as I know of many "liberal or progressive Christians/Catholics who are total flaming a-holes to people who disagree with them.
      I am of the opinion that Fundamentalism focuses on two of the three aspects of Christ, that is the Historical Christ (Life/Death/Resurrection) and the Future Christ (The Second Coming) but ignore Christ With us..The Holy Spirit active in each person. My opinion is that Fundamentalism, in it's claim to know God's Truth in it's fullness, is guilty of Making God in their own image. Even if one uses Only the Bible, one still must utilize some sort of discernment or judgement about meaning, as so many things exist now that did not exist then. But I believe that we must follow our Conscience. So, if we use Jesus as an example..he talked to everyone. He talked to Jews - even Zealots, he talked to fishermen and tax collectors, roman soldiers, lepers, crazy people, adulterers. Interestingly, he didn't do a lot of telling other people what to do as in "Do this or go to Hell"...but he did a lot of asking what people wanted. And his "Two great Commandments" "Love God" and "Love your neighbor as yourself" have very little to do with intolerance or judgmental behavior
      Unbeliever

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  11. Old AP: I can see that you really get it, but your last statement, gives hope, where there is no hope.
    John 3: 18 states, whosoever believes in Jesus is not condemned, butttttt, whoever does not believe in Jesus is condemned already, because he has not believed, on the only Son of God.
    I know that sounds harsh, but that goes along with the Gospel.......Matt

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    1. Harsh, indeed. Repulsive, even, along with illogical in regard to the notion of perfect justice. Reason #456 why I am not a Christian (the first 400 or so are the inconsistencies, fallacies, falsehoods of the Old Testament, along with the portrayal of a tyrannical, evil Yahweh).

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  12. Unbeliever, you said that Christian, Jews and Muslims, "all worship the same God." Well I DO NOT agree with that at all. So in that sense I am a 'Fundamentalist', per your words. Hence I look on the Catholics as Polytheistic in that they believe one can find God in some way through Buddism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Shamanism etc... Catholicism has not been traditionally been known as Polytheistic but they seem to have increasingly taken on a 'Universalistic' approach to salvation. I will try to avoid debating with you in an online forum semantics and splitting hairs with regards to Catholicism as it begins to remind of debating a Laestadian. 'Matt', threw in a comment that, 'whoever does not believe in Jesus is condemned already...' which is a line Laestadians like to hang onto to terrorize people. The Bible actually teaches that Christians will not be judged with regards to going to heaven or hell as they are already considered to be sanctified by God. I recall being considered a heretic for stating that. In contrast, Laestadian's teach that if some one feels guilty over some sin they must confess it quickly or they might end up in hell. (The Pollarites used to call it 'Washboard Christianity' after their split from the Federationists.) The Bible actually teaches that it is the non-Christian who will actually be judged by God. So my personal belief is that all those questions about those who did not know about Christianity will be decided at that time by the ultimate judge. What I see happening is that those who did not know of saving faith end up missing out on the blessings of a Christ filled life here and now. In my case I believe in the millennial rule of Christ for 1,000 years after his return which is a teaching which Laestadian's also reject. So exactly how all things will work out at the first judgment and then during the Millenial Reign are up for debate as the Bible does not elaborate much on the matter. However, the Bible clearly states that all wrongs will be rectified. And then there is the whole question about predestination. However, at the end of the 1,000 year reign there will be a final judgment as there will be one final rebellion against God. What I do find is that if my focus is on having the right doctrine and belonging to the right group instead of displaying Christ's love to others then I kind of miss the boat. I will finish my blathering with a brief quote, "Nature did not construct human beings to stand alone. . . . Those who have never known the deep intimacy and intense companionship of happy mutual love have missed the best thing that life has to give. Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives. (Bertrand Russell 1929) Old AP

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  13. It's obvious that we have differing beliefs being presented here. While I obviously don't go along with all of the arguments being made, I respect every one of them. Frankly, I think this is the best discussion on this forum in a long time! In the spirit of the season, God bless us, every one!

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  14. Thanks for your positive post CVOW. It is always interesting to see how current and former Laestadians have evolved after realizing that, 'something was just not right' with their group's beliefs. I still say that many of us owe our very existence to Lars Laestadius' awakening and his church with its emphasis on large families etc..... If our fore parents had followed the American norm of 2.1 kids per family most of us would not be around to even have this discussion. Merry Christmas Lars Levi Laestadius. Old AP

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  15. Old AP you said " if my focus is on having the right doctrine and belonging to the right group instead of displaying Christ's love to others then I kind of miss the boat." I say AMEN

    And a Merry Christmas to everyone
    Unbeliever

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  16. The Laestadians, are not called, pick and choose Laestadians, for no reason, they pick. and choose Bible verses to better fit their thinking and then make their own religion.
    The ex's seem to be doing the same thing, pick and choose verses that go along with their thinking. For instance, Jesus said this, God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son. That's John 3-16. People love that verse, but the next two verses? Not so much. Jesus is still speaking, v18 , Whoever believes on the Son of God is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already. That's, new testament, spoken by loving Jesus, but it doesn't seem to fit the Laestadian or the ex's thinking, pick and choose, good luck in the long run.......Matt

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  17. Hi Matt. All people tend to 'pick and choose. As an outside observer, Gandhi said, "I have regarded Jesus of Nazareth as one amongst the mighty teachers that the world has had." But the problem Gandhi said, was that he had never met a real Christian. The Bible has a number of double meanings that are not clear to us; In one place the Bible says if we seek him we shall find him but in another place the Bible states no one seeks him. In yet another place it says to choose him but in another place it says he has chosen us and that we essentially have no choice. As humans it is hard for us to rationalize how some one could be condemned to hell if they had never heard the message. When Jesus descended into hell at his death, the Bible states how he witnessed to those in Hades....so will they be saved then? Are they plucked out of hell or do they have to wait in torment until judgement day? So there are rhetorical contrasts in the Bible that I find are beyond my full grasp. That is why I defer to God and his wisdom. Laestadians liked to cherry pick quotes to divide people as either sheep or goats. My preferred approach with people is reason with them AT THEIR LEVEL to show them the superiority of the Bible's teachings trying to get them to grasp the truth about faith in Jesus. But ultimately living faith is granted by God through his imputing the Holy Spirit on that person....I can only lead some one to the door. In summary to your comments Matt, I think everyone including you, pick and choose to some extent as we are all fallible humans. Old AP

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  18. Old AP: You correctly quote, If we seek him, we will find him and, no one seeks Him,and another, we are to choose Him. Those are good verses, Who is the Bible referring to? Jesus, of course, The real living Son of God, our Saviour. Then when I present a Bible verse that is without double meaning John 3:18 "He who believes on Jesus,is not condemned, but he who does not believe on Jesus is condemned already" what does Old ap say? Oh, that's just another verse that the Laestadians use to scare people. Do you have a kinder, gentler definition for ,condemned?
    I don't want to confuse the young one's in this audience, that's why I post Bible verses that. reveal Jesus, as the center of God's universe.
    Also, the Bible does not say, people will end up in hell, if they have never heard the gospel of Jesus, but those who have heard and refuse to believe.I've said this before, and it's true, there are young ones on this site, that are like, hiefers that are let out of the barn in the, spring time, they love the feeling of freedom, they jump up and down in the slippery barnyard, and there is a good chance of breaking a leg. Merry Christmas to you all, I'm on your side......Matt

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  19. Hi Matt. My siblings and I grew up in a Laestadian household where the living fear of God pounded into us....and while it is true that God can be vengeful and punishing there are even more verses where it states that if we cheerfully obey him then he in turn showers us with blessings. In our household we were taught that all Christians are given a 'burden' that they must carry all their lives. We were essentially taught that no matter how we lived, Christianity was a burdensome life filled with periods where God punished us and where he 'taught us a lesson' through chastisement, since we were always so disobedient to him. The Bible verses that were quoted to us by our parents and the speakers were accurate but they were taught out of context. The very verse that you quoted was also used out of context by the preachers in that the 'young one's' were told that unless faith in Christ was obtained through the confession of one's sins which were then audibly pronounced forgiven in the church, then that person's conversion was false and they were in dead faith. So you indeed quote a Biblical verse correctly, but I wonder what is the context? Is your quotation designed to terrify the 'young one's' to remain within Laestadianism and follow the three or four hundred unwritten rules of the church? Are you saying this because you heard the ministers saying it? I myself might use that verse at the appropriate time but it would be way down on my list. When I was a member of Laestadianism, I recall a number of conversations I had with other 'young one's' like myself. What was surprising to me was how many of those same 'young one's' had no personal grasp of faith in Christ and their replies were really more like mantras which they only repeated. What was also interesting to me is that I never once heard a Laestadian teenager ever share their faith with anyone in high school even though they believed that they were the only Christians on the face of the planet. So Matt, I wonder how many of the 'young one's' whom you say are reading this web site have any personal assurance and faith in Christ or have they just been bullied by the elders wtih verses such as John 3:18 to just go along with the church's beliefs or has anyone led them in love to a personal conversion? So when you are talking about that 'slippery slope' is that the slope that leads one away from Laestadianism? In my case I found that going down that slope led me to Christ. However, you are correct if you have a concern. I have seen this world in many countries and there are indeed many horrid situations where a 'young one' could find themselves in. Laestadian youth are actually quite sheltered from this world. There are bad apples within one's local Laestadian congregation but at least everyone knows who they are from the gossip chain. However, once one is on their own in the 'world', there is a whole different set of subtle rules that one is not used to. I have seen more than my share of worldy charlatans, liars, druggies, boozers and yes the devil himself out there. So I would not lightly recommend some one leave Laestadianism either. Old AP

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  20. I have a dozen siblings in the Laestadian movement, all diehards. Some in the llc some in the falc, and I ended up in the alc in a town where there was no other Laestadian movement church, but, to them I was a heretick ,one brother told me I was a devil, when I talked Bible truth, another said l'd be better off dead, then to believe the way I do.
    And I did not get saved from none of the above, I was asking God to help me, because in my mind,I was still trying to know which one was the ,right curch, when I asked God to help me, that was the first time that I was actually obedient to God. The Bible say's say's ,seek yes first the kingdom of God" I never did that, like my brother in law said, I didn't have to seek the Kingdom of God, my mother and father this church before me. Seeking the Kingdom of God for ourselves is mandatory,Apostolic Lutherans and Laestadians don't do that.
    Anyway, some time ago I was reading John 3:18 and I was telling God how disappointed I was in the way John 3:18 was worded, I asked God why was it worded sort of backwards, why did'nt it first say, we are condemned already when we are born, because of Adam's original sin, that's what the churches teach, that's why some hurry up and baptise babies, others believe no one is condemned until after the age of accountability, either way they all are afraid of ,original sin.
    When I was sort of scolding God,why wasn't the verse worded letter? I caught myself and thought, what am I doing? Certainly God had it worded right, so I just told God,I don't understand this verse, and asked Him to reveal it to me, I was quiet for about 10 minutes, and I was able to see exactly what it said, he who believes not in Jesus is condemned, and we are not condemned for original sin or our own.,the last part of the verse doubles down, and tell's us again, why a person is condemned, he who has had opportunity to believe,and rejects Christ, when they die, and only then, can it be said, they are condemned.
    The Bible say's, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their sins against them, That means God got the job done, and the sin problem is taken care of, providing we receive the gift of sallvation, by believing inJesus, that's all, understand what Jesus accomplished on our behalf. Like John 3:18 say's, he who believes is not condemned, and verse 16 say's ,he who believes has Eternal life, there is no jumping thru, any Laestadian hoops or catholic hoops, just believe, and don't mess things up, by doing any religious works.
    Just one more verse and I'll be gone, it's a dandy, just believe it. " having made peace by the blood of His cross, you who were once alienated and enemies in your mind,because of your wicked works,yet now He has reconciled
    Would God say that if our sin's or original sin was in the way? No, it say's God has made peace with us,and has reconciled us to Himself....sorry, I made it so long........Matt

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  21. This discussion of Laestadianism reminds me of the comments made in 1944 when Stalin informed the US Ambassador to Russia that the, "Finns are stubborn and slow witted, so common sense must be hammered into dull witted Finnish heads." I have thought that Laestadian Finns display the same traits when it comes to accepting that their doctrine might not be Biblical. By the way, my wife makes the same comments about me and my attitude about change. Old AP

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