Friday, July 20, 2007

Apostolic Lutheranism: Introduction

Since getting a site meter and seeing how much of my blog traffic comes from google searches, I’ve decided to write on a subject about which there is not much information on the web. It is also a regional issue (for Battle Ground, Washington and North Clark County) and the subject is religion so it fits well with my blog.

The subject is Laestadianism or Apostolic Lutheranism. North Clark County, in which Battle Ground is the largest city, has a large population of Apostolic Lutherans. They are mostly of Finnish descent. There are some different groups in the movement but the largest group in this area is the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church, a fundamentalist*, restorationist and, I would say, heretical Lutheran movement. They are usually called just “Apostolics” but two other, probably more popular names, are used. These are “bunhead” or “bunner.” The reason for this name is that most of the Old Apostolic women wear their hair in buns. I find the name “bunhead” to be too derogatory sounding but I am good friends with an ex-Apostolic who doesn’t see any problem with the term, at least when used by those who are or have been in an Apostolic Lutheran church. Other attributes of Apostolics are that they tend to have very large families, often of at least ten children and when they greet each other they say, “God’s peace.” Some of the funnier cultural characteristics of Apostolic Lutherans are that they tend to drink a lot of mountain dew, which in Battle Ground is also known as “bunner-beer” and many of the Apostolic young people have been known to wear almost exclusively quiksilver brand clothing. In Battle Ground the Apostolic young people are also known for hanging out in large numbers in the Fred Meyer's parking lot.

Most of the Apostolics I’ve known have been very kind people. I went to the church once with a good Apostolic friend when I was in middle school. All of the ex-Apostolics I know are fervent followers of Jesus Christ who have accepted the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There are serious problems with the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church, though, and most of the ex-Apostolics I know would question whether many people in that church are actually even Christians. I trust these ex-Apostolic's judgment. I believe that the revival in Lapland which gave rise to Apostolic Lutheranism was a true act of God but since that time the movement has gone far wrong. This blog post will begin a series on Old Apostolic Lutheranism. My goals in this series are to shed light on a subject that I think many people in Clark County would find interesting but more importantly to reach out to Apostolics who are in a dark place and to let them know that the power of Christ is real and that it brings freedom and joy. My primary resource will be “The History of the Laestadian or Apostolic Lutheran Movement in America” by Uuras Saarnivaara. The book was kindly given to me by an Apostolic man whom I befriended while I worked at Barnes and Noble. I find part the preface of the book to be a good introduction to this series:

…God has led thousands of people to the saving knowledge of Christ through the Laestadian revival. But at the same time the powers of evil have endeavored to destroy this work of God and to break the bond of love between the children of God. Consequently the history of the Laestadian movement is an account of the great saving work of the Holy Spirit in its[sic] conflict with the deluding and disrupting work of the devil. A study of this history therefore brings to us both joy and sorrow.

*I hesitate to use the word "fundamentalist." Its definition is ambiguous and some liberals would probably consider me to be a "fundamentalist." One definition I've heard which I like is that a fundamentalist is any religious person who is more conservative than you are. When I use the word here I am referring to a highly legalistic way of living where the teachings of church eleders are not to be questioned.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the Mountain Dew thing. One of my friends is a bunner, and everyday at lunch he gets a bottle of Mountain Dew.
I never understood why he called himself a bunner until now though. I just looked it up on google, and this was the first site I found.
There are quite a few bunners/ex-bunners in my grade at CAM High School, so that's why I looked it up.

exbger said...

My experience with bunners....is that they are such hypocrites. Its unbelieveable how they can smoke, swear, cheat on their spouse,drink, watch movies, screw, beat their wives, get girls pregged, BUT by gollie they better get that bun up right and better nt wear makeup!!! They need to fit in with each other and keep all their big sins a secret. Well I got news for you bunners....everyone knows how evil your youngsters are!!! They run around town sinning to beat the band then they show up in church with a hangover, BUT as long as they got that little scarf on their head well then they should make it to heaven right? Sorry to all you hard core bunners who actually follow your elders sick little rules. Just don't spend too much time alone with one of those unedjeeecated, elders. They might fill your head with garbage, pat you on the bottom and then go have a cig. Their advice, supposedly from God, sure screwed up some lives that I know of....so beware!!! You are better off cutting your genitals off then being a part of this sick cult.

Anonymous said...

The worst part is being out of the church for many years and then having to go to a family reunion. They sit around and stare at you like you are an alien even though years before...they treated you like family. Having stopped going to church at the age of 16 I was isolated from my immediate family and ridiculed at school. I was not allowed to talk to my sisters because the "preachers" told them I was a bad example. It was the worst time in my life and I'm happy I'm now past that point of feeling completely alone. I wish that they would open their eyes and see beyond their little world that they are all in. Its also very sad that people allow their children to get away with very bad manners and no respect for other people or animals. Also the fathers are very emotionally, physically and sexually abusive (I'd say a good 75% of the time) however it is not spoken of and kept secret. The preachers do nothing to help these children and wives and advise that they keep it to themselves and that they will pray for that man to get better. In conclusion, Id say while in the church I lived in constant fear, from my own father and from having to attend the church... which left me with a feeling of absolute loneliness. You dont have anyone to turn to because your parents will not support anything you say or do regardless of your talents, accomplishments or dreams if you do not attend. That should never be how you raise a child and you should never be able to treat a child the way I was and know many other families are. It is completely unacceptable and the very sad thing about it all....is it will keep happening. A word of advice to people that are thinking about leaving the church....from my own experience I learned that eventually things will be easier. However the first year or 2 are very hard. I had reoccuring nightmares that the world was ending and I was unable to get to someone to confess my sins..such as curling my hair or wearing makeup...the sky turning red would scare me beyond belief. I would have slight paniac attacks from being in a room full of people that did not belong to the church. I'd live in constant regret and have shame just for enjoying the normal things life has to offer. Its extremely difficult to deal with the what ifs...and am I doing the right thing...but after years of being away..you discover happiness and feel very emotionally stable..and for me that was the first time :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, the above passage was very powerful. I feel sadness for those who are living in fear of the people who they are supposed to love the most. I am from Battle Ground and have searched extensively to find more research behind their customs and practice but have found only one site that I believe was written by an ex-bunner. I would really like to hear more stories from people who have left the Apostolic church so that the people of Battle Ground and surrounding areas know of some of the horrors and secrets that go on.

Anonymous said...

The apostolic church there are no secrets i can let that be known right now. We dont judge that other people do not go to our church. we hope that you find your way. we raise our children with our own knowledge in our own ways just like anyone else in the world. why say such things. we do not hurt kids or anyone else. we are human. we make mistakes. we are not perfect nor is anyone else. we believe stronly in god and going to church.

Anonymous said...

It's just a little funny that you're the only one who is defending the apostolics, because you are of that denomination. Let's set something straight. I work customer service, and you people are possibly the most rude and animalistic people that I've ever met. If you want to teach your kids anything, start with manors, and then maybe go onto educating them about the risks of cigarettes instead of the difference between which pickup they should get when they're 16. And us "outsiders" are glad to be. You are a cult. You do not own other, therefore do not treat us as so.

Anonymous said...

Its a religion in which people believe in. If you disagree with it, then keep it to yourself honestly, is this a site so you can talk bad about "bunners" because how they believe? Maybe you know a bunner that is rude or don't have manners, but it don't mean every bunner is like that.

Anonymous said...

I am new to the Clark county area and I have to say people youre blowing things way out of proportion. "bunners", are just people, all people are at risk of making mistakes, I hear rumors about this and that but no one ever says anything about the business they bring or complained about the money they spend.. I don't think it's the people anyone doesn't like I think it's the religion, no one would try to make this point about gay or lesbian peoples, yet i know everyone has an opinion about that, myself im Mormon.. I've met a lot of bunners, 99% are nice I think the one percent are just rude as people. I have met more rude people in neighboring towns. I can't speak of those who live with in or have, lived with in, the culture but just as people we all are just people. I have bad days and some say my kids are outspoken, because they were taught to give respect as they get it.

Al Lun said...

I am a school bus driver for Battle Ground. And I tend to believe that people are mostly good and have a great respect for religious folks. But my experience with Apostolic children are very negative. They really are incredibly rude. The parents are are clearly to blame as they refuse to acknowledge any ill behavior that their children have. There is definitely something very sinister going on in their church for them to pump out such consistently rude and brainwashed kids. I have been offended countless times but overall I feel sad for them. Once these girls reach a certain age they seem to turn into heartless zombie like people with icy cold stares that seem to be void of any love or joy. Very sad indeed. I came on this site to see if there is any special way to handle these kids, so any advice is appreciated.