Thursday, July 26, 2007

Apostolic Lutheranism: Theology and Practice

I had hoped to interview one of my ex-Apostolic friends for this post. Unfortunately schedules did not permit and I'm moving to southern California in less than a week so I decided to just go for it. I still plan on interviewing someone, maybe around Christmas time and then posting it here. Out of all of the posts in the series, this one disappoints me for some reason but I wanted to post something to sum things up a bit.

Authority
The basic authoritative documents for Apostolic Lutherans seem to be Luther's catechisms and the sermons of Laestadius. The Apostle's Creed also seems authoritative but in the 1870's John Takkinen, the Laestadian leader of the time, inserted the words "in Gethsemane" after the words "He descended into Hell." Apostolics would probably claim that the Bible is their ultimate source of authority but it is interpreted through the sometimes peculiar teachings of historic leaders in the Laestadian movement. Here we will explore some distinctive features of Apostolic doctrine and practice.

Exclusivity
Probably the most problematic theological distinctive of Old Apostolic Lutheranism is the belief that the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church is the one true church and that all those claiming to be Christians outside of their group are bound for hell. I have read that Old Apostolics might believe that there are true believers in other places but that they would have to hold to the theology and practice identical to the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church. It is also interesting to note that no evangelism is done by the group. They believe that if a person is to be saved that they will be drawn by God into their church.

Confession, Absolution and Justification
My resources for writing this series offer conflicting definitions of Apostolic doctrine. A statement will often be made on a given subject that sounds good and orthodox. For instance, concerning salvation, Saarnivaara states that Apostolics believe that, "the only condition of salvation is faith and trust in the Gospel." That sounds good but the problems come in when the definition of "the Gospel" is explored. It seems that for Apostolics, "the Gospel" is only to be found in Old Apostolic Lutheran churches and it must be expressed in confession to another believer and then absolution from that believer.

Based on their "Doctrine of the Keys," the Old Apostolics believe that Christians (only Old Apostolics) have the power to forgive sins and that without hearing the "word of reconciliation" in the preaching of the Apostolic church or by way of personal absolution a sinner cannot be forgiven. One source identifies the origin of this belief saying, "Careless statements of the elders, which equated the gospel with confession and absolution, contributed to the new focus and reliance on confession and absolution as the 'pilgrim’s staff,' which became the new savior or the sole method of purification from their occasional lapses into sin. Such persons could not appreciate a gospel that unlocks the gates of heaven for unworthy and totally depraved wretches by the preaching of the free, full and unconditional forgiveness of sins." After making a statement which suggests that Apostolic believers are the agents of justification, Saarnivaara goes on to make a statement that seems to conflict with it. He says, "Confession of sins to a confessor is no meritorious work, and the believer is not justified by that, for he is already righteous in Christ." A paragraph later he says, "If someone has fallen into sin which is known to other people, private confession is not sufficient. In order that he may be known before the congregation as one who has repented of his sins and forsaken them, he should confess them publicly before the congregation. Otherwise he cannot be cleansed and justified before the Church of Christ.[emphasis mine]" The act of personal absolution is actually a very emotional thing for Apostolics. When I went to the Old Apostolic Lutheran revival service a few years ago, where elders from Lapland preached, I witnessed this confession and absolution which occurred before the eucharist. People would embrace, confess sins while weeping and then obtain absolution.

It is unclear exactly how problematic the Apostolic's "Doctrine of the Keys" really is. In affirming the importance of absolution, the Apostolics join the Catholics, Orthodox and many Anglicans. If a Christian feels that they have lost their salvation each time their conscience is troubled by a sin and that they only regain salvation upon confession and the reception of absolution, then it seems that this doctrine is problematic. It would be interesting to explore more deeply historic doctrines of confession and absolution as in the Catholic Church and compare it to what Apostolics believe. From my reading of my sources, I am very uneasy with the "Doctrine of the Keys" in Apostolic Lutheranism but some of that may be a Protestant bias which downplays the importance of confession and absolution.
Church Government
The elders in Gällivare in Swedish Lapland hold a place of authority in the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church. They are consulted on all important affairs. In American congregations, preachers are called from the laity. They have no trained or ordained ministers. Preachers in the church will call up others in the congregation to be preachers and from that point on, they are expected to preach and to counsel members. Apostolic preachers are expected to retain full-time jobs on top of their responsibilities to the church to support their families.

What Went Wrong?
How did the Laestadian movement progress from a God-glorifying revival to a dead, legalistic, oppressive and heretical movement seen today in the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church? First of all it should be pointed out that there are different groups of Laestadians and the theology and practice among those groups may be far less problematic than the situation in the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church. I believe that there were problems from the start, even at the time of Laestadius. The strong emphasis on the doctrines of confession and absolution became problematic when a certain way of doing things became enshrined in the doctrine of Apostolic Lutheranism. I strongly believe that we should confess our sins to one-another. I have seen the freedom and the deliverance both from guilt and from the continued desire to sin that comes through regular confession. It seems that in Apostolic Lutheranism, the good thing that is confession became problematic when it was turned into a formula which must always be followed and when justification became based on the confession of any sin which troubled the conscience. Another thing that seems to have led to some of the problems in Apostolic Lutheranism is a lust for power that was seen in some of the leadership in movement in North America at the time when the schisms occurred. It seems that the problems in the movement, which may have been present in Lapland became more acute among the American leadership. Takkinen tried to control the movement by appealing to the elders in Lapland, which resulted in schism and the formation of the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church and Matoniemi encouraged an extreme legalism with his preaching that all innovations were dangerous for Christians.

There are serious problems with the movement other than the problems of doctrine. I believe that the heretical doctrines contribute to the other problems seen. I have heard the allegation from multiple reliable sources that child sex-abuse is not uncommon in the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church. One reason for this is that it is always covered up. It is reported in one place that when a parishioner went to a preacher to report that her daughter had been molested, that the preacher told her not to go to the police.

Another problem not uncommon in sectarian fringe movements is that members of the church who decide to leave are shunned and shamed by continuing members. Leaving the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church is a difficult and traumatic experience and is best done with a support system outside of the church. I have witnessed one such exit where a young family left the church, came to live with other ex-Apostolics and also joyfully embraced true and life-giving Christianity. The husband also lost his job because he worked for a company owned by Apostolics.

Another thing which seems almost inconceivable to me is that there is reportedly little or no prayer life or Bible study outside of time in the church-service for Old Apostolics. Prayer is always done in the context of the church and the church teaches that individuals cannot understand the Bible for themselves, it must be interpreted by one of the preachers. Individual time in the Word and in prayer has been for me the chief means to greater intimacy with my Creator. This one place where I whole-heartedly embrace Reformation teaching, as Archbishop Orombi has said, "Part of the genius of the Reformation was its insistence that the Word of God and the liturgy be in the language of the people—that the Bible could be read and understood by the simplest plowboy."

Conclusion
After all I have said about heresy and serious problems of practice in the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church, I want to reiterate that out of all of the Apostolics I have known, I have never met one that I didn't like. When I was going to school in the Battle Ground School District I appreciated the friendship of a number of Apostolics and now, nine years after graduating from high school, I still appreciate friendships with some ex-Apostolics. Some of the greatest examples of Christian love I have seen have come from Christians who came out of Apostolic Lutheranism. The devotion to Christ I have seen among ex-Apostolics has actually surprised me. It seems that the stereotypical ex-fundamentalist either completely abandons Christianity or embraces anti-Christian liberal "Christianity." This has not been the case among the ex-Apostolics I know. I would certainly also not want to make the claim that there are no Christians within the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church. I know that there are and I can only hope and pray that a new move of the Holy Spirit will occur among these people which will free them from heretical doctrine and legalistic practice and will redeem the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church to be a force for God's Kingdom in the world, bringing sinners to salvation in Christ and releasing God's healing, liberating and sanctifying power into the lives of those who are bound.

Bibliography:

Allworth, Louise McKay. Battle Ground . . . In and Around. Battle Ground, WA: The Write Stuff Publishing, 2006.

Saarnivaara, Uuras. The History of the Laestadian or Apostolic Lutheran Movement in America. Ironwood, MI: National Publishing Co., 1947.

"Laestadianism." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laestadian

"Laestadians to the Present." http://www.apostolic-lutheran.org/history/present.html

"Lars Levi Laestadius." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laestadius

"The Firstborn Laestadianism." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Firstborn_Laestadianism

Various articles at: http://users.erols.com/ewheaton/laest1.htm#juhani

Various articles at: http://www.oldapostoliclutheran.com/

57 comments:

daisyaday said...

I have to agree with what you have learned about the Apostolic Lutherans. I attended one of the branch churches, the Laestadian Lutheran Church, which was formed in about 1973 when there was a split in the church.

We were taught that the other branches of the church were the heretics, of course, but the other things you mentioned were pretty close to what I experienced.

I left the church when I had decided to file for a divorce from my husband, and since the church doesn't believe in divorce, I decided I was getting out before they kicked me out. I always thought I'd go back later, but once I got out, there was nothing I wanted to go back for--well, nothing other than my family and my friends.

If you leave, you can pretty much count on them not including you in their lives after that. Fortunately I found a relationship with Christ after I left. It has made all the difference for me.

Thanks for posting this.

Matthew J. Perkins said...

thanks for posting daisy. I tried to write in a loving way that didn't gloss over the serious problems. I'm glad you have found a true relationship with Jesus Christ!

Anonymous said...

Hi Matthew,
I enjoyed reading your site.
Please check out our church web site at www.aalchurchma.org
I would love to hear what you think of it. Our service is live on sundays at 11:00 AM EST.
God Bless You
Pastor Colin Kinnunen

Anonymous said...

hello matt,very good article you wrote on the church organization.i have attended several church locations that you probably know of and wouldnt mind a little input from you.is there a email address to write in private??

Matt Perkins said...

rodan90@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

Was not sure where to post this.
A Stepgreatgreatgrandfather to me, I never knew.
His testimony,

Johan Oberg was born June 24, 1862 in Rautalampi (Finland), the son of a sawmill worker Kalle Oberg. The forefather of the family had moved from Sweden several generations earlier. The family moved when Johan was 5 years old to work at the Saura Iron Factory in Karttula . There Johan had to begin working for wages at 8 years of age. People moved there from all over Finland to work at the factory and bad habits were common in their midst. Godly people were rare. Among them was Oberg’s mother whose maiden name was Maria Laulainen of Rautalampi. The mother was devoted to reading the Word of God and singing for she had a good voice and an ear for music. She often spoke to her children the Word of God and rebuked them of sin. The influence of his mother developed in Juho a sensitive conscience already in his childhood, but the mother could not lead her son any further. He grew in church piety, lacking the light of the Holy Spirit.

Nineteen year old Juho had to leave home not knowing where he would find employment. With tears, the mother saw her son off. His plan was to first go to his brother’s place in Taipalsaari. His brother had written that he had repented and was now a believer. From this, his family had gotten the impression that he had gone into some wild false doctrine and that Juho had reason to go and set him straight. While staying with his brother, Johan came into contact with the Laestadian movement. Listening to there preaching, he became convicted in his conscience that he also needed repentance or he was headed for hell. But this was not easy for the young man and an inward struggle went on from week to week. He had no peace at night or day. In 1884, a preacher named Manne Välikangas, was shot to death in Savitaipale. This touched Oberg’s heart so that he wanted to step in his place among the persecuted Christians even though he would lose his life because of the name of Jesus. He received strength to humble himself in repentance and receive the blessing of the forgiveness of his sins in Jesus Name and Blood. Then his soul was able to taste the power of the life to come and enjoy hidden manna. Several days after that, he saw the bloody wounds of the Son of God before his eyes. It went as a sword through his heart. He received power to confess his faith to the young and old. He was then asked to preach which he did in Finland for several years.

When he moved to America in 1892, he first settled in Calumet MI, but soon moved to Superior, WI, where he was for over a year and then moved to Cromwell, MN. In both places he was asked to speak at services and he also made preaching trips to other places which resulted in many people turning through repentance and faith from darkness to light. After 19 years in Cromwell, Oberg moved with his family to Cokato in 1912, and served as a pastor there for 8 years. There his wife, Maria (Mononen) Oberg from Lappeenranta, died. Oberg returned to Cromwell with his children. In 1921, he married Maria Carlson (Niemi). In 1929 he received a call from Laurium, MI, to be the pastor of the recently established congregation. He had already been voted to be the first chairman of the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America Federation. He served in this capacity to the general satisfaction of the people until 1942, when he requested retirement from the chairmanship and pastorate due to his high age and health issues. He was called to his eternal home on January 29, 1946.

Throughout his life, Oberg was a representative of Raattamaa’s evangelical Christian view, in which he had come to faith. He was a humble servant of God who spread the gospel lovingly and faithfully. He resisted, during his leadership, all religious concepts and principles which deviated from those of the Raattamaa era, whether they were toward a legalistic spirit or toward extreme evangelicalism. He also resisted efforts to limit God’s Kingdom to a certain faction. He had no aspirations and apparently no inclination to be a “leader” who demanded allegiance to himself. He did not seek the chairmanship but received it as from the hand of God and took care of the tasks belonging to his office to the best of his ability, allowing the general decisions of the “Christians” to guide him in his work.

lori said...

To Matt Perkins...

Thank you for this post. I find it VERY interesting. I grew up in BG so am very familiar with OALC's (now live in Seattle). I went to WSU, then moved to LA for six years, then back to the Northwest. My question for you, ARE YOU SINGLE?? My daughter is a beautiful 24 year old Christian girl and I would like to introduce you to her IF you are single. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Matt Thanks for the info I Married a girl that came from the LLC We were not Christians before we got married but shortly after I was saved by the Grace of God and the blood of Jesus Christ through listening to Christian Radio.

Shortly after that I learned some of the teachings of the LLC I had always known that they thought they were the only true church but when i learned about there teachings on the forgiveness of sins I was quite shocked. I had never heard that a person had to go to a "christian" in order to be forgiven I was always taught Christ Was who you had to go to.

Because of this I have had to dive into the Word of God and Find the Truth of the matter, and hasn't always been easy but, One thing I Have to say to any LLC personel is this Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." john 14:6 not the LLC. And to anyone else repent and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, for He died on the Cross for the Forgiveness of sins.

Anyways Matt I was wondering if you would Have any more info or literature on the LLC

thanks again for the site. May Gods grace be on you

Matt Perkins said...

Hey March 23rd anonymous...

Praise God that He has called you to Himself and granted you salvation through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I probably have some info on the LLC somewhere. I know it's obviously one of the many split-offs, I think maybe from the early 70's but I could be wrong on that. If I have time maybe I'll write a post someday but medical school is keeping me a little too busy at the moment.

outtathere said...

This was such a rewarding page to read! Thank you Matt, for truly portaying the OALC. I could not agree with you more - you perfectly explained their beleif system and lack of knowledge. I have just recently left the church after 16 years of striving and striving to obtain that wonderful goal that God already gave me. (but no one told me) I am FREE!! I am not a sinner (which is hammered into everyone there) - I am a child of God. and I thank Him that He showed me the light. It was truly an awakening when I began to feel His spirit stirring in me. I was in complete misery from all the hellfire and damnation preached at the OALC - completely "lost" as to what I was really doing in church at all. I began to feel and respond to God telling me it was because "something is missing". And it defintitely was! GOD'S LOVE! It simply isn't preached there. Ask any member what they are and they will tell you that they are nothing but a "lowly sinner". Once it was known that I was "struggling" - everyone became "worried" and told me how "sad" they were that I was "falling away". I simply responded with "Why are you sad that I want to feel closer to God?" No response. No answer. They have NO CLUE what a relationship with God entails. My brother-in-law literally scoffed at the idea that you could "know" God. I am so thankful to be out of there - now I just have to desensitize my poor kids to all the "fear of leaving" that I blindly told them (among other things!). Any ideas?

Matt Perkins said...

outtathere,

I'm glad what I wrote was helpful to you and more than that I am joyful that you have come to know the love of God and have come to know God. In John 10:14 Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me." You are Jesus' own and part of being that is knowing Him and his love.

I don't feel like I'm the best to give advice in your specific situation. The only advice I can give as one Christian to another is that you find a good Bible-believing church and Christian friends who can understand your situation. Ask God for these things in prayer and in some way God will provide. For your kids and for yourself I think the best antidote is Scripture, especially the Gospels and Paul's letters. I would recommend being in them and memorizing verses that reveal truth that was kept from you in the OALC. One good one might be 1st John 4:16, "So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." Of course there are many other great verses to memorize. If I had to boil it down I'd say my ideas are 1) being in Scripture daily, memorizing certain verses, 2) going to God in prayer daily, laying everything before him and being open to the Holy Spirit, and 3) seeking out the fellowship of a few brothers or sisters in Christ who you can be open and honest with.

May God bless you!

Anonymous said...

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Sorry for offtopic

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

most of what you say on this site is no true. you wont know the facts until you actuly come to it. so if you read this site dont take anything seriously. DO NOT CHANGE YOUR OPINION BECAUSE OF SOME UNEDUCATED GUESSES.

Matt Perkins said...

Hey Nov. 25th Anonymous, please tell me what is not true. The last thing I want to do is to post lies. Everything I wrote came from a few books I read and internet sources so if there is any wrong info it came from there. I would appreciate it if you commented again and said specifically what is incorrect. Thank you.
Matt

Anonymous said...

Most of the stuff you said is not true. It is people like you that post lies about our church that make people hate us. For many years I didn't ahve friends outside of our church because of peopl elike you lying about it. DO NOT refer to other sites on the web to explain our church. All the abuse stuff is a lie. We believe that children are a gift from God and that would explain why we have "so many" children. Also we do not only pray in church. And we do not believe everyone else is going to go to hell, we believe that God will make the decissions, so we do NOT judge people that way.
by the way, I am not the same person that wrote the other one, I am someone else that hates it when people post LIES ABOUT OUR CHURCH ON THE INTERNET!!!

Anonymous said...

One thing you said about our church that is not true is that only the preachers can explain the bible and Laestadius. Have you ever been to one of our gatherings? If not you really should because it will prove that EVERYONE explains them. the process is that anyone can ask a question, but if nobody does a preacher finds something in the bible and passes a mic. around and has people explain what they think it means and most of the people,young and old, say pretty much the same thing. once in a while someone will say soemthing that nobody else agrees on, but that is only once-in-a-blue-moon. But if you would really like to know more about our church, I recommend you coming and attending church quite often, and then you will be able to understand how we believe. You should also spend time with a family and see for yourself if you think that the children are sexually abused or abused another way, and you will find that MOST children are NOT abused. I can't say tat NOBODY abuses their children,but I CAN say that MAJORITY DON'T.

Once again, DO NOT SEARCH THE INTERNET TO FIND STUFF ABOUT OUR CHURCH.
MOST OF THE STUFF YOU FIND ON-LINE IF 100% FALSE.

Anonymous said...

Some one said they are not a sinner and that they left our church and guess what--in the bible it says that the sinners are the ones that will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, so whoever said that they are not a sinner, pretty much said that they are not going to heaven. Even people who are not from our church have siad that the sinners are who Jesus came to save, so I am not saying that it is only in our bible. Our Bible is the Original Bible, we did not make any changes to it like other churches do. Another thing we believe is that all young children go to Heaven when they die because they are inoccent.

Anonymous said...

How dare you compare us to the Catholics. We are not anything like the Catholics. I went to a Catholic funeral before and those types of churches believe that the only way to get to heaven is by donating lots of money to the church. We do not believe that way.

Matt Perkins said...

whoa..... hey various Anonymous posters. First of all, thank you for posting and pointing out things that I got wrong in what I wrote. I don't assume that it's all correct but the sources I used were usually intimately connected with the OALC in one way or another so I assumed that there was a lot of truth about what they had to say.

To the first anonymous - I am happy that you have many children! I think the greater travesty is Christians who can have children and choose not to have many. Children are a gift from God - Amen!

Anonymous #2 - I have been to some OALC gatherings. And I am happy to hear that "everyone" helps in explaining the Bible. Forgive me for my error.

Anonymous #3 - I agree that anyone who says they are not a sinner cannot find salvation. After all, if you are not a sinner what are you being saved from? Certainly not the wrath of God.

Also, when it comes to child abuse, I never would assume that the majority in the OALC abuse children. I've always assumed it's a small minority. But even with that small minority, if nothing is being done about the problem - then it is a serious problem that should be exposed.

Anonymous #4 - I compared you to Catholics because of one doctrine. Am I wrong in saying that many Laestadians believe that they have salvation only after receiving absolution? I think many do believe this and if that is true there is a similarity between your "doctrine of the keys" and Catholic theology on confession.

Thank you for your postings and please continue to post about any errors I have made. I appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Matt

I was wondering what one has to write for their blog to be erased? I guess I'm curious about whether you're intentionally blocking content because it goes against your personal beliefs.

Matt Perkins said...

Hey there Feb 3rd anonymous,
The only posts I erase are spammers who advertise their websites by posting them in the comments. Other than that I don't erase posts. If someone were to cuss or slander someone else I suppose I'd have to erase that too. I'm happy when people, especially Christians, post something I disagree with - maybe I'll see where I'm in error and gain a better understanding of the truth of God's Word. Thanks for the question!

Anonymous said...

Matt,

I'd like to get a copy of the following book which you cite as a resource. Where have you obtained your copy?

Saarnivaara, Uuras. The History of the Laestadian or Apostolic Lutheran Movement in America. Ironwood, MI: National Publishing Co., 1947.

Thanks,
Pac Northwesterner

Matt Perkins said...

Hey Pac Northwesterner,

My copy was given to me as a gift by an Apostolic Lutheran man whom I met while working at a bookstore years ago in Vancouver. Since then others have asked me if I knew how to get a copy and unfortunately I don't. The only suggestion I could give would be to check amazon.com or google it to see if anyone is selling a copy. I hope you find what you're looking for.

Matt

Anonymous said...

Matt,

Thanks for your reply. I've been searching the net, Amazon, etc. and as yet have not found a copy for sale. I have a few other possibilities that I can check out. Hope your studies are going well!

Pac NW

Anonymous said...

Hello Matt and other readers.
Matt, you are correct in your understanding of the OALC as far as my experiences in about 22 years in the church and about 5 years as a former member.
The current members of the church will vehemently deny any negative description of the actions of the church or its members, and carefully choose their words to emphasize the positive.
The not-so-subtle implication is that ANY negative or un-Christianlike actions or attitudes are performed by false Christians in the church. This small manipulation shields the church itself from any blame.

A correction- OALC members are not discouraged from praying at any time or in any place. To the contrary, praying is encouraged. However, it is almost -never- done in front of other people or out loud except while in the church in a ritualistic and stylized manner.

Your understanding of the "policy" about reading the bible is right on. Go to any pious OALC house and you will find books of the sermons of Laestadius (about 3 or 4 different books is common) and maybe the bible. The sermons written by the preacher Laestadius are read regularly (only in the pious households) and the bible is never read. I hesitate to use the word never, but justify it this time because of my 22 years in the church and close contact with many current members in the last 5 years this has been my experience. Ask almost any OALC member about stories or passages from the bible and they will only be able to recall those stories and passages that are read in front of the church for the preachers to "speak alongside of." Speaking alongside of the bible passage means to repeat as close to word for word as possible to what the preacher remembers saying the previous time he spoke, or to repeat something another preacher spoke. The only exception to this manner of speaking I have ever heard is when a preacher adds anecdotes from his life, or recent events that may serve as a "warning and admonition" to the faithful.
The only time they have ever been exposed to the bible stories is during confirmation, when they are instructed to read (out loud in front of the confirmation class) paragraphs from a small green book that is a super-condensed bible story book.
The response from a current OALC member who claims that everyone gets to talk about how they understand something from the bible? Nonsense. All such answers are carefully monitored and corrected by the attending preacher, so that the final "understanding" conforms to church doctrine. If all attendees are devout members, of course it feels wonderful. A challenge to that advocate: Read the bible and ask a serious and thoughtful question that indicates that you might disagree with something that is spoken by a preacher while he is preaching ... Or worse yet, question the warning about reading the bible alone, and trying to understand it by yourself.

Anonymous said...

The description of being shunned and shamed is, if anything, understated. Until you have experienced it, you cannot imagine the pain of having dear friends and family treat you as a combination of a lost soul and a heretic and an enemy. There is a dichotomy in the words and actions of the OALC in regards to former members. They profess to love and pray for former members, and welcome them back with open arms, but in reality friendships, family ties, and acquaintances are irrevocably altered in such a painful way that the former member is either forced completely away or is psychologically bludgeoned into returning and asking forgiveness in front of the congregation to reestablish their friendships and family ties.
No amount of denying the truth of these statements by current members can make them untrue. The pain involved in breaking away from the church is intentionally inflicted, and so opposite to what I would have thought God's desire to be, that it helped me understand the falsity of the entire doctrine. When you are raised from infancy to the belief that only UNWAVERING and COMPLETE faith and trust in the preachers, church and elders in Sweden lead to happiness and is God's Will, it is extremely difficult to break out of that cell.

Everything that I have typed here is true to my knowledge. I have no interest in bringing false witness against any person or any church. I hope that my words won't hurt any feelings out there, but I do hope that if they are read with a thoughtful and sincere intent that they will be understood as the truth.

If there are any questions about the church's activities or doctrines that I can answer, I promise to answer them to the best of my ability.

Anonymous said...

Well, here I am commenting after years of "holding my tongue". I was raised in the OALC and it gets my blood boiling when I read what the current OALC members say. They are only sugar-coating things and making themselves seem innocent, when I know from experience they aren't.

I left the church 16 years ago and to this day am shunned, unless of course I'm at my parents' house where "Christians" from the OALC are visiting, and they feel they must be civil to me. There is no love of Christ in these people once you've left their cult. And it is a cult, because how else do you describe a group of people who will not embrace someone else because they have different ideas?

I feel saddened when I think of my family members so blindsided by the brainwashing they've received. There is so much freedom in Christ! There is love, and joy, and happiness! There is no need to be dour or sad because of sin. We all sin .. there is no way we cannot! We are HUMAN! But when we have Christ we are made new again.

I just heard of an OALC member who lost her husband a few years ago. She said that since she believes he is in heaven now, she is going to do everything in her power to get to heaven someday to meet him there. I wonder if she is going to do nothing? Because that's all you can do to get to heaven! By "doing" anything else, you are making Christ's crucifiction obsolete and useless.

I feel sad for those who cannot break away. I used to be bitter, but now I realize it's just what they were raised to believe .. nothing more. If they were raised in Islam it would be the same thing. Ignorance binds. Only by discovering the Bible for yourself can you be free.

I pray for the hearts of the oppressed. I've been there ...

Anonymous said...

My family moved to the battleground area recently and I had no idea what an AL even was. The previous owner of our new house told me that they believe they were the only ones who could get to heaven. Then I was told that by a nieghbor who was actually part of the church. I asked her "even if they don't believe we can be saved, do they believe in the True God Head and of Jesus' work on the cross etc?"
She didn't really have an answer for me. As I read the above posts I am saddened, as the bible clearly states that Jesus' forgiveness was meant for us all if we would only accept it. I am also saddened because of the people who are missing that much needed relationship with the Father. I wish everyone wanted salvation, but the truth is so many just don't get it, and they don't care, so I guess what I am saying is, that while I am saddened by the OALC belief system. I am more saddened by the fact that my very own mother has pushed Christ away and recently asked me to stop telling her things about the love of Jesus, trying to convince her. The Enemy has his ways, they are crafty and they are very old and used, but if we don't watch out, we can be easily fooled. Thank you to the creator of this blog it is awesome! And I love your humbleness toward the angred OAL's. You are handling it just they way a true Christian would. God bless you and your ministry.

Anonymous said...

I am married to a man that attends the independent ALC. Their belief is such that there is no drinking dancing,gambling, praying, reading the bible, displaying anything religous such as a cross nor talking about religion in general. When we first married I had been to the church several times and came to the conclusion that it wasn't for me.I am a memeber of the ELCA and have been since birth. I didn't realize how much of a cult it is until many years of marriage. When going to his side of the family for a function of some sort I am not talked to. His family could tell you very little about me as I have not joined the church thus a waste of their time. If there are others from the church at the function they won't even make eye contact nor acknowledge you. My husband's brother left the church years ago and has been shunned by the family. My husband is unable to explain why he believes the way that he believes... I find this so sad and depressing. There is so much to be explored with God that I truly believe he is missing out. I do agree that there are one of the nicest people that you meet however that only goes so far. I read many of the blogs and find that a lot of what you are saying is very true. I can relate to everything especially since I am living in it first hand.

smalltwn_cntrygirl said...

Your article is so interesting to me. We moved to Davenport, WA knowing nothing about the Church. You can defintley tell People from the Apostolic Church and plain ol town folk don't mix. The kids are told not to play with other kids outside of the church. The school system gets out of wack with the Apostolics not participating in sports, music, and such. Wish I knew more, it would be nice if they just came out and told you "This is what we belive, This is how we do it" :)

Anonymous said...

Hello. I really find your site so interesting to hear your views, the views of former OALC's as well as current members. I have never felt the need to write a post until now. It may sound dumb to most but my family has a pet duck. He was like a dog to our family, followed everyone and truly loved people with such a passion. It's hard to explain because he was a duck, but to our family he was a gift that brought such joy. The other day he wandered off. We have neighbors who are OALC's and the kids ranged somewhere from 6-11 decided that they wanted to take our family pet and brutally beat him to death with some sticks. It sickens my entire family that anyone could do such a thing. Maybe it's just a case of a bad egg, but I recall growing up and hearing stories on the bus of the OALC kids boasting about putting cats in the microwave and watching them die. Is this something that is promoted in the OALC church? It has been heavily weighing on my heart and just feel I need to know the answers. I can understand killing animals for food and such, but really just for fun? Or is this just a case of a coincidence that these instances happened to be by members of the OALC church. Thank you.

tiffany said...

I should start by saying I am a member of the OALC. Have been most my life. All but about a year in my teens. And during that year my friends that I had still talked to me and treated me the same. Well mostly. I could tell they wished I would come back. Which I did.
My brothers friends lined up a bunch of kittens buried them up to their necks and then ran them over with the lawn mower. For two reasons. They needed to get rid of the kittens. And because they thought that it would be cool. I blame it on the lack of entertainment. We can't do after school activities. No tv. No hanging out with friends from school. Really all we have is books. Toys. Dirt. And our own imagination. Young kids and teens are pretty much left on their own by the parents. Most likly because mommas popin out another baby soon or has one attached to her tit. And daddy is probably staying at work for as long as he can or hiding out in the garage. Like most of you said, it is very cultish. But I do belive that it is the truth. I personally have three small children. Ages 4. 2 1/2. And 14 months. I got an IUD put in (birthcontrol method) and it breaks my husbands heart. He wants a bus load of kids. And sure he might be a big help and a unusally good father to the kids but I'm the one that has to deal with them day in and day out. Plus I have seen how so many other familys keep building and building. Do they still see each kid as he is or do they just see another mouth to feed and body to dress. To me my children are very special and I don't want to have to give up the special time I have with each one. I want to experiance them in their indaviduality. That's one reason why most OAL teens don't do well in school. Cause momma has too manny kids to spend qualituy time with each one. Either helping with homework or teaching moral. All they spend their time doing is telling them what they can't do. And putting them to work. Or else sending them off to play. The church needs to get with the times and get back to reality.
Someone said they wanted to know what it is that we believ. Well I can do my best in telling you why we can't do certain things and why we do others.
TV:it has too many things about lieing, cheating, cussing,swearing,and killing. All that is wrong. Conclusion:the tv itself is not a sin but what is shown is sinful which creats a sinful lust. Makeing it wrong to watch those certain things on tv.
Music: music makes you happy. Makes you want to dance. Dancing puts you close to others bodies. Lustful thoughts come from that and sex comes shortly after. Sex befor marrage is sin. Conclusion: music is not a sin. The feelings and actions it can cause are. But nowdays they have songs that any of you that are reading this know that they are sinful. Jewlery: don't ask me. I have no idea. Internet: do I even have to say it? All of you know what's on the internet. But that doent make it wrong. How you use it can be wrong. But haveing it and useing it for work ar school or reserch things like that. Perfectly fine. Here's a new one that will make you all laugh. HighHeels: I for one love them. But they bring attention to your legs. Make you walk very sexyly and therefore make the guys lust after any woman with fasion sense. Lol. Wearing scarves during church sevice: the bible says for the women to cover their heads in the presence of the lord. Or under the word of God. I'm not sure exactly but something to that affect.
Anyway there are so many things they say we should not do. And most people think that means that they are a sin. Not true. Anything can become a sin for anybody. It depends on how you use it or how it makes you feel. So tv music heels. Not a sin to have. But how you use them and how they make you feel makes them wrong. Make sense?

tiffany said...

I forgot to mention a few things. There are those of us that are active members of the OALC that are shunned by the others. One lady I know loves crosses and things printed with scriptures. She has very few friends. Her children and even her brothers and sisters think she is strange. There are those that choose to make friends with non members at school and therefore are shunned by all the other members. I went through all my years of school without once sitting or hanging out with anyone from church when I didn't feel looked down upon. I had only friends with non members and that was fine with me. But all the others sneered at me and openly talked about me. And strangly enough things don't change when you get married and have kids. Now if you don't agree and think the exact way the preachers say to then your weird and not good enough to hang out with the others. I have lived where I am for three years now and there are only about twenty others that live here and out of all I have had only three familys come over. I hear from my sister how the other ladys hang out all the time. They are always going over to eachothers house. Well not to mine. There are only three women that have called me. And one of them is my sister. Well not all of us are judgemental hyprocritical pricks. Some of us belive that it is God that is the judge and not only if you come to OUR church that your saved. Some of us belive that no matter what race religion or money status we are all equals and have the same chances of making it to heaven as the next. Just because we belive that we are the one and only true living faith does not mean that the next person does not belive the same thing about his religion. Plus who really knows? Did God wisper down to someone saying that if you belive the way that the OALC belives that you will be saved. Anything else you condemed to hell fire. No I don't think he did. None of us really knw. We can only do our best to be obideant and faithful to the lord and belive what feels right to the idavidual. I don't think it has to do with what building or what preacher or what church/group belife. I think it has to do with you and what you make of your belife. We all are different. And we all think different. I think the only persont that can tell us what the truth really is, is our self.

Anonymous said...

Hey Matt, good to see this and great to hear you're doing well. Thanks for the blog. It's comforting to those of us who have left the church. All my children have left as well. It's not easy to do so, however and it's nice to see your work. Thanks again,
Char Jolma

Matt Perkins said...

Hey Char,
Thanks for stopping by! I have good memories of growing up around your kids. Brandon was in my same year of school. I was in ASB with Heather when I was in middle school and I went to an after-school tutoring program with one of your younger daughters. One of my younger brothers was friends with Jude. Hope all is well with you and your family.
Matt

Anonymous said...

Thank you for researching and trying to unravel the mysteries of OALC. I am a former member who was born into the Canadian faction and I have countless relatives at the Battleground church. Some of the social problems like sexual abuse and shunning you are describing are a symptom of colonization often seen among Indiginous groups. The OALC church is a Sami church, but most OALC members do not relaize it. They have no idea many memebers are of Sami descent and were successfully colonized by the Swedish government, since they are totally socially and culturally isolated.

I would like to testify child sexual abuse, emotional and physical abuse, lack of support for traditonal education, discourging reading the bible for oneself, shunning, and many other colonization related behaviours exist in the OALC. It is important for the legacy of abuse and isolation to be acknowldeged, so I am speaking up here. All the things I listed above happened to me.

I have come to understand the sociopolitcal roots of the OALC and its admixture of Luthernism with Sami Shamanism to understand it strangeness and lack of Christ centerd doctrine. With thorough research of Sami history, Laestadianism, Lappish mythology, and Indigenous colonization I have learned lateral violence and segregation in OALC is a symptom of colonial expansion popular in history. Undertanding the social and politcal history of the Sami has helped me come to terms with it, and cherish Jesus Christ over the men who used him to expand the wealth and power of governments and rob people like me of my Sami identity.

Anonymous said...

The Clark County Major Crimes Division is investigation Child Moloestation in the OALC. If you have any info. please call 3603972028

Anonymous said...

thank you for posting this article..my family is in the OALC(Old Apostolic Lutheran Church) and I believed in it until I was 18. I used to love going to meetings and bonding with all of the other kids and I actually felt like I was close to god. After confirmation when I was 15 all my friends and family that were my age in OALC began getting married and having children. Many of them were only 16 years old. After they were married they did not talk or hang out with me anymore. When I needed advice I would seek it from other OALC goers that I felt close to. They would advise me to seek advice from the preachers instead so I could receive blessing in my actions. I asked a preacher who was also my cousin if I could go to college. He advised me NOT to go to college because there is too much partying and I might get caught up in sin. He said that his daughter has gotten married and had children instead of going to school and she is perfectly happy so therefor that is what I should do. Well, I didn't like his answer so I went to my other cousin who was a preacher in a different locality. Not only did he tell me college was discouraged but that it was a sin for me to dance and play music, which I somewhat already knew just honestly thought they would say it was ok for me to do it. I loved the piano and I couldn't fathom what type of sin could come from that? I realized shortly thereafter that no matter who I seek advice from they were all going to give me the same answers. I did end up going to college and continued playing piano and dancing. The church is nothing but a bunch of brainwashed individuals being told how to run their lives by men with no credibility whatsoever. It was very hard for me when I realized that everything I believed in so strongly was a lie. I felt like I was going to hell for awhile until I kind of just decided I didn't believe in God or hell anymore. I don't trust any religion and probably won't ever be apart of another one. The OALC was it for me. The reason they have so many kids is because they believe birth control is a sin. I just want my family to be happy and if they are happy in the OALC then good for them. To each their own. I live a very fulfilling life outside the OALC and I believe as time goes on more and more people in the OALC will start following their own brains instead of the preachers in that church. Any decision my sister and brother in law want to make they have to consult a preacher first. Many of the kids raised in the OALC are respectful Christians but most of them will not hesitate to point out others sins. Like when I wear a necklace. I know for a fact OALC kids harass other kids at school about their beliefs as well. They often lack attention from their parents because they have so many siblings they strive for attention any which way they can. People in the church will come on here and defend everything that is said but that is because they are BRAINWASHED. I was too, and half my family still is. I wish we could all just be family and get along. But honestly they want nothing to do with me.

Jane Hendrickson said...

Matt, you have done an excellent job explaining the theology of the OALC. It is very difficult to nail it down because it is not in written form. You brought out the conflict in the belief system: does the church teach that you are saved by grace, or does it teach that you are saved by confessing your sins to other believers? In theory it says grace, in practice it says confession. I had the impression that if one does not follow the ritual of confession (called forgiveness of sins or repentance) one was not destined for paradise. If someone from the outside "made repentance" (asked for sins forgiven from the congregation) they became a christian. As I write this it occurs to me that calling confession repentance leads to confusion all by itself. Every time an OALC person reads the word repentance in the bible they may think it means confessing ones sins to another believer when the word has a different meaning to the rest of the population.

Anonymous said...

I must say this was interesting to read. I am not a member of the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church and have never been, however, I have been i close contact to it. I must point out that the OAL in Battle Ground (which are the ones I have met) differ from the ones i Sweden in many ways. If you tell them about it they don't listen and say that the believes are the same! Old apostolic Lutherans in Sweden avoid doing mostly the same things as the one i the US, but they don't like the reasons they have for it over there. I talket to a swedish member just a few weeks ago before leaving Sweden for a wedding in Battle Ground. She said that she thought their weddigs were so boring and the she went on about telling me that they have so many do and don't. She says that she does not have a tv at home because it makes her feel better on the other hand she goes to work (despite having 7 kids) and wear jeans, because it makes her feel better. I get the impression that mostly it is not that way in Battle Ground.

Something that really bugs me is the ignorance by most members. We were at a gathering just before the wedding and the girls started talking about this woman from the"outside" that had been at an other wedding and asked a lot of questions such as, "why do you have your hair up?", "can you cut it?" "Why do you wear skirts?" and so on. It really made me sad to hear these grown up women talk about how her questions annoyed them. "She asked why we wear skirts, what should I answer, I mean, I don't know why we wear skirt, do you?" They should appreciate her questions as it makes them start wondering and look things up.

I read a post about kids running over kittens beacause they have nothing to do in their free time and no parents to look after them. At the wedding I was at we saw 7 year old boys smoking!!! Without noone really really telling them that was wrong. When you "come from the world" as they sometimes referes to it, that just makes you really confused since you know they can't go to a movie thetare, watch tv, go on the internet etc, but smoking is generally accepted..

Although I am not a member I always feel like one when I am in Battle Ground, they all treat me so nicley, I have nothing bad to say about them in person. As a non-member I do not feel shamed. Sometimes I do feel that they are trying to save me, but how could you feel bad about people trying to make you go to heaven?

Steve said...

A very good article, about sums it up. I'm only 21 and never heard of child abuse, but I've gotten strange feelings from many of the people. I went to "the church" until I was about 19 and I must say that I never really felt it was a big deal, although I was brainwashed into believing it was the "only church" ect. Three other family members of mine have also left "the church", but none of them played any kind of a role in my decision, which most "members" wouldn't believe if I told them. I left because God has been calling me, and salvation within that church is almost impossible. It is more empty than anything, although highly legalistic. Even so, much of what the "preachers" advise would actually be recommendable, in my opinion. The media on TV is filled with lies and unmoral behavior. Sports do tend to make a person prideful, (although I am sure it is not always the case). Modern mainstream music is trance inducing, hypnotic and full of occultic, anti-christian and unmoral themes. Ironically, the cheesiest, most highly hypnotic pop music seems to be the music of choice for apostolic teens (although they are told not to listen to it, of course it makes doing just that more desirable to a teen). Evangilizing to apostolics is almost impossible due to the perpetual fear underwhich they live. They are more afraid of their peers than God (which they will deny for the same reason), although many are waking during these last times, praise God. I have no doubt that there are christians within "the church", but they are ignorant of their own faith. I can definately see how leaving the "church" could bring pain and sorrow for most people, but personally, human pain and sorrow is meaningless compared to the the abundance of God's grace. To those who have left, seek God and He will wipe your tears away. Also, never use your past as an excuse for your problems. There have been ex-satanists who have turned to Christ at the penalty of death. Christ Himself should be more than adequate to fulfill your needs. Rejoice that you have seen through the lies and have found the truth. Mainly, do not waste to much time brooding upon the problems in "the church". I understand many have family members who still attend "the church", but remember what Christ said, "whosoever hears the word of God and obeys it, the same is my mother, brother and sister." There are much bigger things to worry about.

Anonymous said...

I have a young friend who married into ALC. She has 4 children, the birth of her last nearly killed her. Her husband's family rule their lives and he will not stand up for her. He will not allow birth control though another birth could kill her. She is severely depressed but the ALC condones medication and treatment for depression. She has no family of her own, no job and no money. She wants to leave ALC and her husband but is scared of losing her children. Does anyone know of any lawyers who have helped women in her situation? I worry for her sanity and her life.

Brianna said...

I think it's really sad that you get people commenting on here saying that this article is completely false and that stuff a person might find on the internet about this church is false as well. Everything I have found on the internet about this church has been shown to be 100% true, and the reason why I know that is because one of my best friends is a member of this church. OALC is more of a cult than it is a religion.

Anonymous said...

Hello Matt,

Wow, interesting read; thank you. I found your site while researching the OALC. While you claim to have never met an OAL you did not like, I have not met one I do. My neighbors are OAL and I cannot think of one nice thing to say about them.

Their 13 children run wild, with little or no supervision. The are allowed to run around half naked in the Winter. They frequently kill small animals, vandalize our property, and are rude to my family, even though we have been nothing but kind and given them gifts. They are never apologetic for their actions. They have lied on numerous occasions. Our other neighbors do not care for them either.

On one occasion I patronized a store owned by an OAL family and they tried to charge me four times more than the going rate. On another occasion, when one of them did something illegal, another church member refused to testify against them. I have found the church’s members to be nothing more than an odd cult, who treat outsiders with disdain and malice.

I wish you the best, and thank you for the opportunity to post.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I have some experience with the oalc, I married into it and have a daughter now who has to deal with it. I ended up divorcing when my daughter was still a baby. She is now 5 years old and is being pressured by my ex husband and family. They have told her that tv is a sin, that she can't wear necklaces, or makeup, that music is a sin....and it goes on and on. I had to move out of the area cause I refused to have my daughter deal with peer pressure from them at school as well as on her visits with her father. I have heard parents of the OALC ask there kids after the first day of school if they had any other Christians in their class, and sadly the kids will reply with 'no' or list off a few names of their cousins. They are brainwashed at a very young age. I am deeply saddened and worried for my daughter and the mess she has to deal with because of this. Also, I must say they have an overall feeling of being above the law because they are protected from the church community. They go to the elders first and foremost, not to law enforcement and many serious stuff is swept under the rug. I have heard stories of child abuse, and from what I noticed, the suspected families were kinda outsiders in the church, but also protected. I believe it is out of fear of creating a bad image or because they are in denial...who knows. I do know that it probably creates a sense of empowerment for the ones getting away with it. I must say that before I married into the church I thought most were very nice people, I really believe they mean well and have been brainwashed. We need to show them compassion cause quite frankly they feel empowered by other people disliking them. The best thing you can do for them is show them love...they won't know what to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Hello Matt, Can you or someone please tell me the difference between the OALC and the Independent Apostolic Luthern Church? I had a friend who belonged to the OALC... one day he called me up and told me - out of the blue - that he could no longer be my friend because I didn't go to his church. He said that he was getting rid of all the bad influences in his life - movies, music, tv, books... and was only going to be friends with his fellow true christians. This really hurt me for years especially since he was saying that I was a bad person because I didn't go to his church. I never did anything wrong. However, I have another friend that belongs to the Independent Aposotolic Lutheran Church - for the most part it seems that she can still be my friend, but has said that most people from her church tend to be friends with other church members only. She can watch TV, Movies, Read books etc... So i'm wondering what the main differences between these churches are? Does the Independent church also believe that non-members are going to hell and that their church is the only one? My friend doesn't seem to like to talk about her beliefs openly... so i don't ask... thanks! I would love a response!

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if Matt has any familiarity with the Independent Apostolic Lutheran Church (IALC) and since I was a member of this church from birth until just recently, I could probably fill you in. People from the IALC are not nearly as extreme as the OALC, but they do tend to stick together. And yes, they do tend to stick together. However, as far as friendships go, it is possible to have a meaningful life-long friendship with someone from this church. (You may feel close to them, but don't be surprised if they don't invite you to be an attendant in their wedding or something like that). They prefer to reserve their closest friendships with those inside their church. And yes, they are not banned from TV, movies, or wearing contemporary clothing including earrings, make-up or jewelry. They will not try to convert you to their religion but if you ask, they will invite you to services. They won't pressure you to go. Some do believe they are the only chosen ones, but its probably not 100%, but they are reluctant to attend other churches because they're afraid of gettiing mixed in with what they consider false doctrine. Even though I was born and raised in the church, I was never fully accepted there, probably because I had many "worldly" friends and did not accept the doctrine of exclusivity.

Matt Perkins said...

Thank you Anonymous Poster from May 9th for answering with info about the IALC. It is a denomination I don't know much about. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt. I think you have captured at lot of problems with the Old Apstolic Lutherans very well. And I find that all the comments on the church for "ex-lestadianere" is correct.

Myself grew up in this church and was at the age of 21 in a way frocen out. It was because I love the Bible, and protested against unbiblical teachings. I think the main problem whit the Old Apostolic Lutherans teachings is that they have a doctrine that says that what a preacher says in a sermon is above even what the the Bible says/teaches. In a meeting in Malm in 1994 i asked the elders, that was attending from Gellivare, if they confirmed that if a preacher says something contradictionary to the Bible - the word of the precher is above the Bible. To my surprise they confirmed clearly and unanimously to none protest form other than this young girl.


The chruch put the elders/preachers so high up, above everything - even the Bible. They have as I see it really made "the elders in Gellivare" their "Gods". This false and unbiblical doctrine is what slowly has turned the Old Apostolic Lutherans from a living church into a sect with a practice around it that also must be considered idolatry?

What many see and react to is that the elders of The old Apostolic Lutherans have also made up a lot of addititional sins to the Bible. (ties, jewlery, listening to mucis, alkohol, cut the split ends of your hair, TV, mission and may more). This is in order for the congregatinon to always feel sinnful and have resons for confession and absolution. And as the members says; "it feels so good to be sinful", because then they can have an emotional outburst and be forgiven on sundays. Al of this emotional confession, crying and hugging holds them together and creates reallys strong bonds. Confession is in this context is an emotional culture rather than a true deep sense of sin. They do not really repent for "the real sins in their lives", but they repent for not following the "tradition".

I think confessing sins and getting the absolution is an beautiful act and culture. But if what you repent is not following a culture rather then real sins in your life, then this absolution is not all that it seems to be.

There is still a lot of "lestadianere" that is deeply christians. Unlike what the old Apostolic Lutherans teaches we do not have to get all the Theology
right. Jesus is a matter of the hart. Many are just belivers longing fore beeing close to God and experiense him. To bad they have such a bad leadership whit so much false teaching.

Matt Perkins said...

Hello Anonymous poster from May 23rd,

Thank you for the interesting story and comment. God bless you!

Anonymous said...

Agree. . Well more or less. .I think what's left unsaid on the internet is amongst the OALC brethren is much truth but a lot of what the world sees and feels is cultural masks that come with the delivery of Gods word mostly due to the fact ...hello these are human flesh and blood too. There are those that continue in the reader form inside the OALC that will dispell the assumed myth to casual folks about "exclusivity" with "other sheep "I" have which are not of this fold. There is a lot more that if you listen you will hear how ones own mind can make lazy assumptions about why the confession and absolution. Thanks to the Anglican for actually clarifying that. The readers try to set this straight to the unquestioning OALC folks too. There is nowhere explicitly said not to question stuff. This is contrary to the understanding taught there. Thank you all. (I left for selfish reasons that had nothing to do with the church)

Anonymous said...

"How dare you" .... you sound like a prideful Scandinavian American OALC mom forcing her children to make (force themselves on) "real friends" at church. These vain women is the reason why people think "shunning" occurs. The gathering is for the great nourishing discussions but of course the salmon dip on hard tack with smoked weinies is delicious too. Be in good cheer my friend.

Anonymous said...

That is just terrible! I noticed the cruelty to animals also- mostly from the boys. I am a member but am a civilized one. Most parents don't teach their kids manners, social skills, or the value of animals. NOTHING makes me more angry than the cruelty to animals and children though. There are definitely some things that parents need to start working on. And yes, there are a few molesters in the church but everyone thinks it will ruin the perpetrator's Christianity if it is made known and do not want to be labeled as a gossip so then there are more victims as a result because parents don't know that they are sending their kids to a pervert's house to play, etc. This is just starting to change and people are becoming aware that it happens and sometimes by those you wouldn't suspect. Most of the members are not molesters but most of us are very naive. Also, charges have been pressed and the preachers encourage it. There was some confusion for a few years due to a molester brainwashing his kids that it would be a sin to bring it up now that it has been forgiven and made them tell the police this. This is a big lie on his part for his own protection and I have heard others say this too And it is a misconception. Charges will be pressed and you can ask forgiveness all you want but you will still have to legally face the consequences. Names those who have done this are getting around. People will know who has these issues and this needs to stop!

Anonymous said...

Matt,

It seems there are some misconceptions about OALC. I am good friends with a girl who is a member. She has told me that the church is a "hospital" for sinners. It seems they all feel themselves to be sinful. I have attended some services, and the preachers and attendees have been very warm and welcoming. They ask for forgiveness from one another, because Jesus lives within them, and God, through the death of Lord Jesus, has forgiven them already but sometimes feel their sinfulness and need to be reminded that Jesus died for their sins.They say the Lord's Prayer before bed and throughout the day, often times silently. I don't know much, but they are wonderful people.

Unknown said...

I am a member of the OALC of Spearfish, SD. The opinions of some commentors as well as the author that we don't use or read from the bible are false. We believe faith comes from hearing the true spoken word of God and the teachings and redemptive word of our lord Jesus Christ. Laestadius' sermons are preached along side a text out the the bible, usually from the new testament, and our preachers continue that tradition. There are many falsehoods found in this blog. As the author is not a member himself and is quoting from ex members who are undoubtedly biased towards our church, this blog does not reflect the true expierences of our faith. I would also caution that providing false doctrine, whether intentional or not, is a serious matter and one that should lay heavy on your heart. Lastly I would like to say that as far as salvation goes, Jesus had to come to this sin cursed earth to save me from the depths of hell. He had to suffer so much, in the garden of Gethsemane, that he sweat drops of blood. And then was finally crucified on the hill of Golgotha. He had to do this all to redeem my soul because of my sins. Once God awakens you to your sins and you can believe upon our lord Jesus Christ, all that God requires is a penitent and contrite heart. Its not enough to only feel this, one must make an outward repentance. That is why we confess to our preachers or older ones, that the congregation has confidence in, so that they can give counsel on how to try to make right the wrongs we have done. This is the true and only way to Heaven.

anon said...

Oh my word! I am a lifelong member of OALC and I cannot believe the trash and untruths written in this blog about our church. To the former members, I feel sorry for you to have spoken so bitterly against the doctrine and teachings you learned while coming. The hatefulness, nonsense and untruths you have posted are so much tripe! The ugliest and most untrue statement is about our preachers and sexual abuse!!! That is really low of anyone who would say and/or believe anything so vile! Shame on all who even hinted at such a thing! If you would come with an open mind and heart perhaps God would give you the grace to believe. How can anyone even make up the story that we shouldn't read the bible when alone? Or pray only in church? Or condone anyone misbehaving in the troubling things that some of you mentioned. Do you think any of us think that is ok? Of course there are things that happen that shouldn't but we don't claim to be perfect. If we were Jesus wouldn't have had to die on the cross for my and your sins. So before any of you tell anymore lies about us and call us a cult etc. come and see for yourselves the peace we experience. It makes me so sad to think of the stories out there in print to float around the world and we have no defence for ourselves. What is written in the previous comment is completely true