Translation: Matthew Keränen and Jouko Haapsaari
There have been many discussions with the goal of resolving disagreements that have emerged in North American Christianity.
In some LLC (Laestadian Lutheran Church) congregations there has been tension and contradictions for some time. There has been differing information and perceptions about the congregations’ situation and the topics of disagreements, which in turn have made it difficult to understand and gain a sense of the overall situation.
The SRK (Suomen Rauhanyhdistysten Keskusyhdistys—the central organization of Conservative Laestadians in Finland) has been informed of the internal difficulties in North American Christianity in joint meetings between the sister organizations and in discussions held via remote connections. An abundance of information and contacts about the situation in North America has also reached Finland other than through the LLC.
Discussions to Resolve the Situation
In meetings between the SRK and LLC, it has been noted that God’s Spirt unites those that believe the same way across national borders. According to meeting participants, in discussions between the central organizations, they have experienced the unity of God’s Spirit, the same understanding of faith, and mutual love. According to the SRK representatives who took part in the discussions, no differences in opinion or understanding of doctrinal issues or any other matter have emerged in the discussions.
The SRK has sought via these discussions to offer help in caring for the situation in North America. In doing so, it has been noted that the disagreements and arguments at hand particularly concern North American Christianity and LLC congregations. It has been stated in these discussions that no one has a higher position than others in matters of faith. It has also been noted that no one has the understanding or skill to appoint themselves the one to decide who is right or wrong when a conflict arises. Only God sees into a person’s heart and is the ultimate judge. Mutual faith and the Holy Spirit that dwells in a believer create true unity between believers. The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of truth, which leads matters among believers in both Finland and America. Love and mutual unity are broken above all by sin.
Encouragement to Watch in Faith
In addition to the communication between the central organizations, there have been many spiritual discussions on a personal level as well. Thus also here in Finland it has been possible to hear a variety of experiences and perspectives on the conflict situation. Those involved in the discussions say that in the discussions there has been encouragement to watch in one’s faith personally and to pray to God for a merciful mind as well as the humility and patience that arise from faith.
Believers in Finland and North America communicate with each other in many ways. In addition to individuals staying in contact with one another, the central organizations SRK and LLC are in regular contact with each other. Cooperation in areas of work in Christianity occurs, for example, in mission work and in communications. One of the main topics in our communication has always been the discussion of faith matters, including both doctrinal issues and also questions of living as a Christian.
Valde Palola has been involved in the work between SRK and its sister organizations for a long time.
Communication between Sister Organizations
Valde Palola is currently the acting Chairman of SRK’s Board of Directors. He has been involved in the work between SRK and its sister organizations for a long time. He has also been involved in communication between SRK and LLC.
– The central organization and its sister organizations have regularly scheduled cooperation meetings as well as other meetings that may be required by current affairs. We meet every other year as three sister organizations, SRK, LLC and SFC (Sveriges Fridsföreningars Centralorganisation—Central Organization of Sweden’s Associations of Peace), for a meeting of administration and office representatives that lasts several days. At these meetings we discuss current issues and issues related to our cooperation agreement, such as those related to foreign mission work.
The sister organizations have done foreign mission work together for years in, e.g. Africa and South America.
– For this purpose we have a written cooperation document which is updated at our meetings. At these meetings it is also customary to have spiritual discussions based on an agreed theme.
Palola says that in current, practical matters, our offices are in contact with each other as necessary.
– When the need arises, we arrange administrative meetings remotely, in which we inform one another of current issues. In these meetings, the discussion focuses on spiritual matters. There have been several such meetings in recent years.
Difficult Issues to Address
In recent years, North American believers have encountered difficult matters in their midst, such as the breaking of unity between believers. Palola has participated in discussions between the SRK and LLC on this topic.
– As I previously mentioned, we also discuss spiritual issues during the meetings. Especially in recent years we have had a wide-ranging discussion about these difficult matters that have arisen among American believers.
Palola has felt that there has been an open and respectful atmosphere in the discussions.
– We have had much discussion on doctrinal issues and on those contradictions that have arisen among American believers in recent years. In these discussions we have been able to see that we have a common understanding in the doctrinal matters as well as regarding the current situation.
An Open and Confidential Connection
– I am glad that between us there is an open and brotherly relationship based on trust. We have been able to discuss even those difficult matters directly and openly. I have noticed how the LLC brothers have wished to face these difficult matters with the mind of Christ.
Palola has been left with positive impressions from the discussions.
– It has been remarkable how patiently and with prayers for God’s help they have conducted discussions about the controversies with various parties. I have also experienced that throughout this time the brothers have prayed from the heart that love would be restored among believers and that all could be in the care of the good Shepherd. It has felt safe to see that there has been opportunity to discuss matters.
According to Palola, LLC and North American congregations have in recent years arranged numerous discussions and gatherings to resolve conflicts that have arisen. Material accrued from these gatherings, presentations and discussions has also been received in Finland.
– I have given a lot of thought to the issues that cause disagreement among American believers. In this situation I have not been able to avoid thinking how from the perspective of the history of Christianity, deep and longstanding contradictions between Christians have in essence always been rooted in doctrinal disagreements and, meanwhile, in questions of lifestyle that arise from the doctrinal issues. These have not always come to light while the situation prevails, but only later.
The core question, Palola describes, has always been one of how an individual Christian positions himself or herself in relation to God’s congregation.
– In situations of conflict, the focus of discussions might often shift among many other doctrinal questions, even such that there may not have been any visible doctrinal differences. The main basis of disagreement, nonetheless, has always been a differing view on the doctrine of the congregation. As questions go, this has always been a sensitive one because it means subjecting oneself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit instead of one’s own understanding.
The Holy Spirit Creates Mutual Love
Palola ponders this question also on a very personal level and says he wishes to approach it simply through faith, asking God for humility and wisdom.
– It is through faith, and only through faith, that I understand that when in my heart I endeavor to obey the voice of the Holy Spirit, then I also see the congregation of God as a golden candlestick. Then the Holy Spirit connects me with bonds of mutual, shared love to God’s congregation and I may live in the fellowship of grace and forgiveness in God’s kingdom. I think that God’s congregation is not a temporal organization, but rather it is the communion of saints, which is the children of God gathered into one flock by the Holy Spirit.
– I hope and pray that in the conflict that now exists in America, God is able to lead the matters the best way. The most important matter is that each person would endeavor to believe his or her sins forgiven and would thus rejoice in mutual faith and love and in unity of the Spirit.
Palola points out that faith is God’s gift and preserving it is the most precious matter.
– This is also taught by the Apostle Paul. He exhorted the young Timothy, for example, to keep faith and a good conscience, for the reward for that is eternal life with God in heaven.
Suomalaisia on pidetty niin kotimassa kuin ulkomailla rehellisinä ja luotettavina ihmisinä. Onko näin edelleen? Kaupan liitto teetti hiljattain ulkopuolisen selvityksen varkaushävikin suuruudesta vähittäiskaupassa. Samassa yhteydessä kartoitettiin varkaushävikin torjunnan aiheuttamia kustannuksia. Laskelmat tuottivat melkoisia lukemia: varastetun tavaran arvo on vuodessa puoli miljardia euroa. Toiset puoli miljardia euroa kaupoissa kuluu toimenpiteisiin, joilla näpistelyä ja varastamista yritetään estää. Kaupan alan toimijoiden mukaan varkaudet ovat olleet pidemmän aikaa kasvusuunnassa.
Kodin joulu -levyllä soivat ennen kuulemattomin toteutuksin monet perinteiset joululaulut.
Mihin syntien anteeksiantamus perustuu Raamatun mukaan? Kirjoittaja käy läpi Uuden testamentin anteeksiantamusta käsittelevät kohdat, joiden kautta avautuu monipuolinen ja selkeä kuva aiheesta.