Conservative Swedish theologian made bishop in Latvia

The Baltic republics, geographically and culturally, are almost Scandinavian.  Now that a national Lutheran church–that of Latvia–has gone confessional, that affects its theologically liberal neighbors.

A Swedish theologians whom the state church refused to ordain because he doesn’t believe that women should be made pastors, has been made a bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, which has come around to that same conviction.  His story, detailed after the jump, shows how various organizations–including one started by novelist Bo Giertz–are keeping orthodox Lutheranism alive in those northern climes. [Read more…]

When a bishop does not believe the Creed

The land of Gustavus Adolphus, who gave his life defending the Lutheran confessions, has chosen a new archbishop who denies that Christ was born of a virgin, rejects the existence of Hell, says that the Bible is not true, believes all religions are equally valid, but has a soft spot in her heart for Islam, refusing to say whether Jesus or Mohammed best reveals the nature of God.

A cry from the heart by a Swedish Christian after the jump.  But I’m curious.  It would seem that this archbishop cannot say the Apostle’s Creed, at least the part that says “I believe. . .in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” When she presides at a service, is she silent when that part of the creed comes up?  Or does she say “I believe” when she doesn’t believe?  I have the same question about other unbelieving ministers and laypeople.  We can see how the liturgy preserves orthodoxy even when those who lead it are not orthodox.  But it would seem that those who reject what the creed affirms and yet join in the confession of the historic church are surely perjuring themselves.   [Read more…]

The ultimate persecution

I was at the Congress on the Lutheran Confessions in Minneapolis last week, giving a paper on how those confessions teach the doctrine of vocation. I had to zip in and out, missing most of the conference (though it did prevent me from posting anything on Friday). Still, I did get to hear a paper by Rev. Fredrik Sidenvall of Gothenburg, Sweden, entitled “Confessing the Faith in an anti-Christian Culture.” It was about the woeful state of Christianity in Sweden, in society but more importantly in the state church. Rev. Sidenvall is involved in the confessional underground in that country. He actually didn’t make it to Minnesota, his flight being grounded by that Icelandic volcano! Still, his paper was read for him, and I got a lot out of it. I’ll be posting samples of what he said.

Early in his paper, he said that even worse than living as a Christian in an anti-Christian culture is living in a culture where Christianity is tolerated. He cited a quotation from Luther: “No persecution is the ultimate persecution.”

Why is that so?

Sweden skis down the slippery slope to gay marriage

Setting up legalized domestic partnerships for homosexual couples is a better option to gay marriage, isn’t it? And churches might bless gay commitments without buying into gay marriage, can’t they? Well, Sweden is turning domestic partnerships into marriages. And the state church of Sweden, Lutheran though it is, has voted to take the next step from gay blessings to gay weddings:

A majority of the Church of Sweden's general synod meeting in Uppsala decided on October 22 to allow same-sex weddings in church from November 1, six months after the state changed the law on marriage to encompass homosexual people.

Before the marriage law was changed, homosexual couples in Sweden could enter into registered partnerships, a possibility that has now been replaced by marriage. The Church of Sweden will now apply to the state to conduct legally recognized marriages under the new regulations.

Speaking to Swedish Radio, Bishop Martin Lind from Linköping who supported the general synod's decision noted that discussions that led to the vote had begun much earlier and led to the blessing of homosexual partnerships in Sweden some years ago.

"When we said yes to life-long homosexual love we said yes to the decisive part of it all. What is happening now is primarily a question of terminology: Can this also be called marriage?" he said.