Reflections of Bishop Risto Soramies on the Räsänen Controversy

19 July 2013

Bishop Risto Soramies

This whole controversy around Mrs. Räsänen's speech is a surprisingly vivid indication of the present atmosphere in the Nordic countries, especially in Finland. The CoF has long ago exchanged God's Word and the Lutheran Confession for the public opinion and zeitgeist. Until recently there was a notion of restraint in the reactions of the CoF whenever the public discussion had to do with classical Christian teachings. Under the present Archbishop Mäkinen, however, any such restraint has been left behind. Some bishops, notably the archbishop himself openly speak for same sex marriages or marriage-like cohabitation. Other bishops either utter ambiguities or say nothing. This is typical of the behavior in the CoF. Though privately some of the bishops have fairly conservative opinions, they do not dare to make them public, fearing controversy and, what seems to be the highest of ecclesiastical fears in our country, resignations of church membership, which immediately mean less revenue. Though the CoF is not officially a state Church (since 1922), its revenue is still collected by the Ministry of Finances.

Though the CoF has approximately 4 million members, only about 55,000 of them attend the morning service on a normal Sunday. Recently the president of the Lutheran Church of Ethiopia (Mekane Yesus) paid a visit to Finland. The CoF sends workers and funds to the Ethiopian Church, still pretending to be a bigger sister to the Ethiopians. In truth the Ethiopians have about 110 times more people in their divine services than the CoF.

To secure access to Divine services conducted according to the apostolic faith and order, confessional Lutherans have begun to found independent congregations everywhere in our country. This is important for us and especially for our children and grandchildren. The congregations are mostly small and the locations are few and far between. However God has blessed us with good, mostly young pastors and faithful members. We do not own church buildings — we rent from the Adventists and the Orthodox — but the congregations are able to finance themselves, with the smaller ones being assisted by the stronger ones. We pray that the Lord Jesus Christ could say of us: "I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name."

+Risto Soramies
The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese in Finland