Monday, September 29, 2008

Bless without blessing - the Finnish innovation!

The consistory of the diocese of Espoo, with its bishop Heikka, has issued a resolution concerning blessing of the same-sex "registered relationship", conducted by Provost Liisa Tuovinen (see previous posts). The resolution is, again, surprisingly imaginative in its formulation.

As is known, the Evangelical-Lutheran (or ex-Lutheran!) Church of Finland does not have in its agenda an accepted form for blessing of the same-sex relationships. Therefore a pastor conducting such a blessing could be accused of misconduct in his (usually her) office. On this basis, numerous complaints were filed of Tuovinen, after the media reported her blessing same-sex relationship(s) this summer.

The main ecclesiastical (not Christian) newspaper Kotimaa in Finland reported the resolution by writing:

The consistory decreed that Tuovinen had acted according to the common resolutions of the church. According to consistory, Tuovinen conducted a devotion, and thus did not actually bless the same-sex relationship.

Tuovinen applied the rubric for devotional moment. Consistory stated, that by so doing, she acted in accordance to the church order, which states that everyone is entitled to soul care and prayer.

However, the consistory itself stated in their press release:

Tuovinen has performed her pastoral duties by praying for those who registered their relationship and by blessing them.

So the bottom line is: Tuovinen blessed these two women, yet she did not bless them. All charges discharged.

The question, which begs to be asked is: if she had in fact somehow BLESSED these couples, what would have been the crime? a) Blessing that which God himself does not bless or b) Blessing that, for which there is no official rubric in the ELCF agenda? It seems the b would have been correct, and that is the reason Tuovinen got away with this. There apparently is no theological problem in blessing same-sex relationships. The question is purely on the level of "do we have a suitable ritus for that?"

Blessing has thus been degraded and degenerated into a purely immanent action performed by the church. Personal, living, thinking and speaking God and his will is a total non-issue. No one in the consistory is actually interested about what God thinks about these blessings - or at least that can not be known. Thus it is not important whether one blesses or not - the important thing is whether one does it in the name of the church or not. I'm becoming more and more assured that the pre-reformation Papal hubris is making a good comeback in ELCF. With increasing speed, the church is taking the place which used to be reserved for God.

In a way, I find myself respecting even Provost Tuovinen more than these machiavellian, livid bureaucrats in the consistory. Tuovinen at least believes in what she does. She thinks it vitally important to bless homosexuals. Despite the fact that she is dead wrong, it would still seem that for her, "blessing" still has some meaning in it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Conclusion concerning the baptisms

The question about pastors ordained in the Mission Province conducting baptisms was hotly debated earlier this year, as you can read from my previous posts. With the latest statement from the bishops, the matter seems to have reached some kind of a verdict. According to the press release, the baptisms performed by Mission Province pastors are "against the church law and church order. " I can't disagree here, yet I would like to add that the persons issuing such verdicts also continuously break the same law and order by not adhering to the first momentum concerning the confessional basis of Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland.

However, such children are not excluded from church membership if their parents wish to join them into ELCF. The decision will be made by the local senior pastor. This is basically good news, since I think generally these pastors are okay with having even children baptized in this manner in their membership rosters. Bishops did, however, state that a ritual for joining the church should be conducted in these cases. This will leave possibility for mean-spirited pastors to bully parents by consciously choosing female pastor to conduct such ritual.

Bishops also stated that "Luther-foundation should not use children as instruments in church-politics." Such an accusation is hard to bear, albeit I guess it is the only way bishops can save face anymore. By allowing children to be accepted into church membership they can be seen to have given in to Luther-foundation's aggression. With statement like this, Bishops try to portray children as victims and their resolution as a merciful consent for the good of these little ones. The accusation of us using these children as pawns in some political game is low indeed. I am 100% certain that no pastor in Luther-foundation would have felt disappointed if the children would have been accepted into parish membership in the first place, with no publicity or opportunity for political prestige whatsoever.

It is commonly known, that traitor trusts no one, since he suspects all other to be like him. Our bishops are not shepherds, but politicians. Therefore they can not understand our positions, but instead consider us politicians too.

And, as a side-note: Archbishop Jukka Paarma commented also the question about church personnel living in same-sex relationships. According to Paarma, "Legislation allows people to register their relationships and the church does not have any weapons in this matter." Thus the case is concluded: gay and lesbian pastors living together do not pose a problem for the church - or at least this problem can not be addressed in any way. No doubt such question was raised after a Finnish tabloid told in August about two female pastors living together in same-sex relationship. Such cases already exist (that we know of) in four dioceses. The pastoral vow to live an examplary life apparently doesn't stand anymore or - which is more probable - the church has de facto concluded that homosexuality is okay.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pearls from the swine

I haven't updated here for some time because, well, there has not been much to update about. Now, however, three things have come up which could and should be made known to people in blogosphere.

First of all, a blessing of same-sex marriage has - again - taken place in Espoo, one of the cities in Helsinki metropolitan area. Provost Liisa Tuovinen conducted this ritual in 12th of July. I'm not exactly sure how, but soon after the media received information about this and the thing was made public. The Bishop of Espoo Diocese, Mikko Heikka, stated that "if someone raises a complaint, then the consistory will inspect the matter." Notable enough, the bishop was not active enough to start inspection on his own initiative - he wanted to wait for laity to react. This implies that the bishop himself would have been perfectly fine if the whole case was never brought up - an attitude which should not be a surprise for anyone who's been following his blog or columns. Actually, some laity filed a complaint about Heikka himself, on accord that such deliberate inactivity is unacceptable for bishop. Sadly, the jurisdiction in Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland simply does not recognize the possibility of actually punishing a bishop, and as such, the case for Heikka was closed. Tuovinen, however, is being inspected. The consistory postponed handling her case for later. I am pretty certain they will find a way to either minimalize the punishment or - which is more probable - to acquit her totally. It would seem that the consistories nowadays have employed writers and bureaucrats who leave even Machiavelli and Clinton's famous "it all depends on what 'is' is" -phrase in shame.

Blessing of same-sex marriages is not - yet - allowed in ELCF, but according to unofficial sources, they are already a common thing "behind closed doors".

Secondly, a pastor in Borgå Stift (a Swedish-speaking diocese in ELCF) is now being inspected by the police after showing a video from american pro-life site to some teenagers on his confirmation class. The consistory already handled his case, resulting in an official warning, but not actually punishing him in any other way. However, the bishop of Borgå Stift, in his interview, did not fail to remind readers that "the case may also be handled in the criminal court". Not many days after this statement, a report was made to local police authorities which are now inspecting the matter. The person filing the report was however in no way connected to the case. While it is not illegal in any way to oppose abortions, the video in question may be considered harmful for minors. I really can't say, since I haven't seen the video myself. I still have a feeling that had it been an anti-war -flick or a video against women abuse, we would not have heard as much as a whisper about it. As my host, Chris, said this morning: "It appears that teenagers should be allowed to have abortions, but not see, what it looks like."

It should be noted that the video was not shown publicly to the whole class, but only a few individuals who actually asked to see it. None of the parents of these teens have filed a complaint.

Finally, the shiniest pearl comes from the Diocese of Oulu, our northenmost diocese. Rev. Vesa Pöyhtäri is taking flak from his consistory because he consistently has refused to co-work with female clergy in the Divine Service. This has led into suspending him from office, the latest punishment being 6 months suspension.

All through this and similiar cases, a contradiction or at leas a tension between the constitution and the law about sexual discrimination has been discussed. Finnish Constitution states on religious freedom, that no one should be forced to practice religion against his/her consent. The defendees have pleaded, that as long as opposing women's ordination has not been considered heretical in ELCF, they should be protected by this paragraph - i.e. it is not legal to force them to conduct a service against their consciense, since the doctrine of ELCF doesn't consider their position to be a heresy.

I'm not an expert in matters of law, and can't really say whether this argument is sound or not. However, the way consistory of Oulu has replied, is really cracking me up. This is so good, I must actually translate it to you:

"The theological nature of the Divine Service/Mass must be noted. A pastor, when conducting the service, is not doing it in order to practice his religion, but in order to allow the parishioners an opportunity to practice their religion. The sermon or distribution of the sacrament is not "practicing religion" for the pastor. Participating in the singing of the hymns or receiving the Lord's Supper is, although none of these (singing or receiving the sacrament) is strictly necessary for the pastor. Pastor may therefore conduct the Divine Service without practicing his religion at all. [...] Therefore the argument from practicing one's religion can not be used to allow pastor to reject his assigned task."

So what they are saying is: when a pastor preaches or does the liturgy or distributes a sacrament, that is not a religious act for him, and can not be considered practising one's religion. Urgh. These guys have really out-done themselves this time! And these are not just lawyers, most of the people writing this stuff are pastors themselves. I wonder what do they think - if anything! - when doing the service!?

When I was a kid (in the early 90's) I remember how media used a then-new word which would translate as bread-pastor, meaning a pastor who does his job only for money, a pastor who doesn't have real conviction and zeal in his work. These bread-pastors were frowned upon then. It seems that in 10 years, the ideal of a great pastor has changed. Nowadays the best pastors are like bureaucrats and civil servants - wholly objective, official, without any religious enthusiasms which get in the way of their primary job: offering good service to secularized members of the church. Because, in the end, they are the ones that count. They bring the money in.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Stories from the Northern Country

I wrote a little overview of the Finnish situation for the CTS student's Cornerstone-publication. Since many of you might not get your hands on that print-product, I might as well publish the same article here. It's not a long article for print, but for blog entry it is quite humongous. Here it goes:

Stories from the Northern Country
- How a “peripheral question” shattered one church

A vision in Zachariah 6: 8 describes chariots pulled by black horses, going to “the Northern Country”. Some enthusiastic Finns have considered this to be a prophecy about Finland – of course. I’m not sure what sort of satanic wagons have been trafficking to and fro, but the last few years in Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church have witnessed a transition from absurd to abyssal. In the centre of it all is the question selected as the topic of this Cornerstone: the ordination of women. This brief essay does not actually go into the question itself, but tries to shed some light in the importance of the matter by sharing experiences from the church with 20 years of women pastors.

Argumentation and disagreement happens on two levels or two questions. First is the most obvious: “What is right/true in this matter?” This is usually the one we, as theologians are most comfortable with. However, pragmatically the “meta-level” question which both precedes and follows this is often more important. That is the question of importance, i.e. “How crucial it is to reach the truth in this matter?”

When the debate starts, it usually operates purely on the first level, the level of validity/falsity. However, if and when the debate is prolonged and especially if it “popularized”, i.e. ceases to be merely a professional theologians’ problem and becomes a hot potato for larger crowd, the second question, the meta-level question arises. It may be because some people experience a certain “battle fatigue” – even for matters they themselves are not demanded to ponder. It may be because the question receives much attention in the media – religious or secular. And, let’s face it: some people are either deliberately or unintentionally players: they know they cannot win an open field battle in the matter, so they try to avoid straightforward argumentation and go on working behind the scenes.

But let’s not be too cynical. Some people just do not feel comfortable with people actually disagreeing. As a child, I always hated when my dad and my uncle started discussing politics – they would not yell, but still raised their voices, used strong expressions and were generally quite intense. I felt very uncomfortable because I thought they were fighting. Only later on I’ve come to realize that they were probably having the time of their life! As pastors and teachers, this should be remembered too. Some people just don’t like debating and become anxious and weary if they face the harsh reality of heterodox world too often. Sometimes a shepherd should smack the wolves where little lambs can not see how ugly it can get.

A question now debated, the ordination of women, could be and has been rhetorically described as an insignificant detail in an already peripheral question about ministry and ordination. Rhetoric used would follow a strongly functionalistic line of thought. The Sweet Gospel would, of course, be “in the middle”. The means of grace – of course separated from the gospel itself – would then be on the next ring, maybe preceded by “The Bible”. Then, as a functionalistic necessity, God would have to establish some kind of organisation to spread the news, some sort of a divine pr-agency. We could call this “the Church”. The church, in this rhetorical framework, would of course be invisible by its nature, but just for practical reasons, it would have some actual visible activities - divine service, for example. In this service, it would be convenient to have some people specifically appointed to lead things, unless everything would become confused. These people we call pastors. Now – through this rhetoric, the whole question about ministry is really, really low in the food-chain of theological topics. And even more insignificant it gets when one asks whether women could be pastors too or not.

Needless to say, this sort of a description doesn’t really grasp what the Office of the Holy Ministry really is. Luke 10:16 is one of the many passages which opens a wholly new perspective: whoever hears you, hears me, says our Lord! How then could it be insignificant and peripheral who gets to represent the Lord himself?

Martin Luther, in his oft-quoted comparison described the doctrine as a golden ring. If you take out a piece – no matter how small – the ring is broken and is not ring anymore. I myself have compared doctrine to jello (not as refined a comparison, I admit). If you prod one corner, the whole jello jiggles. And yet another comparison, this one chiefly for the deaconesses: a ladder in a stocking. Once it starts, you can’t stop it.

The point is both is the same: the doctrine is a whole. You cannot tamper with one part of it and expect other parts to remain untouched. The question about women’s ordination is not just a question about ordination, it is also a part of a much larger question about human anthropology and sexuality. What does it mean to be created as man and woman? But the question is actually even more complex, since God’s Word links the human sexuality to both trinity, ecclesiology and even soteriology. The kehphalee-structure (head) used used to both describe a relation between male and female, but also intratrinitarian relationship between the Father and the Son (1. Cor. 11:3). The same kephale-imagery is also used to portray the saving work of Christ and the bond between him and his bride the church. “But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything.“(Eph. 5: 23, 24)

Now, if a Church rejects the Biblical view about the male-female –relation, it cannot retain the right understanding about trinity, ecclesiology or soteriology. The deliberate mistake made in one will lead into problems with the others.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland accepted women’s ordination in 1986, and the first priestesses were ordained two years later. When the fateful decision was made, opponents prophesied that the acceptance of homosexuality would be next. Majority of proponents jeered at such ludicrous speculations. “That will never happen, and these two things are by no means connected to each other!” was the common response. Now, as ELCF celebrates 20 years of female pastors, it can be clearly seen that the prophecy was indeed correct. Special gay-oriented “Rainbow masses” are held in many major cities. Even though the Church has not made official decision about the matter yet, many pastors bless same-sex relationships. The committee appointed to discuss the possibilities of same-sex marriages has used a truck-load of money and three years to ponder a question which should be quite clear in the first place!

Early 80’s saw a heated debate about the issue of women’s ordination in our church. One of the stupidest arguments for the novelty was that when accepted, women’s ordination would bring the people back to church and lead the ELCF into new prosperity and spiritual revival. Some actually believed that. However, the reality has shown dramatically decreasing church attendance and increasing outflow for the last two decades.

The introduction of heresy is usually progressive and starts with toleration. First, the novelty asks only to be allowed as a minority. As it gradually increases in popularity, it asks to be recognized as an equal alternative to the old belief. Mere asking changes into demands, and soon what started as a minority becomes a majority which, nevertheless still graciously allows some room for the old-fashioned orthodox. Finally, the heterodoxy takes over and the original, orthodox doctrine is declared heresy.

It is like a cuckoo laying its eggs in a host’s nest. When the little hatchling cuckoo grows, it steals the food meant for the legitimate nestlings. The nest will eventually become crowded and the smaller nestlings will be rolled over board. Orthodoxy and heterodoxy can not live side by side indefinitely. As long as orthodox arguments remain, they will pose a threat to the heterodox, no matter how strong a majority.

The ELCF’s decision of ordaining women was accompanied by a pious but problematic clausal stating that those not accepting the new resolution would still have room in the church and possibility to serve an pursue a career in holy office. The following twenty years, however, have proved that this can not be. The heterodox church simply can not bear to contain orthodox theologians. Therefore the last two years have been breathtakingly terrible in the ELCF. Pastors are publicly insulted, defrocked and sued into secular courts for simply holding the stance which was clearly allowed in the clausal of 1986 decision.

The passion play my friend went to see celebrated 20th year of women pastors by portraying Mary of Magdalene as the true apostle of Christ and the teacher of the early church. Secular authorities are asked to clarify whether it is legal or not for individual congregations to financially support overseas mission societies not adhering to the women’s ordination. Not to mention the whole mess with the baptisms described earlier in this blog.

The question which has been claimed to be a minor, peripheral question has become articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae – the doctrine on which the church either stands or falls. For the proponents, it seems, this novelty is more important than the unity and catholicity of the church. The church is splitting in its seams, losing both religious and secular credibility and jettisoning some of its best theologians, but all this is deemed bearable just so that the opposition could finally be silenced.

As a member of a church which has been ravaged by this “heresy of our time”, I want to make this thing absolutely clear: women’s ordination is not a peripheral question. It can not be handled as an isolated, minor detail. And if accepted, it is pure pious fantasy to think that the two mutually exclusive doctrines about creation and office could live in a peaceful co-existence. Indeed, it would be extremely naïve for anyone to think that LCMS or any of its partner-churches would be different from all the other church bodies in this sense.

A closing disclaimer note is in order. I made friends with some ladies during my years in University who have now either been ordained or are thinking about it. I see no reason for despising them, and actually we still have quite amiable relations. Opposing women’s ordination does not mean you must hate the ones proposing it. I like to think these friends of mine as victims of our Zeitgeist. When everyone around you is yelling that women’s ordination is “meet, right and salutary” it is no wonder that young people believe that. It takes a lot to end up going against the grain. It is purely God’s grace that I fell into right kind of company (or "bad company", depends on who you ask. I could have made a good career in ELCF, I'm sure - was it not for this issue.) and found faithful teachers who explained what the whole thing is about. I started my studies as a mild proponent of the women’s ordination and concluded them as staunch opponent. Maybe it could have been otherwise, God knows. Nevertheless, personal humility or loveable character mustn’t be excuses for closing our eyes from the theological reality. As theologians, we do not have that luxury.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Straight from the press...

Kuopio Diocese's resolution concerning the baptisms is also published. FELC Church-order states that "Rightly Baptized mustn't be baptized again." In its resolution, consistory states that the children baptised by rev. Väätäinen "are not rightly baptized".

This means that if the parents would want, they could ask FELC-pastors to rebaptize their children, and no ecclesiastical jurisdiction would be broken.

Therefore it must be concluded that the consistory considers babies already baptized to be in fact not-baptized, albeit they are allowed to retain their membership in parochial congregation. Therefore not only has the consistory lapsed in sacramental theology, but also ecclesiology, by allowing unbaptized people permanent membership in the congregation.

The consistory has by this verdict severed themselves from the catholic and apostolic doctrine and praxis, and has effectively chosen the path to sectarianism.

FELC more confessional than ever?

In my previous entry, I described the Kuopio Diocese's resolution concerning Mr. Suokonautio. The resolution is now published on a Finnish blog, and can be read here (for those of you who know Finnish:

The verdict itself was by no means surprising - I personally didn't have any false hope concerning theological preference in the consistory and its bishop. However, the arguments used in the verdict still succeed in leaving me dumbfounded. Such sophistry must be respected, even when it turns black into white and white into black. This at least should teach us that apostates are not dim-witted by any means. It takes a very capable mind to deliberately misunderstand in such a way as they have.

Mr. Suokonautio, in his newspaper interview (which started the whole process of complaint) stated his view of the authority of dogma and bible: "All our views and comprehensions of God are wholly formed by people, and therefore tied to specific times and cultures. This is true also with those formed by the Bilbe and the christian church."

Well, what does this mean? Even a freshman in theological faculty could tell you that. Suokonautio means to say, that religion is man-made. There is a monotheistic entity called "god" behind all religions, but basically all doctrine as well as Scripture is of human origin. This interpretation is well-enfoced in Suokonautio's later interviews where he denies Christ's atoning death, bodily resurrection etc.

Nothing new here. But what is new is that this view is now being called "Lutheran" by the consistory in Kuopio Diocese! Based on Epitome of the Formula of Concord I, the consistory states that the FC itself holds the view that all human formulations of God are tied to specific times and cultures. This is done by quoting passages where reformation theologians claim that The Word of God in the Bible must be given supremacy, and all documents following that are only secondary to it. This fine Lutheran principle of sola scripture is therefore twisted to mean that even the authors of FC themselves did not claim their confession to be true in the objective sense, but only true to them, in that time and in that cultural context.

Is this really true? The FC describes itself (rather ambitiously, I give you that) to be "general, clear, correct and definitive explanation." Now it would seem that the consistory holds a view that by holding fast to sola scriptura, Formula in fact states that it is not "general" and therefore doesn't apply to our time and context; it is not "clear" since it is merely man-made and open to ambiguous interpretations; neither is it "correct" - for same reasons - and finally, as a logical conclusion, it surely should not be considered "definitive"!

And while the FC itself holds that the Bible is to be considered the entirely trustworthy basis for all our teaching, consistory does not. Consistory goes on declaring, like an axiomatic truth, that the Bible itself contains a variety of views about God and is bound to its temporal and cultural context.

I don't know about you, but I consider it to be rather schizophrenic that the consistory first grants Mr. Suokonautio freedom from confession using sola scriptura-principle, and immediately after this has been done, forgets the whole sola scriptura and declares the Word of God to be ambiguous and inherently human-originated.

The resolution states that Suokonautio's teachings can not "in any way" be considered contrary to the Book of Concord. Therefore it would seem, that Suokonautio is more orthodox Lutheran than I can even hope to be. If this is declared "Lutheran" then we can surely see a literal wave of young "confessional" theologians and clergy in ELCF, albeit this "confessionalism" will be as confessional as democracy of old "People's Republics" was democratic.

One thing is widely common to all apostasy: it can not bring itself to publicly confess that doctrine and faith have really been changed. The facade of confessions are kept up, the traditions and church history are highly revered, yes. Because in the end, Church which has given up the Word of God has no other force keeping it together than tradition and power. And that is why Luther-foundation is such an insult to the official ELCF.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Consistorium locuta est – causa finita

The consistory of Kuopio Diocese has met and given out two resolutions which, when set side by side, reveal the theological and episcopal bankruptcy of Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Firstly, the consistory joined the ever-expanding choir by stating that children baptized by Mission Province -pastor, rev. Kalle Väätäinen are not "rightly baptized" because the baptism wasn't performed by a FELC pastor. The clerk in congregation's office had already registered these children as members, and consistory did not go reversing this. However, they explicitly stated that in the future children baptized in this manner will not be admitted into FELC - not even if their parents are members.

However, the question remains hanging in the air. Children who were already admitted membership were nonetheless "wrongly baptized" - according to the consistory. Does that mean that there in fact is now 4 un-baptized members in the local congregation? That would follow from the statement that these are not "rightly baptized".

Practically, in FELC the baptism is not anymore based on the Word of Christ in the Water, but on the juridical office of the baptising person and the official decision of the church authorities.

This claim finds support in the case of Markku Suokonautio, whom I will not call "pastor" nor "reverend", since he deserves neither of these wonderful names. However, he holds an office which in FELC goes by the term "pastor".

Suokonautio made a long career as a pastor in Canada, but later returned to Finland. He sprung into headlines a couple of years ago when it was found that he had been performing baptisms "in the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier." Suokonautio had used inclusive language in his baptisms, deliberately avoiding traditional names of "Father, Son and the Holy Spirit". I think most of us remember that the Vatican stated just a short while ago that baptisms performed in this manner are not baptisms at all. (

Suokonautio was actually questioned and baptisms performed in this manner were found erroneous. However, what is telling, is that consistory decided that the baptisms were still valid "for pastoral reasons". Apparently the bishopcry has the power to make people baptized with mere jurisdictional decision, even when the institution of Christ is not followed.

After this, Suokonautio was forced to change congregtion, and was welcomed to Kuopio Diocese by its Bishop Wille Riekkinen - who openly stated: "You are just the kind of pastor our church needs." It must be noted that Riekkinen probably didn't mean the baptisms, but was referring to Suokonautio's reputation as a provocative preacher and un-orthodox litrugist. (For example, he made it to the headlines when he played Finnish Tango or when he dressed as a axe-wielding Finnish peasant in the pulpit.)

Not too long after, Suokonautio was again inspected in the consistory (this time in Kuopio Diocese) after a group of 20 lay people filed a complaint about his public teaching. Suokonautio had declared that all religions are basically the same, Christ did not rise from the dead (at least not bodily) and his death on the cross did not happen for any atonement of sins.

Today the consistory of Kuopio declared that the complaint and suspicion of heresy does not lead into any action. Basically Suokonautio was declared innocent - or at least his lapses were not considered serious enough to justify any disciplinary measure. By doing this, consistory in fact gives a strong signal that teaching similiar to Suokonautio's must be considered permissible. This is actually no surprise to anyone who knows what sort of a bishop runs the diocese: Wille Riekkinen is generally known for his higher critical and un-orthodox (in the sense of apostasy)

The news just came in today, so it's impossible yet to say how they will sink in. Certainly there will be a legion of "meek of the earth" who will advice us all to just humbly accept the resolution and pray for better times. Others will declare critics of this decision to be arrogant and schismatic. Rumour has it that the consistory was not single-minded in its verdict. Maybe there will be some "who have ears to hear and eyes to see what the Satan speaks to the congregations".