October 2014 – Christian persecution can take many forms. For Rev. Juhana Pohjola, LHF translator and project coordinator in Finland, it’s that he’s been formally defrocked (deemed “unfit to be a pastor”) by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, or ELCF.
What was Rev. Pohjola’s offense? Simply teaching according to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.
“In the past few decades, the ELCF has theologically melted,” explained Rev. Pohjola. “Over 73 percent of the Finnish population belongs to the ELCF, but the membership is rapidly declining.
“It is a mirror of our liberal society in Finland,” he continued. “Many pastors openly deny the basic facts of the Apostolic Creed. There is a clash over the Bible on such issues as…the pastoral office, the rights of unborn infants, the decree on marriage between a man and a woman, and many others.”
Due to women’s ordination and liberal preaching, conservative church leaders formed the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland in 2013 and elected Rev. Pohjola as the dean. It was this involvement with the Mission Diocese that led to Rev. Pohjola’s defrocking.
Rev. Dr. Risto Soramies, bishop of the Mission Diocese, staunchly defends Rev. Pohjola as a faithful pastor.
“To those Christians who know the Rev. Pohjola as a preacher and a spiritual counsellor, as well as the hardworking dean of our Mission Diocese, the judgment pronounced by the [ELCF], ‘being clearly unfit for pastoral office,’ is so grotesque that it does not really require any comment,” he said. (Read Bishop Soramies’ full statement here.)
Rev. Pohjola will continue in his work for LHF and as dean of the Mission Society. “We have a long history of Lutheran teaching in our country,” he said. “However, it is extensively forgotten. We continue to work with LHF in order that future generations would know what treasure we have in Lutheran teaching, in which Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end, and a disturbed conscience can find a true peace.”
To read Rev. Pohjola’s full statement, click here.
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