NEWS FROM THE CENTER FRIDAY DIGEST January 21, 2022 - Called before Kings—Pray for Finland for America!

by Gregory Seltz

By now you may have heard of two Finnish citizens, Bishop Juhana Pohjola and Cabinet Minister Päivi Räsänen. If you haven’t, you need to know their names. Why? They are about to be put on trial in Finland for the crime of teaching marriage and sexual fidelity from a biblical perspective. The trial date is January 24, 2022. Yes, the Bible is now considered “hate speech” in Finland, a Western country, home to my maternal grandparents, Rudy and Elizabeth Kilponen. They would be aghast at what has become of their homeland, which is now publicly declaring war on Christians for actually being Christian, faithful to the Word of God for the sake of others. When libertinism overcomes liberty in a culture, when equity of outcome replaces equality of access, when governments start to dictate even the thoughts of people rather than limiting their coercive, curbing power to people’s outward, unruly, actions alone, one gets the kind of “secular blasphemy laws” of Finland. Such laws not only curb dissent, but they also eventually attack the Bible’s claim to be the moral conscience of a civilized people.  

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22). Yes. But what happens when Caesar gets out of his lane? When that happens, Christians tend to find themselves in the uncomfortable, even terrifying position of being “called before Kings” who demand an accounting before their temporal thrones. Such is the case for Bishop Pohjola and Cabinet member Räsänen. In my radio interview of Bishop Pohjola, which aired in Washington, D.C. at 12:30 p.m. January 15 on WFAX radio, 1220AM/100.7FM (PLEASE INSERT LINK HERE) you’ll hear a man whose convictions are unmoved, whose gentle countenance professes the call to love others the way that God in Christ loves us. That includes speaking God’s “no” and God’s “yes” on God’s terms for others no matter the cost to us. When Jesus reminds us in Matthew 10 to: 

be on guard against people, for they will hand you over to the courts and flog you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings on My account, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given you in that hour….

He calls us to diligence and courage. Christ also offers us “calm amidst the storm” and “peace that passes all understanding.” Those blessings are even now manifest in the lives of Bishop Pohjola and Cabinet Minister Räsänen. Amazingly they count it a blessing to be able to give a testimony of God’s love in Christ amidst such ridiculous charges.

For those of us in America, now is the time to pray for our brothers and sisters around the globe who are being persecuted merely for being faithful Christians. Now is the time to also “be on our guard” here in America, to put to work our constitutional liberties to protect the right and the responsibility to proclaim the whole counsel of God publicly for our culture and for the mission of the Church. But if the “secular blasphemy laws” eventually make it here too (see the nefarious “Equality Act” as a potential example), we, too, must rest in the promise of Christ that even then He will provide the words so that our testimony might be about Him even for those who would seek to criminalize Christ himself from our culture.

My prayer for Bishop Pohjola and Cabinet Minister Räsänen is also my prayer for you, our country, and our churches. I pray that Finland come to its senses and drop this egregious action against Christ’s Church, Christ’s people. I pray such a prayer not only for the protection of the Church but also for the very culture of the Finnish people. But if the Finnish government does not relent, I pray that at this “Daniel in the lion’s den” moment for Pohjola and Räsänen, that the mouths of the Finnish lions be shut. And, if it becomes a “fiery furnace of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego moment,” that the scorching fires of this government’s pernicious unfaithfulness not touch them but blow back on the misguided leaders of a culture that is fast losing its way. And, finally, no matter the outcome, I pray for Pohjola and Räsänen’s ability to testify to the truths of the Bible so that all might indeed hear and believe in the God who created, ordered, and redeemed us as His own. Will you pray for them with me? God bless them, and God bless us as we do.

The Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz is the executive director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty.

Be Informed

Learn more about how Finland is taking a “turn toward soft authoritarianism in the public square” by clicking here for an article from Tim Goeglein of Focus on the Family.


Be Equipped

Discover why the Wisconsin governor recently vetoed commonsense pro-life legislation.


Be Encouraged

“[E]very human life, no matter the size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency, is indispensable in fulfilling God’s plans.” --Lynette Auch, president of Lutherans For Life



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