Palaver with a Reverend of the Lutheran Faith

Hello there, for my second university paper that I am posting for your reading pleasure (I hope) is an Interview assignment for Humanities 230 at Simon Fraser University, completed in spring 2000.

Please understand, the paper below is heavily redacted, edited, for brevity and smoothness. I removed a shitload of redundancies, and some other unmentionables. The interviewee reads my blogs, right. It’s my paper, which I scored 11.5 out of a possible 15 marks, so I can do as I please.

Humanities 230 was probably my best class throughout my entire post-secondary education. I received my second A Grade from this course, the first being Education 326!

I hope you enjoy this paper, as much as I enjoyed writing, editing, it!

Reverend David Nielson is a pastor at the Lutheran Church at Kerr Street and 49th Avenue in Vancouver. Our conversation, held at Higher Grounds, SFU Burnaby Campus, focused on God, Christ, The Cross and the Lutheran doctrine; how it developed and its main purposes.

My first question dealt with his title; Pastor or Reverend. It has always been an interest of mine to understand a person’s title and its origins. Pastor Nielson prefers to be called a Pastor, instead of Reverend, which has its roots in the word pasture; he leads people from negative areas to positive areas. In short, from earth to heaven. This is the same as leading flocks of sheep from the bad grass to the green grass.

Pastor Nielson’s ecclesiastic duties are within the Lutheran church, a branch of the Christian Church. The Founder of the Lutheran Church is Martin Luther (1483-1546), who boycotted the Catholic Church in 1520’s because it did not follow what he believed was the right way to worship. Martin Luther, famously, nailed 95 theses to a church door; 95 things that he saw as being wrong with the Catholic doctrine.

Pastor Nielson talked a great deal about the connection of the bible with the common people. This was one of Martin Luther’s issues; the inability of the laity, that is laypeople, to read and understand the bible. At the time, only clergy, theologians and latin-speakers could read the book of God. It was, back then, written only in Hebrew or Latin. If a layperson wanted to learn about Christ, Job, or Ruth, the only option open to them was to attend church, listen to the priest’s sermon. That put a lot of power to the church. Martin Luther wanted the bible to become more accessible, translated into the language of common folk, mainly English I’m assuming, to allow everyone equal access to it. This was conveyed by Pastor Nielson’s emphasis is that through reading the bible, people can know of God’s word, and are, therefore, accountable to God. Simply, to read the bible and having faith, is what God wants. Without faith, God does not see people. They are, according to Pastor Nielson, just drifting. To read the bible is to be seen by God.

Pastor Nielson said that the crucifixion of Jesus is the ultimate high point of
Jesus’s ministry to all people and to the Lutherans, too. It was at the crucifixion of Jesus that His death took away all people’s sins and His blood was shed to forgive us of our sins. This is what the Cross represents; Jesus’s suffering, his Passion, and death abolished the sins of mortals, allowing everyone to be free of God’s anger. Jesus is seen as a savior in the Lutheran dogma. The Lutheran’s always remember what Jesus died for — humanity.

When our discussion turned to other religions, I asked if the Lutheran Church attempts to convert other people to follow the Lutheran way. His response was no, they do not coerce people to abandon their present religion. Instead they suggest a switch by asking them what it is they know of Jesus. The questions they ask become
personal very quickly, asking things like “Do you know what Jesus did for you?” or “Jesus is your savior.” In this way, Lutherans try to make people see and understand what Jesus did and how people should repay Him. According to Pastor Nielson, Jesus
died for humans; so, people may as well repay him. The best way to repay him is through faith in the bible and following the Lutheran doctrine.

When the discussion turned to homosexuality and how they fit into the Lutheran doctrine, Pastor Nielson squirmed for a few minutes. He finally stated that “God hates their actions, but loves the person.” This statement took a great deal of effort for him to say. He was trying to be politically correct, and still maintain the Lutheran belief. He
also mentioned that each person is not perfect, a common statement, and the Lutheran church does not look down upon people with pity. The goal is to try to educate and persuade people to embrace Jesus, the Cross, and the Bible.

Pastor Nielson encouraged people to read and understand the bible, understanding will lead to faith and faith leads to be seen by God. However, each person will interpret the passages differently, based on personal experiences and understanding. So, if you read the whole bible, or a part of it, or just Psalm 119, 21-26, you are still seen by God. Even those who know of God, through not read the bible, are seen by God!

The Cross and what it represents to the Lutheran’s is a paramount belief. Jesus
was martyred on the cross, people were set free, and they could sin. What Pastor Nielson was getting at was that when we sin, such an ambiguous word nowadays, we must repent to Jesus, and thereby we are forgiven by God.

As previously mentioned the Lutheran Church does not force people to follow their way, which is amiable, however, they still try. As an experiment to see what Pastor Nielson’s reactions would be, I told him that I was interested to join the Lutheran Church. He was very eager to have me join. He spoke of how God loved me and that I must read the bible to really understand how I can benefit. Yet, when I told him about my family being nontheistic, he continued to persuade me by portraying the Lutheran way as the best option. He wanted me to understand God, by following Lutheran way., it is the only way to salvation. He seemed determined to lead me.

In closing, that experiment I just mentioned was actually a real interest (that is still held today); to join the Lutheran Church. I wanted more people connections, more God understanding, in a language I could access

Paster Nelson is a good friend, supporter and advocate, who is also Deaf. Our palaver about God, Jesus, the Cross etcetera was conducted visually using American Sign Language. I am DeafBlind and therefore we share the same language. The Lutheran Church of the Deaf is a great place to socialize and learn about God. And I am interested to learn!

2021 addition: I can’t believe that I wrote this whole paper and did not mention the fact that Pastor Nielson is Deaf until the closing! I also did not mention that he runs a Deaf Church, with a large Deaf congregation! I can only surmise why I did not reveal these revelations before the final paragraph; I wanted to showcase the Pastor, his passion, while not pinpointing his deafness. Doing so might cause the professor, and perhaps you, to question, put on a pedestal, Pastor Neilson’s deafness over his ability to concisely convey the words of God, Jesus, the Cross. So I mentioned nothing!

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