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Lutherans/ancestors, land spirits, giving up

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Question
I don't know what to do at the moment. I'm 16 and I was raised in the indigenous Northern European religion (AKA Asatru or Heathenry, but I dislike both terms), but I decided to try Christianity. My mum's been nothing but supportive (whatever makes me happy she says), but in the past year I've grown disillusioned. I felt close to God at the beginning, but the more I've studied the Bible the more angry and I daresay unpleasant He seems. I'm starting to miss Odin and Thor, but most of all I've begun to miss the feeling of connection I once had to the land spirits and the ancestors. Today my mother was giving libations to the Land Spirits and I joined in. I felt that sense of connection, that sense of almost mystic union with my land (and it truly is my land, its been in my family for six-hundred years. I'm writing from England, btw). I don't feel that with God anymore. My mum told me she knew I'd return to my roots, you always return to your roots. I can't deny that the land spirits exist. Can I be a Christian and still honor the land spirits and the ancestors?

Answer
Rose,

Thanks for your question.  Your experience is very similar to what is reported by many people who become Christians after being raised in a different religion.

I will begin by reinforcing what I find to be one of the most-comforting truths about Christianity:  God is reliable regardless of what our emotions lead us to feel.  The epistle of 1 John in the New Testament tells us that "God is greater than our hearts," and that even if our heart leads us to feel far from Him or disapproved of by Him, we can rely on the objective promises He makes in Scripture above any feeling or experience to the contrary.  This is because we have the factual knowledge that Jesus rose from the dead, therefore confirming that He has forgiven our sins through His death and that everything He said was reliable and true.  

One of the sources of the difficulties you are facing could arise from the prior conceptions you bring along with you as you read the Bible.  Indigenous religions are based on the framework that humans (by ritual, sacrifice, or performance of some other action) are responsible for correcting the discord that has come to exist between the deity/deities and humanity.  Since Christianity is based on a completely opposite paradigm, perhaps this is an obstacle to understanding the message of Scripture.  

In Christianity, everything centers around Jesus, specifically the cross.  The Old Testament history, even with all of its violence and war, is all about preserving a faithful remnant of Israelites from whom Jesus would eventually be born.  All the rituals and sacrifices are also illustrations of who He is and what He would do.  Even the commandments are not there for the purpose of giving us a pathway to make things right with God.  Instead, God's Law proves to us that we are unworthy and incapable of pleasing Him and forces us to rely on Jesus as our substitute, both in satisfying God's moral commands and suffering the punishment we deserve for sin.  

One thing that is clear from Scripture is that trusting in Jesus is incompatible with worshipping any other god.  In fact, the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10-11 that other gods are actually just demons masquerading as gods.   There is no doubt that the land spirits and indigenous gods are real entities, but they are impostors rather than gods.  Instead of seeking to grant you eternal life and forgiveness, they seek to satisfy you for the time being in order to ultimately lead you to eternal destruction.  If you trust Jesus, I would urge you with all seriousness to abandon worship of other gods completely and immediately.  If Jesus has completely accomplished your salvation, then they have no purpose but to distract and draw you away from Him and His gifts.  

The best steps you can take are to seek out a pastor who is faithful to Scripture and believes that it is a God-given Word to reveal Jesus and save from sin.  Study the scripture with him and with other more-experienced Christians who can guide you regarding what you are reading.  Participate regularly in the services of a Christian congregation.  If you have not yet been Baptized, seek to do so immediately.  If you are Baptized, or after you have been, receive the Lord's Supper frequently for the strengthening and preservation of your trust in Jesus until He comes to judge the living and the dead and give eternal, resurrected life to all who trust in Him.  

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Rev. Jason P. Peterson

Expertise

I welcome the opportunity to answer questions regarding the beliefs and practices Lutheran Christians, especially questions comparing Lutherans with other Christian denominations or questions which contrast between various kinds of Lutherans. I am especially familiar with the more conservative Lutheran denominations (LCMS, ELS, WELS, etc.). I also take a great interest in examining new Christian movements and popular trends in Christianity from a Lutheran perspective. In addition, I can answer most questions about the original Greek text of the New Testament and its meaning, as well as questions regarding liturgy, evangelism, and preaching. A special area of interest in my ministry is race track chaplaincy/ministry, and I would love to provide information and guidance for anyone interested in this area.

Experience

I have been a pastor in the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod for the past six years at St. John's Lutheran Church in Burt, IA. I currently serve as chairman of the Commission on Ministerial Growth & Support of the Missouri Synod's Iowa District West and as Track Chaplain at Algona Raceway in Algona, IA. I also write as a religion columnist for two local newspapers.

Organizations
Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Publications
Algona Upper Des Moines (newspaper) Bancroft Register (newspaper)

Education/Credentials
B.A. Concordia University - Ann Arbor, MI (Biblical Languages) M.Div. Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN (Exegetical Theology, Pastoral Ministry & Missions)

Past/Present Clients
Zion Lutheran Church (Columbia City, IN) Zion Lutheran Church (Altamont, IL) St. John's Lutheran Church (Burt, IA) Zion Lutheran Church (Lu Verne, IA) Algona Raceway (IA) Fairmont Raceway (MN) Hancock County Speedway (Britt, IA) Clay County Fairgrounds Raceway (Spencer, IA)

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