The key to living fully as Christians
Luke Coppen’s story; “ Mega church pastor Ulf Ekman: ‘We need what the Lord has given to the Catholic Church to live fully as Christians’”, Catholic Herald, April 24, 2014 (http://goo.gl/Ni8dky) depicts the conversion story of Ulf Ekman, founder of the Levites, the largest congregation within the Swedish word of faith movement, to Catholicism. On March 9, 2014 Ulf Ekman stood in front of his congregation to announce that “Brigitta and I have in recent days sensed the Lord’s leading, urging us to join the Catholic Church”. Interestingly enough Ulf Ekman also founded Scandinavia’s largest Bible school, helped establish approximately 1,000 church communities, and has been a key figure in providing coherence to a rapid growing Christian movement.
Ulf’s characterizes his youth as being significantly secularized. It wasn’t until 1970 that Ulf experienced a conversion, realizing that he “needed Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour”. Shortly after being ordained into the Lutheran church, he left the ministry to start a bible school, for Lutherans and other denominations, in attempt to sew unity amongst Christians. Ulf began to experience a need for a solid dogmatic theological background and stability in the church. Ulf found himself in an interior inquietude, having its roots centered in a search for the real essence of the church, which ultimately pointed towards the sacraments.
The instability and lack of; sacraments and a solid foundation, in the Free Church lead him to turn to the Catholic Church, which quenched his thirst, and would equip him to “live fully as a Christian”. It was in the Catholic Church and in the faithful, that Ulf saw that Jesus Christ is not merely a dogma, but more importantly a reality that must be lived in our lives.
Unfortunately our present society makes it difficult to turn to traditional Christianity, since for the vast majority it is not appealing, as Hexam and Poewe point out “Many people suppose that Christianity conflicts with the findings of science and that it must therefore be wrong” (66), as a consequence turning to “new religions” instead.
The conversion story of Ulf’s is a worthwhile story in itself. It portrays the desire in man to seek the truth. This gentleman was brought up in a country, which having previously been distanced from traditional religion, (due to historical implications such as the principal of “Cuius regio, eius religio”) on his own comes to a realization that as a matter of fact some things can’t change, such as religion, nor can it be substituted by a “new religion” (such as the Levites), since they will always lack the fundamentals. A man who sincerely seeks the truth will ultimately find himself distancing himself from these so called “new religions” and turn to traditional Christianity. An initial attempt of a country to rid itself of traditional Christianity, nurtured a man; Ulf, who goes from attempting to make Lutheranism his own, being a founder of a “new religion”, to eventually making his way back to traditional religion.