Scandinavia, Norden and Lutheranism
Literally, Scandinavia is a peninsula consisting of Sweden and Norway, but Denmarkis usually also included. 'Norden', however, also includes Finland, the Aland Islands, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands.4 Even Greenland is sometimes called a Nordic nation, but in the period from 1815 to 1914 it was a Danish colony, closed to the rest of the world.
From the age of Reformation to the time of the Napoleonic wars, Norden was divided into West- and East-Norden. West-Norden consisted of Denmark-Norway, a kingdom including Iceland, the Faeroe Islands and the duchy of Schleswig-Holstein, while East-Norden consisted of the kingdom of Sweden including Finland, and since the treaty of Westphalia (1648) the western part of Pomerania. Thus Sweden-Finland and Denmark-Norway were multi-national states, and for geopolitical reasons they were sworn enemies, fighting a string of inter-Nordic battles.
The churches in the Nordic states were organised as state churches with a Lutheran confession. Since the sixteenth century, the government of these churches - with certain variations - had been an integral part of the government of the state. Furthermore, religious confession and church order were an important part of legislation. The church had not only a religious, but also a political aim. Till the nineteenth century, Lutheran Christianity gave legitimacy to the authorities, and religious confession corresponded to the territorial divisions between states. For this reason, the Nordic churches are often called national churches. This description is, however, more applicable to the period from the nineteenth century, when the Nordic nation-states were established. Prior to that, it is more correct to describe them as territorial churches. For the same reasons contacts between these churches were sporadic, and we find few traces of a consciousness of a religious unity in the Nordic region, though there was a consciousness of belonging to the wider Protestant world.
From the end of the sixteenth century Lutheranism was the only faith that was allowed, with the exception of foreign visitors. However, there was a clear distinction between West- and East-Norden, since these two blocs represented different types of Lutheranism. In Sweden-Finland, the whole Book of Concord was the basis of the Lutheran confession, while in West-Norden only the Confessio Augustana and Luther's Minor Catechism were included. Furthermore, liturgies, hymns and church order were different. This distinction between west and east also had consequences for the relationship between
4 Sorensen and Strath, The cultural construction of Norden.
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