Info

as the powerless and non-influential Free Church. A 'folk church' implied to Schleiermacher an alliance between people and church against a repressive state, and in a Volkskirche full freedom of individual faith should rule.

Later Volkskirche was reshaped in the programme for home mission which Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-81) presented in 1848 to rechristianise the people through evangelism and Christian social welfare. The regenerate Christians in the German 'folk church' were to carry on missionary work among the unregenerate, in order that the national people and the true church should ultimately become identical bodies.

In addition to these two concepts of'folk church', the Nordic 'folk church' had similar ambiguity to the concepts of 'people' and 'nation'. The term was used both in a 'democratic' and in an 'ethnic cultural' sense, and these were often mixed together. On the one hand 'folk church' described an inclusive church which comprised the whole, or at least a majority, of the people, and which was governed by the people. On the other hand it was used in the same sense as a 'national church', i.e. it was one of the national characteristics to belong to a certain church, which expressed the history and spirit of the nation.

The concept of a national church became particularly strong in Denmark. The followers of Grundtvig used 'folk church' synonymously with 'national church'. In Grundtvig's paradigm of a universal history based on the seven letters in the book of Revelation, the Nordic 'folk church' was the sixth. For this reason the Nordic nation was to have a tremendously important mission in history, and he saw the Nordic nation in terms of 'a New Jerusalem'.

In Sweden the concept of a national church did not have the same Nordic orientation and framework, and it was not combined with the same measure of freedom as in Denmark. It was rather attached to a defence of the old politics of religious unity. The important church historian and conservative politician Henrik Reuterdahl (1795-1870), later archbishop of Uppsala, used the concept of a national church two years before Grundtvig. Later, as minister of ecclesiastical affairs he claimed that a church which wanted to be united with civil society for that reason could not allow apostasy, and could not possibly accept any kind of private religious assemblies. A similar conservative, but Hegelian, comprehensive idea of state, nation, people and religion is found among other Swedish theologians in the middle of the nineteenth century. But they also met liberal opposition advocated by Johan H. Thomander (17981865), professor and later bishop of Lund, who wanted church reforms and ecclesiastical self-government. At the turn of the twentieth century, Swedish national religiousness was strengthened by the crisis and break of the Union with Norway. The Young Church Movement, with its base in student circles in

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment