Nordic Folk Churches: A Contemporary Church History

Nordic Folk Churches: A Contemporary Church History

Nordic Folk Churches: A Contemporary Church History

Nordic Folk Churches: A Contemporary Church History

Synopsis

Four Nordic scholars provide historical context for contemporary developments in the folk churches of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, respectively, devoting a chapter to each. Other chapters address major issues of concern both shared by, and unique to, their churches. Particularly fascinating are these churches' differing roles on the political stage during World War II and the Cold War, their adaptation to the modern welfare state, their handling of theological controversies such as the ordination of women and same-sex unions, and their crucial contributions to the ecumenical movement.

Excerpt

Every presentation of church history must reflect tradition and transformation. It belongs to the key characteristic of Protestant churches to be in transition, to reflect the pilgrim nature of the community of faith. It is always easier to describe a product than a process, which is why perceptions of churches are so varied and history writing so full of surprises. the reader adds to the complexities of interpretation, and the closer the reader is to the events, the more complex the interpretation.

My perspective on this presentation of contemporary Nordic church life is both as an insider — an ordained pastor and bishop of the Church of Norway — and as an ecumenist with a perspective from Geneva.

The Nordic churches have been among the founders and staunchest supporters of the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, and the Conference of European Churches. in many ways they speak and act with one voice, but there are also significant variations on a broad scale of issues. This is demonstrated by the status reports these churches’ bishops give every third year when all the Nordic bishops convene for a four-day conference. the report from the Danish folk church includes Greenland and the Faroe Islands. the Nordic Bishops Conference is a nonformal gathering that makes no decisions — except for where to meet next. This creates a sense of collegiality and a relaxed ex-

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