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Denmark, Lutheranism in.

1. At the beginning of the 16th c. the ch. in Denmark was in great need of reform. Many of its leaders were worldly and corrupt, not interested in the spiritual life of the people. The humanist Poul Helgesen (Paulus Helie; Heliae; Eliae; ca. 1485–ca. 1535) unsuccessfully tried reform from within and opposed the Reformation. The ch. was more indep. of Rome than that of many other countries. Aage Jepsen (Sparre) was endorsed as abp. of Lund by royal councillors 1526 and given authority to appoint bps. without consulting Rome. The intention was, however, to remain RC See also Christian II; Reformation, Lutheran, 10.

2. H. Tausen* began to preach Luth. doctrine 1525 at Viborg. Despite a pledge to be true to Rome, Frederick I protected Tausen. Others, including Claus Mortensen, began to preach and initiate reforms at various places, including Malmö. Tausen went to Copenhagen 1529. Dan. Luth. hymnals were pub. 1528, 1529, and 1533. Luths. under leadership of Tausen presented a statement of their faith at the 1530 Diet of Copenhagen in the 43 articles of the Confessio Hafnica (or Hafniensis; name taken from Hafnia, 11th c. Lat. name of Copenhagen). Tausen pub. a Gospel and Epistle postil 1535. After the 1534–36 civil war Christian III (1503–59; king of Den. and Norw. 1534–59) was in financial distress. The RC chs. were wealthy. The king saw that the Reformation was gaining ground. At the 1536 Diet of Copenhagen much RC wealth was confiscated and the country made Luth.

3. In 1537 J. Bugenhagen* crowned the king and queen and ordained 7 new supts., later called bps. This broke apostolic succession in Denmark. Calvinistic tendencies were not tolerated. P. Palladius* (1503–60) was a prominent bp. The Bible was tr. into Dan. 1550 by C. Pedersen* and others; called the Christian III Bible.

4. N. Hemming(sen),* a follower of P. Melanchthon,* exerted humanistic influence and sought compromise with Calvinism.*

5. After 1600 humanistic theol. was sharply attacked by Luth. orthodoxy, which dominated the ch. in the 17th c. Pastors were better trained and were required to pledge adherence to the AC, instead of committing themselves vaguely, as formerly, to ev. teaching. The family altar was emphasized. But there was a tendency to separate faith and life. Intolerance was prevalent, ignorance and superstition strong. Witches were burned at the stake. In the midst of this was a deep mystic religiosity that found expression in devotional literature and in emphasis on penitence and prayer. T. H. Kingo* was the great hymnist of the time.

6. Pietism* came to Den. from Ger. ca. 1703 and found expression through its pastors and hymnists (e.g., H. A. Brorson*) and in groups that met for prayer and Bible reading. The first Luth. for. miss. was launched 1705 by the Dan. king in cooperation with Halle pietists; B. Ziegenbalg* and H. Plütschau* were sent to India. Some orthodox pastors were worldly; throughout the 18th c. there was a struggle bet. dead orthodoxy and pietism. The Dan. common school was begun with erection of ca. 240 schools. Children were given a thorough instruction in religion. Confirmation was introd. 1736.

7. The subjective elements of the pietistic period melted into the optimistic views of the Enlightenment.* Faith in God was replaced by faith in man, and the voice of conscience by reason. Men were not directly opposed to Christianity, but under the influence of R. Descartes,* J. J. Rousseau,* and naturalism* in gen., the dogmas of the ch. were disregarded; emphasis was on faith in providence, a demand for a good life, gratitude to God for His gifts, and the hope of eternal life after death. To be a good citizen was enough to gain God's favor. The educ. classes drifted away from Christianity, ch. attendance declined, religious indifference was gen. Some (e.g., Nikolai Edinger Balle, 1744–1816; prof. theol. Copenhagen 1772; bp. Sjaelland 1782) stood firm on the Bible. Some Bible reading groups also continued.

8. Rationalism* held sway at the beginning of the 19th c. But N. F. S. Grundtvig* sought in the spoken Word and in the sacraments the clear and unchanging expression of true and pure Christianity as it had come down from Christ Himself through the cents. In reaction against small Bible reading groups he held that the Bible was a “dead word” over against the “living word” of the Apostles' Creed. He influenced the Dan. Ch. esp. by his view of life, hymns, emphasis on cong. life and singing, and the effect of his message esp. in rural areas. His great love for Den. and his vision of its hist. destiny gave his movement a national spirit. Christian, national, pol., and cultural subjects were discussed in great folk mass meetings. As a result, Grundtvigianism became the most liberal of the 3 main groups in the Dan. Ch. (the other 2: Centrum, or Church Center, and Indre Mission, or Inner Mission; see 9 and 10 below).

9. J. P. Mynster* led the educ. classes to a confessional form of Christianity. His view on the ch. gave direction to the Church Center group. H. L. Martensen,* Mynster's successor as bp. of Sjaelland, combined Luth. orthodoxy with Hegelianism and built a vast dogmatic and ethical system on a Christian idealistic philos.

10. When pious groups of the mid-19th c. found they could not in good conscience cooperate with Grundtvigians because their view of Scripture and their attitude toward the world were so different, a group of laymen organized Inner Mission, based on Luth. confessions, to stimulate spiritual life. The soc. grew slowly. J. V. Beck* attended the 1861 annual meeting and preached on Peter's Draught of Fishes (emphasizing fishing for men by both laity and clergy, Lk 5:1–11). The soc. was reorganized under the name Kirkelig Forening for Indre Mission (Church Society for Inner Mission). Beck became its leader. Both pastors and laymen were to preach. Miss. halls were built in nearly all parishes (ca. 400 halls by 1900); informal meetings were held. Beck remained leader of the movement till his death. He was orthodox, but had been stimulated by S. A. Kierkegaard's* attack on the official ch. and by his demands for deeper spiritual life. Beck was eloquent; great revivals swept the country as a result of his preaching and that of other men of the movement. They demanded Christian life separated from the world. Out of the Ch. Soc. for Inner Miss. grew such activities as dissemination of Christian literature, works of charity, and, indirectly, for. missions. The movement is faithful to Luth. doctrine. In its high esteem of the sacraments and frequent use of the Lord's Supper it has been influenced by Grundtvig. It is the 3d and strongest main group in the Dan. Ch.

11. The gen. secularization of culture in Eur. also engulfed Den. The theol. of Mynster and Martensen was not strong enough to counter the influence of positivism* and socialism* after the middle of the 19th c. A gap developed bet. Christianity and modern culture. Secularization became an open fact. People divided over the issues but remained nominal mems. of the ch.

12. Barthianism influenced the theol. of the 20th c. Most important names in theol. discussions: N. F. S. Grundtvig* and K. Barth (see Switzerland, Contemporary Theology in). Most of the clergy are influenced by one or both of these. A High Ch. movement has gained some ground. Theol. is confessional and ch. centered. Luther study has been revived. The ch. was in strong opposition to Nazism during the Ger. occupation 1940–45; its most famous champions: Kaj Munk (1898–1944), pastor and poet, and his fellow pastor and martyr, Tage Schack (d. 1945).

13. Kierkegaard's influence was felt only a short time in mid-19th c., but reappeared in the 20th c., largely through Barth, and has left its mark on existential theol. and philos.

14. The Dan. Ch. is governed by parliament and is supported by income from investments and by taxation. There are 10 dioceses and ca. 2,000 pastors. 96 percent of the pop. is Luth. The king appoints pastors nominated by the minister for ecclesiastical affairs from a list of 3 selected by the congs. Dan. Luth. pastors subscribe to the 3 ecumenical* creeds, the AC, and Luther's SC (see Catechisms, Luther's; Lutheran Confessions). JMJ

See also Anglican Scandinavian Conferences; Danish Lutherans in America; Denmark, Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of.

L. N. Helveg, Den Danske Kirkes Historie til Reformationen, 2 parts (Copenhagen, 1857–70); L. P. Fabricius, Danmarks Kirkehistorie, 3 parts in 2 vols. (Copenhagen, 1934–35); Den Danske Kirkes Historie, eds. H. Koch and B. S. Kornerup, 8 vols. projected (Copenhagen, 1950– ); E. H. Dunkley, The Reformation in Denmark (London, 1948); F. Münter, Kirchengeschichte von Dänemark und Norwegen, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1823–33).


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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