Abstract and keywords

Ritið 2/12 - 2012

Pétur Pétursson: Institution or Spirit. Church Crises in Iceland from Monarchy to Republic

This paper analyses the main crisis in the history of the Icelandic Church from the period of the Absolute Monarchy to the declaration of Republic just before the middle of the 20th century. The main theme is the inbuilt conflict between individual religious consciousness and the requirements of an institution. The study starts with a consideration of the concept of religion and the analysis focuses on the processes of social control, legitimization of political power, differentiation and secularization. The first and the last periods under study get most attention as the analysis deals with the social structure and the process of nation-state-building. At the time of the Absolute Monarchy the Icelandic Church was geared to legitimize the Copenhagen based power structure but the very same church was since the start of the nation-building process fostering variety of movements and activities that created the infrastructure of the nation-state. This paper analyses the reasons why the theology and the structure of the Church was not renewed until in the beginning of the 20th century when one first can talk about a National Church. Then liberalism and individualism were highly valued issues in religious matters as well as in social matters. This was expressed in the spiritualist movement that caused a major conflict within the National Church during the first half of the 20th century.

Key words: State Church, nation-state building, liberal theology, holy spirit, spiritualism

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