The church as nation : A study in ecclesiology and nationhood

Abstract: This dissertation is a study of nationalism and ecclesiology. These two fields are studiedcomparatively, with particular consideration of the Lutheran state church in Sweden. The ideological conception `nationalism' is seen as a part of Western post-Enlightenmentmodernity, although its roots are to be found in the long tradition of the theocratic, monarchicstates in Western and Northern Europe. Contrasts are pointed out between the institutions(nation-states and national churches) which were indicated by the epithet 'nation', and whichexpressed the ideas behind this concept in various practices. The connection between them isdescribed as symbiotic, although the nationalistic discourse, especially in its rhetoric, has hada somewhat parasitic relationship to Christian traditions. The Church of Sweden is studied from three sets of historical material from the four firstdecades of the 20th century: church historiography, hymns and various kinds of theologicallectures. Two persons are in focus: Johan Alfred Eklund and Nathan Söderblom. The former is traditionally viewed as the nationalist, the latter as the internationalist. Nonetheless, both these theologians accepted nationalism as a superideology, as did most of their contemporaries. The parable 'church as nation' pictures what happened to a national church when atheocratic and dynastic society, with a homogeneous ethnie, was dissolved and a supranationalpoint of reference was missing. The nation, in all its aspects, became an ecclesial mark (a nota ecclesiae) in the Church of Sweden in order to restore an ideal unity in society, a unity thatwas expected to be incarnated in, or at least summoned up by, the church.

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