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The Church as Nation

A Study in Ecclesiology and Nationhood


Kjell Blückert

The twentieth century is said to have been the century of the nation and of the church. This has been asserted in various quarters. It is European nationalism and confessionalism that have constrained into being, constituted and made permanent nation-states, national churches and confessions. In this study modern theories on nationalism and ecclesiology are brought together and Sweden is employed as an historical example. The concepts nation and church, the superideologies nationalism and confessionalism, and the institutions nation-state and national church are viewed as parallels. The connections between them are described as symbiotic, although the nationalistic discourse, primarily in its rhetoric, has had a more parasitic relation to Christian traditions. The national discourse in the Lutheran State Church in Sweden during the first four decades of the twentieth century is depicted with source material such as church historiography, hymns and popular lectures. Two churchmen are focused on: the nationalist Johan Alfred Eklund and the internationalist Nathan Söderblom. Both were however firmly rooted in nationalism and inter-nationalism. Globalisation was not yet on the agenda.
Contents: Reconstructing the Nation – Reconstructing the Church – Reconstructing the Church as Nation – Writing the Memory of the Swedish Church – Singing the Symbiosis of Church and Nation – Lecturing the Symbiosis of the Provisional and the Essential – The Swedish Church as Superideology. Conclusion, Discussion, Reflection.