Contemporary Scandinavian Theology

Writing from Lund, Sweden, with the double competence of living in Scandinavia and being a scholar of ability, Dr. Gottfried Hornig gives us a survey of contemporary systematic theology. His article, “Systematische Theologie in Dänemark und Schweden” in the revived Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie (1959), sketches for us the kind of work being done by the leading scholars of theology in Denmark and Sweden. He begins his article by calling our attention to the continued intensive studies of Luther in both countries. This is followed by an exposition of how the Scandinavian scholars are participating in international theological scholarship and conversation.

Contrary to theologians in continental Europe, Swedish theologians are not being influenced by contemporary existential philosophies but by the analytic school. This gives them a different stance and point of criticism as they interact with continental scholars. Actually there is strong criticism of these “existential theologies”—and Hornig names Barth along with Brunner, Gogarten, and Bultmann as an existential theologian.

Catholics have spent much personnel and effort in attempting to influence the Scandinavian countries, but with scant success. The countries remain 95 percent Lutheran. There are hardly 50,000 Catholics in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Yet, a number of Lutheran scholars have become experts in Thomist thought and Catholic theology.

Turning to Denmark he calls our attention to the unusual fact that although we would expect Denmark to be overcome with German theology due to its geographical proximity, such is not the cast. Kierkegaard and Grundtvig have influenced German thought, and present-day Lutheran ...

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