A field guide to renewers, reformers & martyrs recognized and commemorated by
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig, Renewer of the Church

"Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872), a Danish pastor, led a reform movement beginning in 1830 that would leave a permanent imprint on Lutheranism. He was Denmark's most influential educator, poet and theologian, weaving ancient Nordic traditions into Danish religious life. Grundtvig saw the free ecumenical spirit of Lutheranism grounded in the ancient apostolic tradition as the force to unite Christianity and culture through education. He contended that the Apostle's Creed was the baptismal creed for all churches, the living word that Jesus communicated to his apostles. Accordingly, baptism and the Lord's Supper are the living words, the fundamental elements of the church. Grundtvig taught that biblical confessional formulations, especially John 3:16, were forerunners of the Apostle's Creed and should interpret the Bible, not vice versa. Though involved in some controversies, Grudtvig and Grundtvigism shaped all of Danish culture through preaching, hymns (1500 from Grundtvig!) and tracts in adult eduction."

From A History of Lutheranism by Eric W. Gritsch, Emeritus Professor of Church History at Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary, Pennsylvania

1 comment:

  1. Grundtvig was also instrumental in fostering the folk high school movement in Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries. His ideas on educational philosophy were well ahead of his time. In addition to this, he was involved in politics and was honoured as a bishop, but without a diocese. It is a pity that so few of his hymns are included in LBW and ELW.