On the fringes of post-Reformation Europe, church and state authorities faced problems in enforcing church attendance. In the Swedish kingdom, religious uniformity was seen as vital for the success of the state after the Lutheran confession had been established, and absences from church were punishable by law. The seventeenth century saw significant tightening of legislation relating to church absences and other breaches of the Sabbath, and severe punishments were introduced. Despite considerable deterrents, it was sometimes difficult to control local inhabitants: absence cases were regularly brought before the local courts in Eastern Finland, where authorities were hampered by a combination of geographical distance and a highly mobile population. In this article, popular church-going practices are studied with an approach inspired by historical anthropology. In popular practice church attendance was required only on the most important holy days of the year, whereas on Sundays and prayer days, work or leisure were considered socially acceptable pursuits. Explanations of nonattendance should not only make reference to trying conditions: in certain situations people would travel long distances to church, despite the obvious difficulties they faced. Popular religious traditions and old conceptions of sacred time also affected behaviour among peasants. The great holy days of the year formed a ritual cycle, the aim of which was the maintenance of good relations with the supernatural. For the success of oneself and one’s household, it was more important to follow the norms of popular culture than the orders of the authorities.
Attention is usually drawn to the negative relationship between Richard Hooker and his Puritan opponents. Such concerns dominate the polemical landscape of the late 16th and 17th centuries. However, the extent to which later Puritans appear to converge on Hooker’s epistemology and overall attitude to the place of reason, Scripture and sacrament is often overlooked. This paper consider some key affirmations from Richard Baxter, John Owen and Hooker’s contemporary William Perkins. The paper concludes that in more settled times substantive agreement might have been found on issues that during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I were profoundly divisive including the question of ministry orders
John Amos Comenius was a revolutionary leader in both the church and the academy in 17th century Europe. Born and raised in Moravia and firmly grounded in the doctrine of the United Church of the Brethren, Comenius rose from obscurity in what is now the Czech Republic to become recognized around Europe and beyond as an innovative and transformational leader. He contributed to efforts such as advocating for universal education, authoring classroom textbooks (most notably in Latin education), shepherding local churches and his entire denomination, and working for unity and peace among Christians across Europe. Though for many decades after his death he seemed to be lost to time, there has been a resurgence of scholarly interest in the ideas and methods of Comenius. His life and work can serve as a source of encouragement and inspiration to church and educational leaders today.
As the main religion of Finland, but also of entire Scandinavia, Lutheranism has a centuries-long history. Until 1809 Finland formed the eastern part of the Swedish Kingdom, from 1809 to 1917 it was a Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire, and in 1917 Finland gained independence. In the 1520s the Lutheran Reformation reached the Swedish realm and gradually Lutheranism was made the state religion in Sweden. In the 19th century the Emperor in Russia recognized the official Lutheran confession and the status of the Lutheran Church as a state church in Finland. In the 20th century Lutheran church leaders preferred to use the concept people’s church. The Lutheran Church is still the majority church. In the beginning of 2015, some 74 percent of all Finns were members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. In this issue of Perichoresis, Finnish historians interested in the role of church and Christian faith in society look at the religious history of Finland and Scandinavia. The articles are mainly organized in chronological order, starting from the early modern period and covering several centuries until the late 20th century and the building of the welfare state in Finland. This introductory article gives a brief overview of state-church relations in Finland and presents the overall theme of this issue focusing on Finnish Lutheranism. Our studies suggest that 16th and early 17th century Finland may not have been quite so devoutly Lutheran as is commonly claimed, and that late 20th century Finland may have been more Lutheran than is commonly realized.
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