Once again I turn to the invaluable blog Mirabilis.ca. Today’s story is of interest to me for several reasons. Annoyance being only one of them.
An article from thelocal.no, an English-language Norwegian news site, explains how the Norwegian state church (Lutheran) will be disestablished at the end of 2016. Sort of.
A typically Norwegian non-solution solution.
The bill that passed parliament resulted in extensive changes to the Constitution. Out went the phrase “The Evangelical-Lutheran religion will remain the state’s public religion”. In its place came the words “the Church of Norway, an Evangelical-Lutheran Church, will remain Norway’s national church and will be supported as such by the state”.
Do you understand what that means? I’m not sure I do either.
Apparently what’s happening is a purely institutional separation. Pastors will no longer be state functionaries, but employees of the church.
But the church will still be tax-supported.
Kind of like trying to have your lutefisk and eat it too.
Prof. Georg Sverdrup, a 19th Century theologian who is the subject of a scholarly journal for which I am the editor, came to America from Norway around 1875, in part because of his unhappiness with the Norwegian state church. He believed in revival in the local congregation, and he believed the church bureaucracy made revival essentially impossible. In America, he thought, the absence of a state church would make living congregations, constantly revived, possible.
Today disestablishmentarianism (yes, that’s where the long word comes from) seems to be the province of atheists.
Still, a real disestablishment might be the best thing that could happen to Christianity in Norway.
But I don’t think this is it.