Shaping the Danish People’s Church in the Context of Freedom of Religion: A.S. Ørsted (1778-1860) and N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872)

Lisbet Christoffersen, Niels Henrik Gregersen

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportBidrag til bog/antologiForskningpeer review


In this chapter, we investigate the interactions between the “theologizing jurist” A.S. Ørsted and the “historicizing theologian” N.F.S. Grundtvig. Taking our point of departure in their initial conflicts in the 1810s, we show their mutual rapprochement in 1826, and follow in detail their distinctive positions at the 1848-49 constitutional assembly. Ørsted and Grundtvig were among the most active speakers at the assembly that formulated the Danish Constitution of 1849. Both argued for freedom of religion but whereas Ørsted wanted this freedom to be given by law by the legislative decisions to come, Grundtvig wanted the freedom of religion to be given a prominent place in the Constitution. Regarding the People’s church, they agreed on the identification of the People’s Church as a confessionally defined Evangelical-Lutheran church, though Grundtvig worked for a high degree of freedom for members as well as pastors within the church. We argue that Ørsted and Grundtvig reversed their roles over time. Grundtvig began as a conservative but ended up promoting the most liberal ecclesiastical legislation. Ørsted began as a liberal administrator of church affairs but ended up as a conservative voice in the parliament. Not because he had changed his views, but because the society had changed – from the age of an open-minded absolutism to the age of democracy.
TitelLaw and the Christian Tradition in Scandinavia : The Writings of Great Nordic Jurists
RedaktørerKjell Åke Modéer, Helle Vogt
Antal sider36
UdgivelsesstedLondon and New York
ISBN (Trykt)9780367858247
ISBN (Elektronisk)9781000201536
StatusUdgivet - 2021
NavnLaw and Religion


  • N.F.S. Grundtvig
  • A.S. Ørsted
  • Danish Constitution 1849
  • People's Church of Denmark
  • Freedom of Religion
  • Ecclesiastical law
  • Law & Religion

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