Aarhus University Seal
Lutheran Confessional Cultures in Early Modern Germany and Scandinavia
21-22 January 2016

About the conference


Since the 1980s the paradigm of confessionalisation has become a common basis of a lot of research in the ‘confessional age’ in European history. Especially the German historians Wolfgang Reinhard and Heinz Schilling have argued that a process of confessionalisation, following in the wake of the Reformation, was an important phase in the development of the modern state. Within all of the three dominant confessions of Germany, Lutheranism, the Reformed Church, and Roman Catholicism, the outcome of the process was confessional societies in which church and state worked closely together, and ecclesiastical and social discipline played an important role in making people think and behave like devoted Christians. In opposition to this view the German church historian Thomas Kaufmann has formulated an alternative concept, namely that of ‘confessional culture’, Konfessionskultur. With this concept he points to the fact that although Lutheran, Reformed and Catholic territories in the German Empire to a certain degree went through the same social and political development, there were substantial differences within the cultural sphere: Each confession developed its own distinct confessional culture.


The purpose of the conference in January 2016 is to compare the confessional cultures that developed in the early modern period in the Lutheran parts of the German Empire and in the Nordic countries. Up to now very often German Lutheran concepts of confessional identity have been used as normative models for Scandinavian Lutheranism as well. This ignores the fact that the cultural and political conditions were very different. There is no doubt that Lutheranism had a deep impact on the societies dominated by this version of the Christian religion, but although the forms and consequenses of Lutheranism in the different German territories and estates and in the Scandinavian countries might be similar, they are by no means identic. Above all there seems not to be a Scandinavian parallel for the theological struggles of German Lutheranism, something which might be the origin for many other developments.

Seeing Germany and Scandinavia as specific, but interconnected types of a multifold Lutheran confessional culture, the conference aims to historically reconstruct Lutheranism in unity as well as diversity.

Scholars from various European countries will present papers at the conference.


The conference has been planned by Thomas Kaufmann (Göttingen) and Per Ingesman (Aarhus). Mattias Skat Sommer (Aarhus) is the local organiser.

Registration is possible via a link at the right of this website.