PhD Course with Sabine Hiebsch: "Ecclesiology of a Lutheran minority in the Dutch Golden Age"

A closer look at the sources.

28.02.2018 | Johanne Nørtoft Thomsen

Dato ons 18 apr
Tid 10:00 14:00
Sted Aarhus University, Nobelparken, Building 1481, room 237

In the Dutch Golden Age (1585-1672) the Northern Netherlands became the Dutch Republic and in the process took over the leading role from their Southern counterpart in all relevant aspects: commerce, trade, finance, culture.

As some of the most important geographical spaces for their economic dealings – territories bordering the North Sea like Norway, the Baltic area and large parts of the German Lands – had by then become predominantly Lutheran, this brought a large influx of Lutheran migrants to the nascent Republic, especially Amsterdam that rapidly became the centre and epitome of the Dutch Golden Age. The profitable contributions of the Lutheran international contacts and migrants were two of the decisive prerequisites that enabled the establishment of Dutch Lutheran congregations, with Amsterdam in the leading position. And even though the city's two majestic Lutheran churches might suggest otherwise, the Amsterdam Lutherans, just as the Lutheran community in the rest of the Republic were one of the religious minorities, tolerated to various degrees in the different areas of the Republic. But by no means with the same privileges as the public Reformed Church.

Therein lies the most striking characteristic of Dutch Lutheranism: That it was not introduced, established and protected by rulers. Lutheranism in the Netherlands has always been a religious minority tradition without the support or protection of a Lutheran authority. 


Under these specific conditions the Dutch Lutherans developed an ecclesiology that was characterized by a highly pragmatic approach.

In my lecture I will explore that pragmatic ecclesiology, exemplified in how they handled all questions concerning the Lord's Supper, a topic at the very heart of their ecclesiology. This includes theological teachings, liturgical practices, material culture e.g. the church buildings and religious objects e.g. communion tokens. I will also question the social and societal implications of this development.


Aim of the course is to give the students an introduction into Dutch Lutheranism as a religious minority and the specific conditions in which it developed. They will get an insight into the pragmatic character of Dutch Lutheran ecclesiology , with a particular focus on the Lord's Supper. This will enable them to study these topics in a comparative way, e.g. the Dutch Lutheran minority context versus the Danish Lutheran majority context. Thus broadening the perspective on Lutheranism.



Contact person: Jette Bendixen Rønkilde,    

Tags: Development of Dutch Lutheranism, international Lutheran relations and migrants, ecclesiology, Lord's Supper, theological teachings, liturgical practice, material culture, communion token, social and societal impact,