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This is not surprising, since the large-scale sporting federations in Sweden during the inter-war years decidedly claimed that sport and politics in extension, also religion should be separated. It was also presented as desirable that no sporting events should take place on Sundays between Regarding a divine service for sportsmen, most representatives from both sides were sceptical. In that way, a relationship to the church would be established among the male youth. The above developments in the Church of Sweden had an equivalent in one of the major revival movements in Sweden at the time.

In her analysis of a journal for the youth within the Mission Covenant Church, historian Elin Malmer shows that the attitude towards the sports movement went from dire criticism to prudent appreciation during the first decades of the twentieth century. Not surprisingly, the problem of sport on the Sabbath was addressed as one of the major issues.

This sort of critique was also directed towards other forms of leisure, not least dancing, which had become a popular pastime in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The problem, however, does not appear to have been sport in itself, but rather what involvement in the sports movement could lead to. Over the coming years, the editors of the journal became more obliging.

In one article from , the Swedish athletes who took part in the London Olympics were honoured. The author did, however, point out that the ultimate goal is higher than sport: the eternal life. This claim was supported with a reference to 1 Corinthians , where St Paul claims that the followers of Christ race to win an imperishable wreath.

In an article published in , the preacher and editor of the journal in question, August W. In the beginning of the s, the Church of Sweden National Board for Parish Life Svenska kyrkans diakonistyrelse set up a position as secretary for sports. The initiative in itself shows how strategically important the church considered the issue of leisure and sport to be. The first holder of this assignment was Samuel Norrby — Norrby, who was himself a successful athlete, for example a fivefold Swedish champion in shot-put, worked as a pastor in the outskirts of Stockholm.

As secretary for sports within the National Board for Parish Life, Norrby had the task to inspire his colleagues among the clergy to, as a part of their pastoral work, engage with young people and the sports movement. Furthermore, he was supposed to work as a mediator between the Church of Sweden and the rapidly growing sports movement. Norrby, Vasalopp och kyrkmarsch , 5. As a consequence of his own successful athletic career, one should not underestimate the impact that Norrby may have had on the boys and girls that he met during the course of his work.

Norrby was strongly influenced by the ideas of the above-mentioned Young Church Movement and men like J. In one of his speeches, he even paraphrased a popular nationalistic hymn significant for this movement. For Norrby and his like-minded, the overall purpose was to reconcile any differences between the church and the surrounding society. In doing so, Norrby, from a practical perspective, gave voice to something similar to Kulturprotestantismus. How theologians, for example Bishop J.

In his essays and speeches, Norrby frequently pointed out that a Christian belief could be combined with a sound engagement in athletic activities, resulting in positive consequences. Norrby frequently returned to the idea of a sound mind in a sound body. He also emphasized that there were important societal gains to be made if the sports movement and the church cooperated, and if the church took on a positive attitude to different athletic activities. Norrby underlined that sport gave rise to important virtues, especially when it came to the education of boys and young men. Additionally, the exaltation that came with athletic exercise or a victory gave a perception of God.

Norrby, Vasalopp och kyrkmarsch , 5—6, 11, 17—18, Frequently, Norrby pondered on the idea that the industrial society in which he worked was in need of organized leisure activities for the youth. Only occasionally, and in passing, did he mention girls or young women in connection to sports.

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When speaking about women, Norrby kept to a strict traditional gender division, underlining the role of women as mothers within the private domain. Norrby, Fritt fram , 51—3. View all notes Emphasizing the need for boys and young men to engage in athletic activities, Norrby used a rhetoric typical of the period, viz. View all notes For Norrby, sport appeared as a useful means to channel this need for a fling, and at the same time helped in reducing violent behaviour among boys and young men.

A collaboration between the sports movement and the church would also educate youth in more ethical and spiritual matters. Norrby, Vasalopp och kyrkmarsch , 21—4. View all notes Sport was seen as a serious form of play.

The Meaning of Christian Liturgy

This kind of play was considered as a necessary component in contemporary society, since it constituted a means for people to better understand themselves and others. Additionally, Norrby pointed out that athletics, probably referring to track and field, was a type of play which suited men. Norrby, Fritt fram , View all notes Altogether, sport was seen as vital part in shaping democratic and Christian citizens. As others influenced by the Young Church Movement, Norrby tried to persuade his readers and listeners that Christianity was a masculine matter; that the spirituality that he belonged to was genuinely manly and that there was nothing effeminate about it.

Norrby, Vasalopp och kyrkmarsch , 33—4. View all notes It thus seems that a faith with masculine traits was a prerequisite for Norrby in order to engage with representatives of the sports movement.

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Norrby was not convinced about the idea that sport and the sports movement should be neutral with regard to religion. Since he perceived Sweden to be a Christian country, he did not accept that religion was relocated to the private sphere. Of course, Norrby recognized the different down-sides of sport, too. One of the negative aspects of sport was the increasing professionalization. Norrby regarded professionalism as a problem since its outcome was that the joy that came with sport was superseded by the pursuit of earning money.

View all notes Additionally, Norrby could be sceptical towards sport activities during Sundays. Thus, it seems as if the question of sabbatarianism was still important within Broad Church circles of the Church of Sweden during the s. However, Norrby was not rigid in his opinion, and in a personal reflection he mentions how he as a competing athlete found it difficult to attend service on Sundays.

He nevertheless found a strategy to be able to attend service at the place of the contest, thus successfully combining the requirements of the third commandment and his career as an athlete. The positive approach to the sports movement common to the Young Church Movement and Samuel Norrby was not shared by the entire clergy of the Church of Sweden. On the Swedish west coast especially, proponents of the conservative revival tradition were sceptical.


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In that position he practiced considerable influence on the numerous theology students in the city. After him, the revival movement is known as Schartauanism. The advocates consider the preaching of the word the principal means of grace, which is why liturgical reforms and new work models within the church are looked upon with disapproval. The essential element is instead the intellectual aspects of faith, i. Lars F. Based on this short introduction it is not difficult to see why exponents of Schartauanism took a stand against sport and the sports movement.

They saw two major problems with sport and how it was praised by an increasing amount of representatives from the church. First, sport was viewed as a rival activity to listening to the sermon during the Sunday service. The fact that the Sunday issue was of major importance to the conservative revival tradition was not coincidental. Its high esteem of the ministry and the significance it placed on preaching made the Sunday services protracted and of utmost importance to the faithful. There was simply not room for sporting activities on the Sabbath, which instead was to be devoted entirely to spiritual undertakings and serenity.

Even after the introduction of work-free Saturdays in Sweden during the s, the sports movement was criticized on Sabbatarian grounds.

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The second problem was of more substantive character, viz. To neglect the aspect of faith in favour of morals was considered theologically dubious by the leaders of the revival. Personal improvement could not be reached by any outward activity, but was the consequence of deepened belief. View all notes These objections indicate that it was not sport in itself which was considered the problem, but rather that sport — as much as any other leisure activity — would lead to a misguided focus.

The s saw the establishment of a High Church movement within the Church of Sweden, influenced by the ecumenical aspirations of the time. The life of the church was to be based around the divine service with mass being celebrated every Sunday.

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The word and the sacraments were at the centre of parish life. In the prologue to the first volume, Rosendal comments on the growing popularity of sport as an element in the youth work of the parishes: Many clergymen were imaginative enough to use sport as bait on the hook in order to catch the young, but the youth took the bait and skilfully avoided the hook. They sometimes came across their clergy on the football pitch, but they seldom cared to hear him in church.

Only by conducting and creating an interest for the divine service could the clergy attract new devotees. In conclusion, a theological divide can be observed when clergy and other representatives from the Church of Sweden discussed the place of sport in parish life. Proponents of the conservative revival tradition on the west coast and the members of the High Church movement saw sport as a distraction from what they believed to be essential to the church.

The results indicate that neither of the two considered sport as something negative or harmful in itself, as long as it did not interfere with what they considered to be ecclesiastical obligations. In addition to the Mission Covenant Church discussed above, the Swedish twentieth-century revival had a stronghold in the Pentecostal movement.

The latter was established in Sweden only a few years after the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, and between and the spiritual leader of the Pentecostal movement in Sweden was Lewi Pethrus — Pentecostalism is part of the wider charismatic movement and characteristic of its piety is the focus on spiritual gifts, particularly glossolalia, generally known as speaking in tongues.

Similar to the Mission Covenant Church, Pentecostals practice adult baptism, which means that a person must actively profess his or her faith in order to be baptized and become a member of a congregation. Being baptized thus means that you are born-again and have chosen a life with God, which comes with obligations with regard to how you choose to live your life. For an introduction to Pentecostalism, see William K. Church historian Joel Halldorf argues that we have to understand the Pentecostal attitude towards sport in light of its theological roots.

As stated above, the born-again Christian is to lead a life without sin in order to reach sanctification.


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This, in turn, means that this disposition should be characteristic for every single deed that he or she performs. Unlike traditional Lutheran theology, there are no actions deemed adiaphora in Pentecostalism; all acts are considered either spiritual or unspiritual and thus sinful. As a born-again Christian you are to give up all worldly pleasure-seeking and live a life entirely devoted to Christ.


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