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"Ecclesiola in Ecclesia": Missionssällskapet Bibeltrogna Vänner och kyrkofrågan mellan åren 1911-1986
Linköping University, Department of Culture and Communication, Arts and Humanities. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2013 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
The Swedish Missionary Association Bible Faithful Friends' (Bibeltrogna Vänner, BV) Ecclesiological Development 1911 - 1986 (English)
Abstract [en]

This essay examines the Swedish missionary association Bible Faithful Friends’ (Bibeltrogna Vänner, BV) ecclesiological development between the years 1911 – 1986 and their relation to the Church of Sweden. This essay’s three main questions are:

- How did the ecclesiology of BV develop during the years 1911 – 1986, with certain focus on 1967-1986?

- In what way was this ecclesiology imprinted by

a) the structure of the missionary association?

b) and the ecclesiological standpoint of the leader Axel B. Svensson?

As regards the first question, the study shows that BV's ecclesiology, particularly in the years 1967 – 1986, is characterized by a church debate between BV's board and the promoters and founders of the Lutheran Confessional Church (Lutherska Bekännelsekyrkan, LBK). The latter was founded due to what they identified as confessional deviations in the Church of Sweden. Their view of church fellowship was that the invisible and the visible church should be uniform in doctrine, faith and confession. Accordingly, they argued that the lack of church discipline had led the Church of Sweden to deviate from the word of God and the apostles' doctrine. In the 1980’s, a proposal to allow Evangelical Lutheran congregations to form within BV, initiated a theological work by the board. The annual meeting of 1986 resolves not only to permit the emergence of free Evangelical Lutheran congregations within BV, but rather to encourage such a transition. In the second question, this study shows that the varying local church conditions among missionaries in northern Skåne in the 1870’s, resulted in the formation of "Communion fellowships". The historical explanations to the formation of these fellowships vary. However, essential to this study is the explanation given in BV’s internal historiography. This reveals that these fellowships were founded out of a need to receive Holy Communion as they had been excommunicated from the parish church. In other areas, missionaries were welcomed and encouraged by the church; hence Holy Communion was not here an issue. These varying local conditions in the grassroots movement BV contributed most likely to the association's pragmatic position in the church issue. Furthermore, one was united in the focus of mission, both near and abroad. In the third question, the study shows that Axel B. Svensson's ecclesiology had an essential impact on BV's official position in the church issue. Moreover, the absence of his voice after his death in 1967 makes clear that his ecclesiology was considered indicative to both BV and LBK. Both used him as legitimizing their own position but perceived him quite differently. However the dominating position among BV members was to remain within the Church of Sweden by working for spiritual revival in her midst. Being an ecclesiola in ecclesian, and thereby promote revival. At the same time one was open towards a relationship change towards the Church of Sweden if this would be considered necessary. 1986 is the year when one could regard this statement to be put to test: through encouraging the formation of Evangelical Lutheran congregations within BV, the association proves to stay true to its pragmatic ecclesiological standpoint were collaboration on the mission field, home and abroad, is superior to union in church issues.

My analysis of these results comes to the conclusion that BV was once and is still founded in the identity of being "ecclesiola in ecclesia". Therefore, during the 1967 – 1986 debate, this identity is challenged by certain BV members wanting to be ecclesia instead of ecclesiola. The pragmatic ecclesiological standpoint, which has long been practiced in the northern Skåne example, in the work of Axel B. Svensson and in the decision of 1986, was hence the reason to why BV was able to stay true to their particular mission: being ecclesiola in ecclesia.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 67 p.
Keyword [en]
Bible Faithful Friends, BV, Ecclesiological Development, Swedish Missionary Association, Axel B. Svensson, Lutheran Confessional Church, Ecclesiola in Ecclesia
Keyword [sv]
Bibeltrogna Vänner, BV, kyrkosyn, kyrkofrågan, ecklesiologi, missionsförening, Axel B. Svensson, Lutherska Bekännelsekyrkan, Ecclesiola in Ecclesia
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-89425ISRN: LIU-IKK/REL-G-12/010-SEOAI: diva2:607759
Subject / course
Religious Studies
2013-01-16, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2013-02-28 Created: 2013-02-25 Last updated: 2013-02-28Bibliographically approved

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