Church & Culture Programme – University of Copenhagen

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Church and Culture Programme
for English Speaking Guest Students
22 August to 22 November 2016

The Faculty of Theology
University of Copenhagen

Every second autumn term since 1990, the Faculty of Theology has arranged its Church and Culture Programme for English Speaking Guest Students, emphasising that not least students from Third World Countries, who have often been sponsored by Danish Churches and NGO’s, are welcomed.

Students from all subjects of academic studies can participate if they have finished studies at the BA-level. Participation in the three courses offered in the programme is compulsory for students registered for the programme. For two of the three courses participants must submit exam papers.

The Programme has had participants from a great number of countries in Africa e.g. Egypt, Nigeria, Tanzania and Madagascar, Asia, e.g. China, India, Malaysia and Mongolia and USA and Europe.


Theme for Autumn 2016

The programme has dealt with all kinds of issues relating to the question of Christianity and Culture. The Church and Culture Programme in Copenhagen Autumn 2016 will focus on:

Changing Attitudes to Religion

In Modern Christianity

Programme for Autumn 2016

The programme included three courses from 22 August to 22 November 2016.

The first part of the programme is a compact course on Theology of Religions:

Transforming Religion: Theologies, Theories and Criticisms

Monday 22nd of August to Friday 2nd of September

By Johanne S. Teglbjærg Kristensen and Jonas Adelin Jørgensen 

This course introduces the discipline of the theology of religions, and, proceeds from the fact of the traditionally ambivalent relationship of theology to the concept of religion. In the theological tradition, religion has been reflected both as the fulfillment of Christian faith and as the opposite of Christianity. The course explores this seeming ambivalence, including its current transformation, in addition to raising the question of how we today can understand ourselves in relation to a possible concept of religion and relate to other religions or approaches to life. How should we approach religion and understand the concept of religion? To what extent can we understand Christianity as a religion? And what does this mean for our understanding of interreligious issues? In order to answer these questions, we shall review four well-established theological approaches toward religion: (1) The post-colonial theology of religions, which seeks to overcome an oppressive Christian relationship to religion; (2) the widespread post-dialectical attitude, which seeks an affirmative, yet critical attitude towards religion; (3) the influential dialectical and primarily critical approach to religion and, finally, (4) the liberal positive conception of religion. We will focus on the different concepts of religion that the four approaches imply, and explore the corresponding philosophical conceptions and theories of religion. Lastly, we shall examine the recent development in the criticism and study of religion, and thereby return to the theological issues of religion. Thus, the focus of the course will be on three specific issues of the theology of religions: (1) the relationship between an affirmative- and critical attitude toward the concept of religion; (2) the relationship between the concept of religion and religious experience and, finally, (3) the relationship between third-person descriptions and first-person understandings of religion.

The aim of the course is that the student achieves the following goals:

  • Confidence in using the terminology of the theology of religions
  • Proficiency in debating specific issues of the theology of religions
  • Specific knowledge of four approaches to the theology of religion, including the implied philosophical conceptions and debates
  • Skills in assessing texts and expressions of different theologies of religion
  • Skills in criticizing different attitudes toward religion, as well as in assessing approaches to interreligious issues

The course unfolds over a two-week period. Johanne S. Teglbjærg Kristensen and Jonas Adelin Jørgensen will be teaching, along with a number of guest teachers (Niels Reeh, Carsten Pallesen, Judy Gammelgård, Bent Flemming Nielsen, Jon Stewart, Peter Westergaard and others). The morning sessions consist of lectures and discussions, while the afternoon sessions will focus on various types of work in groups (feedback groups, matrix groups, walk and talk, etc.) and on individual supervision.

Barth, Karl. 1980. Die Kirchliche Dogmatik, Band I, 2. Zürich: Theologischer Verlag 
Caputo, John D. 2001. On Religion. London: Routledge
Coakley, Sarah. 1988. Christ Without Absolutes. A Study of the Christology of Ernst Troeltsch. Clarendon Press, Oxford
Daggers, Jenny. 2013. Postcolonial Theology of Religions. Particularity and Pluralism in the World of Christianity. London: Routledge
Dalferth, Ingolf und Hans-Peter Grosshans. 2006. Kritik der Religion: Zur Aktualität einer unerledigten philosophischen und theologischen Aufgabe. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck
Danz, Christian. 2000. Religion als Freiheitsbewusstsein. Berlin Walter de Gruyter
Jørgensen, Jonas Adelin. 2008. Jesus Imandars and Christ Bhaktas: Two Case Studies of Interreligious Hermeneutics and Identity in Global Christianity, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang
Hinnels, John. 2010. The Routledge Companion to The Study of Religion. London: Routledge
Pals, Daniel L. 2006. Eight Theories of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Pannenberg, Wolfhart. 1988. Systematische Theologie Band 1. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht
Schleiermacher, Friedrich. 2010. Om religionen. Taler til de dannede blandt dens foragtere. Frederiksberg: Aros
Schwöbel, Christoph. 2011. Gott im Gespräch. Theologische Studien zur Gegenwartsdeutung. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck
Tillich, Paul Tillich. 1973. Systematic Theology Volume 1. [1963]. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Troeltsch, Ernst. 1924. Die Stellung des Christentums unter den Weltreligionen, Pan Verlag / Rolf Heise, Berlin
Westergaard, Peter K. 2015. Kritik og tro. Hume, Kant Nietzche og Wittgenstein. Købemhavn: Anis
Wenz, Gunther. 2005. Religion. Aspekte ihres Begriffs und ihrer Theorie in der Neuzeit. Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht

The second part of the programme from 5th of September to 22nd of November has two courses on the contributions by two outstanding Danish theologians in the 19th Century: N.F. S. Grundtvig and Søren Kierkegaard:

Christianity and Secularism in Denmark with special reference to
N.F.S. Grundtvig

Four periods a week, September, October and November

By Hans Raun Iversen

Denmark is among the most secular countries in the world. American sociologist Phil Zuckerman has labeled our country "Society without God". Religion is, however, not without significance in Denmark. 90 % of the population is members of religious communities, almost 80 % of the National (Evangelical-Lutheran) Church. Atheists in Denmark are often "Lutheran Atheists". In the background of a brief introduction to Danish History, in particular Church History, this course will explore the special Danish form of secular religion combined with religious secularism which was part of the background of the Cartoon Crises sparked off from Denmark in 2006. The second part of the course is an introduction to the theology of N.F.S. Grundtvig, who is considered the modern father of Church and State in Denmark. Thus we will have a theological point of reference for the historical and sociological parts of the course.

Course Books:
Hans Raun Iversen: Church, Society and Mission. Selected Texts in English (electronic versions)
Martin Schwartz: A Church History of Denmark, Ashgate 2002
Peter Gundelach, Hans Raun Iversen and Margit Warburg: At the Heart of Denmark. Institutions and Mentalities (2008, electronic version). 
A. M. Allchin: N. F. S. Grundtvig. An Introduction to his Life and Work, Aarhus University Press
N.F.S Grundtvig 2015. Living Well-Springs. Hymns, Songs and Poems. Aarhus University Press

Introduction to Søren Kierkegaard’s Authorship

Four periods a week, September, October and November

By Brian Söderquist

A study of the works of Copenhagen’s most radical author, Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Kierkegaard’s´entire authorship is centered around the existential project that every human being is confronted with: to become oneself and none other than oneself. And as he sees it, becoming oneself does not happen passively and is never achieved
once and for all, but rather requires constant effort. He often describes this project as one of taking responsibility for “choosing,” “gaining,” or “finding oneself.”

This course examines his witty, humorous, but also deeply earnest exploration of the psychology of self identity. And Kierkegaard’s thoughts about the struggle for personhood take us through perhaps unexpected territories: beginning with the breakdown of culture-specific ethnic and religious categories that have traditionally defined the self, he speaks of the culturally destructive power of Socratic irony, the art of seduction, beauty and boredom, religious culture and politics, religious demands that conflict with ethical duty, chronic sicknesses of the soul, the look of the Other, the struggle to see with the eye of faith, the joy of being embodied here and now, and finally, love.

We will remain especially attentive to the ways in which Kierkegaard’s thought is critical of inherited ethnic and cultural definitions of self, and why he nonetheless considers human relationships to be absolutely essential to understanding oneself and one’s obligations to other human beings.

The course will be reading intensive as we explore some of Kierkegaard’s
central works including The Concept of Irony, Either/Or, The Sickness Unto
Death and a handful of his edifying discourses.