Förnyelse - förbistring - försoning: En studie av vitaliseringsrörelser och ekumenisk utveckling på fem sydsvenska orter 1970–2015

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


Reconciliation is a central theme in the Christian church. This study proceeds from a discrepancy between the theological understanding of reconciliation on the one hand and praxis in dealing with conflicts caused by different opinions about the culture or identity of the church on the other, especially in connection with vitalization (or renewal) movements.
In this study, one hundred conflicts or potential conflicts have been registered in five towns in southern Sweden, events that have occurred during the years 1970–2015. They are described in interviews, which have been forged into stories. The analysis of these stories and other empirical material from the five towns shows that a quick stance for or against the vitalization movement has often taken place. Not much time has been spent on reflexion and dialogue. New movements and churches have been categorized in a way that is lacking in nuances and have received insinuating labels. The rejection that arises often takes the form of three attitudes or ambitions by congregations toward deviant behaviour: to defend doctrine, order, and reputation. These ambitions are based on an ideal called law and order in the thesis. The outcome when this ideal stands alone is compared with the less negative consequences that arise when it is balanced with the ideal of grace, fidelity and care.
The importance of the structure of relational networks when dealing with conflicts caused by vitalization movements is highlighted in the study. For analysis of the relationships between pastors, priests, and leaders of vitalization movements, the sociological concept of brokers, providing five different broker types, is used. The term relational ecumenism is also introduced and is discussed from the perspectives of personal vs. formal relationships.
Finally, the thesis concludes that the responsibility for establishing and preserving local Christian unity is unclear, which has caused measures that could have prevented divisions to be taken too late, and has hindered the reconciliation of old conflicts. Ways to improve matters in future, e.g. through delegation of a ministry of unity from bishops/presidents to local deacons of unity, are suggested.


  • Arne Olsson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Religious Studies


  • atonement, bridge builder, broker, brokerage, commitment, communitas, conflict, deacon of unity, diversity, ecumenism, ecumenical movement, included estrangement, irenic, peacemaker, personal relationships, reconciliation, relational ecumenism, renewal movement, vitalization movement
Translated title of the contributionRenewal – Rejection – Reconciliation: A study of vitalization movements and ecumenical development in five Swedish municipalities 1970–2015
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Thesis sponsors
  • Nathan Söderbloms Minnesfond
  • Stiftelsen C E Wikströms minne
  • Samfundet Pro Fide et Christianismo (Kyrkoherde Nils Henrikssons stiftelse)
Award date2014 Sep 1
Place of PublicationSkellefteå
EditionBibliotheca Theologiae Practicae
  • Artos & Norma
Print ISBNs978-91-7777-040-4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May 21
Publication categoryResearch