Kontrast och kontinuitet

Predikoideal i Svenska kyrkans prästutbildning 1903–2017


  • Frida Mannerfelt teol. master, doktorand vid Teologiska högskolan Stockholm


This article considers one vital aspect of the formal education of priests and preachers in the Swedish Lutheran Church during the twentieth century: the homiletical literature. Which homiletical ideals did candidates relate to in their formal education to become preachers?

The literature considered in this article is the basic literature in homiletics, defined as the literature that was required for passing the exam and that was in use for at least a few years. This ensures that it was read by many students and, consequently, influenced their homiletical ideals.

The homiletical literature offers two different approaches: message-oriented and relation-oriented preaching, each with its own specific concepts, theological standpoints and paragons. Often presented by the authors as both ”new” and similar to the preaching of Christ himself, these approaches att first seem to have little or nothing in common. Each is concentrated to a certain period: message- oriented 1903–1975 and relation-oriented 1975–2017. Furthermore, each period’s literature is characterized by a striking uniformity of orientation. All this is referred to as contrast – contrast between two distinct approaches to preaching.

At the same time, there is also a clear continuity in the basic homiletical literature. Parallel to the contrast, there exit similarities: in the way that the authors write about the relation between preacher and congregation – that the preacher’s authority is grounded in experience and that it is the preacher’s responsibility to ensure credibility; in the notion that there is a central core to the gospel, a core message; and finally in the ideal that preaching should be a kind of conversation.

These findings of contrast and continuity are discussed against the backdrop of the curriculum for clergy education and the research traditions in the field of Practical Theology. Because of the close connection between the state and the Church of Sweden, the universities had been responsible for both theoretical and practical parts of clergy education since the beginning of the nineteenth century. The slow twentieth-century separation process between academy and church affected, among other things, the structure of clergy education and its curriculum. In 1980, the establishment of one- year seminaries under the auspices of the Church, ”Pastoralinstitut”, completed the separation between the academic/theoretical and the practical part of clergy education. This separation process caused the contrast between the two homiletic approaches to appear more radical than it really was. When the Pastoralinstitut was established, it was a good opportunity to create a new profile.

On the other hand, the academy–church connection had established a link between practical homiletical literature and homiletical research within the academic discipline of Practical Theology. This may have contributed to the striking uniformity in the basic homiletical literature.

The article ends with some questions that arise from this study. Empirical research shows that no uniformity of approach was or is found among preachers, and that the two ideals can be in play together. What are the consequences when homiletical reflection within formal education is more theoretically and theologically uni- form than reality is? One may also ask what happens when a twenty- first-century phenomenon such as digitisation questions ideals that were part of the previous century’s continuity.