The Background for Celebrating the Anniversary

During the early decades of the 1500s, numerous people in the Catholic Church started to criticise its activities. Some of them went so far in their demands for reform that the result was a break with the papal church. Martin Luther was the leading figure of the movement, insisting that each and every Christian had a direct relationship to God. There was no need for a large church organisation to administer the grace of God, and it was wrong to believe that people could achieve salvation through good deeds. Salvation was solely God’s to give to those who accepted faith. An understanding of God came from the words of the Bible, so the Bible was to be made accessible to everyone through translation into their mother tongue.

The Catholic Church had become a parallel state in society, an international organisation with its own laws and many social and ethical duties. The Reformation removed the church as an autonomous social and secular power. In its place, Lutheran princely churches emerged where kings and their administrations assumed responsibility for the support and promotion of the religious lives of their subjects, and provided a framework for moral behaviour. Areas like care of the elderly and poor relief, which had previously been provided by the church, became the responsibility of secular society. Citizens were not to isolate themselves from society to serve God, but instead assume the duties befitting their social rank and station in society.

The Reformation marked the beginning of almost 500 years of development, which Denmark became an early part of. The consequences of the Reformation for Danish society theologically and socially were manifold, and can only be understood in an international context. It is an important subject with numerous issues to explore, analyse, problematize, discuss and communicate.