chapter  5
38 Pages

Conflict in the Church

ByWilliam H. Swatos, Loftur Reimar Gissurarson

Kvoldvaka enabled the new religious ideas to be circulated throughout a population that was almost entirely literate; at the same time the formal liturgy of the church remained virtually unchanged. As the center of Icelandic religious culture, the kvoldvaka meant that writers of distinction could communicate directly with a popular audience, if they chose to do so. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, Iceland was relatively free of theological conflict. The teachings of the New Theology proponents and of the Icelandic-Canadian Unitarians were plainly in concert with the views. The first important contribution of fatalism to subsequent developments in Icelandic theology was that the crucified Christ fit consistently into its framework of heroism. The importance within Icelandic fatalism of dying well is fulfilled in the story of the crucifixion, as is the paradox of Jesus’s “doing what he had to do” with regard to the law, and his family relations, whether for good or ill.