Frederik Olfert Jungersen (1836-1912)

Grundtvigian clergyman, MA theology 1861, Headmaster of Skovgaard Folk High School 1870-77, reverend in Blære and Ejdrup 1877-81 and in Vig and Asminderup 1881-1890, pastor of a free Grundtvigian congregation in Copenhagen from 1890.

In 1873 Frederik Jungersen delivered a series of lectures on ‘Danish Protestantism’ at Borch’s College in Copenhagen. In these lectures, which were published the same year, Jungersen combined the theology of N.F.S. Grundtvig with the philosophies of Søren Kierkegaard and Rasmus Nielsen in order to reinterpret Christian faith in light of modern philosophy and natural science. Jungersen was positive towards new scientific theories such as Darwinism and advocated a separation model of science and religion. In 1881 Jungersen engaged in polemics with the physicist Poul la Cour and the reverend J.N.L. Dalsgaard in the Grundtvigian journal Nordisk Maanedsskrift [Nordic Monthly]. The topic was evolutionary geology, and Jungersen criticised Dalsgaard and la Cour for trying to integrate natural science and Scripture. Jungersen warned against this kind of apologetics and argued that science and faith had to be understood as two radically separated principles in life. While a group of liberal neo-Grundtvigians such as Valdemar Brücker and Morten Pontoppidan took Jungersen’s Danish Protestantism to heart, Jungersen’s own radicalism was replaced in the 1880s by a support of orthodox Grundtvigianism. This conservative theological stance resulted in fierce attacks on the literary critic Georg Brandes, free thought and liberal theology.

Hans Henrik Hjermitslev

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