Georg Valdemar Brücker (1852-1929)

Grundtvigian clergyman and folk high school leader, MSc Polytechnical College 1876, MA theology 1880, pastor of a free Grundtvigian congregation in Aagaard 1887-1929, headmaster of Aagaard Folk High School 1899-1922.

As a prolific writer in the liberal Grundtvigian periodicals Højskolebladet [The High School Magazine] and Tidens Strøm [Contemporary Current], Valdemar Brücker was the most prominent advocate of the neo-Grundtvigians, who introduced modern science and literature and biblical criticism in Grundtvigian circles. Initially educated as an engineer, Brücker understood the scientific value of evolutionary theory and frequently touched upon the topic. His most elaborate assessment of Darwinism was published in Et Livssyn [A View of Life] (Copenhagen: Lehrmann & Stage, 1916). In line with the philosopher Rasmus Nielsen, Brücker advocated a separation model of science and religion, and combined this with a liberal interpretation of N.F.S. Grundtvig’s theology. Brücker emphasised Grundtvig’s church view which included the notion that the living word of Christ was primary to the Bible and that the cornerstone of Christianity was not Scripture as in traditional Lutheranism, but the sacraments and the Apostolic Creed. By advocating this aspect of Grundtvig’s teachings and downplaying Grundtvig’s literal interpretation of Genesis in his philosophy of history, Brücker made it possible for himself and other neo-Grundtvigians to embrace ideas which seemed at odds with the Bible, such as biblical criticism and Darwinism.    

See ‘Not just breast-feeding animals: Grundtvigian Protestant responses to Darwinism in Denmark, 1859-1914’.

Hans Henrik Hjermitslev

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