Morten Oxenbøll Pontoppidan (1851-1931)

Grundtvigian clergyman and folk high school leader, MA theology 1873, folk high school headmaster in Jørlunde and Copenhagen 1880-1893, reverend 1894-1921.

As a leading neo-Grundtvigian, Morten Pontoppidan belonged to the far left of the Grundtvigian movement, both theologically and politically. In the 1880s and 1890s he wrote favourably about naturalism, modern literature and biblical criticism in his journals Tidens Strøm [Contemporary Curent] and Frit Vidnesbyrd [Free Testimony]. Although natural science and Darwinism were not among his favourite topics, he published two articles in Frit Vidnesbyrd that were supportive of evolution and argued that the theory did not exclude, but rather clarified, religious belief. Moreover, he made a strong pro-Darwinian signal in 1891 when he hired the atheist writer Jeppe Aakjær to teach natural history from a Darwinian perspective at his short-lived folk high school in Copenhagen. From the 1890s, Pontoppidan gradually distanced himself from Grundtvigianism and in the first decades of the twentieth century he defended in independent position within the Danish Evangelical-Lutheran Established Church.  

Hans Henrik Hjermitslev

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