INTRODUCTION TO CONTEXTS

A short introduction to developments concerning baptism in the Nordic countries

In the last decadess, the Nordic folk churches have experienced decline in the number of baptisms, in absolute numbers, as well as relative to the number of newborns. This reflects the weakened role of infant baptism as a general rite de passage as well as the changed situation of the Lutheran majority churches in the Nordic societies. At the same time there has been an increase in baptisms of youth and adults. 

This development has led to interest in the role of baptism, both from researchers within theology and social sciences and from the churches. Churches and congregations have developed strategies and new practices in response to the decline. Questions of baptismal theology and practice are not isolated areas but are closely connected to other central issues for the life of the churches and their role in society, including issues like Eucharist, rituals and liturgy, faith instruction, the role of lay people, ecclesiology, etc.