The LUMEN Centre

The LUMEN Centre aims to develop an ambitious and innovative interdisciplinary platform for the study of confessional and cultural characteristics in the Lutheran Reformation and its influence on theology, mentality, culture and society – particularly in the Nordic countries. Based on this point of departure, the centre will contribute to the theoretical discussion about the importance of Protestantism for the individual and society.

The need for knowledge about the positive and negative influence of religions on social development has become urgent both in the field of research and in discussions about society in general. One of the goals of the centre is to contribute methodically and theoretically to the international discussion of religion as a driving force in historical development, and to the discussion of how to study the influence of religion on social development and social institutions. And the Nordic countries, which in many ways represent a special case in an international perspective, are indeed characterised by a long-term Lutheran influence. The LUMEN Centre bases its work on the thesis that current theories about Protestantism, which are founded in particular on research into the Calvinist tradition, do not fully comprehend the relevant aspects of the relationship between religion and state, society and individual in countries that are influenced by Lutheranism.

The members of the LUMEN Centre come from the fields of medieval and renaissance archaeology, philosophy, history, the history of ideas, church history, art history, practical theology, systematic theology and political science.


LUMEN regularly publishes new blog entries on theoretical, methodical, and empirical elements of its ongoing research.

Emotions are culturally understood as positive or negative. Laziness was in Luther’s catechism described as a negative emotion, connected to disobedience and an un-Christian life, opposite to the good life. Photo from ””

2018.11.22 | Research

Understanding an un-Christian life through negative emotions

In this post I suggest that negative emotions described in the religious literature as an element in an un-Christian life can bring us closer to an understanding of what was deemed to be an un-Christian life in early modern Denmark. I argue that this will enable us to gain a deeper understanding not only of norms, values and responsibilities…

2018.09.27 | Research

Do you not know that staring is considered rude! Two dutiful nobles in a Danish parish church

After the Reformation, the Danish nobility began producing memorials featuring nobles staring directly at the congregation. In this blog entry, I will argue that these staring nobles do not just tell us about a new painting style, because the pictures can also be studied as an image of the elite’s incorporation of Lutheran confessional culture in…

Snippet of banishment case against Svend Møller and wife (Tryggevælde Mølle, Karise), 25 June 1710. Source: Ulldal 293, 4. Synodalia Rochildensia.

2018.08.27 | Research

The Social Significance of the Eucharist in Early Modern Denmark

In many ways, the practice of the Eucharist in early modern Denmark was a feature of the efforts made to build stable communities. On the one hand, participating in the Eucharist was a way of affirming and protecting the community. On the other hand, social isolation and ultimately banishment was the harshest punishment a person who neglected the…

Just in time for summer reading. The new book on Lutheran Theology and the shaping of socieity (Photo: LUMEN/bkh)

2018.07.06 | Research

Lutheran Theology and the Shaping of Society

The connection between religion on the one hand, and social change and the formation of societies on the other hand, has been steadily attracting interest in recent years. The complex relationship and mutual dependency between confessional forces and societal development lies at the very heart of the interdisciplinary LUMEN-center at Aarhus…

Altarpiece from Torslunde Church outside Copenhagen, 1561. It depicts the reconfigures Sunday Service in the Danish Lutheran State Church. 
Currently on display at the National Museum in Copenhagen.

2018.06.04 | Research

Practicing theory – how contemporary theory can illuminate 500-year-old liturgical texts

One very famous result of the Reformation is often summed up in the statement that Luther helped reemphasize the congregation as the centre of Eucharistic practice. Most discourse on the subject highlights this transformation as a theological change but applying contemporary practice theory can help to reveal that the change is also performative…

The Ten Commandments. Lucas Cranach d. Ältere (1516)

2018.04.16 | Research

Why Early Modern historians should know their catechism

The first blog-entry is written by historian Nina Javette Koefoed. She reflects on the value of a more specific knowledge of theology, in this case the catechism, to her research on household, authority and socio-emotional relations.


Tue 18 Dec
16:45-18:15 | Aarhus Universitet - Bygning 1461, lokale 516
EPCOT Final Seminar
Mon 11 Feb
10:00-15:00 | Aarhus University: Building 1422, Preben Hornung Stuen, Frederik Nielsens Vej 2 8000 Aarhus C
LUMEN Symposium: Confession and Social Responsibility