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Gustaf Johansson

1844-1930. Archbishop of Finland. Successively professor of dogmatics and ethics at the University of Helsinki (1877-85), bishop of Kuopio (1885-96), and bishop of Savonlinna (Nyslott) (1896-99), he became primate thereafter. His literary production was large and included a volume on dogmatics and publications on justification and on the Church of Finland. Although a conservative theologian, he struggled for many ecclesiastical reforms, the abolition of obligatory participation in Communion, and the advancement of diakonia. Chairman of the committee for a new translation of the Bible, he worked also toward a new church hymnal and catechism. He participated in politics as a clerical representative and boldly maintained the special position of Finland within the Russian Empire, even in the presence of the czar and his officials. In spite of this his policy of loyalty has been much criticized.

Johansson opposed the ecumenical movement, and especially the 1925 Stockholm Conference,* chaired by Archbishop Nathan Söderblom of Sweden. According to Johansson, the ecumenical trend was a grave danger to the church because it opened the door to syncretism and cooperation with liberal theologians. He felt also that ecumenicity could not be united with Christian eschatology. He was a disciple of J.T. Beck* of Tübingen, whose biblicism he tried to follow. Johansson retains a central position in the modern church history of his country, and his influence is still felt in the present generation of Finnish theologians.