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Lewi Pethrus and the Creation of a Christian Counterculture

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This article presents and analyzes the life and work of Lewi Pethrus (1884-1974), the leader of the Swedish Pentecostal movement. The argument is that Pethrus created a Christian counterculture in the midst of a secularized Western society. Although a radical congregationalist skeptical toward organization, Pethrus spent most of his life building institutions. The first institutions he created were for the benefit of the spiritual life of Pentecostal congregations and churches. These included a publishing house, an edifying journal, a hymn book, and a school for evangelism. During World War II, however, Nazism and Communism made Pethrus attentive to the dangers of secularization. He now began founding institutions that were part of the broader civil society, such as a daily newspaper, a radio station, a bank, and a political party. His goal was to turn Sweden into a Christian society. He did not achieve this, but what he did leave was the legacy of a Christian counterculture.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Theology, Uppsala University Box 511, SE-751 20 Sweden, Email:


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