Abstract

This case concerns conflicts related to the theology of baptism within the conservative Christian group called “The Community” (Menigheten Samfundet in Norwegian). The process culminated in the leadership’s decision in 2012 to maintain an exclusive theology of baptism. In this study, we thematically analysed interviews with twenty-five members and ex-members; we used typologies of religion and authority and theoretical perspectives on organisational culture and transformation to investigate the case. We identified two main positions among our informants: the traditionalistic-theocratics emphasised everyday implications of membership together with fundamental theology, while the challenger-hermeneutics focussed more strongly on principle theological elaborations. Traditional authority, existing organisational culture, and criteria for exclusivity were challenged, during the process of which we identified it to have four phases: initial, negotiation, conflict and schismatic. Traditionalistic-theocratics “won” the case since the existing view of baptism was upheld; the implication of this was that The Community would continue as a religious sect.