Danish Minister Who Denied ''Heavenly God'' Reinstated

A Danish Lutheran minister who had been suspended for publicly denying the existence of "heavenly God," resurrection and eternal life, renewed his clerical vows on Friday, allowing him to return to his position.

Rev. Thorkild Grosboell made the controversial comments in a 2003 interview, which resulted in a June 2004 suspension from his duties in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark.

On Friday, he said he would be faithful to the "apostolic belief," but did not retract the previous comments, according to the Associated Press.

He refused to speak with reporters about the case, calling it "nonsense" during his sermon on Sunday.

"It was great, great," said Grosboell to reporters after the service in a church in the village of Taarbaek, about 8 miles north of Copenhagen.

About 250 people attended the service. Afterwards, parishioners greeted the reverend with hugs and kisses. They gathered on a nearby law to celebrate his return, according to AP.

The head of the parish council Lars Heilesen was glad to see the reverend in his former position. He said to Grosboell, "It's a great relief, a great joy to have you back."

Although he has been reinstated, AP reports that Grosboell will remain under supervision, according to Bishop Jan Lindhardt of the Roskilde diocese, located west of Copenhagen.

On Friday, Grosboell signed a document in front of Lindhardt, which said he would "act faithfully to the apostolic belief before the face of God." Although Lindhardt disagrees with the Reverend's views, he says that there should be room for him within the church, according to AP.

After Grosboell's initial controversial comments in 2003, the state-run Evangelical Lutheran Church had accused him of sowing "deep confusion within the Church."

In Denmark, since the Reverend is an employee of the state, only the government is allowed to fire him.

Members of Denmark's Lutheran Church are 83 percent of the nation's 5.4 million residents.

The minister for religious affairs in the church, Bertel Haarder, said that the Grossboell matter could have been brought before a church tribunal. However he added that such a move would "risk poisoning church life in Denmark for years."

The case would have been only the second tribunal ever in church history according to AP.