Hans Nielsen Hauge: The Persecuted Lay Preacher Who Saved Christianity in Norway

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This Week in AG History–June 14, 1947
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 11 June 2015

Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771-1824), a lay preacher who spent decades promoting revival in Norway, helped to transform the religious and social landscape of his homeland. Hauge’s story was featured in the June 14, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Hauge’s testimony demonstrated that Pentecostals’ emphasis on reform and spiritual renewal had firm roots in the broader Christian tradition.

In 1796, Hauge experienced a spiritual awakening (which he termed “spirit baptism”) while he was ploughing his father’s farm. This experience with God transformed Hauge’s life. He began studying the Bible and shared the gospel and his testimony wherever he found an audience. He preached with great power and insisted that each person should have “living faith.”

According to Hauge, church membership alone did not make a person a Christian. At the time, exceedingly few people attended State churches. In the capital city of Christiania, which had a population of about 10,000, evidence shows that only about 20 people attended regular services in the State church.

Hauge inspired a large movement which revived Christianity in Norway. It is estimated that half of Norwegians experienced salvation under the ministry of Hauge and his fellow evangelists. Hauge not only promoted lay ministry, he also encouraged women to share the gospel. The first female preacher in the Haugean movement, Sara Oust, began preaching in 1799. For the next 100 years, Norway became known as “a land of revivals.”

Hauge not only brought a spiritual rebirth to Norway, but also an economic revival. He established numerous factories and mills and is credited with bringing the industrial revolution to his nation.

The informal network of Christians developed by Hauge challenged the authority of the Lutheran State church. Norway did not have freedom of religious assembly, and it was illegal to hold a religious meeting without a licensed minister present. Although he never departed from Lutheran theology, Hauge was arrested at least fourteen times and endured great suffering in jail. His health failed in prison, resulting in Hauge’s premature death.

Hauge’s legacy, in many ways, lives on in the Pentecostal movement. Just as the Haugean movement began to die down, Pentecostalism emerged at the turn of the twentieth century. In Norway, early Pentecostals identified themselves in the revival tradition of Hauge.

Hauge’s influence also extended to America. Followers of Hauge who had settled in Minnesota and the Dakotas experienced a revival in the 1890s and early 1900s that included healings and speaking in tongues. When various revival movements coalesced in the early 1900s to form what is now known as the Pentecostal movement, many of these Scandinavian immigrants became leaders within the Pentecostal movement. G. Raymond Carlson (1918-1999), for instance, came from a Norwegian Haugean background in North Dakota and ultimately served as general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1986-1993).

The Pentecostal Evangel article lauded Hauge as “God’s firebrand” and a “martyr at the early age of 53.” But Hauge’s death did not signal the end to the revival movement he started. Rather, the article noted, “It was the beginning of a new day, a new church and a new Christianity throughout the land.”

Read the entire article, “Beginnings in Norway,” by Armin Gesswein, on page 12 of the June 14, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “An Old-Time Methodist Sermon,” by J. Narver Gortner
• “Neglected Duty,” by Arvid Ohrnell
• “Delivering the Demon-Bound,” by Ernest S. Williams
And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org

1 Comment

Filed under Church, History, Spirituality

One response to “Hans Nielsen Hauge: The Persecuted Lay Preacher Who Saved Christianity in Norway

  1. Pingback: Did Early Pentecostalism Have Roots in German and Scandinavian Pietism? | Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

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