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Friday, April 18, 2014

Why Is Norway #1?


The 18th and 19th Century influence of Christianity upon the common good and human flourishing of modern nations is remarkable. No accounting of it would be complete without discussing Hans Nielsen Hauge's extraordinary influence upon Norway.

A few months ago, I highlighted 19th-Century missionary influences upon Korea, and I suggested this may have something to do with South Korea ranking #9 out of 187 nations in the United Nations Human Development Index. I also pointed out that Norway is #1. This may have surprised you. It did me. Until I learned some Norwegian history.

Why is Norway #1? Perhaps it's because on April 5, 1796, a young Norwegian, age 25, had a life-altering encounter with God while walking behind a plow, singing a hymn.

Am I stretching things? Those who know what happened after this encounter don't think so. The experience Hans Nielsen Hauge had that day was so overwhelming he couldn't describe the joy. It changed him forever. He was filled with the Spirit, and began telling others about the resurrected Lord. The rest is Norwegian history.

Hauge (1771-1824) had the evangelistic fervor of Wesley, combined with the business acumen of a Moravian−on steroids. He had a love for Scripture, to which he turned for answers, even when those answers challenged the state Church establishment. He did not remain silent when it came to Truth. Hauge was imprisoned numerous times for violating the Konventikkel Ordinance, which forbade preaching independently of the Church of Norway.

Hans traversed Norway, north and south, preaching and teaching. A spiritual awakening ensued. People who heard him wept. The lives of many Norwegians were transformed through a personal encounter with the living Christ, just as Hauge's own life had been transformed.

But Hans didn't just preach and teach. He knitted gloves and socks has he traveled on foot, giving them to the poor as he went. But more than this, Hauge started diverse businesses, creating many jobs throughout the land. Think of him as the "Johnny Appleseed of Norwegian Commerce." Hauge was instrumental in starting fishing industries, brick yards, shipping operations, salt mines and paper mills. "Haugians" all over Norway established shops, founded factories and began industrial projects. 

Hauge literally started a movement that was not only spiritual, but economic. "Haugianism," as it became known, had a significant influence upon the foundation of modern Norway.

More to come.

Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771-1824), has been called the "Apostle of Norway." 



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