Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Contextualizing Truth In The Workplace

Hans Nielsen Hauge, the 19th Century Norwegian evangelist-entrepreneur who preached throughout Norway and started businesses, taught about "living faith" at a time when the state Church in Norway was teaching something less.

Hauge was not an ordained pastor, and any religious assembly without a state-authorized minister present was unlawful. Hauge was imprisoned no less than 14 times. He spent 9 years in confinement, including one stint without seeing sunlight for nearly 4 years. Yet in spite of the resistance he met from Church leaders, Hauge encouraged his "Society of Friends" to remain in the state Church, because he believed the Church was the foundation of the nation.

Hauge wrote 33 books over 18 years. It is estimated that 100,000 Norwegians read one or more of his books when only about 900,000 in the entire country were literate. To say Hauge had a profound influence upon the spiritual life of Norway in his day is an understatement.

But Hauge had a profound influence on the material life of Norway, too. Hans loved God and loved people. Through the creation of profit-producing businesses, and the jobs that went with them, Hague mitigated poverty. After establishing new businesses, he delegated the management to capable others. Hauge helped his fellow Norwegians to see the altruistic possibilities of a biblically-informed approach to entrepreneurialism.

On February 27, 1809, civil authorities released Hauge for six months during a five-year sentence so he could establish salt mines for the government that imprisoned him! He established five mines in those six months. (Let's just say this man was gifted.)

Hauge was compelled by a vision for the Kingdom. A vision for the Kingdom of God to "come" wherever Christ's will was done on earth. This included every part of earth, from the farm, to the factory, to the family. Hauge had a wholistic understanding of the Gospel, for sure, and he embraced the notion of profit-making for the common good, similar to the Moravians. He saw no "sacred-secular divide."

He also saw women as equals. Frances Sejersted, former president of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, once declared: "The Hauge movement was a major contributing factor for developing democracy in Norway."

The Hauge Institute was founded in 2005 to raise awareness about Hauge's ethical practice and servant leadership. Click here for more about this extraordinary man and his indefatigable commitment to contextualizing Truth in the workplace. 

This painting, called Haugianerne, was created by Adolph Tidemand in 1852, some 28 years after the passing of Hauge. The scene depicts a meeting of The Society of Friends, which grew out of the life and teachings of Hans Nielsen Hauge. The Hauge Institute writes: "Societies of Friends were organised as the revival spread across the land.  They were sometimes called readers or students, because they studied the Holy Scriptures a great deal and were very knowledgeable.  They were also called Haugians.  Such Societies were registered all over the country; there must have been several thousand members altogether.  These groups met in their homes and spent much time together praying and teaching."

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