On April 27, 2019, ILT adjunct faculty member Dr. Thomas Jacobson presented a lecture at the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church (Mindekirken) in Minneapolis, Minnesota entitled "Hans Nielsen Hauge: 'Norway's Greatest Man.'" It was the first in a planned annual lecture series at Mindekirken about aspects of Norwegian and Norwegian-American Lutheran history.
Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771-1824) was a Norwegian Lutheran lay preacher, farmer, businessman, and entrepreneur whose work amid opposition and persecution is widely considered to have revitalized his country at a difficult time in its history. After a mystical experience in 1796, Hauge felt called by God to help his countrymen and -women by emphasizing the importance of a living and obedient faith. He also encouraged industriousness among the Norwegian population, starting many business enterprises that helped develop the Norwegian economy.
Enduring repeated arrest and imprisonment for violating the archaic law prohibiting lay-led religious meetings, Hauge suffered greatly for his witness. Yet he was tireless in his efforts to help his country; he was released from prison temporarily to develop a series of salt works along the Norwegian coast, as salt was in short supply at the time as a result of the English blockade during the Napoleonic Wars.
Hauge's death in 1824 coincided with the beginning of Norwegian immigration to North America. Many immigrants were shaped by the Haugean awakening of Norway, and hence Haugean influence on American Lutheranism has been considerable. While many dislike Hauge and consider the tradition that came after him to be a blight on Lutheranism, many consider Hauge to be a hero. This "love-hate" relationship that Lutheranism has with Hauge is part of what makes him a fascinating figure to study.