“Norwegian historic writing has not adequately addressed the affect of Christianity on societal developments,” Helje Kringlebotn Sødal says. 

She is a professor of the historical past of concepts and Christianity on the College of Agder (UiA). 

This critique is supported by Knut Dørum, one other historical past professor at UiA: 

“Historians have missed the position of Christianity. The exploration of how religion has contributed to renewing Norwegian historical past and society has been too restricted.” 

Helje Kringlebotn Sødal, professor of the historical past of concepts and Christianity on the College of Agder.
(Photograph: UiA)

Religion decreased to psychology 

Dørum argues that Norwegian historians have relegated spiritual religion to mere psychology and seen it as an exterior phenomenon devoid of intrinsic worth. 

“Christianity has been seen as an ideological device utilized by spiritual leaders for his or her energy and pursuits. Historians have failed to grasp that religion and salvation are driving forces on par with the pursuit of cash and energy,” Dørum says.

E book on the importance of Christian strategists 

Sødal addresses this lack of Christian views in Norwegian historic writing within the ebook Kristne strateger (Christian Strategists). Right here, she and different researchers current 33 Christian strategists from Norway within the 1800s and 1900s. The primary is the lay preacher Hans Nielsen Hauge, and the final is the primary feminine bishop, Rosemarie Køhn. 

The ebook consists of chapters on lay preachers, hymnists, and novelists, in addition to bishops and clergymen, and chapters on strategic theories and strategies. 

“Hauge and others like him helped to create a extra numerous and democratic society. In follow, Hauge helped undermine absolute monarchy,” Sødal says. 

Hauge was a farmer’s son, preacher, entrepreneur, and Christian strategist who lived from 1771-1824. 

Sødal additionally underscores the importance of Hauge in empowering ladies to turn out to be lively members within the spiritual realm as preachers and leaders. Moreover, she reminds us that Hauge contributed to weakening the monopoly held by clergymen on preaching the phrase of God and the monopoly of metropolis retailers on commerce. 

“His main motivation, nevertheless, was to awaken folks from a complacent religion and encourage an lively Christian life,” Sødal says. 

Technique in a number of areas 

She wrote the chapter on Hauge along with Knut Dørum. They’ve additionally beforehand collaborated on a ebook about Hauge. 

“Hans Nielsen Hauge was a pioneer. He impressed most of the different strategists we write about within the ebook and nonetheless continues to encourage,” Sødal says.

In response to Sødal, the ebook sheds mild on the position of Christianity in Norwegian historical past whereas additionally contributing to an understanding of strategic pondering and follow. Navy and financial methods are a part of the theoretical backdrop for the ebook. The identical goes for political technique and management philosophy. 

Nonetheless, Sødal emphasises that the ebook’s primary level is to disclose how Christian strategists suppose and act, as a strategic mind-set and appearing. 

“A key level is exactly that religion serves because the driving pressure and tenet behind the plans the Christian strategists lay and the work they perform,” she says.

Social welfare and prioritising others 

“What’s frequent to the Christian strategists is that they put others earlier than themselves. Private acquire and success weren’t the purpose, it was for others to be higher off,” says Sødal. 

Nonetheless, she factors out that they weren’t saints. Their motives could have been blended. 

“Whereas conventional enterprise technique is anxious with making the technique repay, Christian strategists intention for it to learn others at the beginning,” Sødal says. 

Worldwide analysis on technique calls this emphasis on customers ‘other-regarding’. It’s merely a matter of placing the target market on the forefront when creating plans. 

For the Christian strategists, this usually led to dedication to social welfare and, not least, academic initiatives. Love of neighbour and their sense of responsibility to the Nice Fee guided their methods.

“This led to the creation of vital social entrepreneurship. And it highlights the twin aims of Christian strategists’ work. They sought not solely to transform folks to the Christian religion and life-style but in addition to fight poverty, alcohol abuse, injustice, and ignorance,” Sødal explains. 

Began Norway’s first nursing programme

Sødal highlights nurse Kathinka Guldberg for example of a Christian strategist with a twin function. Guldberg established Norway’s first nursing programme in 1886. 

“Guldberg envisioned take care of the sick and needy primarily based on skilled data built-in with an understanding of sufferers’ religious wants. She is a major instance of a Christian strategist who aimed to evangelise whereas additionally enhancing folks’s lives and well being,” she says. 

Society in a time of turmoil

Many of those Christian strategists lived in a time when Christianity was shedding its help. The assumption in science was beginning to overshadow religion in God. This was what the strategists tried to counteract. 

“The Christian strategists felt like they had been in battle. They actively fought towards secularisation, but in addition towards poverty and abuse, selfishness and ignorance, and injustice and immorality. They usually fought to unfold a message of Christian charity in society and tradition,” says Sødal. 

Misplaced the battle towards secularisation

The battle of the Christian strategists towards secularisation could appear to have been misplaced in at present’s society. Nonetheless, Sødal asserts that they’ve left an enduring influence on Norwegian historical past in areas resembling tradition, schooling, politics, and plenty of others.

Already in 1913, for instance, Ole Hallesby helped set up Christian secondary faculty within the capital. And that’s simply one of many faculty institutions that has endured because of Hallesby. 

Sødal additionally reminds us of Sigrid Undset (1882-1949). Undset continues to be actively learn and studied all around the world at present. Sødal has written a chapter on Undset within the ebook. 

“Asbjørn Kloster is one other noteworthy instance. The restrictive alcohol coverage in Norway within the twentieth century is unimaginable with out his efforts to help folks out of abuse and advocate for complete abstinence throughout his lifetime, 1823-1876,” she says. 

Kloster by no means managed to introduce a coverage of complete abstinence. However he helped many individuals overcome alcohol habit. And in line with Sødal, Norwegian alcohol coverage continues to be influenced by his work. 

This ebook isn’t the ultimate phrase on the affect of Christianity on Norwegian tradition and society, however Sødal believes it contributes to filling a niche in Norwegian historiography. 

“This ebook can serve a place to begin for readers and historians inquisitive about delving deeper into this uncared for space of Norwegian historical past,” Sødal says. 

Books concerning the position of Christianity in Norwegian historical past

  • Kristendommens rolle i norsk historie: Helje Kringlebotn Sødal (ed.) Kristne strateger (2023: This ebook is about 33 Christian strategists in Norway within the 1800s and 1900s. It supplies new data concerning the position of Christianity in Norwegian historical past and the sphere of technique. 
  • A dozen researchers have contributed to the ebook and current well-known and lesser-known strategists, amongst them are Hans Nielsen Hauge, Berte Kanutte Aarflot, Magnus B. Landstad, Bolette Gjør, Elias Blix, Ronald Fangen, Annie Skau Berntsen, and Arild Edvardsen. 
  • Sødal has additionally revealed Norsk kristendomshistorie (Norwegian Christian Historical past 1800-2020) (2021), one other ebook that seeks to fill gaps in analysis and discover Christianity’s central position on this nation, each for Christians and for society exterior of church and prayer homes.

Extra content material from the College of Agder:

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