Ole Kristian Hallesby

1879-1961. Norwegian theologian. Son of a farmer and originally deeply rooted in the Lutheran piety of the “Haugean” tradition (see Hauge, H.N.), he studied theology and adopted the outlook of the liberal school. In 1902 he experienced a conversion and reverted to the biblical faith and piety of his fathers. For some years he worked as an itinerant lay preacher and was the means of awakenings in several places. He was called to the chair of dogmatics at the Free Faculty of Theology and took the post after acquiring his doctorate in Berlin. From 1909 to 1952 he lectured on dogmatics and in a sense became the teacher of a whole generation of Norwegian ministers. As chairman of the Norwegian Lutheran Home Mission he exerted a great influence on lay Christians all over the country.

Hallesby was the leading light in the opposition of conservative pastors and laymen to the liberal theology. In 1920, on his initiative, a meeting of representatives of home and foreign mission societies decided to cease cooperation with liberal theologians. During the years of German occupation in World War II (1940-45) he was one of the leaders in the church's resistance to the Nazi government. He was arrested in 1943 and lived in a concentration camp until liberation came in 1945. Hallesby wrote textbooks on dogmatics and ethics, and many devotional books, including Prayer (ET 1948) and Why I am a Christian (ET 1950), some of which were translated into many languages. He was also the first president of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (1947).