July 1

During the mid 18th century the official state church of Norway and Denmark was Lutheran. King Christian VI had been sprinkled as a child and was called to defend Protestantism against the Catholics and others who might proselytize her members. Spiritually, he was unlikely that he was what his name professed.

On this day (July 1) in 1742 Soren Bolle openly immersed Johannes Halvorsen, a shoemaker, in the river which flows through Drammen, Norway. Bolle had been preparing for the Lutheran ministry, but came to understand the Biblical ordinance of baptism, declaring himself to be a Baptist.

Bolle and Halvorsen were quickly arrested and placed in separate cells in the local jail. Bolle’s home was searched and his writings were confiscated. For ten days the men were separately interrogated by priests. They were then sent to prison in Oslo where they were denied any right to communicate with each other or with anyone else. Back in Drammen, the Christian friends of the men were arrested in an effort to silence their testimony of the Truth. Eventually there were three or four more sent to the Oslo prison, and the home of one of them was sold in order to pay the expenses of their incarcerations.

It might be argued that these men were not true Baptists because there was no missionary involved in their work at the time, but they certainly prepared the way for the arrival of the Baptists and the eventual evangelization of Norway.