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Fredrik Gabriel Hedberg

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Title: Fredrik Gabriel Hedberg  
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Subject: Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Neo-Lutheranism, Toivo Harjunpää
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Fredrik Gabriel Hedberg

Fredrik Gabriel Hedberg (July 15, 1811 in Saloinen, now a part of Raahe - August 19, 1893 Kimito) was Finnish Lutheran priest, Neo-Lutheran writer and father of confessional Lutheranism in Finland.

Hedberg was ordained 1834 and became curate in Siuntio, then in Lohja, belonging since 1836 to Pietist revivalist movement led by Savonian farmer and lay preacher Paavo Ruotsalainen. Soon Hedberg became one of the leaders of this movement in southern Finland. Rationalist diocesan chapter begun to dislike Hedberg's activity because of his Pietism and he was transferred first to Paimio 1838 and 1840 as prison chaplain in Oulu. 1842 he became temporary curate in distant Raippaluoto and 1843 curate in Pöytyä.

Gradually, since time in Oulu, Hedberg discovered Lutheranism without any "order of salvation" from Martin Luther's postil and abandoned Pietism including books of Arndt and Spener among others, which had formerly been his spiritual authorities. He began to read Luther, Praetorius, and Book of Concord, and wrote in Raippaluoto a devotional commentary to 1st chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, "The Doctrine of Faith unto Salvation" (Eng. transl. 1998), which focused on justification by faith alone, being full of joy about salvation. Hedberg now began a controversy against Pietism, using works of Johann Gerhard, Rudelbach, Löhe, G. Thomasius, Harless and Catenhusen. His main writing in this controversy is "Pietism och Christendom" (1845) where he criticised Spener, Rambach, Fresenius, Nohrborg and Schartau. 1855 Hedberg became parish priest of Kaarina, publishing a book against the teaching of the Baptists. 1862 he became parish priest of Kimito.

Hedberg published several religious newspapers for his readers. He kept reading neo-Lutheran theology, Luther and evangelical Roman Catholics Martin Boos and Johannes Gossner. He organised a fundraising as a gift for persecuted Old Lutherans of Prussia. Also in Sweden he had lots of readers associated with Rosenius. His theological influence had become so remarkable, that the Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland was founded in 1873 to foster and maintain confessional Lutheran revival in Finland.

Later years Hedberg focused more and more on sacraments and on mystical union with Christ. In St Andrew's church in Kimito the Eucharist was celebrated every Sunday during Hedberg's time, which was at that time very rare. As celebrant he also always used chasuble.


  • W.A. Schmidt, Fredrik Gabriel Hedberg. Helsinki 1951
  • Esa Santakari, Vanhan Hedbergin sakramenttimystiikka. Elevatis Oculis, studia mystica in honorem Seppo A. Teinonen. Annals of the Finnish Society for Missiology and Ecumenics, 42, 1984. ISBN 951-95206-7-8

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