Carl Olof Rosenius 
|Died||February 24, 1868 (aged 52)|
Rosenius was born in Nysätra in Västerbotten. His father, Anders Rosenius, was a parish pastor, who supported the revival movement in Sweden. His mother, Sarah Margaret Norenius, was the daughter of a clergyman.
When Carl Olof was thirteen, his family moved to the town of Sävar. While living there he attended schools in Piteå, Umeå and Härnösand. His religious breakthrough came at the age of fifteen. Even then he led the school holiday conventicles. A sermon that he delivered in Härnösand in 1833 is said to have surprised Bishop Franzén because of its emphasis on the central Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith.
In 1838 Rosenius began his theological studies at the University of Uppsala but was forced to give them up after a year due to failing health and financial difficulties. He instead found employment as a tutor at Länna farm outside of Stockholm. At this point he was beset with serious religious doubts. In Stockholm he met the Methodist minister George Scott, who helped dispel his uncertainties. He abandoned his plans of becoming a priest and moved to Stockholm to assist Scott in his ministry. He had a room there near Hötorget (Haymarket Square) on the premises of the Engelska kyrka (English church), which was not affiliated with the Church of England but financed by the Foreign Evangelical Society.
In 1842 Scott had to leave Sweden, and the English church ceased operations. Rosenius did not, however, curtail his activities. He became a leader in the growing religious revival of Sweden, traveling throughout the country, preaching both at private gatherings (conventicles) and in public halls. When the Swedish Evangelical Mission was formed in 1856, Rosenius was one of its founders. A year later the organization bought the English church's old building and reopened it as Bethlehem Church.
He continued to edit and publish Pietisten, the monthly that he and Scott had started and worked on "The Mission" and several other magazines. During his last years he wrote an extensive series of articles on the Epistle to the Romans that appeared in Pietisten. On Pentecost Sunday, 1867, Rosenius suffered a stroke in the pulpit of St. John's Church in Gothenburg. He died the following year.
Rosenius' pietism retained key features of the northern Swedish religious revival with Lutheran objective atonement and justification by grace alone at its core. He was on friendly terms with the Herrnhuters and had much in common with the Finnish evangelist Fredrik Gabriel Hedberg, despite believing that he went too far in the direction of antinomianism. Evidence of Scott's Methodist faith was more apparent in Rosenius' evangelistic work than in his theology. He was strongly disliked by the followers of Erik Jansson.
Large parts of the Church of Sweden dismissed him initially. He did not use the Swedish hymnbook but rather song collections of a more personal religious nature, including those published by Oscar Ahnfelt. Throughout his life Rosenius remained a member of the Swedish Church, baptizing his children and taking Communion in that faith and rejecting separation and the free distribution of Communion.
He had a number of disciples. Among them was a lay preacher from Småland named Nicolaus Bergensköld, who immigrated to the United States in the 1860s and was a leader of the revivalist movement in the Scandinavian settlements of the Midwest.
Rosenius had a strong influence on Sweden's religious development during the 19th century. His commitment to personal involvement in religious belief affected not only the practices of the Free Church but also those of the State Church, especially in northern and central Sweden. In his time he became one of Sweden's most widely read religious writers and a leading figure in the religious revival of the country. He also played an important role in the formation of Evangeliska Fosterlandsstiftelsen (The Swedish Evangelical Mission).