Andreas Wiberg was born in Sweden on July 17, 1816. Almost drowning when he was fourteen made him think about death and eternity. Wanting to show God his gratitude, he decided to become a minister, and attended the University of Upsala in 1835. He was ordained a Lutheran minister in 1843. Feeling it was not right to let unconverted people partake of the Lord’s table, he quit the ministry for a time. Instead, he translated Martin Luther’s works, and edited a religious paper. Meanwhile, he met others in Northern Sweden who shared his views, and he underwent persecution because of it.
While visiting Hamburg, Germany in 1851, Wiberg met J. G. Oncken, and learned about the Baptists. After reading Pengilly on Baptism, on his way home from Germany, Wiberg became a Baptist. However, there was no one he knew of in Sweden who could baptize him.
Because of his health, Wiberg traveled to New York in 1852. On the way, his ship was delayed in Copenhagen. There, he met Rev. F.O. Nilsson. Nilsson had earlier introduced Baptist principles to Sweden, but was imprisoned then banished by the High Court of the Land. Wiberg was very glad to meet this man, and was baptized by him “July 23, 1852, at eleven o’clock in the night, near the Island of Amager, a short distance from Copenhagen.” Arriving in New York, Wiberg was ordained as a Baptist pastor in the Mariner’s Church, March 3, 1853.
Returning to Sweden in 1855, Wiberg found that about 500 Baptists had sprung up as a result of a booklet he wrote before he left. However, they were under bitter persecution. As the result of a letter sent to the Baptist church in America from a persecuted pastor in Sweden, Wiberg was appointed missionary of the American Baptist Publication Society to Sweden. Wiberg at once began his duties. Among other things, he began a Christian publication, The Evangelist, which had 500 subscribers from the start. There was no trouble printing The Evangelist, but Bible and tract distribution was far more difficult. Many people were tried and imprisoned for such. Through it all, Rev. Wiberg labored on, and 26 years later, the number of Baptists in Sweden had multiplied to about 20,000. Persecution was fierce, but as always, God’s grace was abundant, and so was growth.
Reverend Wiberg, considered the founder of the Baptist witness in Sweden, died on November 5, 1887.
E. Wayne Thompson and David L. Cummins; This Day in Baptist History; (Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, SC, 1993) pp. 301-303.
Roger William Heritage Archives Editors. Baptist Biographies. Roger Williams Heritage Archives (2003).
Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, (1890; reprint ed., Watertown, Wis.: Maranatha Baptist Press, 1976), 2:833-834.
William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, ed. Louis H. Everts (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), 2:1240.
Baptist Missionary Magazine, Dec. 1887, page 447-448.