Thursday, January 24, 2013

Timothy George on Carl F.H. Henry's Legacy

If Carl Henry were alive today he would be 100 years old.  (January 22 was the date of his birth).  Henry was a theologian who was responsible for the revival of American evangelicalism in the 1940s and 1950s.  He is often associated with bringing intellectual credibility to the post-Scopes Trial (1925) Protestant fundamentalism that took the name "Neo-Evangelical" and was associated with the founding of the National Association of Evangelicals, Fuller Theological Seminary, Christianity Today magazine, and evangelistic success of Billy Graham.  (The best chroniclers of this history are George Marsden in Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism and Joel Carpenter, Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism).

I had the privilege of taking a seminar with Henry on the history of American evangelicalism.  He was in his late seventies at the time, but was still very sharp.

Over at Christianity Today, Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School reflects on Henry's legacy.  Here is a taste:

Henry did not invent post-war evangelicalism all by himself, of course. He had lots of help from Harold John Ockenga, the Strategist; Billy Graham, the Evangelist; Bill Bright, the Activist; Francis Schaeffer, the Apologist; and many others. But it was Henry more than anyone else who argued the case and set forth a compelling intellectual apologetic for what was called in those days the New Evangelicalism.

Henry did this not only from professorship at Fuller Theological Seminary and his chair as the first editor of Christianity Today, but also through a series of impressive books beginning with The Uneasy Conscience of Fundamentalism and culminating in the six-volume God, Revelation and Authority. GRAis still the most sustained theological epistemology by any American theologian. It deserves to be read more than it is, but it is not easy to read. Theologian Millard Erickson once said, with a twinkle in his eye, "I love Carl Henry's work. It's extremely important. I hope someday that it is translated into English!"

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