The Man Who Birthed Evangelicalism
But his concern for what he called "the evangelical church" extended far and wide. He wanted to strike a blow for the faith wherever he could. He was one of the great evangelical networkers of his day. He chaired the 1966 World Congress on Evangelism, which led to the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne. He trotted the globe for Christ, wearing a suit bought in Majorca, horn-rimmed glasses from Singapore, shoes resoled in Korea, and carrying a well-worn beret he bought in Spain along with a Bible rebound in the Philippines.
If Henry is to get a hearing from today's evangelical pastors and leaders, it will likely be because he modeled the coinherence of the historic orthodox faith, including an unbroken doctrine of Scripture, and the compassion of Christ for every person, each and every one made in the image of God. His work with World Vision made him keenly aware of the suffering of children. His service on the board of Prison Fellowship gave him a burden for those behind bars as well as their families. He knew what God could do for those whose minds and hearts had been touched by the good news of the gospel. He was also an ardent advocate for the unborn. The fact that younger evangelicals today are increasingly pro-life owes something at least to Henry and his peers, who dared to speak out on behalf of those children still waiting to be born when it was more chic to equivocate or remain silent.
Carl Henry was a classic evangelical par excellence. He believed, loved, and proclaimed the Bible as God's Word written. Jesus Christ was the object of his love. His activism for Christ and the gospel knew no bounds. But above all he knew what it meant to be born again.
The last time Henry spoke at Beeson Divinity School, he could not stand. But we shall never forget the talk he gave from a chair in chapel. He described how, as a 20-year-old, he received Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. "Into the darkness of my young life, he put bright stars that still shine and sparkle. After that encounter, I walked the world with God as my Friend."
Timothy George is dean of Beeson Divinity School, and author of Reading Scripture with the Reformers (IVP).
- Catholics and Baptists Together
- Sacrilege Is Real
- Against the Stream
- Charles Colson & Timothy George: Churchless Jesus
- Chuck Colson: Evangelicals Should Be Uniters, Not Dividers