The House of Representatives lost one of its most popular and highly respected evangelical members when Rep. Paul Henry (R-Mich.) died of brain cancer July 31 at the age of 51.
Henry, the senior Republican in the Michigan delegation, was elected to his fifth congressional term last year, just 13 days after a three-inch malignant tumor was removed from his brain during emergency surgery. He was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. In an emotional moment, Henry was sworn in from a wheelchair during the January 5 Capitol ceremony. He spoke often of his desire to get back to the political fray, but the swearing-in ceremony turned out to be his last appearance on Capitol Hill.
At a time when any mixing of religion and politics can be mired in controversy and contention, Henry will be remembered as a man of faith whose low-key political style and staunch integrity earned respect across the board. In 1990, National Journal named Henry one of the “rising stars” of Congress. A longtime member of the LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Henry had strong evangelical credentials. He was a graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois and a former professor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. He also was the son of theologian and first editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, Carl F. H. Henry.
In the book Christian Social Ethics, Henry wrote about the importance of relating Christian faith to the political order. But he also cautioned evangelical Christianity to “put its own house in order” before delving too far into politics. “Otherwise the cause of evangelical Christianity, while achieving political effectiveness, may foster a movement which it will live to regret.”
“I think he modeled the integration of genuine faith and real politics ...1
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