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How the Late Carl Henry Helped Invent Evangelicalism
The late Carl Henry was not only a theologian and evangelist, but also the first editor of Christianity Today. Today he would have been 100 years old. As we celebrate his birthday, here's a look back at Henry's contributions to evangelicalism.
Carl Henry was ever the evangelist—though few think of the great theologian in this way. And sometimes he would go to extraordinary lengths to proclaim the message of the Bible. One of my most vivid memories of him is from an address he gave to several thousand Southern Baptist pastors. He was describing the bankruptcy of philosophical naturalism, which has no place for the handiwork of a personal God. His text was Ecclesiastes 12:5—the meaningless shuttle of a purposeless life, as almond trees blossom, mourners go about the streets, and "the grasshopper drags itself along."
As Henry described all this in his high, wispy voice, suddenly I was astonished to see this lanky preacher-theologian leave the pulpit and begin to walk back and forth across the platform, slightly jumping as he imitated a grasshopper dragging itself through a field. This was as close as I ever saw Henry come to a charismatic display, but those who heard that message will never forget it.
Nor will the evangelical world soon forget him. Carl Ferdinand Howard Henry was born on January 22, 1913, in New York City, the son of German immigrant parents. He died on December 7, 2003, in Watertown, Wisconsin, with Helga, his beloved wife of 63 years, at his side. In the 90 years that intervened between these two events, Henry cut a wide and deep swath across the landscape of American Christianity and the world evangelical movement. Indeed, along with his Wheaton College classmate, Billy ...1