While in seminary, I devoted over a year of research on the uneasy conscience of Carl F.H. Henry. During that time, I believe I photocopied every journal and magazine article authored by Henry regarding social reform and cultural engagement. This “side project” was one of the most rewarding theological explorations as I came to appreciate the careful and robust thinking of this man with such an uneasy conscience. In fact, I became convinced that Henry, during this life and work, developed the most comprehensive theological framework for social justice and cultural engagement from an evangelical perspective.
Given that 2013 is the 100th anniversary of his birth, I’d like to post Henry in his own words from some of the research I gathered, which, at one time was to be turned into The Forgotten Henry (a book-length project). In any case, I hope this series of quotes from Carl Henry will prove insightful to contemporary issues and serve as pathways into further exploration of his thought on these important matters.
Henry on Civic Engagement
“Christian duty in the social order does not stop with warnings. The Christian prays daily, and out to work daily, for God’s will to be done on earth, as in heaven. As a citizen of two worlds he will engage actively wherever possible in the struggle for social righteousness to the full limit of personal ability and competence.”
Carl F. H. Henry, A Plea for Evangelical Demonstration (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1971), 122.
“In and through its evangelistic mission to the world, the church is to enunciate and implement the revealed principles that God addresses to the human race by exemplary Christian leadership to the whole realm of public affairs.”
Carl F. H. Henry, “Good News for the Oppressed” in God, Revelation, and Authority: God Who Speaks and Shows. vol. IV (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1979), 551.
“Evangelical Christians cannot deny or by-pass engagement in the areas of political and social science nor dare they neglect the training of leaders in public affairs who engage in social criticism from an authentically biblical perspective. Simply to say that evangelicals must become more socially involved provides little perceptive guidance if the implementing of solutions is forfeited to nonevangelicals. Christians must speak not as outside or of peripheral to the movements of human transformation, but as central participants and agents in it.”
Carl F. H. Henry, “Good News for the Oppressed” in God, Revelation, and Authority: God Who Speaks and Shows. vol. IV (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1979), 553.