Is Carl Henry A Modernist? Rationalism And Foundationalism In Post-War Evangelical Theology -- By: Chad Owen Brand

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 20:1 (Spring 1999)
Article: Is Carl Henry A Modernist? Rationalism And Foundationalism In Post-War Evangelical Theology
Author: Chad Owen Brand


Is Carl Henry A Modernist?
Rationalism And Foundationalism In Post-War Evangelical Theology

Chad Owen Brand

Chad Owen Brand is Associate Professor of Christian Theology at the James P. Boyce College of the Bible of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

I. Introduction:
Post-War, Post-Fundamentalist, Evangelical Theology

If the aftermath of the Scopes Trial witnessed a perceived decline in the public fortunes of fundamentalism,1 the aftermath of the Second World War marked the meteoric climb to prominence of a post-fundamentalist movement, one whose immediate origins are traced to the establishment of the National Association of Evangelicals in 1942, but which became most broadly identified with the work of evangelist Billy Graham.2 This movement3 was post-fundamentalist in that, while it sought to retain the essential theological commitments of such men as William Bell Riley and Curtis Lee Laws, it rejected the separatism and elitism characteristic of some of the fundamentalists, and it longed for less dogmatism on peripheral theological issues, such as the nature of millennial expectations.4

Harold John Ockenga, one of the prime movers of the new coalition, was convinced that what was needed was “a progressive fundamentalism with an ethical message.”5 This became the passionate concern of the rising breed of conservative leadership. There soon followed respectable journals, such as Christianity Today, top-notch seminaries, such as Fuller and Trinity, and new for a for theological discourse, such as the Evangelical Theological Society. But one thing was needed in order for these to accomplish their purpose—the arrival of a new generation of intellectuals who could preserve the accomplishments of those who had gone before,6 but who would not be restricted by the excesses and myopia characteristic of the more radical fundamentalists. The one man who soon rose to the top of this new cadre of intellectual leaders was Carl F. H. Henry.7

Carl Henry began teaching at Northern Baptist Seminary in 1942, shortly after receiving his Th.D. degree from that institution.8 Seven years later he would add a Ph.D., earned at Boston University. In the meantime he moved to the faculty of the new...

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