Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 138:550 (Apr 81) p. 173
“American Evangelicals in a Turning Time,” Carl F. H. Henry, The Christian Century, November 5, 1980, pp. 1058-62.
The Christian Century ran its first “How My Mind Has Changed” series at the turn of the decade in 1939–40. It was highly successful. It has been repeated each decade since then with varying sucess. This time around a representative of American evangelicalism is included in the series. This in itself is newsworthy, demonstrating as it does that the theological liberal management of that magazine is acknowledging not only that evangelicals have minds but also that evangelical minds are flexible enough to change. Truly the era of the evangelical has arrived.
Henry takes a rather somber outlook toward the present and the future, both for the United States as a nation and for evangelical Christianity. More than that, his evaluation has grown more pessimistic during the past decade. He writes, “I am even less sure of America’s world leadership role…. I think we are now living in the very decade when God may thunder his awesome paradidomai (I abandon, or I give [them] up) (Rom 1:24ff) over America’s professed greatness” (p. 1058).
Concerning Christianity at large Henry asks, “Will the world later in this century perceive Christianity as the global religion par excellence?” His immediate answer is, “I am now less inclined to think so than in 1970” (p. 1058). Concerning the field of theology he writes, “A decade ago I thought that late 20th century America might be on the move, however hesitantly, toward a theological renaissance.” He pondered, “Might not evangelicals who were beginning to wrestle with sociopolitical concerns also take theology more seriously?” His response is, “At present I see too little prospect of that” (p. 1059).
Concerning American evangelicalism Henry writes, “During the 1960s I somewhat romanced the possibility that a vast evangelical alliance might arise in the United States to coordinate effectively a
BSac 138:550 (Apr 81) p. 174
national impact in evangelism, education, publication and sociopolitical action.” He admits, “By the early 1970s the prospect of a massive evangelical alliance seemed annually more remote, and by mid-decade it was gone” (p. 1060). At present, “Numerous crosscurrents…vex almost every effort at comprehensive evangelical liaison…. Evangelical differences increasingly pose an identity crisis” (p. 1061).
Henry makes it clear that his own theological position has not changed. He writes, “Yo-yo theology—that is, perpetually restructured belief—is less my fo...
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