Editorial: Remembering Carl F. H. Henry (1913–2003) -- By: Stephen J. Wellum

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 08:4 (Winter 2004)
Article: Editorial: Remembering Carl F. H. Henry (1913–2003)
Author: Stephen J. Wellum

Editorial: Remembering Carl F. H. Henry (1913–2003)

Stephen J. Wellum

Stephen J. Wellum is Associate Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Wellum received his Ph.D. degree in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has also taught theology at the Associated Canadian Theological Schools and Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary in Canada. He has contributed to several publications and a collection of essays on theology and worldview issues.

It was the great reformer, Martin Luther, who once reminded us that the true test of a disciple’s loyalty and faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ is not merely found in his professing the truth of God with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, but doing so precisely at the point where the world and the devil are at that moment attacking. In fact, as Luther allegedly went on to say, for a disciple to stand firm at every point of doctrine—except where the battle rages—is evidence of failure, compromise, and disgrace.

Sadly, in the history of the church, and especially during the last century, we, particularly the leaders and teachers of the church, have often failed Luther’s test. Instead of maintaining a proper biblical balance by proclaiming the whole counsel of God in the context of the specific challenges of our day, we have tended towards two extremes. Either we have tended to fixate ourselves on truths of God’s Word that are important in their own right yet are not central to the current debate, or we have tended to engage contemporary challenges in ways that have led to an unfaithful rendering and surrendering of God’s truth. To find Christian pastors, teachers, and theologians who understand our Zeitgeist, and are able both to pinpoint the crucial challenges of our day with biblical-theological precision and address our situation in a prophetic voice with the truth of the gospel is indeed rare. When such individuals are found, we would do well to learn from them and to listen carefully to them. In our day, Carl F. H. Henry was one such individual.

When Carl Henry passed into the presence of the Lord on December 7, 2003, the church not only lost a gracious and godly Christian gentleman, a man passionate for the gospel and its spread to the ends of the earth, but also a profound evangelical leader and thinker, a giant in the faith, who demonstrated by both word and deed what it means to be a faithful disciple to the Lord. Henry’s importance and role within the rise of evangelicalism in the last century is without parallel. Serving as the editor of Christianity Today, teaching at key evangelical institutions, helping organize countless evangelical groups, writing voluminous works on evangelical theology, ...

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