Fortunes Of The Christian World View -- By: Carl F. H. Henry

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 19:2 (Fall 1998)
Article: Fortunes Of The Christian World View
Author: Carl F. H. Henry

Fortunes Of The Christian World View1

Carl F. H. Henry*

* Carl F. Henry is one of evangelicalism’s most prominent theologians, and a visiting professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Fortunes of the Christian world view have fluctuated wildly in the century now closing. From its high role as a theistic system exhibiting the rational coherence of the biblical revelation, the Christian world-and-life view has fallen into disfavor among scholars who dismiss any logically formulated belief system as a speculative byproduct of the Enlightenment and a betrayal of authentic Christianity.

Just before the onset of the present century the Scottish theologian and apologist James Orr delivered his influential lectures on The Christian View of God and the World at Lake Forest College in Illinois. One of evangelicalism’s ablest minds, Orr authored almost a score of significant theological books and was general editor of the first edition of the multi-volume International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

As late as the mid-twentieth century one of evangelicalism’s bellwether academic institutions, Wheaton College, used Orr’s The Christian View as a required senior class text. It was reprinted by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, which later also produced Contours of a Christian World View written by Wheaton professor Arthur Holmes under auspices of the Institute for Advanced Christian Studies. Holmes shared and updated many of Orr’s emphases and contrasted more recent theories, including process philosophy and secular humanism, with evangelical theism.

Generations before the rise of recent narrative theology many evangelical collegians could effortlessly summarize Christian theism in a coherent scheme of postulates that included existence of the sovereign triune self-revealing God; ex nihilo originator of the universe and maker of humankind in his rational and moral likeness for spiritual worship, fellowship, and service, including responsible stewardship of the cosmos; humanity’s voluntary dereliction, provoking divine wrath and forfeiture of a felicitous afterlife; God’s

merciful intervention promising through the prophets salvation that humanity could not devise for itself and subsequent divine fulfillment of that redemptive promise in Jesus of Nazareth the incarnate Logos and embracing the Nazarene’s virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection; the ascended Lord’s high priestly ministry as universal head of the church, the regenerate people of God eclipsing barriers of culture and race in devotion to global evangelism and social justice; the consummate return of Christ, resurr...

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