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Carl F. H. Henry

Carl F. H. Henry (January 22, 1913 - December 7, 2003) was an evangelical Christian theologian, who founded the magazine Christianity Today as a scholarly voice for evangelical Christianity and as a challenge to the liberal Christian Century. The new magazine soon outdistanced its competitor in readership, though it was not without its critics. At a luncheon of 200 Christian leaders held to honor neo-orthodox theologian Karl Barth, Henry rose and identified himself as "editor of 'Christianity Today'" before asking Barth about his views on the historical fact of Jesus' resurrection. Barth retorted, "Did you say Christianity Today or Christianity Yesterday?" As the audience howled with laughter, Henry countered, "Yesterday, today, and forever."

Early years and education

Henry grew up on Long Island, New York as the son of German immigrants, Karl F. Heinrich and Johanna Vaethroeder (Väthröder). After his high school graduation in 1929, he began working in newspaper journalism. While he was not unacquainted with Christianity, his first experience indicating a personal God came as he worked at a weekly newspaper office, proofreading galleys with a middle-aged woman, Mildred Christy. When Henry used Christ's name as a swear word, Christy commented, "Carl, I'd rather you slap my face than take the name of my best Friend in vain."

Coming to personal faith in Christ himself, he enrolled at evangelical, liberal arts Wheaton College in 1935, where he also taught typing and journalism. It was there that he met Helga whom he married in August of 1940. He received both bachelors and masters degrees from Wheaton. He then earned a Doctor of Theology degree from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also earned a PhD from Boston University in 1949.

His son Paul B. Henry was a U.S. Congressman from Michigan from 1985 until his death in 1993.


In 1942 he took part in the launching of the National Association of Evangelicals, serving on its board for several years and being book editor of their magazine United Evangelical Action.

In 1947 he published his first book, a critique entitled Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, which, while rejecting modern liberalism, and preserving a doctrinal focus on the Bible, also rejected the rigidness and disengagement of Fundamentalists. The book firmly established Henry as one of the leading Evangelical scholars. In the same year, along with Harold J. Ockenga and Edward J. Carnell , he helped establish Fuller Theological Seminary, named in honor of radio evangelist Charles E. Fuller

In 1956, with the urging and support of Evangelist Billy Graham, Henry began publication of Christianity Today. He was the magazine's editor until 1968.

In 1978 he published The Christian Mindset In a Secular Society

Henry's magnum opus was a six-volume work entitled God, Revelation, and Authority, completed in 1983. He concluded "that if we humans say anything authentic about God, we can do so only on the basis of divine self-revelation; all other God-talk is conjectural."

His autobiography, Confessions of a Theologian was published in 1986.

Henry died in 2003 at the age of 90.

See also

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