Cultural Revolutions

Carl F.H. Henry, R.I.P.

The greatest intellectual leader of the evangelical movement of the 20th century quietly passed away in his sleep at a retirement home in Watertown, Wisconsin, on December 7, at the age of 90.  A scholar with the heart of an evangelist, Dr. Henry represented all of the strengths of the new evangelicalism, while exhibiting few of its flaws.

Often called “the thinking man’s Billy Graham,” Dr. Henry, along with Harold Ockenga and Graham (his friend from Wheaton College), was one of the architects of the neo-evangelical movement of the 1940’s.  The three concluded that fundamentalism had become too sectarian and anti-intellectual to be able to speak the truth of the Gospel to the neopagan culture that had emerged in the United States following World War II.

Ockenga coined the term neo-evangelicals to describe Protestants who remained committed to the fundamentals of Protestant Christianity but repudiated the cultural isolationism of the fundamentalists.  Using the platform of the mass “crusade”—and, later, the powerful medium of television—Billy Graham quickly became the movement’s figurehead.  Dr. Henry, however, was its chief intellectual force, writing The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (1947), in which he called for a repudiation of extreme separatism among those who cherish the Gospel.

This was not a mere...

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