Case in Point

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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Carl F. H. Henry: In memoriam (column: WJI Times Observer)

Dr. Henry and Bob huddle over his speech to WJI journalists (1999)

WJI Times Observer

Case in Point column

When Dr. Carl F.H. Henry died a month ago (12/7/03) in his sleep of death prominent evangelical Christians around the world rushed to eulogize him. His stature as evangelical’s most thoughtful and engaged spokesman demanded such a rush. In fact, just the opportunity to eulogize him somehow put one in his camp, which was enough motivation for most of us. Since Dr. Henry gave perhaps his last public presentations to the inaugural graduating class of WJI in August 1999 I, too, want to put my oar in the water on behalf of Henry’s legacy.

I have three personal reflections of my acquaintance with Henry:

1) While at Covenant Seminary in the early 70s I was required to read some of Henry’s books. One day I casually mentioned to my ethics professor, David Jones, why did we have to read Henry? After all, he was just a journalist (Christianity Today, etc.). Dr. Jones gently chided me by stating that Carl Henry was not just a journalist but a profoundly thoughtful Christian theologian, ethicist and apologists and I would do well to study his thought.

2) I took Jones’ advice, and years later I had the opportunity (along with Robert Rayburn) to bring Dr. Henry out to Seattle/Tacoma for an extended period of public presentations. I cherish the photograph I have of the 80 year old Henry bending over to whisper in the ear of my teenage daughter, Karissa his advice to a young girl, “”For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things.”

3) When the Institute began in l998, we wanted to pronounce that it was a serious effort at engaging the journalistic culture with thoughtful, articulate and warm-hearted Christian journalists. To put the exclamation point on this mission, Carl Henry was asked to keynote the closing banquet. He was in his early 80s and in constant back pain at the time. He had to fly all night from his home in Wisconsin to our outpost in Asheville. Yet he came. Always in awe of him, I asked him as we were on our way to the airport, why he would make such an arduous trek. He was almost offended that I didn’t understand that as long as his God gave him breath he would minister until his glory.

The mission of WJI as expressed by me is largely taken from the mind of Carl Henry. You can find this on our web site.

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