THE QUINTESSENTIAL BAPTIST: THE LEGACY OF CARL F. H. HENRY AS A MODEL FOR CONTEMPORARY BAPTISTS

This paper investigates the impact of the writings and exhortations of Carl F. H. Henry upon modern Baptists leaders. Henry is best known as the intellectual giant that served as the founding editor for Christianity Today and he is often seen as an evangelical Christian theologian, more than merely a Baptist theologian. However, Henry’s Baptist theology and convictions greatly informed his entire project, and his most lasting impact was upon leaders within the Southern Baptist Convention. Henry was the greatest evangelical theologian of the twentieth century and the architect of the resurgence of evangelicalism in the mid-twentieth century, but he also serves as an excellent model for Baptist theologians today.
First, this paper examines various Christianity Today articles and editorials written by Henry that demonstrate his clear convictions related to preaching, corporate worship gatherings, hymn singing, local evangelistic strategy, and the Lord’s Supper. Second, this paper examines several of Henry’s monographs that give insights into Henry’s conflicted relationship with parachurch ministry structures, demonstrating his willingness to utilize such structures when necessary but also showing that, ultimately, Henry much preferred that ministry be an overflow of local churches. This paper examines correspondence between Henry and younger Baptists leaders to demonstrate his preference in favor of associations of churches, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, over parachurch ministry structures as the ideal mechanisms for broad ministry initiatives. Lastly, this paper examines segments from Henry’s magnum opus, the six-volume God, Revelation, and Authority to show how his doctrine of the kingdom of God informed his view of local church ministry and missiology, and this paper highlights how Henry’s conclusions align with classic Baptist theology and ecclesiology.
As a result of this paper, readers will understand how Henry viewed the local church and its mission, and readers will see how Henry’s wisdom and exhortations are ideal for contemporary Baptists as they seek to push forward classic Baptist theology, convictions, and distinctives. This paper proves that Carl F. H. Henry’s Baptist theology and convictions are clearer than what some observers have previously asserted, and this paper demonstrates that Henry’s Baptist theology and convictions are often underrated when his legacy is considered.

5 thoughts on “THE QUINTESSENTIAL BAPTIST: THE LEGACY OF CARL F. H. HENRY AS A MODEL FOR CONTEMPORARY BAPTISTS”

  1. potential as complement
    By itself, this proposal might not rise to the top of the section’s heap, but as a complement to the Lassiter look at Henry it poses an appealing complement that could make for good back-to-back comparison and reinforcement of a shared audience. It does seem well-conceived enough (and supervisor endorsed) to provide additional and not merely overlapping perspective. The 2023 occasion of an anniversary of Henry’s birth (1913) and death (2003) invites some extra attention to its inclusion.

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  2. Decent
    Topic fits our section; I’m a bit underwhelmed by the thesis (Henry should be understood as a Baptist theologian). And the outline of the paper promises merely to canvas the highlights of Henry’s work.

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