Carl F. H. Henry as Heir of Reformation Epistemology?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by JM, Jun 12, 2009.

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  1. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

  2. Theogenes

    Theogenes Puritan Board Junior

    JM,
    I have the set you are asking about and read it a few years ago and found it to be quite excellent. It is very long and thorough. I don't think I paid $99 for it. I can't remember. But you may want to compare with CVBBS.
    Jim
     
  3. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Thank you Theogenes.

    A few quotes posted on Amazon.com:

    'Christianity depicts itself - essentially theological though it be - not as a supremely constructed metaphysical theory, but as a revelation, differing in kind from secular philosophies grounded in rational reflection. Its basic premise is that the living God should be allowed to speak for Himself and to define the abiding role of reason and the meaning of revelation.' pg 95

    'Secular Man and Ultimate Concerns', Book 1:

    'The ecumenical movement with its focus on 'what the Spirit is saying to the churches' rather than on what the inspired Scripture ongoingly says, has meanwhile been more open to an emphasis on charismatic renewal than on a recovery of the Reformation.' Book 1, pg 131

    'The universal disclosure of God penetrates deeply into all man's confidences and doubts. Evidence of God's reality and power and truth and goodness is ongoingly refracted into the course of man's daily life.' pg 151

    'Man is viewed as a creature competent without gods to cope with all problems through social rather than supernatural resources, and all his powers and choices are contingently grounded.' pg 137

    'Divine being and divine providence are denied.' pg 138

    'Man creates his own future by exercising inherent powers of mind and will.' pg 140

    'Man alone is able to decide his life's course, he alone is the source of what truth he affirms and of what good he champions.' Ibid

    'With or without science, man is not omnipotent over the cosmos and history.' pg 143

    'especially man's own nature stands in the way of doing the good that he would.' pg 144

    'Man's sense of personal worth and peculiar destiny derives from remnants of the created Imago Dei in man, and beyond that from the ongoing universal revelation of the Creator.' pg 145

    'Modern man's difficulty is not due to the unintelligibility or incredibility of the reality of God, but arises from the secularist's intellectual postulations and commitments which render the biblical view personally powerless.' pg 146

    'To insist that the living God of the Bible is inescapably an aspect of everyday existence may strike the man 'come of age' as nonsense, since the very possibility is excluded by his definition of reality and his delimitation of experience.' pg 149

    'If man made for God, will not live by the truth of God, he will nevertheless venture on his own to invest his life with sense and security by serving false gods.' pg 150

    'Only God's purpose and assurance made known in His Word can displace doubts about man's historical significance...' ibid

    'An obituary for God is assuredly always premature.' ibid

    'Not a judgment, not a decision, not an action takes place without reference to the Horizon of Ultimate Claims upon man's life. Secular man does not miss out on general revelation, but he misses out on the joy of God and the goal of life.' ibid

    A review:
    Henry's basic propositions are at once both simple and profound - that revealed truth must be communicable in propositional form, that is, in complete sentences, with subject, verbs, and objects. Truth is not a commodity for the intellectually or spiritually elite. In other words, if you cannot tell me in plain language what the truth is, then I must question whether or not what you are considering is really the truth. Furthermore, God has set this example by personally revealing Himself in this manner in our own objective, external history - the same history of which we are all now a part. This is not to say that there are truths in the universe that are not communicable verbally, only that the Truth that has been revealed by God must be, and has been, communicated in that manner.

    Henry's antagonists are those theologians (Barth, Bultmann and company)who propose that history is of two kinds - the day-to-day, external, objective history with which we are all familiar, and a special, internal "geschichte" history where God reveals himself internally to individuals within gaps in the causal uniformity of external history, and the less extreme theologians (Moltmann, Pannenberg, and company) who propose that there is one, encompassing salvation-history ("heilsgeschichte") within which there is no distinction to be made between the natural and supernatural and hence, no need to distinguish between two different kinds of history.

    Although some find the concepts of geschichte and heilsgeschichte intellectually appealing in that the altogether-other God is revealing himself in an altogether-other history that is suitable to His nature, it falls short of the biblical concept of salvation, in which God has revealed Himself personally and powerfully within our own, external day-to-day history, where we live, die, marry, raise children, and work out our lives. The logical conclusion of geschichte seems to be that, if our salvation has been wrought in a different kind of history that stands apart from our own familiar day-to-day history, then so must our Christian life be wrought in a similar fashion. Heilsgechichte hold up slightly better under scrutiny, but still falls short by de-mystifying the supernatural into the realm of the ordinary. Henry demonstrates that these concepts are neither biblical nor Christian.

    Once, he told us a story about a press conference he attended with Karl Barth. During the question and answer period, Dr. Barth was engaged in several lively discussions on his theme of geschichte. When it came Dr. Henry's turn to pose a question, he asked, "Herr Barth, what would the newspapers have read on the morning following the resurrection?" The visibly disturbed Barth responded, "Did you say you were the editor of Christianity Yesterday, or was it Christianity Today?" Henry calmly responded, "That would be Christianity yesterday, today, and forever."

    I am aware that his detractors use the tired, old, "just another [biased] *evangelical* perspective" argument, as if the mere use of the term dispatches Henry's contribution to the growing body of truly irrelevant theology. I sometimes wonder if these detractors have taken the time to make an honest appraisal of Henry in the same manner as they request the rest of us to do with Pannenberg, Moltmann, Barth, Bultmann, and company? Or even worse, does geschichte and helsgeschichte captivate their attention because they allow salvation to be considered separately from the course of daily life?

    I am afraid, however, that you must read Henry for yourself and decide, as I, the student, am not greater than his Master.​

    A quote from a review:
    Once, he told us a story about a press conference he attended with Karl Barth. During the question and answer period, Dr. Barth was engaged in several lively discussions on his theme of geschichte. When it came Dr. Henry's turn to pose a question, he asked, "Herr Barth, what would the newspapers have read on the morning following the resurrection?" The visibly disturbed Barth responded, "Did you say you were the editor of Christianity Yesterday, or was it Christianity Today?" Henry calmly responded, "That would be Christianity yesterday, today, and forever."​
     
  4. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    I sat in on a three week J-term taught by Dr. Henry in the mid 1980's. The assigned text was the entire 6 volume GRA! Was he reformed? Probably not by definitions shared by PB members. He was a very sweet, humble and loveable old saint.

    His strength and outstanding contribution to Christ's Church was his first rate intellectual standing toe-to-toe against Barth and later Neo-orthodox champions, as well as their successors who continued to undermine the cognitive propositional nature of God's revelation to man in the Scripture.

    His last two volumes of the set are less useful in that they attempt to provide something of a systematic theology, but this was not his forte.

    Henry maintained simultaneous memberships in both a Baptist church and a Presbyterian church.
     
  5. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

  6. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Is the set outdated now?
     
  7. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    As long as unbelievers and scoffers labor to undermine confidence in the Bible as propositional truth revealed to man by God the set will be useful.
     
  8. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    It isn't outdated. Albert Mohler and SBTS republished it few years ago (that's the edition I have). It is a great read.
     
  9. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    The six volumes were originally published from 1976 to 1984, I believe, but they are still timely today. I met Dr. Henry once, many years ago, at a lecture he gave. He was a very gracious (and tall) man. He died on Pearl Harbor Day, 2003, at the age of 90.
     
  10. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    He was a gracious, godly man who was equally comfortable in both Baptist and Presbyterian circles, and equally shunned and dismissed by the liberals in both groups.
     
  11. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Can a person actually do that? Would the OPC, for instance, allow a communicant member in good standing of one of its Presbyterian churches to also be a full member of a Baptist church?
     
  12. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Actually he did. That of course does not address whether he should have.
     
  13. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    He is a baptist, calvinistic in solteriology and presuppositional in apolegetics. A devout member of a SBChurch... Captital hill baptist church to be exact.

    -----Added 9/8/2009 at 02:12:51 EST-----

    But His book is worth consulting but not worth reading all the way. though I would agree with most in it.
     
  14. PMBrooks

    PMBrooks Puritan Board Freshman

    As I understand it from one of Dr. Dever's audio recordings on the 9 Marks website, Dr. Henry was instrumental in getting Dr. Dever to come as pastor to Capitol Hill Baptist Church several years ago.
     
  15. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate


    NOTE: Dr. Henry went home to be with the Lord on Dec 7, 2003 at the age of 90.
     
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