The Henry Center has a brief biographical sketch of Carl Henry on its web site. Ryan Fields, who interned with the Henry Center while he studied at TEDS wrote a short entry about how evangelicals today would be well-served to know more about Henry’s life and work. I plan to write several posts that will provide some background on the man that lends his name and his priorities to the Henry Center for Theological Understanding.
Henry was born in 1913, into a family of German immigrants. His father came from a Lutheran family, his mother was Catholic. He was confirmed into the Episcopal Church at age 12. Henry describes his spiritual awakening as happening in the Summer of 1933, when he was twenty years old. A woman who worked with him at a newspaper where he was a reporter had invited him to a series of meetings where he met a speaker. This speaker would become a friend and would eventually guide him to accept personal faith in Christ as a transformational event in his life.
Henry left his job as a reporter to study at Wheaton College where he earned his bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree while teaching typing and journalism courses. While he worked on his master’s degree, he also earned a doctorate in theology at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. After earning his doctorate, he taught at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary while he pursued a doctorate of philosophy from Boston University. During his time at Boston University, he became associated with Harold Ockenga—the pastor of the Park Street Church— and with Edward John Carnell and Kenneth Kantzer. They would later seek to transform the world for Christ.
Henry’s quest would lead him to encourage Christians to become socially active in order influence America and the world. He would become a professor of theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He would be active in the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, and serve as the founding editor of Christianity Today in his quest to spur evangelical Christians.