“When I first came to Trinity, I used to stand at the base of the library building and stare at the words affixed to the wall, “Carl F.H. Henry Resource Center.” Little did I know then that I was destined to become Dr. Henry’s T.A. I was so naïve at the time; I didn’t know anything about him. The whole time he was alive, I didn’t quite understand who he was. I knew that he had spent time with President Nixon and published scholarly books and gone to Europe with Billy Graham, but I didn’t really savvy the significance of his public contribution until after he died.
I knew Carl Henry, the man. Dr. Henry was my teacher, my mentor, my boss, and the only real grandfather I ever had. He was stern, but he affirmed me in a way that none of my other teachers did, even though there were others who encouraged me effectively as well. On one of my papers, he assigned me an A, but then changed it to A- and told me he didn’t think I had submitted my best work. He was right, and the fact that he dinged my grade for that caused me to respect him even more. He refused to reward anything less than my best. Without saying so explicitly, Dr. Henry
challenged me to respect myself enough to rise above my laziness and short-sightedness of thinking that my school papers didn’t count for too much. Dr. Henry helped me to wake up and get into the game. In our conversations, he emphasized the power of writing and how the written word can motivate people to action. Time and again, he urged me to prioritize my writing. One day he said to me, “You remind me of myself.” When I complained about how bad my writing was, he told me he improved in his writing only after watching his editor-boss “perfect the arch in his toss” by throwing Dr. Henry’s many bad drafts into the trashcan.
Dr. Henry would often muse about his longing to see evangelicals trained theologically to participate in culture as real Christians. He wanted evangelicals to seed society with the gospel. His concern was for society, even though he also told me that he wished he would’ve engaged in more personal evangelism. In fact, my recollection is that he told all of us Ph.D. students never to underestimate the importance of helping one person come to Christ.”
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