Much of Carl F. H. Henry’s moral sense was driven by his view of humanity. Whether it was discussing bioethical issues or his opposition to communism or anything else, his objection was often rooted in the biblical emphasis that human beings are created in the image of God.
People were not merely the sum of their chemical parts, free to be tinkered with by technological innovators, nor were they simply the product of socioeconomic forces, liable to be used and disposed of at the whim of the powers that be. Perhaps more importantly, it was because of this divine imprint, the Imago Dei, that God was willing and able to reveal his will to humanity through the Bible. To this creational glory Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection as a human being added a new level of honor to Adam’s seed. Because this dignity is granted by God above, it cannot be withdrawn or modified by anything here below.
Introducing the Exclusive Lectures & Sermons
When Carl Henry left us for our Lord in 2003, he donated his personal archives to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In addition to the many lectures and sermons that he delivered during his time here, he also left many other sermons and lectures (not least the lecture at Yale from which emerged the famous Henry-Frei exchanged, published in Trinity Journal in 1987). Over the course of his centennial year, the Henry Center digitized all these old lectures and sermons and tracked down the copyrights for them. We are now thrilled to offer you these nearly 30 audio resources of Carl Henry with brief introductory notes, historical context, and theological synthesis.
That theological synthesis begins here, with my pick on Carl Henry’s top 10 lectures and sermons on human nature (or, anthropology). In this progressive series of posts, we will see Henry’s passion and principles for humanity shine through. While their contexts and emphases may vary, these messages all contain the importance of humanity’s divinely ordained dignity. Enough of my words, however, let’s turn to our first lecture, coming in at number 10.
Nu. 10: God the Sovereign Creator
This was a sermon given on September 6, 1981 at Westminster Chapel in London, England. In his description of the origins of the universe, we find Carl Henry’s centering point for the nature of humanity. If we are the accidents of nature as the contemporary world would have it, and merely “star-stuff” as Carl Sagan famously put it, then human nature is in perpetual flux, with no meaning today that will not be lost tomorrow. If, on the other hand, we are as the ancient world thought, and only the minor players in a greater drama starring the competing gods of the cosmos, then our significance is as secure as an extra on a TV show. In this sermon Henry argues that it is out of the radical, God-centered creation account of Genesis that humanity can find its place. Because the infinite and personal God has made the world for his own purposes, and he has made us to walk with him, humanity finds its true nature and position in the cosmos secure beyond the threat of naturalistic or polytheistic irrelevance and anonymity. He has made us and he has named us.