Friday, July 10, 2015

Carl FH Henry on the Transcendence of the Gospel

This is one of my favorite stories of church history. In his autobiography, Confessions of a Theologian, Carl FH Henry wrote:
When Karl Barth came to America for a few lectures at University of Chicago Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary, George Washington University made a belated effort to bring him to the nation's capital. Barth was weary, but volunteered for an hour's question-answer dialogue. The university invited 200 religious leaders to a luncheon honoring Barth at which guests were invited to stand, identify themselves and pose a question. A Jesuit Scholar from either Catholic University or Georgetown voiced the first question.

Aware that the initial queries often set the mood for all subsequent discussion, I asked the next question. Identifying myself as Carl Henry, editor of Christianity Today, I continued: 'The question, Dr. Barth, concerns the historical factuality of the resurrection of Jesus.' I pointed to the press table and noted the presence of leading reporters representing United Press, Religious News Service, Washington Post, Washington Star, and other media. If these journalists had their present duties at the times of Christ, I asked, was the resurrection of such a nature that covering some aspect of it would have fallen under their area of responsibility? 'Was it news,' I asked, 'in the sense that the man on the street understands news?'

Barth became angry. Pointing at me, and recalling my identification, he asked, 'Did you say Christianity Today, or Christianity Yesterday?' The audience—largely nonevangelical professors and clergy—roared with delight. When countered unexpectedly in this way, one often reaches for a Scripture verse. So I replied, assuredly out of biblical context, 'Yesterday, Today, and Forever.'

For more:
"Recovering Classic Evangelicalism" by Gregory Alan Thornbury: A Review
"The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism" by Carl FH Henry: A Review 
The Reservoir & Conduit of Divine Truth: Carl FH Henry on Revelation   
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