Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Kevin King


Carl F. H. Henry, Ecclessiology, Evangelism, Missions, Social Concern, Theology


Christianity | Practical Theology | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


This study examines evangelism and social concern in the theology of Carl F. H. Henry. Henry stands not only as the most important figure in the re-awakening of evangelical social concern, but also a leading thinker among Evangelicals on the theological foundations that should guide this movement in its life and practice. Henry, building on the work of Abraham Kuyper (although with some significant differences), sought to recapture the Reformed emphasis on a worldview approach to the Christian faith. Thus, Henry emerges as a key and oddly understudied figure in the re-awakening of evangelical social action. Yet, his balanced approach upholds the necessity of personal regeneration, thereby prioritizing evangelism, as the key to both a theology of evangelism and a theology of social concern. In doing so, however, he moves past fundamentalist malaise in the social arena and overcomes liberal and neo-orthodox ambiguities about sin and redemptive religion. Furthermore, Henry also offers a corrective to some holistic mission advocates who too closely equivocate evangelism and social concern and thereby minimize important distinctions. The key theological feature in Henry's prioritizing evangelism turns out to be the doctrine of revelation. Though most other approaches to this issue focus either entirely or mostly on the Kingdom of God, a doctrine also important to Henry, Henry differs by emphasizing that understanding, entering, and embodying the Kingdom depends foremost on the doctrine of revelation and its primary place in knowing and following the will of God. As such, Henry's model, defined as a regeneration approach to evangelism and social concern, offers hope for an Evangelical consensus on this issue.