John Starke|12:01 AM CT

When Carl Henry Trash-Talked with Karl Barth

In Gregory Thornbury's new book, Recovering Classic Evangelicalism, he tells a story of a conversation with Millard Erickson, who joked, "You know I love Carl Henry's work. It's extremely important. I hope someday that it is translated into English." I laughed to myself when I read that story, because I resonated with Erickson's point. Some of Henry's more serious theological work can be dense and difficult to understand.

But if you read some of Henry's cultural lectures, you find an upbeat, confident, and engaged mind. He speaks to the challenges of the day—his and ours. And as Thornbury describes, he writes and speaks with a "swagger" that finds confidence not in himself, but in the authority of God and Scripture and the power of the gospel.

I sat down with Gregory Thornbury and Collin Hansen—both Henry enthusiasts—and talked about where to begin with Carl Henry's work. We told stories of how Carl Henry got fired from Christianity Today (a periodical he served as first editor) and the day he trash-talked with Karl Barth.

If you've never heard of Carl Henry or don't know where to begin, Thornbury and Hansen are good guides. After you watch the video, consider taking up Thornbury suggestion to read Toward a Recovery of Christian Belief or Hansen's recommendation of The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism.

Recovering Classic Evangelicalism from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.


John Starke is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and lead pastor of All Souls Church in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. You can follow him on Twitter.

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