Excerpts from Henry Interview
Interview With Carl F. H. Henry, "A
Summons to Justice," Christianity Today, July 20, 1992
How then do we balance the
imperatives of evangelism and human rights?
If the church preaches only divine
forgiveness and does not affirm justice, she implies that God treats
immorality and sin lightly. If the church proclaims only justice, we
shall all die in unforgiven sin and without the Spirit’s
empowerment for righteousness. We should be equally troubled that we
lag in championing justice and in fulfilling our evangelistic
mandate. We should realize that the Great Commission is dwarfed and
even maligned if one implies that God is blindly tolerant of social
and structural evil, that he forgives sinners independently of a
concern for justice. ...
Evangelicals are sometimes
criticized for a lack of involvement in human-rights issues. Is
Yes. On the one hand, some
evangelicals contend that believers should not be concerned for
human rights—especially not their own—but only for the gospel of
personal regeneration. But the God of the Bible says much about the
abuse of rights, especially those of the impoverished and helpless.
The apostle Paul did not hesitate to appeal to Caesar when regional
authorities withheld his rights as a Roman citizen (Acts 25:11). ...
Evangelicals should be devoted to
‘the whole counsel of God," which acknowledges that God wills
both justice and the repentance and spiritual rebirth of sinners.
England’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century evangelical movement
was spiritually and morally vital because it strove for justice and
also invited humanity to regeneration, forgiveness, and power for
righteousness. The world in this century is aflame with injustice,
so much so that the church could exhaust its energies in decrying it
and forgo significant witness to redemption in Christ. That, of
course, would be a costly compromise of mission. ...
We should pray daily "thy
kingdom come," as Jesus tells us to do. The local church should
identify the most grievous injustices—local, regional, and
national—and strive to rectify them, in concert with all who seek
to right the wrong. This need not call for massive demonstrations
unless intermediary engagement achieves nothing. Letters to the
editor, requests for editorial comment by the press, support for
more sensitive alternative enterprises are all activities in which
every churchgoer can and should participate. God wishes to etch his
law on every heart, and our efforts advance his cause.
Return to Homepage