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seven summits

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: Carl F. H. Henry

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on B&H Academic Blog and is part of a series of theological biographies by Jason Duesing: Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History.

“He is intellectually the most eminent of conservative theologians. I would say he’s been the professor and I’ve been the student.” So said Billy Graham reflecting upon the influence of Carl F. H. Henry (1913-2003). Like Philipp Melanchthon to Martin Luther, or Andrew Fuller to William Carey, with the passing of time the figures in history that built the theological infrastructure to support and defend an evangelical movement often fade from popular memory. Graham, Luther, Carey we know, but names like Carl F. H. Henry are not readily in view. Although unknown, Henry is not forgotten. Gregory Alan Thornbury’s latest work is quickly becoming one of the books to read this year. This is a welcomed and needed volume, for the perceptive Thornbury observes, “So it seems as though there may still be enough of us left who believe that Carl Henry, a key to evangelicalism’s past, may in fact be a cipher to its future.” What is it then that made Henry so effective in his day and thus worth reviewing now? Carl Trueman believes that one part of what made Henry remarkable was his “unerring ability to see the big picture, to focus on issues of real substance, and to communicate the significance of these issues to the theological public.” Henry saw this big picture first in his younger days as a journalist. Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: William Carey

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on B&H Academic Blog and is part of a series of theological biographies by Jason Duesing: Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History

“He keeps the grand end in view.” After arriving in India in September 1796, John Fountain used these words to describe his first impressions of William Carey (1761-1834). A missionary pioneer, organizer, catalyst, survivor, and inspiration, Carey lived 73 full years and changed the modern world. J. H. Kane argues that Carey’s missions tract, An Enquiry, was “a landmark in Christian history and deserves a place alongside Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses.” Carey’s nephew attributed much of Carey’s fruitful longevity to “invincible patience in labour, and uninterrupted constancy.” Carey would not agree with these assessments. In his words, if one were to “give me credit for being a plodder, he will describe me justly. Anything beyond this will be too much. I can plod.” Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: Jonathan Edwards

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on B&H Academic Blog and is part of a series of theological biographies by Jason Duesing: Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History.

Speaking in 1976 to a conference of ministers, London preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, compared “the Puritans to the Alps, Luther and Calvin to the Himalayas, and Jonathan Edwards to Mount Everest.” As the greatest theologian and philosopher in American history, Edwards is certainly a summit worth climbing. However, for all of Edwards’s brilliance and human achievements, there must be something more to the man that transcends from eighteenth century transcontinental leader to twenty-first century t-shirt icon. To be sure, Edwards’s legacy has been assessed, not to mention at least two academic centers (at Yale and at TEDS) and one society dedicated to the study of the Northampton pastor. But for a future generation that knows not Edwards, his call for prayer for revival and the manner in which that call shaped a world missions movement might prove prescient. Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: Balthasar Hubmaier

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on B&H Academic Blog and is part of a series of theological biographies by Jason Duesing: Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History.

One man’s noise is another man’s symphony. Indeed, the sirens of Balthasar Hubmaier (1480?-1528) and the Anabaptists clamored in complete cacophony to Huldrich Zwingli and the Swiss Reformer’s idea of a Magisterial Reformation. What is more, most of the historical tradition that followed until the twentieth century agreed with Zwingli that the Anabaptists were disorderly radicals of extreme dissonance. Yet, as William Estep argued, “Anabaptism might well be, outside the Reformation itself, the most influential movement the sixteenth century spawned” for “concepts such as religious liberty and its concomitant, the separation of church and state, may be directly traced to sixteenth century Anabaptism.” George Hunston Williams provided the most extensive treatment showing that not all sixteenth century Anabaptists were a part of a “program for violent destruction of Europe’s religious and social institutions.” Williams identified three groups of Anabaptists: revolutionary, contemplative, and evangelical—with the latter most theologically close to the Magisterial Reformers in terms of their doctrines of the sole authority of Scripture and justification by faith alone. In the doctrine of salvation and especially the doctrine of the church they differed, but never to the point of violence or mass social revolution. Among these evangelical Anabaptists, Balthasar Hubmaier emerged as the chief theologian and spokesman.  Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: John Calvin

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on B&H Academic Blog and is the third in a series of theological biographies by Jason Duesing: Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History.

Karl Barth, a theologian of no small stature, captured the immensity of John Calvin’s life and theology as “something directly down from Himalaya, absolutely Chinese, strange, mythological.” Barth explained, “I lack completely the means, the suction cups, even to assimilate this phenomenon, not to speak of presenting it adequately.” Regularly a topic of controversy, the name John Calvin continues to delight and bewilder, engendering both scowls and smiles. For this article, rather than defend or critique the man based on historic assumptions or contemporary reformulations of the life and thought of Calvin, I am parking my brief assessment at the intersection of two of his chief doctrines that receive little attention: Scripture and the Holy Spirit. Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: Martin Luther

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on B&H Academic Blog and is the second in a series of theological biographies by Jason Duesing: Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History.

Lightning needed only to strike once near the young contemplative Martinus Ludher (1483-1546) to prod him toward conscription to the confines of monasticism. At this point in his life, Luther was beyond the fear of death. Rather, he feared not knowing if he was prepared for death. Shackled by uncertainty, Luther sought freedom in the avenues commonly thought to travel closest to the gates of heaven. Not only did this include departure from his family into seclusion but also any and every form of self-discipline and strict asceticism. Well aware of his many sins, Luther hoped to cross over into the free lands of God’s favor through abandonment from the world. But the more sins he confessed the more sins he found. Like Sisyphus at a new day’s dawn, Luther grew weary and angry at the paradox of an unattainable standard of holiness. With scowls directed toward the distant God he sought to please, the roots of Luther’s fits of frustration bore deep down to a simmering cauldron of ensnaring hatred. Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: Augustine

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on B&H Academic Blog and is the first in a series of theological biographies by Jason Duesing: Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History.

“London remains a vast and exhilarating mystery to me,” said novelist Bill Bryson. Even after living in the United Kingdom for decades he stated that he still found that there were great fragments of London “that I have not just never visited but never heard of.” Indeed, there are some subjects that are so immense that no matter how much one reads or visits there remains more to know and master. Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on the B&H Academic Blog. The following post introduces a “theological biography” series by Jason Duesing, who serves as vice president for Strategic Initiatives and assistant professor of Historical Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Duesing is the editor of Adoniram Judson: A Bicentennial Appreciation of the Pioneer American Missionary. Subsequent posts in the series will appear approximately every other week. Read More »