CARL F. H.

HENRY’S GOD, REVELATION,
AND AUTHORITY VOLUME THREE ESSAY

__________________

A Paper
Presented to
Dr. Everett Berry
Criswell College
__________________

In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for THS 665A

__________________

by
Michael Metts
April 21, 2012

Copyright © 2012 Michael Metts
All rights reserved. Criswell College has permission to reproduce and disseminate this
document in any form by any means for purposes chosen by the College, including,
without limitation, preservation or instruction.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................4
The First Thesis: The Centrality of
Jesus Messiah, the Revealed Logos of God ........................................................7
The Second Thesis: The Mediating Logos ..................................................................9
‫ דבר‬as the OT Precedent for Λόγος ...................................................................11
Λόγος in the Classical Greek World .................................................................12
The Third Thesis: Conceptual-Verbal Revelation .....................................................13
The Nature of Theological Language ...............................................................14
The Imago Dei in Carl Henry's
Propositionalism .......................................................................................15
CONCLUSION .........................................................................................................16
BIBLIOGRAPHY .....................................................................................................18

iii

CARL F. H. HENRY’S GOD, REVELATION,
AND AUTHORITY VOLUME THREE ESSAY
It is probably best to introduce post-war evangelicalism's father, Carl F. H.
Henry, together with the Enlightenment. In a positive assessment of Henry's highest
literary achievement, God, Revelation and Authority, Carl Trueman states: “Henry's
entire work – of which GRA is the greatest single example – must be understood as an
attempt to restate conservative Protestant theology in a manner which takes seriously the
epistemological concerns of the Enlightenment without surrendering the content and
truth-claims of orthodox Christianity.”1
Of course, the paradigm more prescriptive of Enlightenment thought than most
others was Newtonian science which had brought dramatic structural understanding to
the natural world, even the universe. Newton's wisdom provided subsequent thinkers the
means of structuring, categorizing and theorizing knowledge, as well as harmonizing
knowledge across other disciplines. It was subsequently believed in earnest that
omniscience was perhaps attainable, and with omniscience the Christian God would be
left dethroned as man crowned himself and sought to rise ever higher.
The seriousness with which the Western world took the Enlightenment was
cause for the increasing destabilization of theological knowledge. Previously, she
reigned as queen of the sciences. She was soon-to-become a despised step-child, not
unlike Cinderella's unfortunate condition prior to becoming a princess – a story my three

1

Carl Trueman, “Admiring the Sistine Chapel: Reflections on Carl F. H. Henry's God,
Revelation and Authority,” Themelios 25.2 (2000): 49.

4

5
year old daughter loves. With every advance in natural understanding, the theological
teachings of the church came to be viewed suspiciously, or even grievously. Man was to
be viewed as something positive and wonderful given the leaps in understanding that
openness to reason had brought. How could he be a depraved creature? And with with
the recognition of universal laws governing the natural world, the consequences of this
for divine revelation and miracles were obvious: There could be none. And if God could
not act from outside upon the created world, how could he become a man, and die on
behalf of the sins of man, and rise from the dead?
The Enlightenment, therefore, triggered the search for an invulnerable area for
the Christian faith; a place of locating Christian truth that would be free from the canons
of Enlightenment reason. The resulting theologies written were significantly different
from their predecessors as two leading examples reveal: (1) Immanuel Kant's theology of
dutiful morality, and (2) Friedrich Schleiermacher's theology of religious feeling, or
consciousness. Both of which effectively quarantined the Christian faith from
involvement with the natural world.
But the Enlightenment failed. Mankind was not destined to omniscience as the
post-modern world has radically and obviously demonstrated. Man had simply sought to
replace the divinely revealed Logos with his own imitative reason. Henry rightly
envisioned the Christian faith standing toe-to-toe with the modern world and rightly
envisioned a biblical Christian faith robust enough to prevail. He states:
In this [modern] quest for meaning man secretly yearns for anchorage in a
transcendent haven that embraces all historical time and all cosmic reality. Despite
the naturalistic relativization of life, secular man prizes perspectives which link him
obliquely yet inescapably in relationships to the Logos of God. The revelation of the
transcendent Logos sustains his quest for meaning and worth, and spotlights the
truth of man's divine creation and eschatological destiny. To a vagabond species that

6
debauches the imago Dei, the crucified and risen Logos proffers redemptive grace
and intellectual and spiritual rebirth, calling to himself, the Eternal Word, those who
are bewitched by one or another phantom logoi that are born merely to die – the
delusive antichrists of the lost generations of man.2
These phantom logoi or logos-aspirants were the Enlightenment errors Henry's
work sought to expose and correct through a biblically-based rationalism centered in the
divinely revealed Christ. Volume three of Henry's six piece magnum opus, God,
Revelation and Authority, focuses primarily on the intelligible nature and propositional
disclosure of divinely revealed truth from transcendent God. While there are many
discussions taking place in Henry's five-hundred page volume, the present essay will
focus primarily on the rational propositional engine driving its theological method. The
outline of volume three is constructed around its three main theological theses, and this
arrangement of Henry's will also inform the three subsequent headings of this paper.
First (1) for this paper is “Thesis Eight: The climax of God's special revelation
is Jesus of Nazareth, the personal incarnation of God in the flesh; in Jesus Christ the
source and content of revelation converge and coincide.”3 Secondly, (2) “Thesis Nine:
The mediating agent in all divine revelation is the Eternal Logos – preexistent, incarnate,
and now glorified.”4 And third, (3) “Thesis Ten: God's revelation is rational
communication conveyed in intelligible ideas and meaningful words, that is, in
conceptual-verbal form.”5 This essay will engage Henry on each of these theses, pointing
out the virtues of his approach, both theological and philosophical, before concluding
with Henry's governing theological axioms, propositionalism.

2

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:171-72.
Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:9.
4
Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:164.
5
Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:248.
3

7
The First Thesis: The Centrality of
Jesus Messiah, the Revealed Logos of God6
Henry begins volume three at once by emphasizing that divine revelation is the
cognitive-propositional revealing of transcendent divine mystery. The transcendent
mystery of God is revealed primarily in Jesus Messiah, in both his person and work.7 As
Paul states in Eph. 3:3-5,
. . . how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.
When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which
was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been
revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.8
Through use of a grammatical divine passive Paul explains that the revelation
of Jesus the Messiah was made known to him by God. The object of his revelation is
Jesus the Messiah, the person, but the conceptual-verbal message is disclosed from God's
mind to his own. Henry's point is that without the divine initiative in personal revelation
Paul never would have understood through the sole use of his natural mind that Jesus was
the Messiah, nor would he have been able to understand the significance of his person
and work. Henry states:
Paul strikingly reflects the contrast between the theological reality of God's
voluntarily revealed truth on the one hand and any philosophical notion on the other
of the intrinsic unknowability or unmediated knowability of the transcendent
supernatural. The apostle leaves no doubt that the hiddenness of God's truth is
grounded not basically in the essential limitations of human reason, nor only
conditionally in a divine decree apart from which man might have discovered what

6

This section covers the first thesis of vol. three: “Thesis Eight: The climax of God's special
revelation is Jesus of Nazareth, the personal incarnation of God in the flesh; in Jesus Christ the source and
content of revelation converge and coincide.” Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:9.
7
I cannot hope to do justice to God's revelation in Jesus Messiah in this small essay. And
despite his own efforts, which approached nearly two-hundred pages, Henry has not either. “I suppose that
the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25 (ESV).
8
ESV

8
is otherwise inaccessible; he shows that this remoteness arises rather from the very
nature of divine truth itself. The truths of God are not a prerogative of human
knowing but belong to the “deep things” of the Deity who reveals them optionally.
Paul stresses that in Christ, the revealed mystery, all the treasures of wisdom were
hidden until the time of God's active disclosure (Col. 2:2-3). (…). In Paul's writings
“mystery” simply signifies “a truth or fact which the human understanding cannot of
itself discover, but which it apprehends as soon as God gives the revelation of it.”9
What is revealed in the transcendent divine mystery is the historical Jesus of
Nazareth as the Messiah and the kingdom of God that is inaugurated by his person and
work. “In and through the ministry of Jesus the kingdom of God is breaking into
history.”10 “Jesus himself in his ministry is to be identified with the kingdom of God.”11
In the pursuant chapters developing this thesis no few pages are devoted to the kingdom,
the gospel, Jesus the Messiah, and his messianic authority. Observed in chapter three is
Jesus' authoritative teaching standing over the traditions of Judaism.12 Chapter four
emphasizes Jesus Messiah's role as mediator of both covenants and points to
Chalcedonian Christology as the right theological foundation for God and man
mediation.13 Also pointed out in chapter four is Jesus Messiah as the suffering servant
whose substitutionary death on the cross redeems an estranged creation, with emphasis

9

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:12-13. Quite evident from this passage is his
conviction that knowledge of divinely revealed truths mediated only by God's Son, the Logos, cannot be
recovered by the power of a human logos studying the natural world. This was the error of Roman
Catholicism, and other philosophy, following Thomas Aquinas. Further, the nature of theological language
itself will hinge on this distinction (revealed logos, against human logos), and will be observed later in this
paper, as Henry will show the analogical meaning of theological statements to be intellectually
dissatisfying. The ending quote belongs to Frédéric Louis Godet and A. Cusin, Commentary on St. Paul's
First Epistle to the Corinthians (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1886), pp. 137-39.
10
D. E. Nineham, Saint Mark (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978) p. 183. Cited by Henry,
God, Revelation and Authority, 3:18.
11
Charles F. D. Moule, “Mystery,” in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, ed. by George
A. Buttrick, et al. (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), 3:480. Cited by Henry, God, Revelation and
Authority, 3:18.
12
Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:47.
13
Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:49.

9
on the Messiah's priestly work of cleansing and redeeming the sins of man.14 Chapter
five closely examines the gospel in light of the mission of Jesus. Six, seven, and eight all
examine Christology, and nine finishes the first thesis section by presenting the
resurrection as divine vindication of Jesus Messiah's person and work.
The Second Thesis: The Mediating Logos15
If the previous section serves for Henry as an introductory descriptive account
of Jesus Messiah, then the presently developed thesis is shown to be the main thrust of
God, Revelation and Authority by declaring him the mediating Logos of God. Nothing
else is more foundational to Henry's work than the intelligible and rational aspect of
disclosed divine knowledge which takes place only through the agency of God's
incarnated Logos, Jesus Messiah, the mediator of God's conceptual-propositional
revelation. It is well known that Henry's rationalism is largely influenced by his
academic father, Gordon Haddon Clark. Clark's own understanding of reason, or
rationalism, is defined as logic:
Nonetheless, reason may well be defined as logic. It should not be identified with
experience. When a Christian theologian is deducing consequences from Scriptural
premises, he is reasoning – he is using his reason. To require him to test Scripture by
sensation in order to avoid the charge of irrationality is itself irrational prejudice.
(…). The Logos is the rational light that lights every man. Since man was created in
the image of God, he has an innate idea of God. It is not necessary, indeed it is not
possible, for a blank mind to abstract a concept of God from sensory experience or
to lift sensory language by its bootstraps to a spiritual level. The theories of
Empiricism, of Aristotle, of Aquinas, of Locke, are to be rejected.16
14

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:59-62.
Here we regard the second thesis of the book: “Thesis Nine: The mediating agent in all
divine revelation is the Eternal Logos – preexistent, incarnate, and now glorified.” Henry, God, Revelation
and Authority, 3:164.
16
Gordon H. Clark, The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, vol. 4, ed. by Lois A. Zeller and
Elizabeth Clark George (Unicoi, TN: Trinity Foundation, 2004), pp. 181 and 203. Clark formulates this
understanding as the conclusion reached by his four-part treatment and classification of faith and reason. To
15

10
It is necessary to also examine Henry's understanding of the Logos, and λόγος
in general. While Henry demonstrates his understanding of the Logos primarily in
contrast to human phantom logoi,17 he does proceed to offer positive definition, and does
so in a way which takes seriously Enlightenment criticisms, and, as such, establishes his
work as an important post-Enlightenment theological project:18
There was never a denial that the mind of man has the power, on which recent
modern knowledge-theory concentrates, of conceptually ordering phenomenal
realities or sense impressions in a creative way. But the human mind was not
considered to be constructive of the order of external reality. As the source of
created existence, the Logos of God grounded the meaning and purpose of man and
the world, and objective reality was held to be divinely structured by complex
formal patterns. Endowed with more than animal perception, gifted in fact with a
mode of cognition not to be confused with sensation, man was therefore able to
intuit intelligible universals; as a divinely intended knower, he was able to cognize,
within limits, the nature and structure of the externally real world.19

________________________
summarize, “First, the Roman Catholic view will come under the heading of 'Reason and Faith.' Second,
'Reason without Faith' will summarize modern philosophy from Descartes to Hegel. Third, the outbursts of
irrationalism that followed Hegel – including mysticism, Neo-orthodoxy, as well as Nietzsche and
Instrumentalism – will be taken as examples of 'Faith without Reason.' And fourth, the only remaining
combination is 'Faith and Reason.'” (p. 126).
17
“In this quest for meaning man secretly yearns for anchorage in a transcendent haven that
embraces all historical time and all cosmic reality. Despite the naturalistic relativization of life, secular man
prizes perspectives which link him obliquely yet inescapably in relationships to the Logos of God. The
revelation of the transcendent Logos sustains his quest for meaning and worth, and spotlights the truth of
man's divine creation and eschatological destiny. To a vagabond species that debauches the imago Dei, the
crucified and risen Logos proffers redemptive grace and intellectual and spiritual rebirth, calling to himself,
the Eternal Word, those who are bewitched by one or another phantom logoi that are born merely to die –
the delusive antichrists of the lost generations of man.” Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:171-72.
Emphasis mine.
18
Cf. Carl R. Trueman, “Admiring the Sistine Chapel: Reflections on Carl F. H. Henry's God,
Revelation and Authority,” Themelios 25.2 (2000): 49, states, “Henry's entire work – of which GRA is the
greatest single example – must be understood as an attempt to restate conservative Protestant theology in a
manner which takes seriously the epistemological concerns of the Enlightenment without surrendering the
content and truth-claims of orthodox Christianity.” As an example of Henry contrasting his work with the
phantom logoi of the modern era: “Loss of the self-revealed Logos of God as an ontological reality and
epistemic presupposition led Western philosophy to an intellectual aporia, a skeptical predicament beyond
which it has been unable to find passage. This skepticism has eroded all confident ontological affirmation –
whether about God, or about nature or man objectively considered.” God, Revelation and Authority, 3:167.
This page can justly be said to provide the manifesto of his entire life and work.
19
Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:167.

11

‫ דבר‬as the OT Precedent for Λόγος
In the OT the revelation of God is tantamount to the giving of his ‫דבר‬. This
‫ דבר‬transcendently comes from God and is given to the mouths of prophetic witnesses,
as Henry states: “Moreover, this Word is transcendently given, and not immanent in man
as a conception or abstraction achieved by human imagination or reflection.”20 It is the
‫דבר־יהוה‬. While God uses many different means of revelation throughout the Hebrew
Bible, his word is the primary means. The Torah is frequently said to be ‫( דבר‬Ps. 119).21
God seeks to be intelligible to his people and sensible to their understanding. He is
nowhere characterized like the mystical gods of paganism whose religious adherents
desperately try to placate through all sorts of uncertain measures. God reveals his
counsel to his people in word so that they are not left to their own phantom logoi and
hopelessness.
Chosen by Septuagint authors for translating OT ‫ דבר‬was λόγος.22 The
semantic kernel of λόγος in the NT, therefore, is informed and governed primarily by the
OT. Henry presents his understanding partly using Gerhard Kittel.23 The main emphasis
of λέγω/λόγος is “always on saying something.”24 God speaks; “It is thus no accident,

20

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:174.

21

Gerhard Kittel, “Λέγω: D. Word and Speech in the New Testament,” in Theological
Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. by Gerhard Kittel and transl. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand
Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967; reprint 2006), 135.
22
Λόγος was not the only word chosen by Septuagint translators to translate the Hebrew ‫דבר‬.
Also chosen, and discussed by Henry, was ῥημα. For the interested reader, see God, Revelation and
Authority, 3:177ff. But the primary word used by translators remains λόγος as the discussion in Henry
shows.
23
Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:173-191. Kittel, “Λέγω: D. Word and Speech in the
New Testament,” pp. 100-143. Kittel does have a noticeable neo-protestant attitude in his work, particuarly
evident in the anti-conceptual nature of Jesus Messiah as the Λόγος του θεου: “It is to be noted however –
and this is of absolutely decisive importance – that these statements do not rest on a concept” (p. 125).
Person, yes. But concept too.
24

Kittel, “Λέγω: D. Word and Speech in the New Testament,” 102.

12
nor is it the result of arbitrary extraneous influences, that the fundamental Gk. word for
speech, both as verb and esp. as noun (λέγω/λόγος), should be the vehicle of important
NT statements.”25 Jesus of Nazareth is the revealed λόγος of God. “The historical
manifestation is Jesus. He is the Word. The Word is now Jesus.”26
Λόγος in the Classical Greek World
While the kernel remains Hebrew, troubling Greek husk is always nearby in
λόγος discussions. The term in the classical world basically means “reason.” Here, one
encounters some difficulty with Henry's work. While he rightly intends λόγος to be
understood after OT ‫דבר‬, he clearly emphasizes what resembles a Stoic notion of λόγος.27
The primary difference between Henry and the Stoics, however, is recognizing Jesus
Messiah, not as a human λόγος, but as the λόγος of God. The “Biblically Attested Logos”
is the divinely revealed λόγος:
The Word of God as transcendent divine revelation is its fixed center, in sharp
distinction from logos as an unveiling of man's own inward life or of a divine
principle immanent in the universe. (…). The Logos of the Bible is personal and
self-revealed, transcendent to man and the world, eternal and essentially divine,
intrinsically intelligible, and incarnate in Jesus Christ. The Logos of Scripture has a
mediatorial role – creative, epistemic, salvific and judgmental – and is the rational
and moral ground both of what is cosmically and historically unique and of what is
constant.
The crowning philosophical achievement of historic Christianity was its
intellectual enthronement of the revealed personal Logos of biblical religion in
displacement of the many pagan logos-aspirants and shadow logoi of ancient

25

Kittel, “Λέγω: D. Word and Speech in the New Testament,” 101.

26

Kittel, “Λέγω: D. Word and Speech in the New Testament,” 129.
A. F. Walls, “Logos,” in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed., ed. by Walter A.
Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001; reprint 2009), 696: “Among the philosophers the precise
significance of logos varies, but it stands usually for 'reason' and reflects the Greek conviction that divinity
cannot come into direct contact with matter. (…). In the Stoic tradition the logos is both divine reason and
reason distributed in the world (and thus in the mind).” In this same volume G. T. Burke later writes,
“Christians also probably derived some of the terminology in their Logos theology from the Stoics but
appear to have used it in their own middle-Platonic manner.” Burke, “Stoics, Stoicism,” 1151.
27

13
speculative philosophy and religious theory. (…). In brief, the eternal and selfrevealed Logos, incarnate in Jesus Christ, is the foundation of all meaning, and the
transcendent personal source and support of the rational, moral and purposive order
of created reality.28
Jesus Messiah as the Logos of God is eternally preexistent. According to the
NT authors he was “the divine mediating agent in creation,” and continues his office of
mediation in the regal and soteriological and judgmental work of the Son, which was
inaugurated in his ministry and resurrection, and will be completed at the parousia.29
The Third Thesis: Conceptual-Verbal Revelation30
The main point of the concluding and lengthiest part of volume three is that
“revelation in the Bible is essentially a mental conception.” Revelation provides
intelligible and rational information about God. Even when God confronts man in the
person of Jesus Messiah, he is not mute, but proceeds to teach man with words; to teach
him about kingdom and gospel. Revelation is informative and cognitive. It proceeds
from the mind of God to the mind of man.31

28

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:194-5. Henry is remarkable here: “It makes no sense
to call reality incoherent, however, any more than it does to probe for a pattern of meaning, unless some
norm of coherency exists by which all is to be judged. The Logos remains the unacknowledged
presupposition of all critical judgment; if man is man, he can be so only in relation to the Logos who lights
every man. (…). The philosophical clouding of the Christ-Logos, we have noted, first arose in the history
of Western thought with the positing – independently of the transcendent divine creative and revelatory
Word – of uncreated structures of law and order supposedly immanent in nature, and of a rational a priori
inherit in man.”
This understanding of Henry's subsumes the entire Enlightenment under anthropocentric logoi,
showing man to be lost in his own efforts at rationalizing the natural world apart from divine revelation.
Rightly understood, divine revelation for Christians is a philosophical a priori. Not a subjective conclusion
from human reasoning.
29

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:212.
The third and last thesis of volume three: “Thesis Ten: God's revelation is rational
communication conveyed in intelligible ideas and meaningful words, that is, in conceptual-verbal form.”
Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:248.
30

31

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:248. See further: “It should surprise no one

14
The Nature of Theological Language32
As conceptual-verbal information about God religious language for Henry is
defined as, against Thomas Aquinas, univocal. Revelation functions linguistically
univocally, that is as a meaningful one-to-one correspondence between what is said about
God and truth. Henry laments the many noncognitive theories of theological language
prevalent in the twentiethcentury, “numerous scholars have affirmed a variety of special
ways in which religious language is said to function: symbol, analogy, parable, myth and
so on.”33
Analogical Language. It was medieval Catholic scholar Thomas Aquinas
who introduced the theory that religious language expresses truth about God through the
use of analogical predications. Through conversation with and meditation on Greek
philosophers who esteemed deity as essentially unknowable, Aquinas fashioned his
theory.34 But the difficulty with analogical predications for Henry lies in the recognition
that they are inadequate in their essence to successfully bridge subjective thinking with

________________________
therefore that the evangelical scholars emphasize that the divine revelation of truth or meaning is no less
important than the redemptive acts themselves. Sound biblical theology will disparage neither the special
redemptive acts nor transcendently revealed truth, but will insist upon the unity in the purpose of God of
both his historical salvific activity and his divinely imparted interpretation of its meaning” (p. 248).
32
In his discussion of the “Meaning of Religious Language,” Henry does not discuss in any
detail the equivocal sense, which was part of Aquinas' famous trilemma. His rationalistic emphasis causes
him to pass over the idea that the way a word is used in one context is entirely different from the way it is
used in another.” David K. Clark, To Know and Love God: Method for Theology, ed. by John S. Feinberg
(Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 389.
33

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:362.
“He showed that the predicates in question could not be ascribed either univocally or
equivocally to God. He denied univocity because it entails anthropomorphism. (…). So by process of
elimination, he arrived at the middle way as the only viable option for meaningful speech about an infinite
God.” Clark, To Know and Love God: Method for Theology, 389.
34

15
objective revelatory truth.35 Such is the divorce between intelligible knowledge of
revelation in this theory that Henry remains critical of fellow evangelical and Thomistic
thinker Norman Geisler, whose attempts to salvage the analogical theory led him to
champion “univocal concepts alongside analogical predication.”36
Univocal Language and Propositionalism. In articulating the univocal
theory of religious language Henry at last concedes his important theological axiom –
propositionalism. What is necessary in order for theological language to make any
intellectual claim of truth is “univocal predication.”37
Only a univocal element in analogical affirmation can save it from equivocation.
Unless we have some literal truth about God, no similarity between man and God
can in fact be predicated. . . (…). Geisler grants that analogical predication involves
no univocal knowledge. And, insist as he may on univocal concepts, truth attaches
not to concepts but to judgments or propositions. . . Neither univocal conception nor
analogical predication yields valid propositional knowledge about God.38
The Imago Dei in Carl Henry's Propositionalism
Just as Aquinas recognized that univocal concepts breakdown between man
and God due to the infinity of God, Henry also shows sensitivity to this difficulty. But he
is not willing to surrender the intelligibility of divine revelation. Rather, through what
might be considered a genuine theological interpretation of Scripture, Henry points to the
imago dei as the vehicle which bridges man and God. Man, made in God's image, is able
to grasp the cognitive meaning of propositional revelatory knowledge of God: “In the

35

For a more chastened and self-conscious model of the univocal theory of religious language
see Clark, To Know and Love God: Method for Theology, 393-97.
36

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:364. “Geisler's distinction between univocal
conception and analogical predication does not help at all, however, in relieving Thomism of its
vulnerability to skepticism.”
37

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:364

38

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:364

16
biblical view, God's self-revelation to man, created in the divine image for the knowledge
and service of his Maker, vouchsafes valid knowledge of God.”39
Conclusion
The student of Henry quickly recognizes how fierce he is on the point of
intelligible revelation. Any view of revelation which mistakenly discards intelligible
disclosure of revealed truth rapidly dissolves into nihilism. Even viewing God's person
as the meaning of revelation over and against revealed knowledge will lead to a
meaningless god, since while we have grasped him in his person, we do not know
anything about him. He is not love. He is not faithful. He is not wise. But conceptualverbal revelation, as these statements show, encompasses personal truth.
As an example, a sensible man who goes on a date with a woman will not think
he has established anything resembling intimacy simply by being present to her person.
The intimacy of their date, or even relationship, is established through their mutual

39

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3:365. There has been some development in
understanding propositional statements since the time of Henry. The linguistic turn taken in philosophy in
the twentieth century was in its earlier stages when Henry was writing. Propositions, or “affirmations” are
now encompassed under the term “illocutionary act” in the deepening field of literary theory: Daniel Hill,
“Proposition,” in Dictionary for the Theological Interpretation of the Bible, ed. by Kevin J. Vanhoozer, et
al. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 632. It is now recognized that these illocutionary statements
can be used for “promising, swearing, naming apologizing, thanking,” etc. (632).
In postliberalism, the integrity of propositions seem to be relaxed far too much in the interest of
ecumenism. George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age, 25th
Anniversary ed. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), pp. 54 and 66, declares that
propositions are not first order statements. They may become such, according to Lindbeck, as the reader of
Scripture engages in its cultural-linguistic world. Lindbeck calls this ecumenical tool “rule theory.” Rule
theory “does not locate the abiding and doctrinally significant aspect of religion in propositionally
formulated truths, much less in inner experiences, but in the story it tells. . . From a cultural-linguistic
perspective. . . a religion is first of all a comprehensive interpretive medium or categorial framework.”
Despite his popularity it has become clear that rule theory unfairly treats and misunderstands propositions.
In this way, Lindbeck's book has failed, which is evident when he proceeds to state that doctrines can be
expressed “unconditionally or conditionally necessary, as permanent or temporary, as reversible or
irreversible” (72).

17
uncovering of mystery, that is by cognitive revelation of one another. Any sort of
connection thought to be intimate which does not grant cognitive knowledge, simply
leaves the woman unknown. And while this analogy can be turned around, and it could be
argued that physical intimacy might produce the desired knowledge, the truth is that it
does not. Any sort of physical action that does not also reveal itself in words is simply a
violation of another's person. On the contrary, connections which reveal are made through
the mind and will, through verbal communication. No man stands speechless at his
wedding ceremony, attempting to communicate his love and commitment for the bride
simply with his speechless person. His love is revealed in his words, “I do.” Words which
form a proposition. Words which the student of Scripture discovers God has spoken.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Books
Clark, David K. To Know and Love God: Method for Theology. Edited by John S.
Feinberg. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003.
Clark, Gordon H. The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark: Christian Philosophy. Volume 4.
Edited by Lois A. Zeller and Elizabeth Clark George. Unicoi, TN: Trinity
Foundation, 2004.
Godet, Frédéric Louis and A. Cusin. Commentary on St. Paul's First Epistle to the
Corinthians. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1886.
Henry, Carl F. H. God, Revelation, and Authority. 6 volumes. Waco, TX: Word Books,
1976-1983; Reprint Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1999.
Lindbeck, George A. The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal
Age. 25th Anniversary Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 2005.
Nineham, D. E. Saint Mark. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1978.
Articles
Burke, G. T. “Stoics, Stoicism” in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Second
Edition. Edited by Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.
Hill, Daniel. “Proposition” In Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible.
Edited by Vanhoozer, Kevin J., Craig G. Bartholomew, Daniel J. Treier, and N. T.
Wright. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.
Kittel, Gerhard. “Λέγω: D. Word and Speech in the New Testament.” In Theological
Dictionary of the New Testament [TDNT]. Edited by Gerhard Kittel. Translated by
Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1967;
Reprint 2006.
Moule, Charles F. D. “Mystery” In The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. Edited by
George A. Buttrick, et al. New York: Abingdon Press, 1962.
Trueman, Carl R.“Admiring the Sistine Chapel: Reflections on Carl F. H. Henry's God,
Revelation and Authority.” Themelios 25.2 (2000): 48-58.
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19
Walls, A. F. “Logos” in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Second Edition. Edited
by Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.