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March 21, 2001

Henry Institute Book on Paul B. Henry

A new book from Calvin College is a testament to the life and legacy of former Calvin professor and state and U.S. legislator Paul B. Henry (left).

"Serving the Claims of Justice: The Thoughts of Paul B. Henry," will be released at the end of April (for sale at the April 30 Paul Henry lecture by Paul Hillegonds). It will be an almost 300-page collection featuring both the wisdom of Paul Henry and also the thoughts of others who worked with him over the years, including journalist David Broder, Calvin professor Jim Penning, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, Congressman Fred Upton and Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw.

The personal recollections are interspersed throughout the book between Henry's own writings. The book's editor is Calvin College professor of political science Doug Koopman, who also serves as program director of the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin.

He says about three-quarters of the new book is Henry's own words - articles, speeches, letters, floor speeches and more all the way from Henry's graduate school days to his work as a state representative, state Senator and finally U.S. Congressman.

Prior to his death of cancer in July 1993, Henry held the seat presently held by Vernon Ehlers, also a former Calvin professor. All of the material was culled from the Paul Henry Archives (housed at Calvin), a collection of Henry's congressional papers as well as his private library. Koopman and Calvin student Ryan Hunt (a senior from Stockton, CA) researched the materials last summer looking, says Koopman, for "well thought out writing on the themes of justice and politics."

Koopman says those writings illustrate a couple of Paul Henry principles. First, Christians should seek justice in politics, but do so with humility, recognizing that human nature is fallen. Second, Christians should be involved in politics and see it as a fully legitimate activity, no different than any other calling.

The book, says Koopman, will be of interest to people who knew Henry. It also is designed to be accessible to those with an interest in religion and politics. And, he says, it could be a supplemental text for high school and college political science classes.

He notes that Henry's writings are broken up within the book into two types. There are the more philosophical writings on issues of justice, faith and politics that come from articles and books by Henry (including excerpts from his widely respected "Politics for Evangelicals"). Much of this material comes from Henry's Calvin College days and much of it consists of both gentle and pointed critiques of evangelicals, challenging them to move beyond their focus on individual salvation to a broader concern for societal problems, including racial injustice and poverty. The second type of writings in the book are the more practical applications of faith and politics as seen in such things as letters to constituents and floor speeches in both Lansing and Washington, D.C. These include Henry's thoughts on such things as federal arts funding, war in the Persian Gulf and military aid to Nicaragua.

"The book," says Koopman in its introduction, "honors a dear friend to many, an unforgettable man who, as a Christian, was a gifted political scientist and politician. As such it is intended to faithfully illustrate to others how Paul enry integrated his own vibrant Christian faith with high level public service."

The Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics was created in 1997 to honor and continue the work of its namesake in integrating Christian faith and politics. Henry earned his undergraduate degree at Wheaton College and his Ph.D. at Duke University prior to teaching political science at Calvin from 1970-78. He was elected to state government in 1978, elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1984 and served until his untimely death in July 1993.



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Contact Phil de Haan.