Why We Must Reignite the Empire of the Mind

Owen Strachan | December 4, 2015


In 1943, Winston Churchill interrupted his regular routine of nighttime writing, early morning bathtaking, and all-day world-saving to deliver a speech at Harvard University. At one point in the speech, Churchill delivered one of his greatest epigrams: “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.”

At the time Churchill delivered his prescient speech, evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry was studying for a doctorate at Boston University. He was one of a handful of brilliant young believers we could call the “Cambridge evangelicals” who’d come to Boston for training, most of them matriculating in the Harvard Divinity School doctoral program. There’s no record of Churchill and Henry meeting up in 1943, but we do have abundant evidence that Henry developed grand hopes, empire-like, for the evangelical mind in the 1940s.

Thorough Shakedown of the Evangelical Mind 

Henry believed the church’s need for intellectual uplift in his day was great. “The state has steadily supplanted the church as the indoctrinating agency,” he observed in 1947, “and today secular education largely involves as open or subtle undermining of historic Christian theism.” This meant, quite simply, that “evangelicalism will have to contend for a new order in education.”

These views, expressed in Henry’s 1947 clarion call The


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