What Saith The Scripture?
Why should there be a question and answer department in a gospel paper, and how should it be conducted to, accomplish the maximum good?
(1) Why have a question and answer department in a gospel paper?
Writers generally choose their subjects on the basis of what interests them or what seems to be most needful in their personal Judgment. However, what they choose to write about is not always what is of most interest to the readers or concerning which they are in the greatest need of instruction. A question and answer department gives the reader an opportunity to have written, for his benefit, material upon subjects which interest him and concerning which he feels a need of instruction.
(2) How should a- question and answer department be conducted to accomplish the maximum good?
The editor of the department should be the sole judge of which questions he will discuss and when they will be discussed. Questions should not necessarily be answered in the order in, which they are received. In the interest of a balanced teaching program, timeliness, and importance, the editor must be free in this matter.
The answers should represent the editor's personal convictions, not necessarily the convictions of the editor-in-chief of the magazine or other editors or writers. His answers commit no one but himself, hence he alone is responsible for their defense.
Those asking questions should not ask questions the answer to which would embroil the editor of the department in matters that are purely personal and congregational. In the first place, intelligent answers to such questions depend upon complete knowledge of all the persons and facts which the editor of the department cannot possibly have. In the second place, brotherhood issues should not be created over matters that are purely personal and congregational. Gospel papers, which serve brethren and churches generally, have no legitimate right to involve themselves in personal and congregational matters unless those matters involve principles detrimental to the interest of the gospel and the salvation of souls generally.
All questions should be signed by the querist giving his correct name and address. Anonymous questions are not only dangerous, but reflect a wrong attitude on the part of the querist, hence are unworthy of notice. If the querist, for a legitimate reason, requests that his name not be printed and the editor feels he can in good conscience do so, the editor should not publish the name of the querist. If, on the other hand, the editor feels that the request stems from an effort to give publicity to error in the interest of its dissemination without bearing the onus and responsibility for it, he should refuse the request and return the question to the querist. It should be the responsibility of the editor to decide when such is the case.
Any question which has the possibility inherent in it of involving the editor or the paper in libel or slander should not be answered.
The editor should reserve the right to edit questions in the interest of brevity and clarity. He should not alter any question so as to change its import.
Every querist should be treated with dignity and fairness. Each should be presumed to be sincere unless there is evidence to indicate otherwise.
A sincere attempt should be made to answer all Bible questions with Bible answers. The editor should not be either afraid or too proud to say, "I do not know."
The above constitutes how the present editor of this department feels such a department should be conducted; hence the items listed will constitute the ground rules which will prevail. Please help us by observing that which may apply to you as querist. Let us do good with this column, not harm.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 12, pp. 5-6