Love Rejoices in Truth (2 Cor. 13:6)
Glen Burnie, Maryland
No one is subject to more criticism than the man who lives by his conscience and tries to remain sensitive and open to the review of others. Truth Magazine and those associated with it have been subjected to gallons of vitriol over the years. Especially in the past months has the commentary on attitudes, motives, and efforts of the writers been thick. That's OK by me. I personally prefer it that way. When brethren wave their hand in disgust and just stalk off in silence, I get worried. I want to know when I am getting off the track. I may not be able to see it in myself, but I am sure others will, and they are my friends if they point it out to me. I feel that most of those men I am acquainted with feel the same way.
We have seen in print and heard in private that Truth Magazine is a power-conglomerate out to weld the minds of the brethren. It has been pictured as a "preacher's rag," and a "college promoter." Well, the paper does have influence of some sort over those who read it - wholesome or not, depending on the reader. It is subscribed to by preachers. The editor did go to Florida College, but do these facts prove the charge? Let's be fair.
Can you imagine how long one could have remained on the staff of the Gospel Advocate and criticized anything remotely attached to the paper (even something not so remotely attached, like a college)? How long do you think a man would be a "name" of influence among the liberal brethren and remain openly critical of their institutions? How many times do you think one might be published in Mission Messenger or Restoration Review if he took a hard stand on 2 Jno. 9? When was the last time you saw an article that disagreed with anything of substance the editors of Integrity or Mission pushed?
If indeed the men associated with Truth Magazine were intent on amassing power over brethren and churches, would they pursue their goal by opening the pages of the magazine to representative criticism? In putting writers on its staff to produce material for you to read, why have they asked young, uninfluential, even non-influential men to write - if indeed power is their goal?
As far as being a "college promoter," in five and a half years of writing, going back to 1969 when Truth Magazine started as a weekly, there have been 12 articles that deal directly with Florida College. Out of 2,250 articles by hundreds of different men, only twelve are written concerning the school. Six of those articles are a debate on the college question. Of the remaining six, three are a transcript of a speech Brother Cope made, and one was a half page introduction by the editor that said in part, "Brother Cope's speech is not the type of article that ordinarily appears in Truth Magazine." I hardly call that rabid promotion, do you?
Truth Magazine, though incorporated for legal and tax purposes, is nothing more than a few men trying to provide a ready forum for discussion of God's word. Some tout it as a commercial-for profit-business. That is humorous really. Brother Willis should print the foundation's income from time to time in comparison to its debts to show how really funny that is.
The religious journals published by faithful brethren are as one editor put it, ". . .a medium for individual Christians to share their knowledge and thoughts with other individuals. . .a few pieces of paper containing the thoughts of those whose articles it carries" (Needham, Torch, Jan. 1973, p.4,5). Or as the editor of Truth Magazine put it, "Truth Magazine's editorial policy . . . (is) best described as `open forum' style. This simply means that the editor has not taken upon himself the shocking responsibility of becoming a brotherhood censor . . . each writer will be responsible for those articles bearing his name . . . we have no illusion that even good, faithful brethren shall feel in every instance did we exercise the best judgment. In fact I suspect that there will be times when, after printing certain articles, that we ourselves shall doubt the wisdom of having done so. But, even so, we shall do our best with each issue to do what we believe to be right and best" (Willis, Truth Magazine, Vol. 6, p.220). You do not like what is being written in the papers? Write something better. That is not a taunt, but a sincere appeal from all those who love truth.
The pages of Truth Magazine are to me a forum, an avenue, a pulpit, an opportunity, that enables me as a teacher and preacher to do my work on a wider scale than I could do alone. I trust the editor of Truth Magazine because I openly and privately disagreed with him, even taken him to task, and have found him willing to do 'the same for me, but with no disruption in our relationship as brethren because of it.
Brother Robert Turner wrote an excellent article on "Rally Points" in the April issue of Plain Talk. His words strike at the core of what really bothers most brethren about the papers. "Brethren may "rally around" well known (and therefore influential) gospel preachers or congregations. We may rationalize that since they teach truth, to support them is to support truth. But even Paul was one step removed from the true center for loyalty, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). We must not allow school, paper, or even preacher loyalties to sever us from Christ, brethren, or heaven." Kent Ellis, editor of the Bible Standard put it another way, "If editors are simply editors, papers make useful servants, but if editors become bishops, papers make bad masters',' (Ellis, Bible Standard, Vol. 2, No. 12, p.146).
Nobody that I know who is associated with Truth Magazine claims to be perfect - but those godly men that I do know are striving for perfection. It is axiomatic that such effort requires change. Attitudes, methods, and words have been used that have proven to be wrong by all of us. The true measure of any man is his willingness to adapt to the will of God. I do not see that attitude among the forces of evil, do you brethren? Those afraid of saying "God-speed" to right-teaching because they are fearful that someone might cry out "Party-man" are guilty of the charge themselves.
Truth Magazine is nothing. But whatever truth is carried in it, what few lives it helps to understand truth is worth all the money and effort it takes.
Truth Magazine XVIII: 2, pp. 22-23