In Defense of Truth Magazine
Many letters and cards come to the office of this magazine and to the editorial staff commending the magazine. Some even say it is the best paper published by brethren todav. All of this is appreciated very much, and we hope those who feel that it is a worthv work will assist us by securing a club or by sending a list of gift subscriptions. Other letters are critical of the paper, and some of the criticisms deserve attention. I shall list some of them by number and try to answer them. Before I do that, however, let it be remembered that none of us think the paper is perfect, and all of us recognize some worth in many of the criticisms.
1. Some think the magazine is too weak. I, for one, share this to a certain extent. I think we could have carried more articles of greater worth and that we probably should have had more articles dealing with modernism, immorality and institutionalism. However, those who criticize should be willing to put their name to articles that deal with vital issues, and it is true that some want others to carry the fight while they criticize methods used. Others who are critical are unwilling to devote time to study and writing. Furthermore, it has always been our intention to keep the paper balanced, with discussion of any and all vital subjects. Naturally that policy will prevent an unlimited discussion of any one subject. Sometimes it would be easier to just fill the paper with material on one subject, but we refuse to make it that kind of paper.
2. Some say the magazine is a "hobby sheet." But let us notice the wide coverage of material we have used. There were, in the last twelve issues, a number of articles dealing with modernism, several with denominational doctrines, several on mission work, six or eight with morals, many to exhort and teach a child of God the way of the Lord more perfectly and some others on the home and other general subjects, besides those on the current controversial issues among brethren. The fact is that those who brand this magazine a "hobby sheet" probably only read those articles with which they differ, usually, and forget about all the others. If the magazine carried only two or three articles per year on these issues, it would still be offensive to them. However, those who thus brand the paper would think nothing of it if we carried many articles telling of the great work of the human institutions. Actually it becomes a "hobby sheet" only because it carries some article with which they disagree.
3. Some say TRUTH magazine makes laws - legislates. But I fail to find an article that tries to set forth a binding decree. Each article is an effort at teaching. No effort is made to make a creed.
4. Some say they thought the magazine was going to be non-controversial. But from the very first we have stated that controversies would be permitted. In the second issue published the editor wrote: "We NEED a paper allowing Christ-like controversy." In the very first editorial he said, "Controversy will be presented in a spirit of brotherly love - or not at all." It is my opinion that a non-controversial spirit that prevails in so many places is about to make a weakling out of the Lord's church. Besides that, where controversy is stifled we are indeed creed-bound. Through controversy the apostles converted multitudes, Paul opposed Judaism, Luther broke the universal power of the pope, Campbell curbed the influence of infidelity, catholicism and denominational creeds. Today the one who insists upon being noncontroversial either denies himself opportunitv to grow spiritually or else he denies that privilege to those whom he teaches. Whoever opposes anything is controversial, and whoever stoutly affirms anything of significance is likewise immediately in the midst of controversy. Some have become obsessed with the fear of being branded "anti" that they refuse to oppose anything significantly, except they oppose being "anti" (they are "anti-anti"). This magazine has no right to consideration by any Christian unless it permits discussion of issues that are vital to the welfare of God's people. When it ceases to publish that with which some of its reader, will disagree it ceases then and there to be of any real value.
5. Some say they don't think we have stayed with our promise to grant equal space to both sides of a controversy. But we never did make such a promise. We have always said we would allow both sides to express themselves freely. If I write something with which a brother disagrees, he may reply to my articles in this magazine. This has been done in the past. Likewise, if another brother writes that with which I disagree, I may respond also. (This does not mean that we do always reply to articles with which we disagree.) We have never promised to print an article which we believed taught falsehood without replying to it. We have promised, though, to let any brother be heard on any vital theme, and without regard as to whether or not he agrees with the editors.
6. Some say, "these things were not issues here until TRUTH magazine began to come into our homes." Well, 15 years ago, when we moved into Wisconsin, there were about 35 churches in that state, wearing the designation "Church of Christ," and using mechanical music in worship. There was no issue about it either. It was not a problem to them. Since that time they have had difficulty with that issue all over the state, and many, many families have learned the truth and have laid aside those innovations. So, today if something is not an issue with us, that does not give assurance that we are right. Certainly it is not our purpose to cause trouble in local churches, but it is our purpose to stimulate investigation even on subjects that we considered "settled" for generations. If what we believe cannot stand the test of investigation it doesn't deserve to be believed. Further, if what we believe hasn't been tested in thorough discussion, we can have no confidence that it is indeed truth.
7. Some say, "We have already sudied the issues and have made up our minds. We don't want to hear any more about it." It is good to have studied, and if we haven't done so we ought to get busy quickly. It is also good to make up our minds. Nothing will make a gospel worker much more ineffective than indecision. However, it is bad when we refuse to continue to study any issue. Such an attitude means we think we have a perfect understanding. It forbids any possibility of growth. It manifests a sectarian spirit and it means that we are creed-bound, and that the creed that binds us is one of our own making. We ought always to be willing to listen to what others think is the truth, and this is especially true when that which they believe is opposed to that which we believe. Too many of us will only listen if we agree with the other person, and his lesson only seems to have value to us when it is in agreement with us. But such an attitude will produce very little growth in us. Let us remember that God has not put the truth into our hearts, but he has put it in his book - the Bible. The truth only resides in our hearts to whatever extent his word as found in the Bible is there. Let us keep our minds free from bias and prejudice and let us open our eyes and ears to learn more and more of what God has said.
Truth Magazine III:1, pp. 3, 22