September 22, 2017

The Obstructing Press

By James W. Adams

"And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zaccheus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and he could not for the press, because he was little of stature.'' (Luke19:1-3.)

Neither contextual support nor sound exegesis is claimed for the use made of this text. Actually, the application of the text will be a take-off on the passage. Let it be understood, however, that no attempt is being made to be funny. To the contrary, what is written is advanced in all earnestness with the sincere conviction that it is both true and timely.

The facts of the text are simple. Zaccheus was a physically small man. Jesus at the height of his popularity was entering the town of Zaccheus, Jericho. Great crowds thronged the narrow streets to see Jesus. Multitudes milled about pressing for a place near the street. Zaccheus could not see over the heads of the crowd {"the press") so he climbed a tree as he had no doubt been forced to do many times as a boy under similar circumstances.

The Religious "Press"

In our complex world, a great many things can and do constitute "presses" that keep people from "seeing Jesus," particularly people with constitutional limitations of one kind or another. Not the least among these is the religious press. By religious press is meant literally religious periodicals circulated among the brethren.

As valuable as the printed word has been in spreading the gospel of Christ, it is debatable whether the good it has done exceeds the bad. In the language of sports, the race between good and bad has come close to a dead heat. This fact has caused many brethren to have strong aversion to the religious press. They even pride themselves in not reading any of the periodicals published by the brethren. A sincere preacher friend among the so-called "liberal" brethren has a settled policy of putting nothing in writing. He considers himself a classic example of a "burnt child dreading fire." He feels that he has been personally abused through this medium to such an extent as to justify his attitude. In the minds of many such people, the religious press obstructs rather than furthers the progress of the gospel.

An Obligation of the Promoters of the Press

By reason of the widespread aversion to the religious press, the beginning of a new paper or the enlarging of the scope of influence of an existing one is an undertaking most serious and lays upon him who promotes such a solemn obligation. Neither undertaking should be launched hastily or inadvisably, but prayerfully, thoughtfully, and in the fear of God. Too many papers have been started by the wrong persons, for the wrong reasons, and have been operated in the wrong ways. Therefore, he who undertakes such must have reasons both adequate and laudable for so doing if he is to have the right to claim the patronage and support of brethren and churches.

Abuses Do Not Invalidate Scripturally Permissible Undertakings

Publishing houses and their religious periodicals are scripturally permissible expedients in the furtherance of the gospel of Christ provided they are scripturally and righteously established, operated, and sustained. It is quite irrational to reject absolutely a scriptural medium simply because it has been abused. All thingseven things specifically authorized by the word of God having a human element connected with them can and likely will be abused on occasions. Early abuses of the elderships of New Testament churches, an institution of the Lord {Acts 14:23), ultimately produced the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the consequent Dark Ages. It must ever be observed that religious periodicals, though scripturally permissible, are strictly human projects and subject to all the frailties and limitations of the men who publish and write for them. They can and will be at times abused, but the rational point of view is not to reject them forthwith because of abuses (real or imagined) but to recognize their inherent possibilities for good or bad and be careful to make them instruments of righteousness and not of evil. These facts Underline the obligation of those who would begin or enlarge gospel papers to be "ready always to give to every man that asketh a reason" for their undertakings.

Enlargement of Truth Magazine Is Justified

I am personally convinced that the enlargement of Truth Magazine from a monthly to a weekly is an undertaking which has grown out of considerations both valid and salutary.

First, the present publishers and editor have proved themselves over a sufficient number of years to be completely capable of publishing a religious journal respectable in appearance, sound in teaching, responsible in attitude, and constantly growing in circulation and influence.

Second, over the past decade, large numbers of brethren from coast to coast, men of impeccable reputation, ability, and soundness, have expressed themselves with reference to the need for such a weekly as that envisioned by the brethren who propose tile enlargement of Truth Magazine to a weekly status. We doubt that any informed person would challenge this fact.

Third, the editorial capacity of Truth Magazine is such as to justify the enlargement of the paper. Its editor-in-chief is a young man with his best years before him. He has the solid background of a good literary education plus two books, other pamphlets, and several years of successful editorial responsibility to his credit. He has successful experience as a local preacher with some of the best churches and wide, successful experience in gospel meetings. He, therefore, understands the problems and needs of the brotherhood. In the field of polemics, both written and oral, he has proved himself completely adequate in the defense of "the faith once delivered." Added to this, and quite as important, is the fact that he has demonstrated his ability as an editor to temper zeal with consecrated wisdom and caution and act responsibly in matters of general concern among the brethren and churches.

Fourth, the motivation behind the enlargement of Truth Magazine is not mercenary, sectarian, sectional, or carnally ambitious. The interests of truth under gird the undertaking in all its parts. It competes with no existing publication. It seeks only to enlarge the influence of Truth Magazine in proclaiming, preserving, and encouraging the practice of Divine truth. With such background, motivation, and editorial capacity, it is my personal feeling that Truth Magazine has a solid future as a militant, responsible, sound, influential weekly among conservative brethren and churches, hence can legitimately lay claim to their endorsement, encouragement, and patronage.

MY HOPES FOR TRUTH MAGAZINE

It is my hope ~hat Truth Magazine will represent no clique of preachers or churches and no one section of the country. May it maintain its brotherhood-wide thrust for truth without involvement in purely personal and local squabbles among brethren and churches. It is my hope that all faithful preachers and other faithful writers will feel completely at home in its columns and that every such scribe will be treated with dignity and absolute fairness. May those of us who take advantage of the opportunities its columns afford do our best to provide material that transcends inferiority and mediocrity--material that is characterized by depth, quality, and relevance. If these hopes are realized, we can in a measurable degree vindicate the religious press. Brethren will thus be made to realize that gospel papers need not constitute a "press" which keeps people from "seeing Jesus," but rather, helps them to "see Him." 

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: 1, pp.10-12
November 6, 1969

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