By Cecil Willis
Occasionally it becomes prudent to repeat what one often has said before, or something which he assumes everyone already understands. Such are the circumstances regarding the matters about which we now write.
We have a disclaimer in our catalog. It reads in part: “Only the Bible can be recommended without reservation. The mere fact that some items are included in this catalog does not mean that we endorse every statement in them. But we have been careful to try to present for your perusal books and materials that will be useful and helpful. There are many items that we refuse to sell at all, and hence do not want such advertisements to appear in our catalog. Convictions cannot be appraised by dollars and cents.”
There are times, however, when we sell something we do not approve at all. For instance, a few weeks ago I conducted a debate with a Pentecostal preacher. In order to understand and document their position on the points being debated, it was necessary that I purchase fifteen or twenty books and booklets published by this Pentecostal sect. In order to acquire them, I had our bookstore to order them for me. The bookstore purchased them for wholesale prices, and sold them to me retail. As you may or may not know, Truth Magazine Bookstore does not give discounts to individuals, and that includes the Editor of this journal! In fact, I think, from the number of invoices I receive, that I must be our store’s best customer.
This transaction alone should indicate that books which might not be recommended at all generally might under special circumstances be recommended. To illustrate, I would recommend that anyone who is preparing to debate a representative of any denomination purchase some of their writings in order to understand precisely what that denomination teaches. Yet such books could not be recommended as useful, worth the money, and advisable to purchase, to every brother.
Some books that generally are not reliable are yet quite useful on specific points. Recently our Book Review Editor discussed the new Logos Complete Study Bible. I asked him to examine it carefully, and give an honest appraisal concerning it. The American Standard Version is an excellent translation of the Scriptures. However, in recent years, the number of sizes and quality of bindings of American Standard versions have decreased until there is hardly any first-line, quality binding available. The best I have seen is the No. 760, which sells for $27.50.
When the Logos Complete Study Bible, which sells for $34.95, came out in six bindings, I thought this might be just what many brethren have been seeking. But upon close examination, it was discovered that the references and notes in it had been compiled in such a way as to try to lead the unwary to accept a denominational concept about the Holy Spirit. It therefore was necessary that we warn potential purchasers regarding this “feature” of the Logos Bible. The net result of our Reviewer’s evaluation was, “I cannot recommend it,” except for those students who can ascertain when a reference is being misused. However, to informed Christians, the quality of the book and binding might be such as to off-set the detriment of its misleading cross reference system:
Our bookstore handles ten or twelve different sets of class literature. Hardly any of these- can be unqualifiedly recommended; A dangerous precedent has been established if one ever were to recommend without reservation everything that any men write or teach orally. Our confidence is to be in God and His Word; not in the pronouncements of men.
Recently one good brother, who is much interested in the publishing efforts which we make, wrote criticizing the contents of some books in the Walking With God series (formerly known as Journeys Through the Bible). I agreed with everyone of his criticisms.
Journeys Through the Bible was purchased by the Cogdill Foundation about four years ago because it was going out of print. In our judgment, it had fewer faults than the other prominently used sets of literature. Brother Roy E. Cogdill, when he owned the Cogdill Publishing Company, proof-read and put into print the series from Grade 4 through High School. We knew when we purchased this series that it had some material in it which we personally, and other faithful brethren, could not approve. Plans have been laid, from the day we purchased the material, to re-work the Pre-School and Primary sections of this literature. The volume of work on the new Truth In Life series until now has prevented this re-writing. We cannot undertake such a massive and expensive endeavor until Truth In Life is completely in print, and both time and money are available for re-writing Walking With God.
Churches and Preachers
Paid ads are run in Truth Magazine by some churches. Recently one brother said that acceptance of paid ads from churches might cause a paper to be accused of “being supported by the churches through the back door.” We do not want any church to advertise in Truth Magazine unless the brethren who purchase the advertising space feel that their advertising dollar judiciously is spent. Such ads usually help the churches who purchase them, and undoubtedly are a big asset to brethren in travel in locating a congregation with which to worship.
We have never thought that every church should advertise in Truth Magazine. If they were to attempt to do so, there would be no space available for teaching materials. Truth Magazine is published to provide a medium for discussion of Bible topics. Yet it has been my opinion that it would be helpful, both to the congregation and to brethren who are traveling, if at least one church in each metropolitan area would advertise its location and time of services. It is difficult for a stranger to go into New York City, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, St. Louis, San Diego, Los Angeles, or any other metropolitan area, and quickly locate a congregation with which he wants to worship. These church ads, in various religious journals, then become very valuable, both to the congregation which buys it and to the brother who is trying to locate such a congregation. But we want no church ever to purchase an ad in this journal just to help Truth Magazine.
Recently we have been running some very brief reports about various congregations, and using a picture of a meeting house on the cover of this journal. We have run reports on some congregations that a brother somewhere did not think we should have run, or we have accepted an ad from some congregation which some brother somewhere thinks we should not have accepted.
Just a little thinking should confirm the fact in one’s mind that the publishers of Truth Magazine, or any other journal, are not brotherhood clearing houses. And we certainly do not intend even to try to become such. We wouldn’t if we could, and couldn’t if we would! This simply is to say that the mere fact that we run an ad from a congregation, or run a news report concerning a congregation, is no proof that the congregation is faithful to the Lord. Even a novice should know this much.
Nor does reference to a preacher in these columns indicate that the man is sound in the faith. Brethren who are interested in a particular congregation or preacher will have to conduct their own examinations. Neither the Lord nor the brethren have asked that we conduct such examinations for them. Obviously we report news regarding preachers and churches which are unknown to us personally. Yet not many liberal preachers would want the “kiss of death” which mention in Truth Magazine would convey upon them in some circles. The New Philadelphia, Ohio church is the only liberal church that I now can think of whichever has sought to purchase advertising space in Truth Magazine, and I think they sent their check just to see if I would take it. I did, and still have it, uncashed!
Preachers who let it be known through Truth Magazine that they wish to move to work elsewhere should decide themselves whether they can work with a particular church, and they always have done so. Churches who seek a preacher to work with them should secure as much information as possible regarding any preacher who might respond to their “Preacher Needed” ad. To fail to do so would be irresponsible. Occasionally at faithful and an able gospel preacher just does not “fit in very well” with a particular faithful church. I have often heard preachers say that a particular preacher they know would not be able to work compatibly with certain congregations. Such a circumstance should not exist, but it does. There are some eccentric preachers, and there also are some eccentric churches. The two somehow never seem to work together very peaceably.
Some brethren (preachers and churches) take advantage of the fact an Editor does not know all the circumstances involved, and thus they try to carry on some derisive local campaign through a paper against other brethren. Truth Magazine does its best to avoid involvement in such local problems. Sometimes papers have been “used” to “get at” a local problem which should be dealt with only locally. Editors, being neither omniscient nor infallible, occasionally get burned by blindly getting pulled into a local fight. In my judgment, a brother or a congregation who takes advantage of a paper in this way contemptuously and unfairly has used an otherwise useful instrument to further his or their sinister intentions.
We intend to do our best to be fair, honorable, and above reproach in our dealings with brethren. We expect brethren to reciprocate with a comparable intention. When either of us fails to live up to this intention, we should admit it and try to do better thereafter. Just the right blend of longsufferance and forbearance will compensate for our mutual short comings. If some book or tract mentioned in Truth Magazine is useful to you, buy it. If it is not of value to you, we would prefer that you not buy it. Brethren should make their own examinations of any congregation or preacher mentioned in the Truth Magazine pages. As said earlier, the Editor and Associate Editors of this paper are neither omniscient nor infallible. Nor are we a brotherhood clearing house. And we have no intention to become such, either advertently or inadvertently, though some brethren have denied us this affirmed intention. In so doing, they have perjured themselves, and misrepresented us.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:4, p. 3-5
November 22, 1973