By Mike Willis
Everyone is agreed that there needs to be a balanced diet of preaching. We must preach positively every promise of God and emphasize every moral attribute that needs to be developed in man’s character. A gospel preacher should be equally concerned to preach against every sin and false doctrine that assaults the Lord’s people and his church. He should make specific application of divine principles to current practices to leave no one in doubt about what God’s word says on that subject. I believe that Guardian of Truth should be a balanced journal and have worked diligently as its editor for 18 years to be sure that it is and remains balanced.
Am I Balanced?
Every man who occupies the pulpit and teaches a Bible class needs to conduct a good self-examination on a regular basis to see whether or not he is balanced in his pulpit work, bulletin articles, Bible classes, articles contributed to journals such as Guardian of Truth, etc. to be sure that he does not become obsessed with any one particular issue. Sometimes the charge is made that the editor and Guardian of Truth are obsessed with the divorce and remarriage issue.
I am perfectly willing to lay my work before brethren to ascertain whether or not that is so. The pulpit work that I do is really not available for our critics to judge. They are not present at the local congregation where I preach so they are unqualified to condemn or approve. I might also admit that I am not present where they preach, so the only thing any of us can judge is the written works of each other. Turning to my writings to see whether or not I am balanced, I list these published works:
A Commentary on First Corinthians
A Commentary on Galatians
We Gather Together (A Study of Worship)
Workbooks in the Bible Textbook Series: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Luke (several other books in these series are in the works Deuteronomy through Esther)
Several tracts on a variety of subjects
In addition to these, I have edited a revision of Walking With God (Pre-school through Primary) and am working on a similar revision of Truth in Life (Pre-school through Primary). In addition to these works which I have personally written, I have been deeply involved in editing the Truth Commentary series.
A review of my editorials for 1994 shows the following list of topics discussed:
The Work Ethic Pray For the Sick
The Gospel in Secular America continued on page 754
continued from pag” 738
Balanced Preaching .. .
Jesus’ Attitude Toward His Enemies For Our Sports Fans
The Wrath of God Is Revealed From Heaven (1-4)
The Value of a Preacher Training Program
Just One Daughter
Dr. Kevorkian and Job
The Bible Basis For Unity (1-2) Feminist Issues and the Church
The Restoration Plea: An Appeal for Bible Unity Fundamental Axioms for Unity My Heart Is Enlarged
The Grace of Giving
A fair reading of those titles and articles should confirm that there has been a wide variety of subjects discussed in the editorial slot for 1994.
The next time you hear someone say that the editor of Guardian of Truth or the magazine itself is unbalanced, investigate for yourself whether or not the charge is true. I am perfectly willing to place Guardian of Truth side-by-side with any other journal published among us to see whether or not it is balanced. I am willing to compare my work and that of our staff writers with that of any of the editors and their staff among us with reference to balance.
What Is Hiding
Behind the Criticism?
The charge that Guardian of Truth is not balanced is usually generated by those who do not like something published reviewing and exposing the false doctrines on such subjects as divorce and remarriage, false plans of unity (such as loose teaching on Romans 14 as applied to moral and doctrinal error), women in the business meetings, and other troublesome issues among us.
Being balanced is a two-edged sword. What is required of Guardian of Truth and its staff writers needs to be applied equally to others. Can a preacher, editor, staff writer, or paper truthfully be balanced when it never exposes the false teachings and teachers of our day? Examine some of those condemning Guardian of Truth as unbalanced by asking: (a) When was the last time I read an article in this journal or read an article from this man that called attention to the loose doctrine on fellowship which places the divorce and remarriage issue in the category of Romans 14? (b) When was the last time I read an article in this journal that exposed the false teachings of such books on divorce and remarriage as those of Olan Hicks, Homer Hailey, and Jerry Bassett? (c) When was the last time I read a review of the A.D. 70 doctrine in this journal? (d) When was the last time I saw an article in this journal that exposed the fallacy of the “preach Jesus and let everyone alone” approach to preaching? (e) When was the last time I read a review of the errors in the “preach Christ not the church” approach to preaching? (f) When was the last time I read an article from them contrasting the Lord’s church (revealed religion) with the denominations of men (unrevealed religion)? If you have not read any material on these subjects in recent months (or years), or, if virtually every-thing you read in reference to such subjects is complaint and criticism about those who openly oppose those errors, perhaps the journal you are reading is the one that is not balanced!
Sometimes what is hiding behind the criticism of “not balanced” is a loose view of some subject that has been re-viewed in Guardian of Truth. What is desired is not balanced preaching, but preaching that never exposes some subjects, such as loose views on divorce and remarriage, or placing moral and doctrinal error in the realm of Romans 14. When even one article appears ex-posing these loose doctrines, that is too much. Sometimes what is hiding behind the criticism that Guardian of Truth is not balanced is a loose position on these or some other issues.
If a journal published approximately 300 articles a year, how many would be too many on loose views about divorce and remarriage or loose views about fellowship with moral and doctrinal error? Look at our index under these subjects and see how we did. We have been balanced. This is also a good time to look at the index of other journals to see if they have been balanced. Were there any articles published in those journals that exposed loose views on divorce and remarriage, unity-in-diversity with moral and doctrinal error, and other current problems among us?
The next time you read an article by this editor or some other writer among us reviewing false doctrine being promulgated, remember that Guardian of Truth is presenting a balanced diet of materials on a wide range of subjects. We are publishing a journal that contains both positive and negative material in balanced proportions. Treat the material as you would want any of us to treat yours. When you see an article reviewing error, consider the author as a balanced man who has seen a danger that he feels con-science bound to warn others about. Read it with the understanding that this good, honest and sincere brother deserves the same hearing you want for yourself.
When you hear someone criticizing Guardian of Truth as being out of balance, ask yourself how balanced the critic has been. Has he ever publicly reviewed (either in a journal, a bulletin, or his sermons) the false teachings of those who are a threat to God’s people? Or is the critic able to mingle among the false teachers without ever exposing their false doctrines and practices? Does he hold meetings year after year in congregations known to be taking a false position on some issue, such as divorce and remarriage, without publicly exposing the doctrine? Perhaps the reason he thinks others are out of balance is his judgment is skewed by the angle to which he is leaning.
If he thinks that the editor or writer did a poor job in exposing the pernicious doctrine under review, encourage him to write his own article reviewing the same error and submit it for publication. If he can answer the false doctrines and false teachers of our day in a better manner than the author did in the article that was published, we will be delighted to publish his material. And, I can assure you,that I will add my hearty “amen” to his work. You won’t find me on the sideline taking pot shots at him for doing the work, because I know how it feels to be hit by pot shots.
May we all strive to conduct and measure our work by the New Testament standard of preaching and not by the passing whims and fancies of the age in which we live.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears (2 Tim. 4:2-3).
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:13).
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2).
When we do our best, we can still expect some criticism. We should not be overly sensitive about it, and we can even try to learn from constructive criticism, but then we must also press on and “preach the word.”
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 24, p. 2
December 15, 1994