Soft Pedal Journalism

By Foy E. Wallace, Jr.

Personalities in journalism, which means naming teachers of error along with systems of error, are not any violation of courageous, dignified religious journalism. Naming the men who teach error and practice deception in religion, even in the church, “can be done in a courteous and Christian manner” — but it should be done.

To talk and write of courageous, dignified, courteous methods of religious journalism is to deal only in broad generalities. For some of our old landmarks as gospel papers to recede from former drastic policies and retreat behind the verbiage of carefully worded resolutions of editorial committees to restrain the power of pens, is a keen disappointment to many of us who have looked to these papers to take the lead in a major fight, without generalities, relentless offensives against false movements and the men who promote them.

Whether some “temptation or scheme of intimidation” has “seduced” and “provoked” the editors and publishers to modify policies we cannot say, but it is obvious that something has caused them to seek retrenchment. Our only point here is that it is no time to be saying pretty platitudes and dealing in generalities. We are in a fight for the truth and the cannon fire cannot cease until the enemies of the church stack arms.

Calling names of false teachers and their aides and sympathizers is neither undignified nor discourteous, because Paul did it — and he was courteous, dignified and educated. He said: “Demas forsook me having loved this present world.” It was hard on Demas for Paul to say that publicly. He should have taken that up with Demas privately! Again he said that Hymenaeus and Phyletus had shipwrecked their faith and were overthrowing the faith of others by their theory of the resurrection and he wrote it down in the New Testament (a rather dignified book) that he had turned those brethren of his over to Satan. He clashed with Barnabas upon one occasion and withstood Peter to his face and rebuked him publicly. Neither incident ruined the church, nor marred the dignity of the New Testament. He further said that Alexander the coppersmith did him much evil and declared that the Lord would reward him for what he did. Paul did not seem to covet the kind of reward he intimated Alexander would get. He told a perverter of the truth one time that he was full of guile and villany, called him a son of the devil, and asked him if he ever intended to quit perverting the way of the Lord. When a paper develops better manners than the New Testament and a preacher becomes more dignified than the apostles, neither is worth anything to the defense of the truth nor to the cause of Christ.

Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 5, p. 3
March 4, 1993