By Cecil Willis
Brother W. W. Otey told me once that in seventy years of gospel preaching, he had never preached a sermon with which he was completely pleased one hour afterward. He could always think of some things that he should have said, but that had been left out. Or, he could think of some things that were said that should have been said differently, if said at all. Each sermon lacked something; head-power, or heart-power, as he put it. Which merely is to say that nearly all of us have 20/20 vision hindsight-wise.
In the last issue of Volume Eighteen we carried our usual Author-Subject Index. But it was suggested in a staff meeting of Truth Magazine personnel in Memphis in July that a Topical Index would be tremendously helpful to those who made it a practice to preserve their issues of Truth Magazine, or to those who purchase Bound Volumes. Furthermore, any research to be done in such bound volumes in years to come would be made much easier, if we published a Topical Index. Brother Jeffery Kingry volunteered to prepare the detailed Topical Index, which involved a tremendous amount of work on his part, and considerable extra expense on our part. Your reaction to the Topical Index will help us to assess its value, and to determine whether it should be prepared and published each year.
Constructive criticism is helpful to any person, who will receive it in the right way. Some of our severest critics also are some of our best friends. It always is good to listen to criticism, for it just might be the case that one’s critic is correct. On the other hand, trying to please every critic would not only bring one to complete frustration; it would drive him insane! So we know that Truth Magazine is not going to please everyone.
Critics often generalize, and make such broad criticisms that one hardly knows where to begin, if he were disposed to try to implement any of the recommendations made by his critics. As most preachers already have learned, one’s critics frequently hear only what they want to hear. To the super-sensitive liberal, every admonition to follow closely the instructions of the Lord is counted as one more sermon “on the issues.”
Luther Blackmon told me once that the .fellow who “got under his skin” the most was that fellow who gets up close in your face, turns red with anger, shakes his finger under your nose, calls you a liar, and then proves it! So with the thought in mind that our critics who so persistently (and yet so inconsistently) criticize us for criticizing just might be right, we have carefully reviewed the contents of Volume Eighteen.
Some have charged that ours is an unbalanced paper, and that about all we do is to criticize someone else. We have been accused of riding, one issue to death, which is not in itself such a bad idea if that issue happens to entail the teaching of false doctrine. We would like to stamp out error, if we could do so. We would like to do all within our power to eradicate error. Some have even charged that a few people do all the writing in Truth Magazine. Some others write to criticize us for publishing so much material from brethren who are not generally well-known. With just these few criticisms listed, one already can see the impossibility of pleasing everywhere. A good many years ago I resolved in my mind Who it was that I was trying to please, and thereafter have not been unduly upset if my efforts to please Him did not please some of my family, brethren, or neighbors.
Contents of Volume Eighteen
With both Indexes readily at hand, it was quite easy generally to summarize the contents of Volume Eighteen. For instance, I discovered that articles had been published from 141 different brethren during the year. I think that nearly any editor would tell you that he could produce a better quality paper, if he confined his writers to those on his staff. If he could not, he is a rather poor chooser of staff personnel. But a paper written exclusively by a few carefully selected staff personnel will not draw the wider reader interest that one seeks. Furthermore, if no one will give an inexperienced writer a chance to write, how do we think younger men ever will become abler writers? We deliberately publish some articles primarily to encourage inexperienced writers to write more that their literary abilities, if any, may be enhanced.
Approximately 475 articles were published in Volume Eighteen. They covered a wide range of subjects. In fact, Brother Kingry found it necessary to list articles under 115 different topical headings. A careful examination of the number of listings under each heading easily will enable one to tell .which subjects were being given the most attention during the year. At the same time, an examination of the Topical Index even surprised me. I was not conscious of the fact that the 824 pages published last year had touched upon so many different subjects. In many instances, one article would deal with several sub-headings, and thus may have been listed under more than one topical heading. But following are some of the topics covered in Volume Eighteen, and the number following each Topical heading is indicative of the number of articles appearing that touch upon that subject.
|Baptist Church Doctrine||19|
|Church News reports (and cover pictures of meeting houses of churches from 21 States and foreign countries)||49|
|Current Events on the Religious Scene||15|
|Debates (Articles and Reports)||12|
|Reactions (to all forms of false doctrines)||60|
|Truth (not referring to Truth Magazine)||15|
These are by no means all the listings in the Topical Index, but I think these are enough to show you that Truth Magazine does carry a wider variety of material than you might otherwise have supposed. No doubt there are several Biblical areas that we did overlook, or at least slight. If so, those overlooked areas would be good ones upon which, you might prepare carefully studied and well-written manuscripts. There is not a single word of divine Truth that will be excluded from the pages of Truth Magazine. As in our preaching, so is it in our writing: we intend fully to preach the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:19); to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). Whatever our short-comings may be, perhaps you can help us to correct them.
Articles By Staff Members
In the first issue of Volume Nineteen (November 7th), we announced the addition of several new staff writers. Following is a listing of the staff members and the number of articles written by each one:
|James W. Adams||5|
|Donald P. Ames||8|
|Roy E. Cogdill||6|
|Bruce Edwards, Jr.||12|
|George T. Eldridge||4|
Our new Topical Index is not quite complete. Brother Kingry did a splendid job on the first 44 issues, but a less thorough job was done on the last 7 issues. Very likely there are some mistakes in these Indexes, though I went over it three times, and even checked out every listing and page number. All in all, Volume Eighteen to me looks like a fairly well rounded religious journal. It appears to me that it would not be entirely out of place for it to be in the home of nearly any Christian. Perhaps we have inadvertently, indeed have, produced that nebulous something frequently referred to kts a “family magazine” about which some of the brethren have had so much to say.
But Volume Eighteen is now past history. We must work on the present number, Volume Nineteen. We hope to keep the paper fairly well balanced, but still tilted. just enough that it is not hesitant to fire away at any digressive teaching that begins to surface among us. If a magazine such as Truth Magazine does not appeal to you, we are sorry that is the case. But we think there is a need for just such a paper, and we intend to continue basically in the manner in which we have proceeded thus far.
If you feel that Truth Magazine serves a useful purpose among brethren, we would appreciate a kind word from you about the paper to some friend who is a Christian who needs to be reading a paper like this one. Unfortunately, the people who need to read a paper like Truth Magazine the most are the ones who are the least likely to buy it. Perhaps a worthy gesture on your part would be to send such a friend a free subscription to Truth Magazine. We certainly would appreciate your partnership in this work, demonstrated by your willingness to spend your hard-earned money to send this paper, to someone else who can afford it, but who has so little interest in spiritual matters that he is unwilling to spend a few dollars a year on such a publication. If you were to do as suggested and send a free subscription, or a group of free subscriptions purchased on our reduced group-subscription rate, in all probability the brethren to whom you send this paper will someday come to appreciate your interest in their spiritual growth, and certainly their Bible knowledge would be enhanced by considering the writings of 141 gospel preachers, writing on 115 different Bible topics, and consisting of nearly 500 different articles. Where else can you get so much for just $7.50 per year? We think Truth Magazine subscriptions are a bargain. A Truth Magazine subscription, as we often have said (since we borrowed, the idea from someone else), is a gift that can be opened 50 times a year.
Truth Magazine XVIII: 7, pp. 99-102
December 19, 1974