Vol.XIII No.IV Pg.2
June 1976

More On Papers

Robert F. Turner

Last month, under Some Thoughts on Papers, we published a brief history of a few religious journals, and tendencies of such to become organs and influence centers for various distinctive doctrines. Of course any influential church, preacher or writer has the same effect and should be censured only if the influence is exercised for selfish or sectarian purposes. We should also realize that such centers get undue power from the weak or sectarian minded brethren who lean on them for their authority.

But there has been a change in the brethrens tolerance for brotherhood centers of influence. Perhaps the popular rejection of the Establishment is responsible for this. We are affected by social changes. Too, our emphasis upon congregational independence versus any sponsoring or controlling center has left its mark. Conservatives who have so long taught the error of following this paper, that school, or BIG preachers, are beginning to believe their own message. We have long claimed that individuals could learn truth for themselves, and independent churches could survive without an earthly headquarters. Now we are developing a generation that is willing to try it.

The all- sound- brethren- read- this paper day is passing. Some think major journals have killed themselves by infighting, but I think there is more to it than this. The day of dominating papers is passing. But the need for mature, thought — provoking journalism has not passed. Freedom to think for oneself is not the same as wisdom to think well. Sometimes the excuse to quit reading the papers is an excuse to quit consulting the opinion of others, and to lose balance in our judgment. Those centers of influence we rejected were also the media for rich thoughts that otherwise might have but limited exposure. We must not allow the abuses of influence centers to blind us to proper usage. Individual free thinking can also produce wild extremes and heady pride.

We expressed our liking for noncommercial, free- to- the- reader publications by various congregations, as part of their teaching program. But repeats of repeats of cartoons and Stuff About Things can not take the place of serious religious journalism any more than V.B.S. can take the place of college-type Bible study.

Independence needs a soap-box; the exchange of ideas. We must be able to reject headquarters without puffing up in self-esteem. Only as we hear others can we submit one to another.