Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 1, 1952

Religious Journalism


With this issue we begin Volume Four of the Gospel Guardian, and we believe it an appropriate time to set forth a few ideas we've been developing on the subject of religious journalism in general, and this journal in particular. For three full years now the editor has been devoting full time to holding gospel meetings while maintaining his editorial "chair" on the Guardian — said chair being located in countless hotel rooms, Pullman cars, church offices, and private homes all the way from California to Florida and from Texas to Canada. It hasn't been exactly an easy job, but we've enjoyed it; and we do believe the paper has not been without some worth to the cause of Christ.

During these years we have been at first amused, then puzzled, then a wee bit exasperated, and finally rather philosophical at the number of brethren who, hearing us in a gospel meeting, have said, "You are so different from what we had pictured you!" Pressed for an explanation, they have usually been somewhat embarrassed, but have finally revealed that they had pictured the Guardian's editor as a rather surly, bellicose gentleman with a waspish temper and a hypercritical eye for the shortcomings of his brethren. And on finding him actually with the easy-going complacency of a contented cow and the ferocity of a three-day old kitten, they've been hard put to it to reconcile such with their prior concept. But the explanation is fairly easy.

Different Kinds Of Journals

There are actually two or three different kinds of religious journals. One is the journal that is privately owned and controlled, and which the owner regards as merely an extension of his own private, personal, individual ministry. This journal will either be written almost entirely by the editor himself, or else by men who are wholly in sympathy with the editor's point of view. It will rigorously exclude from its columns any contrary or opposite point of view. Even if it has a staff of writers (and it often has), that does not guarantee that all the writings of that staff will be published. Only their articles that are in agreement with the editor's own views and convictions will find a way into the columns of that journal. Articles sent into the editorial office by them which are not in harmony with the editor's own personal ideas will be laid back and not published.

That a man who is financially able to do so has the right to publish such a journal is of course obvious. Nor is he to be subject to any undue amount of criticism for such a project. It is his own personal, private medium; and he can use it as a means to extend his own views as he may desire. As a matter of fact, that is probably the basis on which nearly all gospel papers are started. We have no denominational machinery to set up any kind of official publication or church paper. And any man, or group of men, will have the same right to start a paper as to preach a sermon. The paper is merely a projection of the man's own personality; it promotes, encourages, and features the special ideas and interests of its editor.

Different from this concept is the religious journal that seeks to provide a medium for free expression and interchange of ideas from a wide variety of source and divergence of viewpoints. The Gospel Guardian tends more in this direction. We are not only willing, but we actually desire, to publish articles from brethren who sincerely and honestly differ from us on the issues which are before the church. We believe that free discussion is the very heart and soul of reformation and progress. We hold that there are no "sacred cows" among us, and that any subject on which brethren honestly differ is a subject that can and should be discussed. Such discussion should include both sides of the controverted question, allowing the brother of an opposite conviction to state his own position in his own words.

It is readily apparent that a journal with this approach will differ radically from the former. It is not a propaganda sheet nor a pressure organ, seeking to promote a certain idea or program, and suppressing every thing which does not contribute to that end; but, on the contrary, recognizes and acknowledges that sincere and able Bible students may sometimes differ on questions of expediency or even of Bible teaching, and that the right kind of study and discussion of these matters will always promote unity and growth. It is our honest conviction that this type of journalism (so prevalent in the earlier years of the Gospel Advocate and the Firm Foundation) has all but disappeared. Certainly all thoughtful readers recognize that both of these journals, with so noble and worthy a history behind them, now tend more to the former type of journalism than they do to the latter. But the Gospel Guardian seeks to find her sphere of usefulness in that field of free discussion and brotherly study of the questions that may arise among us.

If our readers will keep this in mind, it will help them to understand us better, and to use the Guardian to greater advantage. This paper is designed by its publisher and editor to offer a medium for the free discussion of issues and problems, and is "dedicated to the propagation and defense of New Testament Christianity." We can differ from a brother without despising him; we can criticize his action or teaching without holding him in contempt; we can disagree with him without being disagreeable. And we aren't afraid to publish his articles, even when he differs from us and attacks. We believe truth has nothing to suffer from the right kind of discussion.

So-o-o, here we come with the first number of Volume Four. Stay thou with us, and we will do thee good!

— F. Y. T.