Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 3, 1951

Two Year Editor

This is my birthday, my editorial birthday that is. For two years I have been Editor of the Gospel Guardian, and this issue begins Volume Three. The experiences of these past two years have seen a sizeable number of gray hairs added to my scalp, and probably an equal number, both gray and otherwise, permanently removed from it. There have perhaps been a few readers who would have gladly assisted nature in this scalping job, as they undoubtedly did assist her in the matter of graying me up. But that all goes with being an editor, and I'm not griping about it.

There have been compensations. The expressions of good-will and encouragement that have come from all over the nation these twenty-four months past have been wonderfully helpful. Some of them, expressing a confidence in me of which I feel wholly unworthy, have been deeply moving. The letters of criticism have been equally fervent in their expressions of disapprobation. One thing seems fairly certain: few people read the Guardian with indifference. They like it pretty well, or else they detest it with a vengeance. Incidentally, the critical letters have diminished considerably these last five or six months. It must be that the brethren are beginning to understand "what it is all about," and aren't nearly so ready with their purple adjectives. In fact, I believe I've had only two letters from "A Disgusted Christian" since the first of the year, compared with half a hundred or more from that suffering brother last year.

Hearing Both Sides

I have tried to be as fair as possible, giving space to every point of view. Probably more material has been carried in these pages contrary to the editor's conviction than has been the case with any journal circulated among the brethren. Indeed, some of my most frequent criticisms have arisen this past year from that very thing. Several friends have protested the amount of space given to those who were advocating positions which they (and I) considered dangerous and unscriptural. But I have felt that fairness demanded that men be allowed to speak for themselves, as much as space would permit, and present their own point of view. It is extremely difficult for a man, be he ever so careful, to represent another's position exactly as that man would himself present it. Hence. I have opened the pages to much "opposition." Of course, in the case of some, it has simply been impossible to publish all that was submitted. To have done so would have required the enlargement of the paper to double its present size.

Matters Of Judgment

In mere matters of judgment, I have not thought it necessary always to offer my own ideas in contradiction to the ideas that might have been presented in some articles. Some of my friends, knowing my own convictions on certain subjects, have been puzzled to see articles in the Guardian which were clearly contrary to what they knew I believed. One of them, perhaps unthinkingly, has been unkind enough to write letters to various ones charging me with insincerity. But in matters of mere judgment (that is whether a congregation shall be large or small; whether it is wise or foolish to attempt to establish a church "in the pope's own backyard;" whether the workers on foreign fields should congregate in a few big cities or should scatter into the villages, etc.) I have felt no obligation at all to indicate each and every time the editor's judgment differed from that of a writer—even if the writer were an associate editor. In matters of scripture teaching, however, in doctrinal particulars, I have sought always to provide, either in my own writings or in the writings of an associate editor, what I believed to be the teaching of the Bible on any particular disputed subject.

Past, Present, Future

The Gospel Guardian has grown considerably during the two years in the number of her paid subscribers—more than quadrupled in fact. And we have a fairly confident feeling that her influence has extended in a helpful way far beyond what her subscription list might indicate. We want to encourage every good work everywhere, and we want to discourage those things that are doubtful or dangerous in their tendencies.

Mistakes have been made. Some of them egregious; some trivial. Only a fool would claim that he had been without them. One does not learn this "editing" business over night; nor can even the oldest hand at the job be always certain that the course he is following is the wisest and best. But to the best of my ability, such as it is, I have tried to do what I thought was right. And I shall continue in that line.

During the past twelve months I have written fifty-six editorials; filled twenty-five pages with "Overflow" material; edited (often involving a complete re-write job) over four hundred articles—and held twenty-three gospel meetings, traveling all over the southern half of the nation. I'm pretty sure I could do a far better job of editing were it possible for me to hold fewer meetings, and devote more time to the paper. Perhaps eventually that will be possible; but during these first years, and until the paper is firmly established, both editor and publisher work without financial compensation. No gospel paper is ever able to pay its own way merely by subscriptions, although the larger its list, the more nearly it could come to doing so.

Anyhow, thanks for all the help from a host of loyal and faithful friends who have submitted articles, sent in lists of subscriptions, offered words of criticism, suggestion, or encouragement. I've had a whale of a good time getting the paper into the mail each Saturday, and, believe it or not, there are times when I actually enjoy being an editor! And, for the life of me, I can't think of a single person about whom I've written these past two years that I dislike. I deplore what some of them do sometimes, but for the people themselves I have no whatsoever. And for some of them (even some whom I have most severely criticized), I confess to a downright affection. I consider all of us as soldiers in the same army, fighting the same common enemy; and if I see a fellow-soldier pulling a boner that is likely to jeopardize the whole army, I may yell at him—but I don't dislike him.

— Fanning Yater Tant