Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 2, 1963
NUMBER 1, PAGE 4,12a

Past, Present, Future


"I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (and he was in the body, not out of it), such a one was caught up in a tremendous venture, the progress and development of which he could only dimly (if indeed at all) surmise or foresee at the time." Which is simply paraphrasing Paul a bit to say that it was exactly fourteen years ago this week that this editor was preparing his first editorial for the new weekly Gospel Guardian. What momentous years these have been! Years of heartbreak and disappointment, of toil and labour, years of anxiety and deep distress as the onrushing tide of modernism has swept like a prairie fire through the body of Christ, leaving ruin and havoc in its path. Yet, the years have not been without their compensations. For time after time the heart has been lifted to the heights of exultant joy and thanksgiving as the old, old gospel of Christ has demonstrated its power to reach the hearts of those who were willing to put the service of God above every earthly consideration.

And now, this week, we begin the fifteenth year in this spot. The general atmosphere now is far different from that of fourteen years ago. For all practical purposes now we might well say that the division of God's people into "conservative" and "liberal" camps is all but completed. There will be individuals crossing over from one group to the other as time goes by; but there will be few congregations now to change. Decisions have been made; courses of action have been set. And we believe that thoughtful and percipient brethren in both camps would probably agree that the divergence between the two groups is destined to grow ever wider and wider as the years go by. That is the usual history of such tragic divisions. Both conservatives and liberals will gradually tend toward a relaxation of their positions; As the heat of the controversy cools off, the conservatives will probably relent a bit and withdraw from some of the extreme positions into which they have been driven by the controversy. And the liberals will no longer feel any particular necessity for strongly insisting on their adherence to some of the old familiar slogans and practices which they felt it necessary to emphasize while the battle was raging. We can probably expect on the one hand, for example, that the brief flurry of agitation among the conservatives over the "Sunday night communion" question will be forgotten. And, on the other hand, we have no doubt at all but that the time is foreseeable when our liberal brethren will have those among their number who will begin to advocate (and practice) such things as Thursday night communion, special Easter services, etc. Chorus singing (in worship services) to supplement (and in some instances replace) congregational singing is already well advanced in some sections of the liberal camp. The rift will widen between the two groups, inevitably and inexorably.

As for the future of the Gospel Guardian, we hope to see it become an increasingly useful medium for teaching, for general news of interest, and for the stimulating of those who read it into ever greater and more strenuous efforts for the propagation of the truth. The faithful men who have worked so diligently in trying to stem the tide of digression will feel no desire to slacken their efforts now; but, on the contrary, will be diligent as never before in getting on with the high and holy task of winning souls to Christ and building anew the broken walls of Zion. For the immediate future we have two features upcoming which will be of special interest and worth to our readers:

Brother Cogdill's series of articles. Brother Cogdill is preparing a rather careful and extended study of the church in our nation within the last thirty years. He is doing research into the background of teaching, attitudes, errors, compromises, weaknesses and strengths, right things and wrong things which precipitated (and made inevitable) that division which has now taken place among the disciples. We had hopes his articles would be ready by now (the beginning of this Volume Fifteen), but his move to California with its attendant disruption of library and source materials has delayed the series a bit. The articles will be well worth waiting for, however, and we anticipate a tremendous interest in them once we get them started.

Brother Adam's new column. Brother James W. Adams, than whom there is no more careful and knowledgeable writer among us, begins in this issue a regular column under the general heading "Religious Reverberations" which will, we believe, prove to be one of the most interesting and stimulating features we have carried since the paper started. This column will help all of us to an understanding of the tremendous changes that are taking place in the religious world generally — and give us a deeper insight into those great social, economic, and political forces which inevitably affect our own religious family. Conservative groups usually tend to become isolated, withdrawn, and thus limited and restricted in their outlook. We hope this regular feature on these pages will help, to a degree, to avoid such isolation and insulation among faithful Christians and congregations.

The fourteen years are history; the fifteenth year has begun. We extend our thanks (far beyond our power to articulate) to all those loyal friends who have helped so nobly in strengthening and encouraging us these past years in the fight for truth and righteousness which we have tried to make. And we solicit a continuation of your prayers, your help, and your deep interest in the years that lie ahead.

— F. Y. T.