Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 29, 1954
NUMBER 50, PAGE 4-5a

After Five Years


How does it feel to be editor of a "controversial" religious journal for five years? Let me tell you. I speak from experience. This issue concludes the fifth year (Volume Five) of the weekly Gospel Guardian. Not a single issue has been missed in those years, and very few of them have appeared without one or more articles from the editor. The task has not been an easy one, and neither has it been as difficult as some may have imagined.

I don't mind confessing that at times the "editorial chair" has been a rather warm spot. There have been decisions to make, articles to print, or withhold, issues to discuss or by-pass, which involved thousands of congregations and hundreds of thousands of people. The responsibility for making the decisions has not been one to accept lightly; nor am I even beginning to suggest that I have always made the right decisions. No one knows better than I that some of them have been wrong. Articles have been printed which should have found their rightful place in the waste-basket rather than in type. And probably there are some right now in a bulging filing cabinet, under that listing "Rejected," which should have been published.

But, all in all, it has been an enlightening and truly happy five years. Have I ever entertained the idea of quitting? Entertained it? I haven't even had it! That doesn't mean that I haven't had suggestions from both friendly friends and less friendly friends that my editorials were stepping-stones to hell, and that I ought to find my rightful place of service to God between the plow-handles of a Georgia stock. All of which I have appreciated, listened to patiently, and ignored.

Brother Goodpasture once told me that David Lipscomb was wont to say that any man who could edit the Gospel Advocate for ten years would wind up either as an infidel or as a mighty good man. I think I know what he meant. There are certainly some aspects to a job like this that would incline a man to cynicism. When one sees "them who are of repute" among the brethren scheming like ward-heeling politicians for prestige and advantage, when he has conclusive, incontrovertible evidence of insincerity, unfairness, and downright dishonesty on the part of some, when he knows of the wire pulling, tricky machinations, the pious, unctuous "fronts" which are put on, the glamorous whoop-la with which projects are promoted and pushed — well, it is all more than slightly nauseating. And no man can occupy an editor's chair for five years without knowing more than he'd like to know of such skullduggery. If he has any shadow of skepticism concerning his brethren, it is likely to have settled into a cold and contemptuous scorn by the end of that time.

On the other hand, there are compensations that counter-balance such an attitude. This has been particularly the case with me. For every knave I've found among my brethren I have found a hundred earnest, sincere and devoutly faithful followers of Christ. Humble men. Making no show or ostentation as to their achievements; quietly serving God in their modest way, undisturbed and unimpressed by the glamorous "show" that others may be attempting. They restore one's faith in the essential goodness of gospel preachers. They are a bracing antidote to the poisonous atmosphere of the "promoters" who infest the land.

The future? Who knows. That the Lord's church is facing one of the most critical periods of her modern history should be evident to any intelligent Christian. I, personally, am not as pessimistic as are some of my friends as to that future. Another division in the Lord's church may be shaping up. There are not lacking signs that some are actively, aggressively, and skillfully working toward the promoting of such. Within the past three years I know of not less than a score of churches which have been influenced to cancel gospel meetings they had scheduled because "that preacher opposes our work." I anticipate that such efforts will continue. But I also know there are thousands of faithful elderships who will not be stampeded into such hasty action. They will quietly and thoughtfully weigh the issues, and make up their own minds about these things.

One thing that has especially encouraged me is the great number of brethren who have lately begun to think in most serious terms concerning the vexing problems that now threaten the church. And one by one I am learning of their coming to grips with the problems, carefully working through them, and arriving at a position concerning God's church and her work that is safe and unassailable. Hundreds of young gospel preachers coming out of the Christian colleges have written me expressing their appreciation for the Gospel Guardian (we send it without charge to all the preacher boys in the schools). More than one of them has written that when in school he violently disagreed with the paper, but after getting out into his field of labor he has come to realize what it has meant to him, and the seriousness of the problems with which the paper dealt.

Well, if you are still reading after these rambling paragraphs, take a deep breath, pray that God may help this editor, and get ready for Volume Six. The first issue of it will be in your hands next week.

— F.Y.T.