Editorial Keynotes

Independent Literature Production.

L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry.

The question arises, Why is there criti­cism and restriction upon the personal circulation of our evangelistic addresses an ong the people to whom they have been preached orally here in North America? Is this not simply jealousy on the part of our publishing houses and fear that it will cut off a few dollars of revenue? No, that is not the basic reason, as such counsel comes not primarily from our publishing houses, but from our most experienced executive leaders. There are far broader and more weighty rea­sons for this very proper attitude and conse­quent urge.

Fifty years ago, or even twenty-five, the world presented a vastly different picture from that of today for us workers in North Amer­ica. We were then more or less isolated from other nations and continents. Communication and transportation were relatively slow and limited. The radio had not yet penetrated every home, giving instantaneous and simul­taneous access to all. Air-mail and passenger service had not yet become generally opera­tive. News agencies and governmental in­telligence systems were much more limited in scope. And what men said or did in one sec­tion or country was restricted in circulation and influence.

Moreover, a half or even a quarter of a century ago, Seventh-day Adventists were far less prominent in the world's eye, much smaller numerically, and more constricted in operation. Much less attention was paid to what we said and did. But now all this is changed. A whisper breathed in one cor­ner of the land reverberates through loud­speaker or press to the ends of the earth. Government operatives from the various na­tions are watching for any and every utter­ance that can be used to restrict unpopular truth—gathering, reporting, and filing for op­portune use.

The effects of such changes upon a world­wide religious movement of unpopular char­acter, opposed alike by the popular Protestant bodies and by world-wide Catholicism, need no elucidation, no draft upon the imagination.

Now, the independent issuance of printed or duplicated current sermons by the local evangelist, with obvious advantages of speed, pertinency, and freedom of utterance, are counterbalanced by the threefold peril of hasti­ness with its inevitable inaccuracy of statement, tendency toward provincial outlook, and danger of involving one's brethren in the movement at large because of lack of proper protection by wide and experienced counsel.

Most independent duplications are charac­terized by mechanical faults—misspellings, grammatical inaccuracies, or other literary infelicities; misstatement of fact in the realm of history, science, astronomy, archeology, or doctrinal or prophetic exposition—and this in addition to the limitations and idiosyncrasies of the individual that are bound to obtrude themselves when a lone man releases his writ­ings without the safeguarding of group scru­tiny. Such productions do not, therefore, worthily represent this great movement. On the contrary, they often misrepresent and cheapen, by bringing in some peculiar view of the worker upon a detail that may spoil an otherwise excellent and helpful presenta­tion. Any man's production is stronger in the end for having passed under the scrutiny of a competent group of peers, and gained their approval. And this is the established method of literature production in all our standard publishing houses.

Unwise references to certain world condi­tions or to nations we believe to be mentioned in prophecy, may jeopardize our entire cause both abroad and at home. By inadvertent, incautious statements from some individual worker, our entire work may be thwarted in whole sections of the world field, and as a consequence the foreign mission burden of that section may be thrown back on the home base, with all the resultant perplexities. This must not be. There must be supervision for the protection of all, for our cause is a unit, and our interests and responsibilities are now worldwide in scope and world embracing in relationship. The seeming advantage and lib­erty of the individual must yield to the welfare and protection of the whole under the super­vision of those who are placed where they can see the world field as a whole, and its inte­grated interests.

We cannot even exercise the freedom of discussion in political affairs enjoyed by other Protestant bodies, for they operate more as national groups. Their church papers, for ex­ample, are usually limited in circulation to just one section, or at least to one country, while our papers are national or international in scope. Not only are the repercussions greater, because of our organizational arrangement, but we are also naturally held responsible denominationally for individual utterances, to a greater degree than in loosely organized churches. Evangelists of other churches are more or less independent in their relationships and expressions, and their denominations are not held accountable for their views to the degree to which our closely integrated and highly organized movement is held account­able for the utterances of our evangelists.

Neither should it be forgotten that our pub­lishing houses are an integral part of our de­nominational setup and investment. Conse­quently any plan or procedure that would in the end jeopardize their welfare and cripple their allotted work, must become the subject of denominational concern, counsel, and ac­tion. All financial losses accruing must, in the end, be laid back upon the field. So the finan­cial aspect ultimately affects us all.

Furthermore, our publishing houses are really the evangelist's best friend. From their, presses rolls out a ceaseless stream of unsur­passed preparatory and follow-up literature in the form of tracts, periodicals, magazines, and books. These cover doctrine, prophecy, spiritual life, health, temperance, and religious liberty, as well as a score of other lines. If the evangelist does not find available just what he wishes, let him produce and submit for publication precisely what is needed, tak­ing the same chances any other writer takes. If he has something worthwhile, it will be wanted and will be used. And it will be the stronger for going through the standard publishing-house procedure, being handled by book committee, book editor, proofreaders, et cetera.

These factors all conspire to create an en­tirely new set of working conditions today. Thus the freedom and usages of the past cannot be invoked as the criterion for today. We must adjust ourselves to a new, more important, and highly complicated era. Our most important days are just before us. We must pull together as never before.

L. E. F.


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L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry.

June 1940

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