What they like and don’t like about CHRISTIANITY TODAY
As religious news editor of the New York Times, I see dozens of journals. Among the most significant is CHRISTIANITY TODAY because it is the expression of a viewpoint which, while certainly not unimportant in the total religious life of America, is nevertheless underrepresented in the church press. As you conclude your first decade I am happy to join those who are grateful to the founders of CHRISTIANITY TODAY for having moved in on the journalistic scene.
In an article for the New York Times Magazine, I recently had the occasion to refer to your review. The word I used to capsule a description of it would perhaps not altogether please some of your readers. The word was “sophisticated.” I meant it in the best sense: that is, I meant to say that CHRISTIANITY TODAY is a highly professional journal; it speaks in the idiom of the day while rejecting much of the thinking of the day, even the theological thinking; and while its religious stance and social outlook may be a minority view in academic circles—as I think its editors would not hesitate to acknowledge—still, it would be hard to imagine anyone, no matter how set against its conservative, evangelical tone, who would withhold his respect and admiration for the achievement it represents.
On the occasion of your tenth anniversary I would like to add my congratulations and those of my associates.
Religious News Editor
The New York Times
My feeling is that the magazine well fills a need in the field of Christian literature. When it was projected I thought it would be simply a rigidly conservative, if not fundamentalist, journal designed to flail away at the Christian Century and the liberal pagans. I have been very pleasantly surprised.
While not watering down its evangelical and conservative convictions, the magazine has brought an intelligence and cohesiveness to their presentation that I had sometimes felt was lacking.
I think its chief value has been in giving its readers a somewhat more extroverted point of view, plus a realization that while this wing of Christianity is fractured, yet it has an inner reason to pull together, and thus has developed an effective and an important witness.
For the coming ten years I believe it should develop further along this line, while examining always more openly and honestly other points of view. Cooperation depends upon understanding, and the latter upon knowledge.
DAN L. THRAPP
The Los Angeles Times
In its ten years CHRISTIANITY TODAY has done a commendable job, with a number of things to its credit, and, like other publications, room for improvement. The news section is quite thorough and accurate, although perhaps at times a bit reflective of a viewpoint. The telescoped, capsule form of writing is good, and one can get a pretty good overall picture of what is going on in evangelical Christianity. The type style and design, use of white space, large margins, relationships of heads to each other and to the text is superior. The writing style in the news section is generally quite good. I imagine the magazine has filled quite a gap in the past ten years in furnishing a comprehensive yet readable digest of evangelical happenings, with more objectivity than other news efforts in the evangelical field in the past.
I like the cartoon particularly, whether it’s on the LSD drug or death of God or WCC. But I would like it more if the cartoonist would do the same terrific caricatures on Billy Graham and Carl Henry as he does with Blake and his imaginary Alpine hat.
While the reporting has been complete and good, it could be more in depth—that is, take some generally hot item in the news, conduct interviews in all camps, dissect the subject many ways, and thoroughly, and come up with feature-length and original articles that could run in the feature section of the magazine. Too often the average feature article is the opinion of one person—a professor in an ivory tower or a retired expert whose name is still known but whose subject matter has already moved somewhat beyond him.
In short, CHRISTIANITY TODAY should seek in the next ten years to bring the discipline, research, and other techniques of the journalist to its feature pages for a mixture of exclusiveness and importance along with excellence.
The Detroit Free Press
Ten years ago a new publication in the field of religious magazines appeared, dedicated to the proposition that the Protestant conservative viewpoint in religion had something important and worthwhile to say.
When CHRISTIANITY TODAY first appeared it had most of the faults and few of the virtues solid magazines possess. In this respect the publication was not unusual, for new magazines must all go through a period of finding out how to do the job they wish to perform.
This is not an easy or simple thing to achieve. Beginners in any field must undergo the torturing mistakes newcomers face. Enthusiasm for an ideal is fine, but it must be buttressed by professional know-how to reach the general reader.
In its formative years CHRISTIANITY TODAY showed many signs of a somewhat amateurish approach. Its writing was not on the best professional plane, its coverage was too limited, its editorial outlook too provincial.
Through the years these defects have been gradually and successfully remedied. Retaining its fundamentally conservative viewpoint, CHRISTIANITY TODAYhas tremendously broadened its outlook by covering many of the national conventions of important religious denominations. Sending a succession of extremely competent reporters and writers to these meetings, the publication has steadily shown marked advancement in its understanding of how the different church bodies work and of their approach to various questions.
The variety of articles has also increased, with many subjects being presented that would earlier have been ignored. As a result, a more rounded and authoritative publication gradually came into being.
Under the stimulating guidance of Dr. Carl F. H. Henry and his able staff, CHRISTIANITY TODAY should improve even more in the years to come. It is to be hoped that its policy of staffing important meetings will continue, because that approach brings a firsthand knowledge and understanding otherwise impossible to obtain.
Religious News Editor
Washington [D. C.] Star
Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary. Your publication has come a long way in these ten years.… Do I detect a little less bias in the last year or so as compared to earlier editions, a little more of the “ecumenical” “be nice to each other” wind that is blowing in all directions?
Seriously, I, as a church reporter, peruse your magazine carefully, don’t always agree with everything, but have quoted from your pages often, always giving credit of course. I have used the material in a column that appears on Thursdays entitled “Our Churches.” I do want to commend you, specifically, on the stand you take frequently, both in articles and editorials, against the “new morality,” the lack of adherence to Christian ethics found too often in too many places.… Again, happy tenth anniversary.
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Only ten years since CHRISTIANITY TODAY started? Seems like it’s been a fixture longer than that at the top of my reading list. Being a newspaper reporter and not a preacher, I must add that I am not a cover-to-cover reader, although I do take a look at everything in it. My interest both as a reporter and church layman is in developments in the churches, rather than in the involved theological discussions that interest clergymen.
Your news section has more widespread coverage than any of the many publications that cross my desk regularly. And you consistently have information about the smaller denominations that all of our other news services somehow miss. Particularly do I appreciate the absence of the official “denominational line” in most of your news stories.
BOB BELL, JR.
Church News Editor
CHRISTIANITY TODAY has done more in the last ten years to focus thinking on the positive strength of evangelicals than any other earthly agency. Yet it has kept a perspective in balance with the developing ecumenism of our time. This outstanding interdenominational magazine has taken up the slack which appeared with the decline of such interdenominational work as Christian Endeavor. It is high time for the Church to have a voice, a spokesman, an imparter of truth about the biblical doctrine of evangelicals. They are not nor should they be swallowed up in the relentless drive for unification of larger segments of believers.
While CHRISTIANITY TODAY has objectively yet faithfully helped to bring evangelicals across denominational lines into a unity of expression, it seems to me that its task ahead is to proclaim boldly and courageously the need for the Church to be the Church, to propose Christ as the answer to individual, social, and world problems. And then to endorse a faithful living-up to those principles and doctrines.
ROBERT W. SCHWARTZ
The Pittsburgh Press
As one who also has been in the business of covering the affairs of religion for just ten years, it seems to me the greatest accomplishment in that time has been the caliber of people assigned to the work.
There was a time when the so-called “church editor” fell into one of three categories: (1) The office drunk who was banished in shame to the religion beat until he showed signs of sobriety; (2) the reluctant cub who was forced to suffer through this editorial purgatory until he was found deserving of a more respectable assignment; and (3) the preacher who hadn’t quite made it in the pulpit and thought he could do better on a typewriter.
By and large, the alert newspapers have eliminated these people in favor of proven reporters, and where this has been done, religion is taking its place alongside police, city hall, labor, the state capitol, and Washington as a major source of daily news.
The selling job that the churches still must do is at the management level. Reporters are beginning to see the potential in religion, and management must be convinced that here is where their best men must be assigned.
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