In this issue we are happy to introduce Kenneth S. Kantzer as our new editor. To provide insights into his personality and perspectives, we are publishing an interview with him, which begins on page 21.
This announcement gives me a personal sense of joy and renewed confidence in God’s provision and timing. More than two years ago, upon Harold Lindsell’s decision to retire when he reached age sixty-five, we began our search for a new editor. The board of directors discussed the matter extensively and Kenneth Kantzer’s name kept rising to the top of our list. With his Harvard Ph. D. in theology, his college and seminary teaching experience, and his solid, forceful leadership as dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, it seemed clear that he could bring both in-depth theological understanding as well as administrative experience to the editorship. In exploring further, we found strong positive reactions to Kenneth Kantzer from almost everyone with whom we talked. Students—both contemporaries and those who have sat in his classes overthe past thirty-six years—viewed him as incisive, concerned, and an able communicator who lived his own creed; they expressed strong personal affection. Professors from Trinity and elsewhere made similar observations.
Kenneth Kantzer and I first met at a Chicago Holiday Inn shortly after the board decision to talk with him about the editorship. We experienced instant rapport. For several hours we discussed theology, publishing, education, our families, ethics, administration—and CHRISTIANITY TODAY. We parted knowing that we could work well together.
Other board members had similar experiences with Ken. His remarkable performance in taking Trinity seminary from about 30 students to 850 and establishing it as one of the most recognized seminaries in the nation was most impressive. Yet he showed a genuine humility about his achievements and obviously was cause oriented—that is, he wants to get the job done. Although dozens of other well-qualified candidates were considered over a period of many months, the board kept coming back to Kenneth Kantzer as the logical choice. This past October we announced that he was our editor-elect. For the past several months, I’ve found that working with Ken has turned out to be what I expected: enjoyable and stimulating, a mixture of the pragmatic and the idealistic. He shows flexibility of ideas yet a firm commitment to doctrine. He’s an intense worker, with humor and expansiveness always near the surface.
One question frequently asked about Kenneth Kantzer is, “Can he write? Can he edit? After all, he’s been an educator, not a journalist, all his life.” The answer to the first may be partially answered in the interview in this issue and also from a reading of his article that will appear in the next edition. Perhaps the second one may be answered by a close reading of the book he has edited for the Thomas Nelson Company entitled Evangelical Roots. The content is solid, the prose, though scholarly, is consistently lucid. Kenneth Kantzer comes to CHRISTIANITY TODAY with the same editorial freedom and authority all of our editors have enjoyed, that is the freedom to develop his staff of historians, theologians, and journalists, and to achieve excellence in both content and style. He has accepted the charge of blending the work of all staff members and contributors to publish a cohesive journal.
As we welcome Kenneth Kantzer to CHRISTIANITY TODAY, we also say farewell to Harold Lindsell. This month the board of directors will hold a retirement dinner for him in the Chicago area with Harold Ockenga as the emcee and Billy Graham as the speaker. Although the board on several occasions tried vigorously to dissuade Dr. Lindsell from retiring, he was adamant, believing that age sixty-five was the logical time to leave. The board has consistently expressed its appreciation for Dr. Lindsell’s work and the April dinner promises to be a warm and joyous occasion.
Since the publication of his book The Battle for the Bible, some have viewed Harold Lindsell as hard-knuckled and feisty. Those of us who daily work with him, however, have found that in the midst of office tensions, he often plays the peacemaker. No sad sack, he breaks into conversations with a delightful story he’s just heard or by pointing out the humor in an otherwise tedious, gray circumstance. He works to be fair and generous to all staff members and seeks to hear every valid viewpoint. Harold Lindsell is an authentic original who cannot be stereotyped, someone who knows clearly what he believes. Trim and tremendously energetic, he outpaces many younger men. One-and-a-half million of his fifteen books are in print. He and his wife Marion have gone out of their way to show unfeigned kindness to my wife Jeanette and me. In the transitions of the past few years, which have been difficult for all staff members, he has frequently sacrificed himself for the good of the magazine. He showed tremendous objectivity in discussions about the move from Washington, D.C., to Chicago, and did not flinch from uprooting his home so close to retirement and moving with the company.
We are grateful to Dr. Lindsell for the gracious way that he has helped us make the transition here at CHRISTIANITY TODAY a natural and orderly one. And we are grateful to God for the progress that we have been making.
So what is the overall prognosis as our new editor joins us? We are enthusiastic about the future. In the past few years we’ve increased circulation from about 100,000 to 155,000. We have made the transition to Chicago into our new offices. We’ve made solid financial progress in all areas and are ready for new challenges.
But our future depends most of all on your involvement with us. A magazine is in partnership with its readers. We want to constantly improve our quality; as we enter a new phase, we look to you for help. Tell us what works and what doesn’t. Do we hit the target with our topics? Which covers attract and which repel you? What ideas do you have that we should explore? What needs should be met? We want CHRISTIANITY TODAY to give the kind of leadership that evangelicals need and expect—and you can help by sending us your ideas and opinions.
With your participation, I believe CHRISTIANITY TODAY will make a forceful impact in the coming years under Kenneth Kantzer’s capable leadership.
President and Publisher
Christianity Today, Inc.
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