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John Wilson

Christian Publishing on Trial

The cover illustration showed a mousetrap stuffed with dollar bills under the headline "Taking the Bait?" The cover copy continued with another question in smaller print: "As Christian publishing turns into big business, is theological integrity giving way to marketing considerations and a watered-down, pop Christianity?" Inside the July 12-19 issue of World magazine, the answer to both questions was a resounding yes. Gene Edward Veith's article, "What Ever Happened to Christian Publishing?," timed to hit the street just before the Christian Booksellers Association convention in Atlanta, presented a blistering indictment, concluding with a call for the "spiritual revival" of Christian publishing, "for which Christians should be praying."

To the extent that the charges in Veith's article are true, they should be a cause for deep concern among all of us who are involved in some way with Christian publishing (which, in Veith's terms, means evangelical publishing: he ignores Catholic, Orthodox, and nonevangelical Protestant publishers). If, on the other hand, there are distortions in his account, it is important to address them as well. For both of those reasons, Veith's article should receive a careful reading.

But there is another reason to focus attention on this article, which is representative of what World variously likes to call "biblical journalism" or "biblical objectivity" or "biblically directed reporting." (For the latest in a long series of editorial explanations of World's approach, see Marvin Olasky's column, "Philosophical Doubleheader," in the July 26/August 2 issue.)

Under the direction of Joel Belz (publisher) and Marvin Olasky (editor), World has made a significant contribution to Christian journalism over the last several years. Their robust engagement with critical issues, driven by a strong commitment to Christian principles and seasoned with humor and more than a dash of sarcasm, has lifted their magazine into the "must-read" category. But along with ...

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