Rah-Rah for the Christian Standard
By J.K. Jones Jr.
“Rah-Rah” for the CHRISTIAN STANDARD! This is so unlike me to want to lead a cheer for a 146-year-old magazine (founded in 1866 by Isaac Errett), but here I am acting the fool.
Those who know me could attest that I prefer a quiet life outside of the public eye. I tend toward encouraging others to stand up and speak out, but at least in this one instance, I find myself uncontrollably vocal.
I’d like to take a few minutes and tell you why I’m imitating King David who “was dancing before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14). Four reasons will suffice.
First, I deeply appreciate the way the STANDARD constantly works at new additions. The folks there are always striving to restore New Testament Christianity while not losing sight of an ever-shifting culture and the need to say things in a fresh way. The recent changes that include columns by Brian Mavis (“What’s Next?”), Michael Mack (“Group Think”), and Gary Johnson and Jim Tune (“Elders Meeting”) are all fresh presentations with ancient roots.
We must always rethink the manner in which we make disciples. Most of us realize that our effectiveness in fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19, 20) depends on the way we connect the unchanging gospel with an ever-changing world. I’ve known Brian for several decades and Gary for at least that long. Both men are genuine brothers in Christ who passionately pursue knowing Jesus and making him known. I’ve never met Michael Mack, but I greatly appreciate his writing and can’t wait to see what the Lord places on his heart to share with us.
Second, I cherish the seasoned voices that are ever wise and present in the STANDARD, especially those of Mark Taylor, publisher and editor, and Paul Williams, editor-at-large. Just so you know, I’ve communicated that very sentiment to Mark and Paul periodically. A word of encouragement is jet fuel in the writing engine.
Mark and Paul are grace-filled men who write to a large and diverse audience. Now and then, some of us take exception to something they have written, but their response is always marked by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
And as long as I’m talking about wise voices, let me throw a sincere thank-you LeRoy Lawson’s way. His book reviews always bless me. Like so many have observed, Lawson could make the phone book sound interesting.
I first encountered Dr. Lawson when I was a struggling freshman at Milligan College in the fall of 1971. My primary motivations for being at Milligan were basketball and an intense desire to get away from home. These two motivations cannot sustain a student academically for very long. I was falling further and further into financial debt and further and further behind in my studies.
There was only one class I never missed, and that was Dr. Lawson’s humanities course; it was team taught, with his being the primary voice. I experienced some nomadic years, even prodigal-like, after dropping out of Milligan and entering into military service, but Dr. Lawson’s voice was ever present in my thinking, and eventually I found my way back. I’m eternally grateful for salty voices like his. They increase my thirst for Jesus.
The third reason I’m cheering the STANDARD is her willingness to welcome disagreements. The STANDARD refuses to hide or dress up differences of opinion. I often turn to the column “Readers Write” and reflect on conversations between those among us who take different roads of scriptural thought and interpretation.
Here’s a case in point. This year, Dr. Gary Weedman wrote an article entitled, “What Are We Trying to Restore?” (January 22). Among the significant statements made in that piece, the one that caused Cheryl Moen to respond was this one: “Jesus built his church on people just like Peter—fallible, mistake-prone, and shortsighted, but people who were bold enough to bear witness to the lordship of Jesus.”
Moen disagreed and said so. Her response went like this, “Jesus built his church on people? The small preposition ‘on’ may seem insignificant, but in Weedman’s statement, it is critical.” Moen said it came close to “false doctrine” (April 1).
Gary has spoken into my life in various ways from professor to friend over a very long period of time, and I know he knows his way around the Greek New Testament. Gary is a humble preacher, professor, and now Bible college president. Gary responded with clarification and some passion, acknowledging, “I should have minded my prepositions and used ‘with’ rather than ‘on’ in the sentence pertaining to Jesus’ building of the church.” If you are inclined, you can read the full letter and complete response at ChristianStandard.com.
I absolutely love that kind of straight talk. Now and then, I have to admit, some people seem to have a bone to pick with anything and everything written in the STANDARD. I don’t give those voices much attention and simply press on in my reading. I’m perpetually grateful for this journal’s willingness to give a platform to differing Christian viewpoints.
Fourth, and finally, I’m leading a cheer for the Standard because of the wide and varied topics that are consistently included in each week’s magazine. I absolutely love the focused manner in which significant themes are raised, like “Does It Matter if This Christian College Student Is One of ‘Us’?” (March 18) or “Bioethics: Why Christians Should Care” (April 1). Yay for the STANDARD!
I’m not a prophet or a son of a prophet, but I don’t think that communication media like paper are outdated and no longer viable in this high-tech world. I think we live in a both/and world where hard copies and digital copies coexist together. (Even old 45 rpm records are back in vogue for music lovers!) Who really knows what the future holds?
This one thing I do know, the STANDARD remains committed to the written word and elevates the Living Word, regardless of the topic, through hard copy and digital copy. So, I’ll go on cheering. Excuse me for a moment while I stand and applaud her faithful service for the past 146 years. “Rah-Rah” for the CHRISTIAN STANDARD!
J.K. Jones Jr. is pastor of spiritual formation at Eastview Christian Church in Normal, Illinois, and professor of spiritual formation at Lincoln (Illinois) Christian University. His critique came to us as a pleasant surprise, completely unsolicited.