By Arron Chambers
The mission of CHRISTIAN STANDARD from the outset was to make a positive difference in this world by lifting up Jesus Christ.
The founding and first editor made this clear with his vision statement for the publication:
We propose to lift up the CHRISTIAN STANDARD, as a rallying point for the scattered host of spiritual Israel; to know only “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”: His cross, His word, His church, His ordinances, His laws and the interests of His kingdom.1
And Errett’s passion for the gospel has been reflected in the ministry of the editors that followed him.
Errett (January 2, 1820—December 19, 1888) served as editor from April 7, 1866, until his death.
He was born in New York City on January 2, 1820. When his father died in 1825, his mother remarried and moved the family to Pittsburgh, “where he (Errett) was converted and joined the ‘Disciples of Christ’.”2 The church they attended encouraged the young men to speak at special meetings. Errett gave his first sermon on April 21, 1839, and displayed a lot of ability. The elders set him apart as an evangelist on June 18, 1840. His first ministry was as a full-time evangelist at a new congregation on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh from 1840–44. He then moved to New Lisbon, Ohio, to minister with a church there from 1844–49. From 1849–56, Errett ministered with congregations in New Bloomfield and Warren, Ohio. During this time Errett was in great demand as an evangelist.
Church historian Dr. Douglas Foster details Errett’s path to the position of editor of CHRISTIAN STANDARD:
In 1865 Errett accepted a position at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College) as principal and professor. While there the most significant event of his life occurred—the founding of the Christian Publishing Company and the CHRISTIAN STANDARD, with Errett named as editor of the journal. The motivation for this new publishing venture included a mixture of financial, political, and religious factors. According to Errett’s biographer, J.S. Lamar, several influential leaders became convinced that the movement needed a popular-level weekly paper that would promote a more progressive spirit than the two major papers then published, the American Christian Review and the Gospel Advocate. On 22 December 1865 an organizational meeting was held at the home of oil millionaire Thomas W. Phillips. Four days later at a second meeting capital stock for the company was fixed at one hundred thousand dollars, and Isaac Errett was unanimously elected editor.3
Errett’s successor was Hugh McDiarmid (June 10, 1837—August 15, 1901); he served as editor from 1888–92. McDiarmid was born in Kent County, Ontario, Canada. Some information about McDiarmid can be found on a genealogical website devoted to the J. Howell family. The website reveals, “The Rev. Hugh went to Cincinnati in 1882 where he was associated with Isaac Errett as editor of the CHRISTIAN STANDARD; for a time he was President of Bethany College; then a professor at Hiram College.”4
James Alexander Lord
Next was James Alexander Lord (April 9, 1849—June 15, 1922), who served as editor from 1892–1909. Lord was born on Deer Island, New Brunswick, Canada. An influential evangelist named Benjamin Franklin baptized Lord at the age of 21. Lord’s life is remembered on a memorial site that includes the following information about his ministry and work at CHRISTIAN STANDARD:
During this time he held a number of protracted meetings, preaching frequently in schoolhouses and groves. . . . In 1892 he accepted a call to the Central Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, where he ministered for two years and a half, at the expiration of which time he became editor of the CHRISTIAN STANDARD.5
Samuel Strahl Lappin
Following Lord as editor was Samuel Strahl Lappin (September 20, 1870—December 29, 1960),
who served as editor from 1909–17. Lappin was born in Wayne County, Illinois. He studied at Eureka College in Illinois and served as the minister at several churches in the Midwest. After serving as an editor for CHRISTIAN STANDARD, Lappin taught at Bethany College in West Virginia. He also wrote five books. Lappin died in Bedford, Indiana.
George Perry Rutledge
Next, George Perry Rutledge (May 16, 1869–June 21, 1947) served as editor from 1917–22. Born in Blacksburg, Virginia, Rutledge came from a long line of influential men. His obituary in the newspaper in Mount Vernon, Illinois, said:
His father and grandfather were lawyers. His great-grandfather, Edward Rutledge, was a lawyer and also a soldier, signer of the Declaration of Independence and governor of South Carolina. So the young George Rutledge, in family tradition, started out to train for a career in law, studying at Milligan College in Tennessee. However, he was ordained in the Disciples of Christ ministry before graduation in 1890, and the following year he became pastor of the First Christian Church of Norfolk, Va., a post he held until 1896. . . . From 1897 until 1912 he served as minister of the Third Christian church in Philadelphia where he attracted widespread attention by building up the largest men’s Bible classes in that city. . . . After 15 years at Philadelphia, during which he took graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Rutledge moved on to the Broad Street Church in Columbus, Ohio. . . . He was with the Broad Street Church three years, leaving to become editor of The CHRISTIAN STANDARD, a capacity which he filled until 1922. This was one of the high points of his career. As editor-in-chief he bought contributions from writers who were generals, U. S. Senators, business and church leaders. . . . He campaigned in the STANDARD for “restoration of the New Testament Church.”6
Willard Lee Mohorter & Edwin Reeder Errett
For reasons you’ll soon understand, let me review the next two editors together. Willard Lee Mohorter (October 4, 1888—October 22, 1976) served as editor 1922–29, but is best known7 for his role as manager and corporate secretary of Standard Publishing Company and his interaction with Edwin Reeder Errett on the issue of division among the Disciples.
Edwin Reeder Errett (January 7, 1891—January 29, 1944) succeeded Mohorter as editor 1929 and served until his death in 1944.
In the late 1900s through the early 1940s, there was division in the Restoration Movement over issues related to the formation of the United Christian Missionary Society in 1919 and open membership. This resulted in a conservative versus liberal chasm among some Disciples, which ultimately resulted in the North American Christian Convention being formed by the more conservative Disciples as a form of dissension against the International Conventions in 1927.
Edwin Errett tried to bridge the gap between both sides and prevent a split. There is a lot more to the story,8 but let me get to Mohorter’s role in aligning the CHRISTIAN STANDARD with the more conservative stream of the Restoration Movement at that time.
As Henry Webb notes:
The pivotal factor in this conflict of policies was Willard Mohorter, manager of Standard Publishing Company and secretary of the corporation. Mohorter’s enlistment in the militant goals of the committee came to light in the 4 December 1943 issue of the CHRISTIAN STANDARD, which carried an announcement that the journal would henceforth give less attention to general religious matters and would instead become a “rallying center for all who believe implicitly in the authority of Christ as revealed to us in the divinely inspired New Testament Scriptures.” Significantly, the announcement was made not by Errett, but by Mohorter. Everybody who understood the dynamics of the situation realized that it was a repudiation of any effort toward brotherhood unification and an adoption of a very militant position on all issues of brotherhood policies. The real victims in the policy change were Edwin R. Errett and those associated with him.9
Edwin Reeder Errett was “a descendent of the distinguished family of Henry Errett, he was the son of William Russell Errett, who was a cousin of Isaac Errett, one of the founders and the ultimate owner/publisher of the CHRISTIAN STANDARD.”10 Errett was born near Carnegie, Pennsylvania, on January 7, 1891. After graduating from Bethany College (AB, valedictorian) in 1911, he entered Yale University Divinity School.
The next year he accepted a position at Standard Publishing (then owned by Russell Errett, a distant cousin) to become office editor of the CHRISTIAN STANDARD. From 1917 until 1925 he was a commentator and lesson writer of the Bible school materials, and in the latter year he was made editor-in-chief of all Bible school publications. In 1929 he was named editor of the CHRISTIAN STANDARD. For the next fifteen years, despite heavy speaking agendas, every issue of the journal save one contained at least one of his editorials.
Edwin Errett maintained a prodigiously heavy speaking and travel schedule. He loved the brotherhood that had nurtured him, and he worked diligently to promote its interests.11
Edwin Reeder Errett died of a cerebral hemorrhage in April 1944, four months after Mohorter’s militant announcement.
George Burris Butler
George Burris Butler (March 12, 1909—August 31, 1982) served as editor from May 1944—June 1957. Butler, born in Blount, Vermilion County, Illinois, graduated from Cincinnati Bible Seminary in 1932. He ministered with congregations in Kokomo and Liberty, Indiana, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.12 In an article in CHRISTIAN STANDARD, Henry Webb wrote,
Edwin Errett was followed by Burris Butler, editor in the difficult days of separation of Christian churches/churches of Christ and Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ). It was a time of militancy in the developing conflict and resulted in painful separations in many of the congregations, some of which were submitted to civil litigation. Butler came to deplore this and counseled against resort to civil law. Complete separation came with the restructure of the Disciples of Christ in 1968.13
Edwin Vincent Hayden
Edwin Vincent Hayden (September 8, 1913—March 15, 2005) served as editor June 17, 1957—December 31, 1977. In his obituary in CHRISTIAN STANDARD, here’s how Hayden is remembered:
He was a minister, writer, teacher, editor, and author. . . . Mr. Hayden spent 18 years in located ministries, as assistant to P.H. Welshimer in Canton, OH, and minister of churches at Lock Haven, PA, and Mount Vernon, IL. In 1952, he began a five-year teaching career at Ozark Bible College in Joplin, MO. In 1957 he became editor of CHRISTIAN STANDARD, retiring in 1977.14
Samuel Edwin Stone
Samuel Edwin Stone (born October 12, 1936) served as editor more than 25 years, from January 1, 1978, until February 23, 2003. His tenure was the longest of any editor. Having served in local ministries in Ohio and Missouri and as dean of the graduate school at Cincinnati Bible Seminary, he came to the position with wide experience and nationwide respect. His reputation only increased during his editorship. His influence extended around the world, as he indicated in his last editorial:
I’ve been privileged to travel to every one of the 40-some colleges and seminaries of the Christian churches and churches of Christ. . . . I’ve traveled to 27 different countries, preaching in most of them. I have been privileged to get to know and appreciate many of our readers as I met them when I visited their church or organization. I feel like I’ve been blessed with a firsthand look at the Restoration Movement around the world.15
Stone didn’t mention the fact that he had served as president of the North American Christian Convention and that he had been an outspoken advocate for Christian unity among the sometimes contentious subgroups within the independent Christian churches. Mark Taylor wrote this of Stone upon succeeding him as editor:
His speaking, teaching, and counsel have touched lives around the globe. His grace and openness are reflections of his personal passion for uncompromised unity, unhindered fellowship, and unbridled dialogue. In the process he has provided leadership and built many friendships. Perhaps no one so widely known in our fellowship is more highly respected.16
Mark Alan Taylor
Mark Alan Taylor (born April 27, 1950) has served as editor since 2003, when Stone retired. He is the only person who has served as editor of both The Lookout (1976–90) and CHRISTIAN STANDARD. He has served during a time of great change in culture, the economy, the church, and media. During his editorship, CHRISTIAN STANDARD has reflected those changes as it has delved into controversial issues, given a platform to opposing voices, and sought to lift up the ideal that its readers need not agree on every viewpoint in order to experience and express unity.
This has been accompanied by the magazine’s move to full color and investment in better graphics. At the same time, a dynamic website was created for the magazine and continues today with new material posted every day. Among its many features are video interviews (by Taylor or others connected to the magazine) with national leaders, usually recorded at the North American Christian Convention or the International Conference on Missions. A weekly digital newsletter has been published since 2006. A monthly podcast, Beyond the Standard, has been available from BlogTalk Radio, where more than 30 different episodes are archived. And in 2014 the magazine created it first all-digital editions, published in a free app available for virtually every smartphone and tablet platform.
The magazine made history of another sort with its first monthly edition in September 2012. In that issue, continuing the long tradition of influential leadership, Taylor promised “a monthly connecting point to news and the best thinking from our dynamic fellowship of Christian churches.”17
1”Isaac Errett and The CHRISTIAN STANDARD,” October 23, 1996; accessible online at www.mun.ca/orum/reflect2.html; 1.
2Frederick D. Kershner, “Chapter IV—The Message of Isaac Errett,” CHRISTIAN STANDARD, May 25, 1940, 497.
3Douglas Foster, “Isaac Errett: Unity and Expediency,” accessed at www.acu.edu/sponsored/restoration_quarterly/archives/1990s/vol_36_no_3_contents/foster.html#N_13_.
4Howell Family Genealogy Pages, accessed at www.jhowell.com/tng/getperson.php?personID=I650&tree=1.
6Information about George Perry Rutledge accessed at www.newspapers.com/newspage/5008984/.
7Curiously, there is very little documented information about Mohorter’s life and ministry.
8For a thorough treatment of this issue, see Henry Webb, “Stone-Campbell Biography Edwin R. Errett: Martyr to a Lost Cause,” Leaven: volume 7, issue 1, article 21 (1999); accessed at digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/leaven/vol7/iss1/21.
9Ibid., 50, 51.
12Information about George Burris Butler accessed at www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=52527535.
13Henry E. Webb, “CHRISTIAN STANDARD at 140: 140 Years of Leadership,” CHRISTIAN STANDARD, April 2, 2006, accessed at christianstandard.com/2006/04/cs_article-261/.
14Obituary for Edwin V. Hayden, CHRISTIAN STANDARD website, accessed at christianstandard.com/2005/12/obituaries-from-2005/.
15Sam E. Stone, “A Final Word,” Editorial, CHRISTIAN STANDARD, February 23, 2003, p. 3.
16Mark A. Taylor, “Thanks to a Statesman,” From the Editor, CHRISTIAN STANDARD, March 2, 2003, p. 3.
17Mark A. Taylor, “Welcome to the New Monthly CHRISTIAN STANDARD,” From the Editor, CHRISTIAN STANDARD, September 2012, p. 1.
Arron Chambers, a CHRISTIAN STANDARD contributing editor, serves as lead minister with Journey Christian Church, Greeley, Colorado.