By Jerry Harris
This issue marks the completion of six years since Christian Standard was faced with its consignment to history. In December 2016, Doug Crozier, CEO of The Solomon Foundation, received a phone call informing him of the impending shuttering of the magazine. First published in the spring of 1866, Christian Standard quickly became the voice of the fastest-growing religious movement of the 19th century; the publication was desperately needed after the ravages of the Civil War. It persevered through division, liberalism, two world wars, and the Great Depression.
In 2006, Wicks Group, a private equity firm, purchased Standard Publishing and began to sell it off a piece at a time; by the winter of 2016, everything was gone except for Christian Standard and The Lookout. That’s when Doug and the board of The Solomon Foundation stepped in and acquired the magazines before they were gone forever. (In early 2020, we combined the magazines into a single publication.)
Six years have come and gone since the decision to acquire Christian Standard, and much has happened during that time. The magazine and the media platform behind it became not-for-profit. We developed new web-based platforms, social media, free resources, a new digital database for churches (CC Churchlink), and a completely new magazine style.
We have constantly fought the battle to maintain subscriptions, which once were accounted for in the budgets of churches, which placed copies on tables in the foyer for churchgoers to take home for free. Now, that has changed, like many other things that once bound this movement together. Our unity is fading, as evidenced by what is happening to our colleges, conferences, and publishing houses.
I ask: Is this magazine and the voice it represents still necessary to help pull together more than 6,000 churches and their 1.3 million members? Is there still a standard to be raised? My answer is a resounding YES!
Our movement was born from a desire to restore the church to its original pattern described in the book of Acts, and that unity can be derived from the commonality and freedom of interpretation that this model represents. We continue to need that today.
Doctrinally, the Restoration Movement believes the Bible is the Word of God written by authors inspired by God and inerrant in its original language. The Bible is our only rule of faith and practice and the doctrinal foundation of the movement. We follow the model of the New Testament in practicing baptism by immersion for the forgiveness of sins as part of the process that believers take into a relationship with Jesus Christ. We do not believe in water regeneration, but we do believe that this identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ cannot be labeled as nonessential; instead, it is the appropriate and necessary response after one hears the gospel, believes it, and repents of their sins.
We see a developing pattern in the New Testament concerning Communion and seek to observe it as proscribed there. Communion began as a daily observance associated with meals in homes. It grew into a weekly observance in church gatherings by apostolic direction. While Communion—unlike immersion—is not specifically commanded, we follow the New Testament church pattern of weekly Communion as was occurring by the end of the book of Acts.
We recognize no denominational authority above the leadership of the local church. The pattern of local leadership is defined in the pastoral Epistles of Timothy and Titus. As such, all churches are independent and autonomous. No creed defines our core beliefs outside of the New Testament as a whole. We see church traditions as simply tradition, and we do not place any higher value on them.
Inside these doctrinal foundations, there are different interpretations of Scripture that would identify the Restoration Movement generally but, at times, not specifically. We do not ascribe to theological labels or systems of theology, so there is diversity and freedom of interpretation in individual churches. These distinctives are foundational to our collective identity, and they are the foundation of our story.
Today, I am asking you, the readers of Christian Standard, to stand with us as we seek to continue to champion these precious realities in our movement. I’m asking you to donate, to advertise, to share, to post, to connect with us on social media . . . to do whatever you can to continue to raise the standard high. Help us to remain true to a 157-year legacy and help us to chart a path forward with truth and grace.
To make a tax-deductible donation, go to christianstandard.com/donate/ or mail it to Christian Standard Media at 16965 Pine Lane, Suite 202, Parker, CO 80134.