20 June, 2024

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Celebrating 37 Years of Christian Standard (1903)

by | 13 April, 2023 | 0 comments

The June 27, 1903, issue of Christian Standard was interesting for its extensive celebration of the 37th anniversary of the magazine. 

One might wonder, Is the 37th anniversary typically a milestone year? Also, why not plan this issue for April 1903, to coincide with the cover date of Christian Standard’s first issue—April 7, 1866? (By the way we celebrated our publication’s 157th anniversary last week.) 

The front of the 1903 anniversary issue was dominated by a photo of founding editor Isaac Errett (1820–1888). The image of Errett at the center of that page, and the text at the center of the subsequent 19 pages, were surrounded by smaller headshots of what that issue’s editorial writer called “The Standard Force.”  

We present to our readers this week the most complete view of the Standard force that has ever been attempted. The usual idea of a newspaper force is a single man, with one or two assistants, who exercises his sole mind and will to the production of a newspaper. The Standard’s idea is very different. We recognize as an actual force in the production of the Standard, not only the editorial corps, the news gatherers, the contributors and the solicitors, but the very readers themselves—all who have part in the production and the using of the paper. In the course of less than forty years there has been built up a power which is called the Christian Standard. . . . The simple truth is, as a religious power, the paper is the product of thousands and tens of thousands who have more or less adopted the sentiments of the paper as their own, and have lent their time and their money to shape those sentiments in the direction which they believe to be the best for the advancement of the cause. The Standard is, then, the product not only of its present list of subscribers, but of the innumerable company who have gone before them, and who have been its lifelong supporters. 

Accepting this view of the case, our readers will understand why we have made the principal feature of our great memorial number the portraits of the living men and women who are now busy in the extension of the Standard’s influence and usefulness. . . . 

An interesting feature appearing on page 4 was a listing of names of approximately 325 subscribers who had been receiving Christian Standard without interruption from the first year up to that day. 

The following have responded to our repeated calls for the names of all present subscribers who began during the first year of the Standard, and have continued with us ever since. Some of them represent original subscribers who have passed away, but the subscription has been continuous. From the known difficulty of collecting such data, through the disinclination of subscribers to sending in their names, we are confident that not less than six hundred of the original five thousand are still standing with us in the work begun thirty-seven years ago. Of the original editorial force but one survives, the veteran Chas. L. Loos. . . . 

Among the 300-plus subscriber names listed are several from the Errett family (W.R., Jos. J., Jno. W. and Mrs. Henry), along with Mrs. Jas. A. Garfield (whose husband, the president, was an original investor in the magazine), Thomas Garfield (the president’s brother), Chas. Louis Loos, James S. Lamar, W. T. Moore, and Thomas W. Phillips (the millionaire oilman who owned the home in New Castle, Pa., where plans for this publication originated at a meeting of 14 men on Dec. 22, 1865). 

(Click “Charter Subscribers” here to access and download a copy of the page.) 

On p. 17 of the issue, Z. T. Sweeney (1849–1926)—longtime minister in Columbus, Ind.—shared an article titled “A Prophetic Fear.” It began, 

Walking along the bank of the beautiful stream Avon at Stratford, under the elms which embower the great cathedral where repose the ashes of William Shakespeare, the founder and life-time editor [Isaac Errett] of the Christian Standard, in a conversation concerning the cause to which we had both dedicated our lives, remarked to me: “The greatest fear I have for the Reformation is that its popularity may draw in a large constituency which will be ignorant of the great purpose contemplated by the movement; young men will enter its ministry and grow up in our pulpits without clear views of our great aim, and our preaching will degenerate into homilizing upon trifling and unimportant subjects.” 

I feel that the fifteen years which have elapsed since he uttered this remark clearly vindicate his forethought and prophecy. In a conversation with one of our young preachers, not long since, I asked him if he felt commissioned to preach certain ideas which he had advanced to me. His reply was: “I am commissioned to preach all truth.” That man has lately renounced the Christian Church as being too narrow for him, and is holding independent services in one of our large cities, and his auditors are a “ringed, streaked and striped lot” who are trying to play at Christianity without assuming any of its responsibilities. 

The great need of the Christian Church to-day is definiteness, both in thought and in expression. We need to understand clearly the difference between the gospel of the grace of God and the various perversions of it which surround us on every hand. We need also to express that difference in such unequivocal terms that all others may see it as plainly as we ourselves. There never was a time in the history of our blessed cause that required, in so great a degree, clearly-cut and sharply-defined ideas of divine truth. . . . 

May God bless the Standard in its great work of leading our preachers in this most important era in our history. 

Columbus, Ind. 

_ _ _ 

Next week we will share a short article from the 37th anniversary issue written by noted Christian educator and author D.R. Dungan (1837–1920). The article, titled “Our Strength,” lists 15 strengths of our movement. 


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