10 Theses on Christian Publishing
To what purpose man's creative endowments?
God has seen fit to allow man in his wretched condition to enjoy incredible beauty in this life. It is not just nature’s constant reflection of the Triune Glory, but within our hands and minds through the gifting of astounding artistic talents of music, writing, art, fabrication, landscaping, performance, and architecture.
The above should give us pause to consider the employment and application of these arts in God’s redemptive love for us.
The arts are not the Gospel, and they are not sacraments. However, created content is a vehicle to focus and maintain attention on the completed work of Christ Jesus. They can be helpful to reinforce that the Christian is the recipient of an alien righteousness; Christ’s absolute perfection substituted for our concupiscence.
However, a problem is apparent. Christian art has detached from local and regional artisanal skills connected with a specific parish. Then, business organizations have taken control of the creative process and subordinated everything to management ideology.
How then should we think about the relatively modern industry of Christian publishing? Here are ten theses to consider and develop.
A Christian publisher is functionally the first and last line of defense for orthodoxy in doctrine and practice.
The products of a Christian publisher have indefinite lifespans that far outlast every Synodical or denominational regime. Consequently, excellent and awful editorial decisions are nearly impossible to reverse or dislodge even hundreds of years later.
The output of a Christian publisher may be the first point of contact for unbelievers, the heterodox, and apostates. Therefore, all content and products must be an unambiguous and orthodox confession of faith that has children in mind as well.
The vicarious atonement of Christ is the central article of the Christian faith and life. Communicating its facets should predominate in the output of a Christian publishing house. Reverance for the atonement is the most natural check on potential doctrinal errors.
The output of a Christian publisher must be a doctrinal polar star. It must withstand the temptation of needless innovation. It must avoid the hobbyhorses of influential clerics and laymen. It must not make an idol of its financial statements. It must not hinder the Gospel with lawyerly tricks. It must take care not to inculcate anti-competitive managerialism.
Christian freedom and academic freedom must be constrained in Christian publishing to preserve pure doctrine. Always suppress theological base jumping and intellectual vanity in favor of tradition, clarity, simplicity, and brevity that profits both laity and clergy. Conversely, be sufficiently serious and dignified to eschew trivial projects.
Publishing cultivates pride and conceit. Avoid amplifying and trading off the fame and renown of authors and artists.
A Christian publisher promotes the restoration and maintenance of classical and traditional art forms within and without the visible church. Refuse Modernism, especially its abstractions, because they obscure and corrode a clear Christian confession.
Christian publishers should not have products that contradict or confuse the statements of doctrine and beliefs of their parent bodies.
A Christian publisher will admit errors and maintain - in a prominent place - a list of all previous products to be marked and avoided by future generations.