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Hell, Air-Conditioned


By Dale Vree | June 1996
Dale Vree is Editor of New Oxford Review

What should a Christian magazine do if it’s in trouble? How ’bout write a creed! “Preposterous,” you say?

Well, Christianity Today (CT), which is suffering from sharply declining circulation and recently had to go from being essentially a bi-weekly to essentially a monthly, has come up with what it calls its “statement of faith.”

In a recent issue the Managing Editor introduced the statement by saying how pleased he is that his readers often describe CT as “objective,” “balanced,” and “fair.” Ah, but that’s not sufficient. The question is, says he: “Are we honoring God?” Hence the creed, by which “to measure our work.” CT was founded way back in 1956: better late than never?

Well, introspection begets introspection, and we feel prompted to ask a couple basic questions.

(1) Is the NEW OXFORD REVIEW fair, objective, balanced?

Fair? We try to be, but probably fail from time to time. Objective? No way; we’re engaged. Balanced? Well, balanced between what and what?

Could it be that CT, an evangelical Protestant magazine, is too objective, too balanced, not evangelical enough anymore? And is that why it appears to be having trouble? We at the NOR are not hi-tech; unlike CT, we’re not “on-line” and we don’t have e-mail, but we are plugged into the grapevine. What we hear from our evangelical acquaintances is not how wonderfully “objective” and “balanced” CT is, but how bland, tepid, and intellectually breezy it is.

Once upon a time, when it was edited by Carl Henry, CT was an intellectual brawler. It was printed on newsprint and had virtually no color or graphics. It was headquartered on the front lines in Washington, D.C., and it made waves. Now CT is ensconced in Carol Stream, Illinois, and it only makes ripples. It is printed on slick paper, and has oodles of color ads and snazzy graphics. It has lots of bytes, but has lost most of its bite.

(2) Should the NOR come up with its own “statement of faith”? (Yes, we hear you laughing. But let’s take the question seriously for a moment.)

The NOR already has, among other things, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Magisterium, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. What more do we need, and by what authority could we presume to come up with something better?

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