Thursday, August 7, 2008

Christianity Today, 48 years ago

Some months ago I was given a box of 1960 issues of Christianity Today, established in 1956.

As you can see by the image of the cover, the publication was plain by today's standards. Each issue sold for 25 cents or a whopping $5 for a one year subscription. Note, too, that beneath the name of the magazine are the words, "PUBLISHED FORTNIGHTLY." People back then knew what that meant.

In looking over these old issues one immediately notices a lot more text than images. Articles are also longer, not so much concerned with capturing the short attention spans of our day, and have a tendency to emphasize the intellectual, though not always.

One article, "Jazz in the Churches: Witness or Weakness?" caught my attention. The article notes some criticisms about the "pagan origin" of jazz, observing that it is "heathen music." So jazz is evil? Or not.

Another article offers some cogent insights: "The Dilemma of Evangelical Novelists" by James Wesley Ingles (September 26, 1960). Ingles asks, "Why are so few significant novels produced within the evangelical tradition?" He then remarks on "the annual flood of works which have no purpose beyond mere entertainment ..." The insights offered by Ingles are so relevant and helpful that I'll save another blog entry for them.

But not even a 1960 issue of Christianity Today could escape the financial need to run advertisements. I particularly enjoyed the one pictured here featuring an overly-joyful youth leader.

In looking over these old CT issues, it's interesting to note that the church of 1960 often dealt with matters that remain relevant today. I think this is true throughout church history. We have different technology, wear different clothes, and have more history to look back on than the church of the past, but the same issues, in general, remain. As the author of Ecclesiastes wrote, "There is no new thing under the sun" (except maybe the paper clip).


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Karla said...

I enjoy writing of antiquity the further back the greater the depth and eloquence. They knew how to think back then. C.S. Lewis said to always read an old book for every new book.

Robert Velarde said...

Good point, Karla. As you mentioned, Lewis suggested reading old books. One reason he did this was because old books have been tested over time, while new books have not. See his essay, "On the Reading of Old Books" in God in the Dock.

The essay, by the way, was actually an introduction to the book The Incarnation of the Word of God, a translation of a work by Athanasius. The intro by Lewis is readily available online such as here.

Ken said...

Great article, Robert! I think you should also talk about that jazz article. It seems like we've been fighting the "worship wars" as long as there's been a Church.

Karla said...

Yes, I've read God in the Dock, it's in my collection of Lewis books.