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    Sound Literature

    By Mark Roth on July 2, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Dear Friends of Rod and Staff,

    We at Rod and Staff have an ongoing desire to produce only literature that is safe and upbuilding to our homes and churches. This calls for earnest effort, due to our humanity and God’s standard of truth and holiness. We humbly seek His wisdom in the work.

    Literature is defined as “all writings dealing with a particular subject; all writings of a particular time, country, etc.; all writings in prose or verse [printed matter of any kind].” The wise man observed that “of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

    But what is sound literature? We will try to understand this by first looking at what is not sound. Some years ago, there was an article in a popular news magazine entitled “Civil Religion.” Among other things, it stated that such things as going to church, honesty, and heaven are desirable, not because of what God says, but because they fit into the American way of life. If that were true, literature would be sound if it harmonized with historical facts or the ideas and ideals of the average American mind. But such thinking even throws away the vital principles upon which their culture is built. Truly we need a better guide than that.

    Literature is unsound if it feeds the flesh while pretending to feed the spirit. This tends to show up more quickly in periodicals and storybooks than in textbooks. Christian romance and health-food quackery are examples of this. Though textbooks are more focused on teaching skills, we still need to safeguard their overall influence.

    Literature is unsound when it does not define issues in light of the truth, when it leaves a dual meaning, or when it gives no conclusion at all. In Nehemiah 8, the priests read distinctly and gave the sense.

    Literature is unsound when its aim or effect is to produce intellectuals. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). Note also Proverbs 8. The apostle Paul’s testimony was that man’s knowledge “puffeth up”. Our literature should produce a humble submission and an admission that we know “nothing yet as [we] ought to know” and that God knows everything.

    Our literature should provide answers to the questions people face today. It should not reflect a desire to entertain or to promote a patriotic and nationalistic spirit in favor of a particular country, culture, or nationality.

    Sound literature edifies, which means that it gives moral or spiritual instruction. First Corinthians 14:1-5 indicates that it is more important to edify than to flaunt a gift.

    Sound literature gives practical direction on how to apply the truth. “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned” (2 Timothy 3:14, 15).

    Sound literature reproduces its message in Christian lives and inspires a vision. See Titus 1:7-9.

    Sound literature rightly divides the Word of truth. It is clear on the distinction between the Old and New Covenants. Second Corinthians 4:2 tells us that we are not to handle the Word of God deceitfully.

    Sound literature helps to assure our hearts before God“commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).

    Sound literature confirms our position and strengthens our belief. It also leaves a legacy to those who follow us. See Luke 1:1-4. In 1 John 2:12-14, John wrote to little children, father, and young men because he had an interest in seeing truth propagated in the life of all men.

    We praise God for faithful laborers today. Some work in the plant, some are writing, other edit and review. Our prayer is that all our dear readers will be filled with truth and find safe church fellowship. May God bless each of you, and please continue to pray for the effort here.

    N. Harvey Witmer
    Rod and Staff Newsletter, July 2010
    [Mark Roth: I added the bold and colored formatting for better Web reading]

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