Controversial Issues and Publishing Unbiblical Books

Henry Neufeld

SteveLambert-Library-Book-Cart-300pxI’m pretty sure I publish some books with unbiblical material in them. The hard question is which ones those are. Some people expect me to know because I read the Bible in Greek and Hebrew. Everyone who reads the Bible in Greek and Hebrew (with a little Aramaic thrown in) knows what is biblical and what is not and agrees with everyone else who reads Greek and Hebrew.

Well, not so much.

I write about this frequently, because the topic comes up frequently. I think this is because Energion Publications is individually owned, and so people expect it to reflect my beliefs.

It does.

Primarily my belief that humans (especially me) are fallible and likely to get things wrong much of the time. The way we can correct for that is by hearing and evaluating a variety of viewpoints, and then examining our own ideas in the light of what we may have learned. I consider this the intellectual form of repentance. I was doctrinally wrong. I listened to somebody (or many somebodies) who convinced me of my wrongness, so I changed my mind. Repentance. It’s good for you.

Of course you (or I) may conclude you were right all along, but I will still claim that there was value in the examination itself, that by constantly being on guard for the possibility that I am wrong I cultivate an attitude of teachability and help myself not get stuck in my errors. I’m pretty sure I’ll keep making some errors. I just want to catch them as quickly as I can.

This approach to publishing goes contrary to the accepted wisdom on how to do business. By publishing multiple perspectives on controversial issues I’m likely to annoy advocates of one particular perspective. Marketing specialists would urge me to recognize my audience and refine it and then publish things that audience wants to read. At a minimum I need to make sure to publish all the views in one book and attain balance.

I’m not interested in balance. I’m interested in the best, most passionate advocacy I can find. I’m interested in those genuinely on fire for their position, yet who are willing to engage in dialogue.

Contrary fellow that I am, I’m going to find things to publish that will annoy my audience. Oh, not all of it. I’ve found that there are quite a few people who share my interest. I don’t even get to have the pride of being the one and only person interested in such a broad range of viewpoints! But there are many others who get a bit annoyed as someone pushes the boundaries of their thinking.

Where are the boundaries? Let me point you to the Energion Publications doctrinal statement. While you’re there, please read both of the notes carefully.

That statement does not give our positions on a variety of issues, such as baptism, sacraments, ordination (women’s or anyone’s), ecclesiology, details of biblical inspiration, hermeneutics, social action, political policies, or a host of other issues. Included in that host are two that have raised questions: Homosexuality and Evolution. We don’t take a position on those either. I and my team will examine manuscripts from any perspective on those issues and evaluate whether they will advance the discussion. If they will, and the manuscript fulfils other requirements, we will publish them, schedule permitting.

Oh, and one more thing. Whatever the position of the book, whether I agree with the conclusions or not, I will, both as a matter of duty and personal mission, make every effort to sell the book and get that author’s message out. I owe it to both the author and the audience.

Yes, that goes even if the book is thoroughly unbiblical. According to somebody.


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