The role of a Christian publisher

Erik Peterson, a wise man and good friend, handed me this quote from Of God and Men, by A. W. Tozer. Although Tozer was writing about pastors, Erik adapted this excerpt to describe Christian publishers . . .

The Church is God’s witness to each generation, and her publishers are her voice. Through them she becomes vocal. By them she has spoken always to the world, and by them God has spoken to the church herself. The testimony of her godly laymen has ever been a mighty aid in the work she seeks to accomplish. But her laymen can never do, and assuredly are not called to do, the work of her publishers. By gift and calling the Christian publisher is set apart.

It is not enough, however, that the publisher of God print the truth. He has no right to take up a reader’s time telling him what is true merely. It is a doubtful compliment to any book to nod the head and say, “That is true.” The same might properly be said if he were doing no more than reciting the multiplication table. It also is true.

To be effective a book’s message must be alive; it must alarm, arouse, challenge; it must be God’s present voice to a particular people. Then, and not till then, is it the prophetic word and the publisher a prophet.

To fulfill perfectly his calling the publisher must be under the constant sway of the Holy Spirit; and further, he must be alert to moral and spiritual conditions. All spiritual teaching should be related to life. It should intrude into the daily and private living of the readers. Without being personal, the true publisher will yet pierce the conscience of each reader as if the message had been directed to him alone.

To publish the truth it is often necessary that the publisher of God know the people’s hearts better than they themselves do. People are frequently confused and inwardly at cross-purposes. The anointed publisher must speak to this confusion with clarifying wisdom. He must surprise his readers with his unsuspected knowledge of their secret thoughts.

The work of a publisher is, in fine, altogether too difficult for any man. He is driven to God for wisdom. He must seek the mind of Christ and throw himself on the Holy Spirit for spiritual power and mental acumen equal to the task.

— from Of God and Men, by A. W. Tozer (Wingspread Publishers; pgs. 21-22)