World magazine, the successor to the Presbyterian Journal, has refused to run a two-page ad by the Trinity Foundation. The advertisement basically consisted of The Reformation Day Statement, a document which the Foundation produced and circulated after its 1998 conference on "Christianity and Roman Catholicism."
The two-page spread, which would have cost between $3,000 and $4,000, was to run in the October 23, 1999, issue of World. According to Dr. John Robbins of the Trinity Foundation, the "space was reserved, the price agreed upon, and the placement in the magazine was discussed."
However, the magazine's publisher, Mr. John B. Prentis of St. Louis, after reading The Reformation Day Statement, decided not to publish it. According to Dr. Robbins, Mr. Prentis did not inform him of the decision to break the agreement, nor did the publisher explain it to the Trinity Foundation. Instead, Mr. Prentis assigned the task to Jennifer Graham of the magazine's staff. On October 12, Miss Graham informed Dr. Robbins via telephone that the content of The Reformation Day Statement was the basis for World's refusing to publish The Statement. In John Robbins' words, "In the opinion of World magazine, The Reformation Day Statement is unloving."
News of World's rejection of the ad was spread through the Trinity Foundation's monthly newsletter, The Trinity Review. The October 1999 issue suggested that World magazine refused to carry the ad because of fears that the publication "would lose either advertisers or subscribers were it to publish an accurate description of the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church-State." Dr. Robbins continued: "Perhaps World fears financial loss were it to publish a Statement that describes the authors and signers of the ecumenical documents produced by Evangelicals and Catholics Together. The beliefs expressed by the signers of Evangelicals and Catholics Together show them to be persons who do not understand and therefore cannot believe, or who do understand but refuse to believe, the Biblical doctrines of salvation."
Dr. Robbins also quoted from Marvin Olasky, Editor of World, who a year ago attacked the conference on "Christianity and Roman Catholicism" which the Trinity Foundation was sponsoring in Tennessee. The magazine had accepted ads regarding the conference. In an editorial explaining how World often would accept advertising which runs counter to its editorial policy, Professor Olasky wrote: "The very title of the conference is obnoxious to Roman Catholics, and some of the lecture titles are even more pointed.
"That ad has left us uncomfortable for two reasons. First, we all know there is a difference between disagreeing with someone and baiting that party with ornery language. Second, frankly, since we're looking for advertising dollars to hold down the subscription price, it particularly hurts when some ads actually lose money for us. That's been the case here."
Dr. Robbins wrote that "the accusation of being unloving is nothing new; it has been the constant cry of the liberals against the Christians for the past century. For years World magazine has been heavily promoting the books of William Bennett, former Secretary of Education and Chairman of the Catholic Campaign for America; and of Charles Colson, co-chairman (with the Roman Catholic priest Richard Neuhaus) of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, the ecumenical movement of the Religious Right. . . . While pretending to be an evangelical magazine, World has been supporting Roman Catholics and ersatz-evangelicals who are doing their best to bamboozle everyone into cooperating with Rome. No wonder World refuses to publish The Reformation Day Statement. The Statement conflicts with World's agenda."
Behind the scenes, various readers of the magazine have written to CEO Joel Belz, expressing concern over World's cancellation of the ad. One of the letters came from a man who was on the Presbyterian Journal Board when Mr. Belz was hired as an assistant editor. Dr. Edwin Meeks of Jonesboro, Tennessee, recalled the statement on the Journal's masthead: "contend for the faith once delivered to the saints." He added: "Your rejection of the Reformation Day Statement and your personal attack upon Dr. Robbins leads me to believe you are not willing to contend for the faith. You have taken your stand with those who are working to bring about reconciliation with the Rome Church-State. You are standing with those who deny the truths of the Reformation and bring discredit upon the Reformers."
Both Mr. Olasky and Mr. Belz are ruling elders in the Presbyterian Church in America. Both serve on the Board of Covenant College, which recently defended the singing by the college choir in a Roman Catholic mass (see story, pp. 14-15).