by H. E. Phillips
Where shall man find peace, happiness and security in this life? “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God” (Eccl. 2: 24).
Our years are as a tale told (Psalm 90: 9), as a shadow (Eccl. 6: 12), as a dream (Job 20: 8), as the grass that fades away (Psalm 103: 15, 16; 1 Peter 1:24) and as vapor that vanishes after a little while(James 4: 14). This reality every person must encounter sooner or later.
Brother Adams asked me to write a brief historic review of my work with Searching The Scriptures, the purpose toward which we labored and the policy that governed the editorial work. Many things will have to remain unsaid because of the limitation of space. I am happy to record some of the highlights in the history of this paper as they appear to me.
With sadness and nostalgic reflection I begin to write what is to be my final article for Searching The Scriptures. Recollections of the early history of this journal and those associated with it stir my emotions to gratitude and to some measure of melancholy as I appraise the opportunities the grace of God has granted to us.
When the first issue of Searching The Scriptures was published on January, 1960, 1 did not think about how long it would live. That never entered my mind. I was concerned about how effective it would be in accomplishing the goal James P. Miller and I had for this effort.
“Now In The Very Beginning… “
Those who knew James P. Miller and heard him preach will remember the above phrase. It was his usual beginning of his sermon. The history of Searching The Scriptures cannot be told without including James P. Miller. His work, advice and encouragement were invaluable from the beginning. A more detailed account of our relationship is found in Searching The Scriptures, March 1978, Page 41. Jim Miller gave his appraisal of our relationship in his editorial of May,1967, pages 257, 258.
The Florida Newsletter in 1958, which became the Southeastern Newsletter in 1959, was the beginning of Searching The Scriptures. (More details about this in STS, May, 1973, pages 259, 260). I was grateful to God for this medium through which His word could be taught. My interest in and love for the paper have continued throughout its existence. The experience as editor has taught me lessons that I shall remember all of my life.
When a man puts his mind in print and sends it out into the world, it lives for many generations; it cannot be retrieved. It is like throwing a basket of feathers into a wind storm; you will never gather all the feathers together again. A man should make sure his heart is right with God, his motives are pure and his words are carefully chosen to speak only the truth of God’s word.
In the editorial of April, 1960 issue we said: “When one takes his pen in hand, as we usually express it, to write something for the present and future generations, he should fully realize that he is about to declare what kind of man he is and what his ambitions and goals are. This fact alone should make one approach the task with a clear mind and a careful expression. So many writers, as well as speakers, express themselves without first taking into account the results of their statements: the good or evil that will follow. ” I have always been more concerned about what God reads of my heart and attitude than what men will say.
Honor To Whom Honor
We received much opposition, some even antagonistic and baleful, but there were also many good menand women: preachers, elders and deacons, their wives and faithful brethren who gave encouragement and help in many ways during those early days. Some of those good people have since laid aside the armor and answered the final call to close the earthly sojourn here and enter into their rest (Rev. 14: 13). Among them is the beloved James P. Miller who stood with me from the beginning.
I am so grateful to so many for so much. We owe an inexpressible debt of gratitude to those staff writers who came aboard in the following years, and to all who contributed articles from time to time. Thank you for your important contribution.
The pressures of editing a religious paper affect the editor’s family. Members of my family have been supportive from the beginning. To Polly, my faithful wife of more than 57 years who supported me in my work with the paper from the beginning; to my three daughters and their husbands; to my mother and four brothers; to my grandchildren and their husbands/wives, I owe a debt of gratitude. To many faithful brethren across the country, I express to you my sincere thanks for your personal interest, support, and encouragement. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phil. 1: 3).
I had no thought of ever disposing of Searching The Scriptures. Early in 1972 some health problems brought the entreaty of my family, my doctor, friends and concerned brethren to pass this work to another. It finally became obvious to me that I could not continue the load of work I was doing.
In the early spring of 1973 Connie Adams and I completed the agreement for the transfer of Searching The Scriptures to him. With the June, 1973 issue the paper passed from my hand to his. During the transition we spent several hours together in fervent prayers with tears as we contemplated the wonderful opportunity and enormous responsibility we were sharing at the changing of the guard.
In the final editorial before relinquishing the editorial duties to brother Adams, I said: “Somewhere around 1963 to 1965, during the Lecture Week at Florida College late one night, I drove Connie Adams to the place where he was staying after the last lecture that night. We spent almost an hour talking about Searching The Scriptures and its future, and the need for some continuing force to fight the invading evils of institutionalism and liberalism. It was on this night and under these circumstances that Connie W. Adams asked me to give him first opportunity to buy Searching The Scriptures if I ever sold it. At the time I had not thought of ever selling it. However, I gave him my word that I would contact him first under such circumstances, and through the years our verbal agreement has been honored by both of us” (Searching The Scriptures, May, 1973, page 261).
My intention was to allow this paper to cease and to bury it with honor and dignity. This decision would have eliminated the possibility of its reputation to be used by any other to propagate error. I found in Connie W. Adams the fidelity to divine truth and the ability and experience to fill the editor’s chair. I believed he would do so with a firm resolve to hold this paper to its original purpose of preaching and defending the gospel. This prompted me to sell the paper to him.
Brother Adams has justified the faith and confidence I had in him by his diligent work as editor of Searching The Scriptures for nearly twenty years. I do not know anyone who could have done a better job as editor than Connie W. Adams.
Brother Adams has honored me upon several occasions. He offered me the front page of the paper to write whatever I thought was necessary, for as long as I wanted to write. That has been gratifying to me and I express to him my sincere appreciation.
I do not remember that Connie Adams and I ever had an angry word or a moment of dissension through the years. We have spent many hours talking together about the paper and various issues that confronted the church. We have exchanged many letters and talked many times by phone. I understand his emotions as he prepares to lay to rest this paper that has claimed so many hours of his valuable time and demanded such a sacrifice of labor and funds. Editorial and publication deadlines are a pressure that only those who have done it understand. I express to Connie my personal appreciation for his work well done. Only eternity will reveal the good he has accomplished by the printed page over these twenty years.
The Editorial Policy From The Beginning
The opening words of the editorial in that first issue were: “Truth and truth alone can make men free. Our Master taught this lesson to the Jews that believed on him in John 8: 32. With this issue of SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES you hold in your hand a new paper that is born to do just that. The truth has a right to be heard from the pulpit, over the air lanes, on the television screen, and on the printed page. This is one purpose of SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES. ” “… The pages of SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES will be open to men of good faith. We will allow anyone who has something worthwhile to say to speak his mind. We will not,however, allow propagandists to sow seeds of discord. This paper will not be devoted to unfair controversy and personal sarcasm… ”
The last paragraph of this editorial says in part: “We have no policy but to be scriptural, fair, sincere, and faithful in our work as editors of this paper. We know nothing more that could be asked of us in presenting this paper for your edification… ”
In the editorial of August, 1972, page 115 we wrote:”From the beginning we have earnestly sought to use the printed page to study the word of God with all who will read and study with us. We belong to no man or group. We strive to serve no special human interest. We are not for sale to any man for any price, because our own salvation and the salvation of others is in the balance. ”
This policy has been followed to the present time. Brother Adams has diligently pursued the principles of truth and fairness in his labors as editor, as we endeavored to do from the beginning. He has admirably steered this publication in the direction we believe it should go.
The Honorable Demise Of Searching The Scriptures
About a year ago brother Adams asked me to consider with him the destiny of Searching The Scriptures. He felt that he was unable to continue much longer with the paper because of his health and pressing deadlines. In the environment of deep emotions we considered the options that were available. With tears and fervent prayers to God, he decided to lay this labor of love to rest and leave its influence enshrined in the archives of history. Undoubtedly generations yet unborn will read its pages when we sleep with our fathers. As we are borne along by the tide of time toward eternity, we shall live in peace with the knowledge that no man or group can destroy its influence and use the name to propagate error.
I concur with his decision to bring this faithful labor of thirty-three years to a close with the December, 1992 issue. I empathize with him in his judgment and decision to end the paper; and commend his sense of responsibility to the readers of this religious magazine over the course of its history from 1960. It was, not an easy decision to make. A combination of factors merge to make the decision essential.
In my editorial for the final issue of Searching The Scriptures before turning the helm to brother Connie Adams, I described some brief facts that led to the birth of Searching The Scriptures. As I now look back to the beginning, I see in the heart of a young man a yearning for the victory of truth over error and the determination to spread the gospel of Christ to as many as possible. My heart remains dedicated to that same gospel of Christ, but the body cannot do what it once did.
For my closing words in this final article in Searching The Scriptures, to the editor, all writers for this noble journal and to the readers, I adopt the inspired words of the apostle Paul: “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace,which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20: 32). Amen.
original post Dec. 1992