July 2015 marked the 160th anniversary of the Gospel Advocate. The paper was born in July 1855, with Tolbert Fanning and William Lipscomb serving as editors. The first issue opened by saying, “With the hope of rendering some good service in the cause of truth, we very respectfully submit to our brethren and the public, the claim of ‘Gospel Advocate.’ ”

The publication of the paper was interrupted due to the Civil War, but it was re-born on January 1, 1866. At this point David Lipscomb was the co-editor; a role that he would fill for the next 40 years. When Fanning & Lipscomb established the Gospel Advocate it was for the purpose of giving the subject of human organizations such as Bible, missionary and temperance societies a free discussion, both pro and con. It also opposed the growing use of mechanical instruments of music in churches of Christ. Now, over a century and a half later, Gregory Alan Tidwell, the 17th editor of the Gospel Advocate, says that the issues of that time are “starkly similar to those of today” (Gospel Advocate, July 2015, p. 3).

In the forty years since I began reading the Gospel Advocate it has continued to address the principle threats to the faith that were present at the time, such as Pentecostalism and the speaking in tongues movement, the Crossroads movement, the instrumental music question, and in more recent years the community church & Emerging Church movements. In my mind, the most significant issue of the GA to come out in a long time is the one title, “A 2020 Vision: Adjusting Our Focus Over the Next 5 Years” (September 2015). If there is to be a “landmark” issue for the decade of the 2010’s this one is certainly in line to claim that spot. That one issue ought to be read and re-read by every single member of the Lord’s body in this country and abroad. In fact, if you have not read the September issue I recommend that you either call at 1-800-251-8446, or visit the Gospel Advocate website at www.gospeladvocate.com and order it. It will be the best investment that you will make of $3.00. The articles, and their descriptions, in the September issue include the following:

“Preparing for the Third Decade of the 21st Century: 10 Trends Affecting Churches of Christ in the United States, by Gregory Alan Tidwell, Editor. We are accountable for the decisions we make. As good stewards, we must be aware of the times in which we live.”

“When Public Support for Traditional Marriage Fails, by Matt A. Vega, J.D. Until the constitutional debate between gay rights and religious rights is settled by the Supreme Court, churches must keep teaching the truth.”

“The Feminist Agenda Within the Churches of Christ, by Matthew W. Morine. The focus on women being allowed to preach has shifted from seeking biblical authority to the idea of purely giftedness in public speaking.”

“Open Fellowship, by Aubrey Johnson. Loving churches have healthy boundaries.”

“One Body: A Church for All Generations, by Chad Ramsey. One message unites us and provides us with a common purpose.”

“The New Media: A Blessing and a Curse, by Timothy Agee. New technology provides us with more avenues to improve communication and outreach, but there are also pitfalls that we must be careful to avoid.”

“Unauthorized Worship, by Doug Burleson. Let us be willing to go back to the Scriptures to discuss what God has authorized in the assembly while not changing His plan to suit our desires.”

“The Authority of the Bible, by Phil Sanders. When people question His commandments, they treat Him as less than God.”

“The Church That Pleases God, by Dennis Loyd, Associate Editor. The church that pleases God is the church that is most Christlike.”

by Dennis Gulledge