The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (2 of 6): The policy: a labor of Christian brotherhood defined to ensure the enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer
Reformed Free Publishing Association
This series is written by Joshua Hoekstra, current RFPA board president.
The policy outlined in our first blog lists a purpose but also addresses areas of authority and responsibility for the RFPA, the RFPA board, and the SB editorial staff.
Authority. The Reformed Free Publishing Association is the owner (legal head) of the Standard Bearer. The Editorial Staff of the Standard Bearer has authority of the contents of the magazine. The RFPA Board has authority of the general management and supervision of the affairs of the Association and is obligated to uphold the name, purpose, intent, and witness of the magazine.
The RFPA Board is responsible for all decisions regarding the appearance, publication, and distribution of the Standard Bearer. The Editorial Staff is free to make suggestions to the RFPA Board at any time and in each of the areas listed above.
The Editorial Staff is responsible for all decisions regarding the editorship, authorship (staff), rubrics, subjects, and written content of the Standard Bearer. The RFPA Board is free to make suggestions to the Editorial Staff at any time and in each of the areas listed above.
Does this read a bit like a contract? I suppose all formal language has a bit of this quality. Some in the world would probably cast the same criticism at our forms for baptism or marriage. We know well that the forms in the back of our Psalter are not cold contracts just because the language is formal. These forms remind us of sober and serious occasions, even though such occasions are also accompanied by deep love, excitement, and even anticipation. These forms connect us with generations who have gone before, believers in different denominations, and believers across oceans. They keep us grounded and consistent with each succeeding generation.
The policy that governs the relationship between the RFPA board and the staff of her Standard Bearer provides consistency from variations in thought that naturally accompany every annual change in the board. New men have new thoughts, and while this is generally good, it can create instability for important relationships. The relationship policy sets a standard that in turn provides a healthy and stable environment for the staff and the board to foster a deep and trusting relationship.
But Christian brotherhood, you say? How can a policy be a labor of Christian brotherhood?
Here’s how. This policy was initiated out of a conviction to cease from strife, which had been building in recent years, and walk in love. This could be accomplished only by defining the historic relationship and respecting it.
The relationship between the RFPA Board and the Standard Bearer Editorial Committee has been frequently strained. This, we believe, is due to the lack of a clear definition regarding the legal and historic relationship…there have been various disagreements regarding the responsibilities of the RFPA Board and the SB Editorial Committee. In addition, communication between the RFPA Board and SB Editorial committee has suffered…we must work together in a spirit of Christian brotherhood and fellowship for the sake of the truth of the gospel. (from board letter to SB staff, March 25, 2015)
Charity was the driving force behind this policy. The charity that created this policy suffered long, was patient, and bore many things. Despite the many sins and faults of men, this policy was created for the sake of the truth of the gospel. That is a lofty goal, far loftier than ensuring a few men get along.
God’s glory, not man’s convenience, is the reason we created this policy. When the RFPA board and SB staff labor in harmony together, we are, in the words of 1 Corinthians 1:10, “joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” When we are of the same mind, then the RFPA can fulfill the calling Rev. H. Veldman outlined for the RFPA:
…hold fast to the Faith of our Fathers, proclaim that the gospel is a power of God, in those that are saved and also in those that perish according to the Lord’s good pleasure, that in us as we are of ourselves no good dwelleth, yea, that salvation is exclusively of the Lord…Let us be witnesses of the truth that God is God alone, also by giving our full support to the Standard Bearer, our banner by means of which we give testimony to the truth of God’s sovereignty, and that in the midst of a world and church which are becoming increasingly hostile to the Word of God.
Thirdly, I would conclude by reminding you of your responsibility. We occupy a responsible position. Unto us has been entrusted a glorious heritage. We must confess it. We must proclaim it. We must safeguard it. God calls us unto this task. We have no choice. May we be true to this calling, and recognize the Standard Bearer as a wonderful means to safeguard the heritage which the Lord has entrusted unto us. (Standard Bearer 24 no. 18 [June 15, 1948])
The Standard Bearer is a wonderful means to safeguard our heritage! Operating properly together, the RFPA board and SB staff safeguard our theological heritage.
Tomorrow we will look more closely at the topic of authority.