The printed word
This month celebrates the 800th edition of the Presbyterian Herald. I love looking through back copies of the magazine – whether it is to see the changing styles of both its design and the photographs of people contained within it, or to observe the changing opinions and talking points through the years, it is always an enjoyable journey into the past.
Back in 1943, the first Herald was dramatically different to today, most notably because of its lack of colour and images. In the 40s, when large chunks of text were usual in print, people did not have to be enticed to read. Now, of course, images are crucial to draw the reader in. Although today much of what we read is on screens rather than on hard copy, the written word has not lost its power. Unlike something that is heard and can be forgotten or inaccurately remembered, words can be read and reread, powerful in their static, unchangeable nature.
This month Richard McChesney affirms the benefits of Christian books and encourages congregations to embrace reading more. Of course, the most beneficial book we can read is the Bible and as a Church that is grounded in the life-affirming authority of Scripture, we know that reading it and meditating on it allows us to experience a deeper relationship with Christ.
Our Church’s stance on the infallibility of the Bible can be traced back to the Reformation, the 500th anniversary of which will be commemorated this year. PCI will be celebrating with a conference later in the autumn and the Herald has been marking this movement with a number of articles. Martin Luther was a key figure in events, starting the process with transformational printed words: his Ninety-Five Theses. By affirming the Bible as God’s dependable word and translating it into the vernacular, Luther made it accessible to all and so we have much to thank him for. In this issue Martyn Cowan highlights the important role played by his wife Katharina in the Reformation. Their romance (or lack of!) is a fascinating tale.
The strength of a text will only be as powerful as the reader’s engagement with it. As we celebrate Easter this month, Moderator, Dr. Frank Sellar, encourages us to not only ‘know’ Jesus with a biblical head knowledge, but to know him fully; to know the “power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). Dr. Sellar argues that knowing Him and growing deeper in our relationship with Him is what discipleship is all about. He says, “In open and honest companionship with the resurrected Jesus, new avenues of joy and of service open up with blessings eternal.”
Wishing you a blessed Easter, from everyone in the Herald office.
Sarah Harding, Editor
The Presbyterian Herald is the official magazine of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. It provides a forum for debate and discussion on a wide range of topics and aims to challenge and encourage Presbyterians, as well as inform them about what the wider Church is involved in. It has a readership in excess of 25,000 and is distributed throughout Ireland.
To find out more go to www.presbyterianireland.org/herald