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RELIGION : Eternity Lasts 39 Years as Monthly Folds

December 24, 1988|From Religious News Service

Eternity, a Philadelphia-based evangelical monthly magazine that has often criticized conservative attitudes on social affairs, will end almost four decades of publishing with its January, 1989, issue.

Founded in 1950 by the late Presbyterian Pastor Donald Grey Barnhouse, Eternity has been published since its inception by Evangelical Ministries Inc. Its sister ministry, the weekly "Bible Study Hour" radio broadcast, will continue operating, with the Rev. James M. Boice as speaker.

The magazine was acquired last spring by the Foundation for Christian Living, which was organized by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale in 1940.

"A shortfall in advertising revenue, weak circulation growth and declining renewal rates contributed to the decision to cease publication," Eternity said in an announcement of the decision. It said the Evangelical Ministries board voted Nov. 29 to reject the option to regain financial control of the magazine and that the vote "followed an extensive search to locate another publishing group which might continue the magazine."

Eternity's outspokenness on social issues was demonstrated in its June, 1964, issue, when the magazine called for passage of the Civil Rights Act and blasted evangelical attitudes toward race relations.

In December, 1972, Eternity questioned the motives of some organizations that smuggled Bibles into the Soviet Union and raised the question of possibly harmful repercussions.

It editorialized that "one of the most distressing factors in today's Bible-smuggling business is that fever-pitch publicity, designed to raise more dollars for the work, has so aggravated the Russian government that officials have clamped down as never before."

In its March, 1977, issue, two of Eternity's editors highlighted the need for responsible investigative reporting in the Christian press. In an article titled "Our Non-Prophet Press," Editor William J. Peterson and Executive Editor Stephen Board wrote that "avoiding a destructive mentality does not mean 'if you can't say something good about something, don't say anything.' This would, if followed, silence Jesus and Paul."

The Eternity editors commented that "effective Christian journalism has a responsibility to give people what they cannot otherwise learn from advertising and word of mouth."

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