brian_knowles.jpg (4922 bytes)Why I Write for ACD
By Brian Knowles

For many years now, I've entertained the hopeless fantasy of actually making a living as a Christian writer. It's never been more than a fantasy of course, because it's an almost impossible task for someone who's wired like me. Let me explain why.

Litmus Tests
Virtually every Christian publisher has its litmus tests for acceptability. Some years ago, I applied for a writing position with a major Christian organization. It looked like I had the job in the bag. "Do you drink alcohol?" they asked. "Yes," I replied. "Sorry, we only hire people who don't drink." Okay bye.

About six years ago, I submitted an article to a major Christian publication. They liked the piece and wanted to run it. They asked about my background. I told them I had been, among other things, the managing editor of The Plain Truth. That was almost the kiss of death. They no longer wanted to run my article on its merits. It took a few months of talking, and eventually they ran the piece. Since that time, it has been reproduced in a dozen other magazines and newsletters, across several denominations, and reproduced in two books.

Over the years, I've submitted articles to another publication. It ran some, and rejected some (which is quite normal). When the editors rejected an article, it was usually because it doesn't line up with what they've "always believed" about a subject. It didn't pass some doctrinal litmus test. Every denominational publication is like that. If it's Baptist, you have to "write Baptist." If it's charismatic, you have write to the charismatic mind-set. If it's sabbatarian, Sabbath observance becomes the central issue and litmus test.

For many Christian publishers, the litmus test has become celebrity. They know big names will sell--even if they can't write, and don't know what they are talking about. (Most are ghost-written anyway.) So they feature their "trophy Christians" on the covers and in the lead articles. It's analogous to athletes posing as experts on breakfast cereals.

Truth Doesn't Count
For the most part, Christian publishing isn't about telling the truth. It's about bringing in the bucks and building a following. It's about increasing denominational power and influence. There's little room for solid investigative reporting, critical thinking, or advancing knowledge and understanding. There's only advocacy journalism. I want to be associated with a church group that won't stifle member's growth because its leaders aren't growing. Put another way, I don't want to be held to the pace of leadership. Life's too short to be always waiting for people to catch up. I want to learn all the truth I can while I can. I want to move ahead as fast as I can, and go as deep as possible. In virtually any authoritarian organization, that kind of personal development isn't possible.

Within the universe of the Worldwide Church of God and its daughters, there's been one notable exception--at least for me. I'm referring to the Association for Christian Development, based in Seattle, Washington, and headed by Ken Westby.

For more than 15 years I've been submitting articles to ACD's publications. And for 15 years they've been running them--unedited, uncensored, and, with the exception of minor copy editings, verbatim. To my knowledge, they've never lost a single member of their mailing list because of it. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that.

The Dorothy Years
In 1975, Dr. Charles V. Dorothy, Lawson Briggs and I took a fact-finding trip to the Middle East. Our guide was Dr. Jack Finegan, author of many books on the archaeology of the region. I reported on that trip in The Good News later that year.

It was on that journey that I got to know and appreciate "CVD" as we called him. Not only was Charles a nice guy who loved people, he had an insatiable intellectual curiosity about everything. His desire to know transcended the doctrinal and philosophical limitations of the 1975 version of the WCG. He loved knowledge for its own sake.

Like myself and many others of an intellectual bent, he eventually found himself on the outside of Worldwide. That didn't stop Charles from studying, learning and growing. He earned a second doctorate from prestigious Claremont University. He continued writing and speaking. Who was willing to publish and distribute CVD's materials? ACD.

Sadly for all of us, Charles Dorothy died last year, following a bout with cancer. His work, however, is not dead. It lives on, and is available through the Association for Christian Development.

Litmus for ACD
For those to whom litmus tests are important, Ken Westby and the ACD group are sabbatarians. They also observe together the annual feast days of Leviticus 23. But they don't claim the tithe.

That's another thing I respect about them. Theirs is a true work of faith. Any Christian ministry that doesn't claim the tithe these days is likely to find itself on shaky financial ground. ACD has never been on a solid financial footing. Its income waxes and wanes. To my knowledge, there are no full-time employees. Ken's wife works, and Ken is involved in a multi-level marketing program. Their offices are small and unassuming. Yet, they've been chugging along for more than a quarter of a century, doing the best work they can.

If you'd like to get on the ACD mailing list, or gain access to Dr. Dorothy's writings, or subscribe to their publication, The New Millennium, then write, phone or email them at: ACD Email

Editor’s Note: The above article appeared in the current issue of The Journal, a publication serving individuals and various groups with past roots in the Worldwide Church of God. Thanks Brian for your generous, and unsolicited, endorsement of ACD! I hope many folks take your advice and write for The New Millennium.