Editorial Standards: A Time for Clarity

Last week, Publishers Weekly ran an article about our new editorial standards. The article asserted that “future contracts will require authors—even those writing in non-religion categories like business—to signal their agreement with both the Nicene Creed … and Philippians 4:8.”

This is, of course, simply not true. We have not written our editorial standards into our contracts nor do we intend to. As far as I know, it has never even been discussed as a possibility. Unfortunately, this error has been picked up by others, amplified, and made to sound silly and extreme.

For example, MediaBistro.com said that we were making theological demands on our authors. The New York Times ran a short piece on Saturday, repeating the PW error and claiming that authors who signed with us must “swear to two religious articles of faith.” Writing for The Nashville Scene, Bruce Barry, said we were being “heavy handed.”

Several Christian bloggers also weighed in. Most seemed confused. Some asked for clarification. Thankfully, a few even defended us.

Regardless, I thought rather than answer all these posts directly, I would try to clarify our position here.

First, we have defined editorial standards. Yes, this is true. It has been widely reported that these standards are The Nicene Creed and Philippians 4:8. In part, this is true, but it is far more than this. To put these into their proper perspective, you have to understand the background.

Over the past several years, we have experienced significant growth at Thomas Nelson. We have added new imprints, new editors, and scores of new authors. Unfortunately, we have not always had alignment internally with our own mission and values. Some of us have “colored a bit outside the lines.” (I’ve been guilty myself.) This has led to some corporate soul searching, discussion, and even debate. Who are we as a publisher? What is our unique mission as a company? What kinds of projects best serve this mission? What kinds of projects detract from it?

After a year of internal reflection among our executive team, we came back to our legacy as a company. The bottom line is this: We are a Christian publisher. Perhaps this is obvious. Frankly, I’m a little surprised that this is newsworthy. But I think that fact merely underscores the problem. In straying from our mission, we have sometimes confused the market. Worse, we have caused people to think we are something we aren’t.

Having said that, we understand our identity as a Christian publisher in a very different way than most of our colleagues in the industry. Like other Christian publishers, we want all of our books to be written from the perspective of a Christian worldview. This is the foundation of our publishing program. However, unlike most Christian publishers, we want our authors to explore any subject they wish.

Yes, we want to publish books on spiritual and devotional themes. This is part of life and, honestly, the most important part. But it is not the only part. We also want to publish books that deal with the other aspects of life: business, culture, politics, entertainment, etiquette, cooking, family, etc. And, of course, we want to publish fiction. Lots of it! No topic is off limits, provided it is written from a Christian worldview, written well, and has commercial value. (We are, after all, a commercial publisher.)

Theologically, our vision flows from our conviction that God is sovereign. He doesn’t preside over part of the world (the “religious sphere”), leaving the rest autonomous (the “secular sphere”). No, He rules over all of it. Ultimately, there is no secular/sacred dichotomy. Because God is the Creator and ruler over all, any field of human inquiry can be explored—and sanctified.

To say it another way, all truth is God’s truth. Some of the books we publish will be explicitly Christian (mentioning the name “Jesus” or citing specific Bible verses); others will be implicitly Christian (never referencing anything spiritual). Both are acceptable and appropriate, depending on the author’s purpose and audience. The important thing is that the content flow out of a Christian worldview.

Second, these standards focus on the author. This doesn’t mean that the content is not important. Quite the contrary. But it does reflect our belief that content flows out of a worldview and, ultimately, out of a writer’s heart (cf. Matthew 12:34, 35). To say it another way, we want to align ourselves with people who share our vision, our mission, and our values. “How can two walk together unless they agree” (Amos 3:3)? This is where it starts.

Specifically, we want to publish:

  • Authors who profess a personal faith in Jesus Christ. We want to work with people who are willing to say, “I am a Christian.” We do not try to judge their profession or assess the validity of their faith. Only God knows their hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). Nevertheless, we want to work with communicators who claim to be Christians and are not ashamed of it.
  • Authors who embrace the central truths of historic Christianity. Such ancient documents as the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds are simply convenient summaries of these truths and nearly all Christians can agree on them. Beyond these basic truths, we want to allow latitude—and even disagreement!—on non-essential doctrines. And, contrary to the reports in the media, this is not a contractual requirement.
  • Authors who seek to live according to the standards of biblical morality. We do not expect perfection. We acknowledge that all Christians—even Christian authors—fall short of God’s standards. But we want to promote authors who are committed to living in obedience to God’s revealed will. We want to promote authors who “walk the talk.”

Third, beyond these standards, there is great latitude. This is precisely how we have used Philippians 4:8 internally. We did not cite it as an editorial standard per se, but as an inspiration for how broad and expansive our publishing program could be. The verse says,

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Notice the word whatever. It is repeated six times and then followed by the word anything. Based on this verse, we believe that Christians are free to think or write about anything—whatever they want!—provided it meets eight minimal criteria:

  1. It must be true. This means that it must be authentic or corresponds to reality. We want to publish books that embrace reality as God created it, not books that “sugar coat” reality or try to make reality something it is not.
  2. It must be noble. This means that it must raise us up and make us more like God. The opposite is to debase or degrade. We want to publish books that ultimately motivate people and call forth their best qualities.
  3. It must be just. This means it must be righteous or consistent with the commandments of God. It also means it must be fair. We want to publish books that promote righteousness and godly living. By the way, this doesn’t mean that novels can’t have evil characters. (There are plenty of them in God’s story.) But it does mean that in the end righteousness is rewarded and evil punished—if not in this life, the next.
  4. It must be pure. This means it must be chaste, modest, clean. We want to publish books that promote holiness and offer a necessary corrective to the current trend to sexualize everything. This does not mean that we are opposed to sex, of course. But we want to make sure that our books advocate a view of sex that is consistent with Christian morality.
  5. It is lovely. This means it must be aesthetically pleasing or beautiful. We want to publish authors who are committed to beautiful writing. Both what is said and how it is said are important. Beauty is not a means to an end. It is an end in itself, because it reflects the beauty of the Creator.
  6. It is of good report. This means it must be commendable or of high reputation. Again, the emphasis is on that which represents the best, that which anyone could read and agree that it is well-written.
  7. It is virtuous. This means it must affirm behavior which is consistent with the highest values. Values that don’t manifest themselves in behavior are merely platitudes. We want to publish books that challenge people to live lives of moral excellence and virtue.
  8. It is praiseworthy. This means it must be worthy of recommendation; something you can personally endorse. At the end of the day, we want to publish books we are proud of, books that we are willing to give to a family member or friend with the confidence that they will enjoy it and grateful that they took the time to read it.

All of this really goes back to our focus on the Thomas Nelson brand. We want this brand—our name—to mean something. We want our customers to be able to trust it. We want people to have confidence that our books will be written from a Christian worldview, by people who profess to be Christians and are striving to walk the talk, regardless of the subject matter they may be addressing.

We want to supply great Christian content to our traditional Christian sales channels. Most of this content will be explicitly Christian. However, we also want to reach beyond these sales channels and penetrate deeply into the general market with implicitly Christian content. We are already doing this, of course. In fact, more than half of our sales now come from the general market. But we are not satisfied. We want to go further. We want readers to discover our books on every shelf, of every outlet, in every part of the world.

But to do that, we must be aligned with authors who share our vision, our mission, and our values. That’s why we have invested the time and energy to clarify our editorial standards. We believe that clarity will produce unity and unity will produce collaboration. And together, with God’s help, we will fulfill our mission “to inspire the world.”

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  • http://www.michaelpatrickleahy.com Michael Patrick Leahy

    Michael,

    Congratulations on responding so quickly to this issue. I would encourage you to aggressively promote your statement throughout the blogosphere, as well as the traditional media.

    Miss Snark’s post on the incorrect articles (see http://misssnark.blogspot.com) generated a great deal of heat !

    I was happy to defend your right to determine your editiorial standards. After all, it does make sense to put Christian back in the Christian Publiher, doesn’t it !

  • http://mirathon.blogspot.com Mirtika

    Hey, I asked for clarification. Now, I’ve got it. :)

    Thank you!

    I’ll be posting about and linking to this entry.

    And I certainly hope PW has a follow-up. And even Miss Snark. :) (Though I doubt Miss Snark’s anti-Christian commenters will be pacified.)

    Mirtika of Mirathon

  • http://www.bernitaharris.blogspot.com/ Bernita

    Thank you.
    Thought there was more to the it.
    Sounded like a bit of a smear to me.
    Rushing to judgement and all that.

  • Lauri Berkenkamp

    So, in short: “Jews and Muslims need not apply?”

  • Paula Major

    Thanks, Mike. This is the reason why I am here. I don’t see how you could have made this any clearer…cheers and applause! Makes me wonder, though, why the reporters/bloggers didn’t double-check the facts, first.

  • http://gospelfiction.com Dee Stewart

    I thank you for going a step further with this discussion. Up until today I assumed what I read in PW was well researched and fact checked. Appreciate it and thanks for stopping by The Master’s Artist Blog.

  • Sherman Shell

    Thanks for the clarification. Keep up the great work. Continue your Christian stance.

    Blessings,
    Sherman

  • http://pixiesnit.livejournal.com Sha’el

    I’m one of the “commenters” over on Miss Snark’s blog. I’m not anti-Christian, but the Nicean Creed does not frame my Christianity.

    Your standards mean the modern Christian voices that echo Isaac Watts, Thomas Emlyn, Isaac Newton, or that are more convinced by Locke’s Reasonableness of Christianity than the Creed, will not have a home at Thomas Nelson.

    That’s your right. But who publishes for believers who dissent from the creed? We have an equally ancient faith in Christ. Your standards would still the voice of John Milton, Samuel Clarke, William Whiston, Joseph Priestly, and others of equal stature and firm Christian faith because they reject the Nicean Creed. It is not good to still the voice of Christian dissent.

    Plainly, you identify this as a business decision. No matter what you believe in your heart, it remains a business decision, not a decision of faith. And your decision leaves Christians who reject the creed out in the cold. I’m not impressed.

    And, yes, the debate continues over at Miss Snark’s blog.

  • http://bonniescalhoun.blogspot.com Bonnie Calhoun

    Michael,

    I, too, am one of the people commenting over at Miss Snark’s. Thank you for this timely clarification. I, now, agree with the policy even more than I did before, especially after some of the eye opening comments from other writers.

  • TheRejectedWriter

    Mr Hyatt,

    Please do not mask evangelizing as a “business decision.” It is wholly the right of TN to publish what they want to publish, but to frame it in business terms is to attempt to hide your bigotry behind a spreadsheet.

    As a scholar of the creeds I am painfully aware that they were written not for the sake of inclusion, but rather for the sake of exclusion. The words, so carefully chosen, were intended to say who is “in” and who is “out.” As a result, many, many, many Followers of the Way (an older name for some today called Christian) were excluded from communion with the Church.

    Your organization’s adherence to the Creed as an editorial standard merely propogates that exclusionary nature.

    It is your choice to do so, but at least have the integrity to say that you’re more about saying who is out rather than who is in.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Yes, these editorial standards are exclusionary. All standards are. That’s the whole purpose.

    However, organizations exist for a purpose. Ours is no different. We can’t be everything to everyone.

    Maybe an analogy helps. If we were a publishing house founded by the Democratic Party, no one would expect us to publish books by Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, or Rush Limbaugh. These authors would be rightly excluded because their views are not in alignment with the company’s mission. No one would accuse the company of being narrow-minded or bigoted.

    It’s no different here. We are not the publishing house for everyone. We are a publishing house for Christians who align with our mission, values, and, yes, editorial standards. If that doesn’t work for you, I understand. There are lots of other publishing houses to choose from.

  • http://pixiesnit.livejournal.com Sha’el

    Dear Mr. Hyatt,

    The point isn’t your right to publish what you wish. Only a fool would dispute that. I don’t see an issue with your personal beliefs either.

    I don’t write what you publish. I write gentle fantasy novels a Christian could read with comfort. You’re not the venue for that, or at least not the venue in which I wish to be published. I can’t see myself submitting to Nelson even if I believed the Nicene Creed.

    I have two issues.

    Even if the details of the report were wrong and you don’t include belief in the creed in your contract, the effect is the same. There is an honesty issue. Your approach seems to be, “Oh don’t say that about us! We don’t put it in the contract, (but we decide whom to offer a contract on that basis; just don’t tell anyone!)”

    Your last post was the closest to absolute honesty we’ve seen.

    My second issue is your definition of Christian. I accept the Lord Jesus in my heart. He is God’s son. He is my saviour. I pray in his name. He is the expression of divine grace and the rightful ruler of all. But, by your narrow definition, I’m not a Christian.

    You may do what you wish. But your test of Christianity seems a tad too close to the Inquisition for my comfort.

    Shouldn’t the real test for a commercial house seeking a Christian audience be the values reflected in what they publish? You set up a test of doctrine. That’s the business of a denomination, not of a publisher, isn’t it?

    The history of Christianity is replete with doctrinal divergence. What Christians should find unifying is moral practice, ethical usage, and a love for Jesus. You take my love for Jesus and seek to diminish it because I don’t share your love for the Creed.

    If I find your standards divisive and disrespectful, others will too. We buy your books, even if we don’t fully share all your doctrine. Make too fine of an issue out of what you find acceptable for Christians and you will drive away, not those who do not believe, but fellow believers who differ in some aspect from you.

  • http://truthtopowermedia.com Bill Bowman

    Mr. Hyatt,

    Regarding the 8 precepts you have described above: Does this mean you’ll no longer be publishing Michael Savage?

  • TheRejectedWriter

    Thank you, Mr. Hyatt. I just wanted you to admit that you were cutting people out; not just defining who you are as a publishing house.

    Sha’el is right, you are cutting a very fine line. A fine line that will, at least with me, affect your bottom line. I buy books. I own some TN titles. But I choose to purchase from publishers who are interested in quality material, regardless of the creedal leanings (or lack thereof) of the authors.

    As Miss Snark says, “Good writing trumps all.” It should anyway, even for a “Christian” publisher.

  • Anonymous

    We want to work with people who are willing to say, “I am a Christian.”

    What I am willing to say at my choice, and what I am willing to say at my editor’s command like a trained budgie, are two very different things.

    I’m quite religious. This does not mean that I’m willing to open this very private side of my life to my employer on demand – and there’s absolutely no excuse for any employer demanding that I do so, any more than there’s an excuse for my employer demanding that I tell him the intimate details of my love life so that he may determine whether it fits his personal world-view.

    My publishers have every right to decide whether the world-view expressed in my books fits their mandate. They have NO right to demand to judge whether the world-view in my mind and heart fits their mandate.

    My religion is both an important part of me and a part that is, frankly, NONE of my employer’s business.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Rejected Writer,

    I agree with you on the importance of good writing. Just because someone meets the standard does not mean we will publish them. The book has to be well-written and have commercial value. But I don’t think this is an either/or proposition. We want to work with authors who align with our values and know how to write well.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • RustyO

    This is not the firestorm I thought you would be talking about. I came across this quote that started a heated debate at another blog:

    “The numbers for “Screwing Themselves: Why No One Wants to Marry Thirty-something Women” were projected to be quite good, but the project was killed at the sole behest of the single, forty-something woman on the pub board, who vehemently objected to Thomas Nelson being associated with such an obviously evil book.”

    If this quote is true, how will anything get through the pub board?

  • http://onlifeandletters.blogspot.com Steve Stubbs

    The comments are interesting, but one point leaves me confused. How can anyone dismiss anything as simple and basic as the Nicene Creed and at the same time define himself or herself as a Christian?

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Steve,

    I agree. I think we have pitched a pretty broad tent. This is a summary of beliefs that most Protestants, all Catholics, and all Orthodox Christians can salute. Both Creeds have been in use for almost seventeen centuries. It seems minimal to me—but still vital.

    Regardless, we are not going to make everyone happy. For some, the standard is too loose. For others, it is too narrow. But, we have to be true to our own mission and values. We believe we have done that.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://mirathon.blogspot.com Mirtika

    As someone who thinks that a publisher should be interested in the writing and not the life of the writer, and who understands there are some quibbles with items in the Nicene Creed (and I have one quibble myself), I still think that someone who is a true Christian will believe all or nearly all that is in there. Loving Jesus is not enough to make one a Christian, since many Moslems would say they honor and love Jesus. And being ethical is hardly limited to Christianity.

    I also know that any niche publisher will have tighter standards. Christian publishers are niche publishers. They don’t publish books for Muslims or Wiccans or Buddhists. They publish them for Christians (and in some cases, for specific branches of Christianity. Ignatius for Roman Catholic. Tyndale for Evangelical Protestants, etc.).

    I have an objection to signing creeds and clauses related to creeds. I have no objection to wanting to develop relationships of business slash ministry.

    I still would prefer that the focus be on the work. THE WORK, and not the individual, because, ultimately, a person could lie to get published, or a person could change their religious affiliation down the road. What would one do with a backklog of books written in a Christian worldview if the writer is no longer in the fold? Burn them? Bury them? Shred them?

    Christians of other perspectives will find publishers of like mind or of wider boundaries. That’s not TN’s issue or problem. That’s the writers’. But let’s not assume all pubishers are open to everything. They’re not.

    And if it’s a Christian publisher, then to say, “So, Jews and Muslims are not welcome” is just a snide bit of Snarkian bitching, and is not pertinent to the matter at hand.

    Mir

  • http://Pixiesnit.livejournal.com Sha’el

    Dear Steve,

    All the Polish Brethren and Hussite related believers, all those who sympathize with what is now called Socianism, including some of those small sects and independent believers who follow the path of early Baptists such as William Whiston, all those who believe some form of what is now called Arianism, all monists, some Adventist and Millerite related bodies, Bible Student related bodies, and various other churches reject the Creed on one basis or another. Unitarians of classic stripe (Not Unitarian-Universalists, but Unitarians who believe similarly to Thomas Emlyn), a host of “Church Fathers” from the first eight centuries are also non-Trinitarian or semi-Trinitarian in some way. (A detailed history of that is in Priestly’s An History of Early Opinions Concerning Jesus Christ.)

    Individual believers, such as John Locke, Isaac Newton, Samuel Clarke, and others also rejected the Creed on what they saw as Biblical grounds. Samuel Clarke’s The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity is a Bible-based argument against the Creed, but not against Jesus. You may disagree with his conclusions, but his arguments are Bible-based.

    Now, my question to you is: Because you do not agree with the conclusions of these believers, do you hold them to be non-Christian? If so, why? And can’t we extend any argument against including these believers and groups of believers in the body of Christians to divergence in other areas? For instance, you may or may not believe in Aselmian Atonement theory as expressed in his Cur Deus Homo. You may be a substitutionalist, an exempliarist or you may believe in one of the other atonement theories. Obviously, they are not all right. Some have to be wrong. Are those who do not believe as you do Christians? Is one doctrine less important than the other?

    The final standard isn’t a creed. It’s the Bible. I’m willing to let God sort out who is his and who is not. I may reject your doctrine, but I don’t reject you on the basis of your doctrine. Jesus would be the one with the authority to do that. I sin if I sit in his place, don’t I?

    I would argue that the best test for an author isn’t a creedal statement, but the practice of Christianity. Many who subscribe to the Creed show themselves not to be Christians by their behaviour, don’t they? Being a child of God isn’t about a creed, it’s about obedience to the divine will. If one subscribes to the Nicene Creed, but behaves as if he were an initiate in one of the Greek Mysteries, is he still a Christian? If one rejects the creed for what they suppose is good sound Biblically-based reasoning, and behaves as a Christian ought, are they not a Christian?

    Let the content of their writing speak for them, and let their manner of life testify to their Christianity. Everything else is a false standard.

  • http://mirathon.blogspot.com Mirtika

    Sha’el, Paul didn’t dispute the actual, genuine Christianity of the Corinthians despite the rampant carnality and dissension. He merely understood they were immature. :)

    And yes, I think I can read the Bible and the historical writings within the church and make my decision as to whom I think is and is not a Christian. Whether you agree with it or not is not relevant to whether I can come to a conclusion of the minimal doctrines necessary to be believed and honored for a person to be considered “Christian” by me.

    I extend that right to Thomas Nelson Publishers to decide, in terms of ministry context, how they define acceptable minimum levels of Christianity.

    If I were the publisher, I might have a broader definition. But I’m not the publisher and I don’t make the rules. And neither are you. If some sects of Christianity don’t fit into their editorial guidelines, then they don’t fit. Period. God isn’t here to arbitrate, and the Bible has been disputed long and hard and the standards for defining “Christian” will not be set nor the difficulties resolved in this blog section. The Nicene Creed includes quite a bit of Christendom, and that’s apparently the bit of Christendom that this publisher and editorial team is targeting. That should suffice.

    Mir

  • http://gospelfiction.com/2006/12/08/thomas-nelsons-new-initiatvive/ Gospel Fiction

    Thomas Nelsons New Initiatvive

    When Thomas Nelson announced its new One Company initiative, which will
    eliminate all 21 of its imprints, at an all-employee meeting on October
    13, executives also revealed that a theological content filter would
    be in place for future ac…

  • WorkingWriter

    Let’s be honest. Most of the people complaining here couldn’t get published any where else either. Writers with talent don’t have time to complain. They’re too busy writing actual books to waste time criticizing publishers who don’t cater to their own kooky theology or philosophy. Get a life—or put up your own money and start a publishing company.

    Thomas Nelson is a private company. They have no obligation to publish anyone.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    I appreciate everyone’s comments. Some of you agree. Some of you disagree. That’s fine by me. I have said about all I can say on this subject. So, I am closing this post to further comments. I have to turn the page and start the next chapter!

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Some criticized me because I had closed the discussion, so I have re-opened it. I was concerned I was going to get overwhelmed with comments (at the rate they were going), and I couldn’t respond to all of them. I still can’t, but I am content to let the discussion go on. If you have something to say, say it!

  • http://bonniescalhoun.blogspot.com Bonnie Calhoun
  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Yes, I loved that post. I thought he said it succinctly. I was very pleased.

  • Larry

    Mike:

    While I applaud the motivation behind the Christian-authors-only position of Nelson, I am also aware of some of the problems with it. (Full disclosure – I’m a Nelson employee and founder of Rutledge Hill Press.) Nelson is now taking the position of publishing only authors who ascribe to the Nicene Creed, who live according to Philippians 4:8, and who have a Christian worldview. Again, let me emphasize that I believe the motivation is right and good. The problems to the solution we have taken, however, are . . .

    1. The term “Christian worldview” and “biblical worldview” have been hi-jacked by the “religious right” so that they are frequently used to mean “agree-with-me.” Although you referred to Jimmy Carter as an author who Nelson would publish under these standards, Jimmy Carter does not fit what many advocates of a “Christian worldview” mean by the term. “Christian worldview” and “biblical worldview” are wonderful terms that are full of rich meanings. But their hi-jacking has led to watering down the richness of the terms. It’s not clear what you really mean. Which leads to the second problem.

    2. There is not a unified understanding among Nelson publishers of what “Christian worldview” means. It’s not even that there is varying legitimate positions. Too many of us just don’t get it. Leading to the third problem.

    3. Some interpret having a Christian worldview to mean that if an author belongs to a Methodist (or Catholic, or Baptist, but not Mormon) church, he or she is OK. The fact is that too many people in our churches today have their worldview shaped by the culture rather than by the Scripture. I’m reminded of the baptism scene in “The Godfather” when Al Pacino affirmed his faith at his baby’s baptism and Coppola alternated scenes from the church with scenes of executions being carried out at Pacino’s direction. Being a church member does not mean you have a Christian worldview.

    4. Publishing only authors who meet our three qualifications is a divisive position and draws boundaries where they should not be drawn. Most likely this would not be so if Nelson had always been a “Christian publisher” (There would not be any discussion if Moody Press said what Nelson has said.), but Nelson is changing from what it has historically been to being a “Christian publisher,” and so it is having to tell some of its authors that it can no longer publish them because they don’t meet the criteria. Alienation in the world is reaching epidemic proportions. We as Christians are called to be “ministers of reconciliation.” My fear is that this step will build walls, not bridges. A Christian is not someone who believes a certain thing, who engages or doesn’t engage in a certain practice, but someone who has been transformed by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. And the mark of the Christian is love. But all that does not fit neatly in a box.

    I applaud your motivation and your explanation of that motivation. I just question the effectiveness of the route you have taken to try to solve the problem we have encountered of “coloring outside the lines.”

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Larry,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I am not looking for the “perfect” set of standards. I just want something that points us in the right direction and provides guidelines and a vocabulary for making decisions. I believe our standards do that.

    I also don’t believe that these are divisive. Certainly, not everyone will agree, and that’s okay. Any time you provide clarity, people are going to disagree. But ambiguity resulting from a lack of standards is not a good foundation for unity.

    While we have had some criticism, to be sure, I have also received scores of e-mails from authors and customers who are celebrating this move.

    I am glad you feel the freedom to disagree. I want a culture that is “safe for dissent.”

    Thanks again for your input,

    Mike

  • http://www.rubenseries.com Ernest A. LaPalme

    Hi,
    MEET JESUS’ GRANDPARENTS WITH RUBEN– GRANDPA JACOB’S FIRST CHRISTMAS DONKEY.
    I am quite interested in submitting my Ruben series of books, including the song Ruben released in Nov./06, to your company after reading your article dated Dec, 11/06. Since releasing my first book, Ruben- Grandpa Jacob’s First Christmas Donkey, self-publishing, I have told Ruben’s story in 132 schools in Ontario, Florida and Michigan. Their are over 6000 copies in circulation. Ruben, the donkey that Mary rode to Bethlehem and Egypt, parallels Rudolph. The mystical white star on his forehead guided the Holy Family safely on thier journey.In reliving his story with his grandchildren, Ruben introduces Ann, Joachim, Jacob and Timnah, Jesus’s grandparents. For more info, please visit my website–www.rubenseries.com
    Ernie LaPalme
    33 Limerick Lane
    Brantford, On
    N3T 6L3 Phone 519-720-0758 Fax 519-720546

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Ernest,

    You can submit these to:

    Ms. Laura Minchew
    Thomas Nelson Publishers
    501 Nelson Place
    Nashville, TN 37214
    USA

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.jenniferrothschild.com Philip Rothschild

    Mike. I’m one of those who send their praise and congratulations for clarifying your standards. Fascinating, healthy discussion on your blog. Thanks for doing what you’re supposed to do – lead! Philip

  • Mike S

    I think it’s good for publishers to set doctrinal boundaries…but you’re probably running the risk of not publishing some of your evangelical rainmakers anymore because their doctrines would rule out their subscribing to the Nicene Creed on principle.

    For example:
    Baptists like Charles Stanley
    Evangelical Free Church writers like Swindoll
    Church of Christers such as Max Lucado

    These writers, some of your best-selling authors, come from a “free church” tradition that tends to shy away from an official written creed, no matter how much it may actually line up with their beliefs!

  • Mike S

    I think it’s good for publishers to set doctrinal boundaries…but you’re probably running the risk of not publishing some of your evangelical rainmakers anymore because their doctrines would rule out their subscribing to the Nicene Creed on principle.

    For example:
    Baptists like Charles Stanley
    Evangelical Free Church writers like Swindoll
    Church of Christers such as Max Lucado

    These writers, some of your best-selling authors, come from a “free church” tradition that tends to shy away from an official written creed, no matter how much it may actually line up with their beliefs!

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