Editorial – The Imprimatur

It is easy to distinguish between authorized and unauthorized Catholic literature, because no book can be printed by Catholic printers or sold by Catholic booksellers or read by Catholic members—if they are obedient to their faith—unless that book or published statement has the imprimatur of a bishop or archbishop or a cardinal. Imprimatur is Latin for “let it be printed.” An official Catholic dictionary says that “no book treating on religion can be published until it has been examined by a bishop’s orders and has received his imprimatur.” Books not having this approval are forbidden books. This teaching has kept unnumbered Catholics from ever investigating their faith from the Bible. Incidentally, the Council of Valence placed the Bible on the list of forbidden books in 1229!

Protestants tend to think that they are liberated and free from such Catholic thinking and bondage, but they are not as different from Catholics as they might like to think. A friend of ours was recently discouraged from distributing an evangelistic book, which teaches the Three Angels’ Messages, by the conference church he was attending and the local conference president. One reason given for this opposition was that an official Seventh-day Adventist publishing association had not published the book! This premise was one of the reasons why both John the Baptist and Jesus were rejected. (See The Desire of Ages, 133, 737.)

LandMarks magazine is read by people who are part of the Second Advent Movement. Many are not part of any Seventh-day Adventist Conference but are members of home churches and lay churches around the world. This magazine exists to help them spread the Three Angels’ Messages to the world and to meet the fanaticism and apostasy that is prevalent all over the world today.

Partly because of their fear of reading something not exactly true, many historic Adventists have their own informal imprimatur. Their lists of forbidden books include certain so-called “Catholic versions” of the Bible (which interestingly are actually Protestant versions), the 1911 edition and, for some, even the 1888 edition of The Great Controversy! The list of forbidden literature includes any article written by a person who is not of the same persuasion as themselves—whether it has to do with the feast days or the name of God or the various doctrines of the godhead or doctrines of the church or any other point of theology. For this reason, people call and write Steps to Life when we publish articles by various individuals, telling us about the authors’ false theological ideas.

This editorial gives official notice that we have decided not to participate in the listing of forbidden authors. In selecting material for this magazine, our question is simple: “Does this sermon or article state the truth according to the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White?” If it does, we will publish it, and no one needs to be alarmed if the author holds views on subjects that we believe are error. Our official disclaimer to this effect is stated in the facts of publication of this magazine.

“The Lord often works where we least expect him; he surprises us by revealing his power through instruments of his own choice, while he passes by the men to whom we have looked as those through whom light should come. God desires us to receive the truth upon its own merits,—because it is truth.” Gospel Workers (1892), 126.

“When a view of Scripture is presented, many do not ask, Is it true—in harmony with God’s word? but, By whom is it advocated? and unless it comes through the very channel that pleases them, they do not accept it. So thoroughly satisfied are they with their own ideas that they will not examine the Scripture evidence with a desire to learn, but refuse to be interested, merely because of their prejudices.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 105, 106.