If You Want to Engage the Culture, Don’t Publish with Crossway

Isn’t this the flip side of Tim Challies’ advice about reading the “right” books?

If you are an academic and you publish with a famous university press, that is wonderful for your career. If you go with a vanity press, that can sink your career. That division of presses also matters in defining whether a particular issue is part of mainstream debate, or way off on the disreputable fringe.

The problem in all this, though, is that some presses are very strong and reputable within particular fields, but that fact need not be known to university authorities. I can imagine a junior professor trying to argue to a department head or dean that a title with such a firm should be counted as equal in prestige to a leading university press, and struggling to make the case. Please understand, that would not be a fair situation, but I could see it happening.

Let me take a specific example. I am currently using a book that came out from Inter-Varsity Press some fifteen years ago. It is a really excellent piece of work, scholarly and well written, and IVP is a very strong and well known publisher from the evangelical point of view. Hence my surprise, recently, when I tried unsuccessfully to find a copy in the very large and wide-ranging library at Penn State University. They had other works by this author, but not that particular title. Like many major university libraries, Penn State has standing orders with certain mainstream publishers, and acquires pretty much everything they put out. That principle does not extend to well known evangelical presses like IVP, Eerdmans, Baker, Thomas Nelson, and so on. The more library budgets shrink, the harder they cut back on any presses they don’t see as absolutely core and necessary.

In itself, that decision is not disastrous for me, because if I want a copy of the book in question I can get it through inter-library loan. But the underlying attitude demands attention. These libraries are assuming that the presses in question are not fully respectable houses for academic work, they are partisan or denominational, and therefore they do not demand the same credibility as even minor university presses.

Maybe that explains why TKNY doesn’t publish with the company that subsidized the gospel allies.

UPDATE: a multi-author 16-page tract is not a book, and I’m guessing Ross Douthat hasn’t read it.

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5 thoughts on “If You Want to Engage the Culture, Don’t Publish with Crossway

  1. There’s what I say and then there’s what I do. I’d prefer you stick with what I say. #Winsomeauthenticitylinespockets

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  2. What Has Manhattan To Do With Crossway? Cultural Engagement means reaching the type of New Yorker who reads Stanley Hauerwas while enjoying an Iced Caramel Macchiato with Smooth Jazz Ambient music (or, more preferably, NPR). She is Urbane, Sophisticated, Cosmopolitan, and Secular. She thinks well of the EU, UN, and Planned Parenthood. She aspires to speak fluent French and thinks everybody should have a BA (or, more preferably, an MA) from a Northeastern college. Bible “schools” do not count – sorry.

    She is not going to read anything from Crossway! And Tim Keller know that. Appealing to the urban sophisticate simply cannot be done using the Good Ol’ Time Religion like they did in the Ol’ Timey Days. Things are different now and people aren’t as gullible, naive, and stupid as they used to be back in the Eisenhower years. These days people expect more from religion – and given religion’s sordid past (slavery, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) – and Christians who want to engage the culture simply have to up their game.

    Lead or Leave!

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  3. Andrew Alladin says: up their game?

    you mean by a more popular and appealing way – labeling everyone ‘sick’ and calling them to repentance?

    Luke 5:31 And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

    Acts 17:30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

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  4. I checked the Croosway link given for this post and was honestly shocked at how women are now teaching alongside the GC male leaders through the printed page. How can anyone justify this on Biblical or confessional gorunds? There is no warrant for this and why this is allowed is baffling. Maybe I am simple and missing some deeper issue, but I don’t think so.

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