Joel Belz: Open to criticism and correction


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, December 4th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.  It’s crucial that we in the media get things right, and accountability is a must.

WORLD founder Joel Belz says accountability is a two-way street.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: We launched WORLD Magazine 33 years ago. And it seems helpful to once in awhile make an editorial confession.

You may remember I’ve said it’s uncomfortable to report on the negative behavior of some Christian leaders or organizations. Well, it may startle you to know that we have devoted some 1,800 WORLD pages to open evaluation and criticism of just one organization.

Some of that criticism has been sharp. In some cases, we’ve had to tone it down before we felt right sending it off to the printer.

But we do print it, because that organization needs accountability. And as you may have guessed: that organization is WORLD itself. Our “Mailbag” section has appeared in every print issue since March 1986.

Does this mean WORLD thinks it has some exclusive handle on God’s truth? Hardly. I mention it here because, as WORLD’s founder, I’ll admit I still feel self-conscious when we report on the failures of other Christians.

But it’s not just a one-way street. The fact that we provide a forum in every issue where readers can lob rocks back at us demonstrates some equity in the process. We’ve carried on that tradition here at WORLD Radio, where we include corrections and criticisms in our listener feedback segments.

Of course, none of us enjoys bad publicity. We aren’t thrilled when people point out that we dropped the ball. But we remain committed to provide a forum for people to make those points for a very simple reason: It adds to our overall credibility.

In the end, it helps us earn your trust. And that’s one of our core values.

Oddly, many Christians leaders and organizations think the opposite. They believe an open forum for criticism injures their credibility. So they sit on the facts and suppress discussion. Such folks forget that light always trumps darkness. Truth always wins the argument with ignorance.

Yes, light and truth can sometimes hurt. But it’s far better than enduring the festering cancer of a dark coverup or an uncorrected wrong.

And, yes, light and truth must be what they claim to be. That’s why we adhere to the Biblical standard of two or more witnesses when it comes to reporting misdeeds. Publishing shadowy rumors or assertions unfounded in fact is wrong.

We take seriously the Apostle Paul’s command to “speak the truth in love.” Such provocations aren’t always comfortable, but they’re necessary for the ultimate good of the body.

Here at WORLD, we’ll continue to poke, probe, and tickle—always trying to encourage the body of Christ to be what it is supposed to be. And we’ll encourage you to poke, probe, and tickle back.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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