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The history of Light magazine

Celebrating 75 years of the ERLC’s publication

The Southern Baptist publication Light magazine was launched 75 years ago in 1948. It was relaunched in 1964, again in 1978, and yet again in 2015. Light may be the most relaunched denominational publication in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Throughout its history, one thing has remained the same: the publication has been dedicated to providing insightful articles, commentaries, and reviews on various topics such as moral and social issues, cultural trends, and biblical principles.

Light has featured contributions from some of the most prominent voices in evangelicalism, including Richard Land, Russell D. Moore, and Albert Mohler Jr. Today, under the leadership of ERLC President Brent Leatherwood, the magazine remains committed to exploring the intersection of faith and culture, promoting Christian thinking on ethical issues, and advocating for religious freedom and human dignity.

In addition to its print edition, Light also offers an online presence through the ERLC website, where archived articles and issues can be read online or downloaded as a PDF for free.

The history of Light

Light was first published by the Social Services Commission (SSC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), a forerunner of the ERLC, in 1948. The newsletter was published on an irregular schedule throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, as the SSC (1947–1952) became the Christian Life Commission (CLC, 1953–1997). It was relaunched in 1964 as “an occasional bulletin in Chrisitian social ethics,” but ceased publication again from 1967–1977.

The publication resumed in 1978 on a regular schedule, until it ceased publication once again from 2013–2014. The publication has occasionally held alternate titles including Christian Life Bulletin (1955–1958), For Faith and Family Light magazine (May–December 2004), and For Faith & Family magazine (2005–2012). Light magazine was relaunched as a print and online magazine by the ERLC in the summer of 2015. 

Notable articles and issues from Light’s history

Here is a sampling of some of the noteworthy issues and articles from previous decades.

May 1948: A Conference of Christians on World Peace

The inagural issue of Light began with a statement by individuals “concerned about the serious drift toward war” with the Soviet Union. The issue also claimed that “The Military of this country [the United States] is in an all out campaign to dominate the total life of America” and that “While the Military beat the drums of war and call men to worship the power of the atom bomb it is an hour for Christians to call men to the God of All Power, whose redeeming love can unite the world in brotherhood and peace.”

November 1957: A Pastor Looks at Integration in Little Rock

During the early civil rights era, Light published a sermon by an SBC pastor in Little Rock where racial integration of public schools was about to begin. “There are those who base their extreme opposition to integration upon their interpretation of the Scriptures,” says Dr. Dale Cowling. “These individuals are sincere beyond question. They are simply greatly mistaken in their efforts to prove that God has marked the Negro race and relegated it to the role of servant.”

November 1978: Hunger Relief

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, numerous articles in Light focused on the issue of hunger, both in the U.S. and around the globe (the SBC passed six resolutions on global hunger between 1975 and 1982). This issue provides an example of how the issue was covered by the CLC. 

January 1985: Prosecuting Porn 

The scourge of pornography didn’t begin with the internet. And as this 1985 interview reminds us, the problem isn’t about technology but with the human heart: “There’s no problem with the [anti-obscenity] law. The problem is waking up apathetic Americans and getting prosecutors to do something about pornography. ”

July/August 1999: Who Wins? The Real Cost of Legalized Gambling

Gambling has always been opposed by Southern Baptists. But in 1999, a new form of technology related gambling was becoming prominent—day trading.

March/April 2004: The Connected Generation

Technology wasn’t an issue that gained much attention in the magazine during its first three decades. But beginning in the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s, the publication began to include more ethical consideration of tech in the Christian life. This issue on family and the internet is a prime example. 

Summer 2015: Marriage Redefined? 

Light was relaunched in the summer that the Supreme Court’s issued a ruling declaring same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right. This issue considered the various ways that redefining marriage would affect America and discussed how Christians should respond. 

The ERLC is committed to ensuring that Light remains a trusted source of biblically-informed guidance for Christians, helping Southern Baptists live out their faith in a rapidly changing world. 

See also: The Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives maintains an online archive of issues from 1948-2004. Issues since 2018 can be found on the ERLC website



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