My introduction to Mark Galli came when he hired me to be assistant editor at Christian History magazine in 1997. As summary of his editorial approach, he handed me the new issue on Eastern Orthodoxy.
“Our approach, as usual, is to try to understand Orthodoxy from the perspective of the Orthodox,” he wrote in that issue’s introduction. “We hope there are times in the issue when you think, That’s pretty cogent—and attractive.… Some will assume we’re trying to evangelize for Orthodoxy. Hardly. We just happen to believe that we cannot truly understand a historical subject unless we can empathize with it.”
Mark continued to empathize with and be attracted to the people, movements, and ideas he covered at Christian History and later at Christianity Today. He rarely left them behind: You won’t go long talking to Mark without hearing wisdom gleaned from the church fathers, Francis of Assisi, Karl Barth, Gerhard Forde, or others along his journey.
But even as he paddled in various Christian streams, Mark resolutely remained an evangelical, with commitments forged in the Presbyterian wars of his years as a pastor and wielded with grace. CT editors and writers can be tempted to despair at evangelicalism, to compare the worst of this movement against the best of others. And the strength of this semper reformandaactivist movement can easily enable self-righteousness. Mark’s rule has been steadfast: We don’t wag fingers. For years he kept a sign posted on his door for all editors to heed: “Love your evangelical reader as yourself.” Borrowing from Chesterton, he’d remind us: Evangelicals are not the problem; I am.
There was an unspoken corollary to ...1
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