The Publishing Ministry


Chapter 14—Commercial Versus Denominational Printing

Witnessing Through Commercial Contacts—One of the means by which these [publishing] institutions are brought in contact with the world is found in commercial work. [SDA Publishing Houses accepted commercial printing contracts up until the time of the Review and Herald and Pacific Press Publishing Association fires in 1902 and 1906 respectively. The extra income thus provided assisted these publishing institutions in operating on a viable financial base. But the missionary motivation behind such operations was largely forgotten. When commercial work became nearly all-absorbing and the purpose served was largely monetary, God signified His displeasure in the disastrous fires that destroyed the church's two largest publishing houses. Commercial work stopped after these devastating fires. The policy regarding commercial work today is as follows: “It is recommended that publishing houses equip their institutions with the view of building up denominational printing and eliminating all commercial work.”—General Conference Publishing Department Policies, 20.] A door is thus opened for the communication of the light of truth. PM 160.1

The workmen may think themselves doing only worldly business, when they are engaged in the very work that will call out questions in regard to the faith and principles they hold. If they are of the right spirit they will be able to speak words in season. If the light of heavenly truth and love is in them, it cannot but shine out. The very manner in which they conduct business will make manifest the working of divine principles. Of our workers, the artisans, as of one of old, it may be said: “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.” Exodus 31:3.—Testimonies for the Church 7:161, 162. PM 160.2

Commercial work should in no case become all-absorbing. The Lord would have the truth go forth as a lamp that is trimmed and burning.... The commercial work should bring the believers in connection with the unbelievers, that the truth, by being lived, may be as seed sown, and its influence touch the ends of the earth.—Letter 137, 1898. PM 161.1

Commercial Work Not to Stand First—In no case are the publishing institutions to be devoted chiefly to commercial work. When this work is given the first place, those connected with the publishing houses lose sight of the purpose for which they were established, and their work deteriorates. PM 161.2

There is danger that managers whose spiritual perception is perverted will enter into contracts to publish questionable matter merely for the sake of gain. As the result of taking in this work, the purpose for which the offices of publication were established is lost sight of, and the institutions are regarded very much as any other commercial enterprise would be. In this God is dishonored. PM 161.3

In some of our publishing houses the commercial work necessitates a constant increase of expensive machinery and other facilities. The outlay thus demanded is a heavy tax on the resources of the institution, and with a large amount of work there is required not only an increase of facilities, but a larger force of workers than can be properly disciplined. PM 161.4

It is claimed that the commercial work is a financial benefit to the office. But One of authority has made a correct estimate of the cost of this work at our leading publishing houses. He presented the true balance, showing that the loss exceeds the gain. He showed that this work causes the workers to be driven with a constant rush. In the atmosphere of hurry and bustle and worldliness, true piety and devotion wither. PM 161.5

It is not necessary that the commercial work should be entirely divorced from the publishing houses, for this would close the door against rays of light that should be given to the world. And connection with outside parties need be no more detrimental to the workers than was Daniel's work as a statesman a perversion of his faith and principles. But whenever it is found to interfere with the spirituality of the institution, let the outside work be excluded. Build up the work that represents the truth. Let this always come first, and the commercial work second. Our mission is to give to the world the message of warning and mercy.—Testimonies for the Church 7:162, 163. PM 161.6

Sensible Prices and Fair Profits—In the effort to secure outside patronage in order to relieve the publishing houses from financial embarrassment, prices have been set so low that the work brings no profit. Those who flatter themselves that there is a gain have not kept strict account of every outgo. Do not cut down prices in order to secure a job. Take only such work as will give a fair profit. PM 162.1

At the same time there should be in our business deal no shadow of selfishness or overreaching. Let no one take advantage of any man's ignorance or necessity by charging exorbitant prices for work done or for goods sold. There will be strong temptation to diverge from the straight path; there will be innumerable arguments in favor of conforming to custom and adopting practices that are really dishonest. Some urge that in dealing with sharpers one must conform to custom; that, should he maintain strict integrity, he could not carry on business and secure a livelihood. Where is our faith in God? He owns us as His sons and daughters on condition that we come out from the world and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing. To His institutions as well as to individual Christians are addressed the words, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness,” and His promise is sure that all things needed for this life shall be added.—Testimonies for the Church 7:163, 164. PM 162.2

Printing Demoralizing Literature—When our publishing houses do a large amount of commercial work, there is great danger that an objectionable class of literature will be brought in.... PM 162.3

We have no permission from the Lord to engage either in the printing or in the sale of such publications; for they are the means of destroying many souls. I know of what I am writing, for this matter has been opened before me. Let not those who believe the message for this time engage in such work, thinking to make money. The Lord will put a blight upon the means thus obtained; He will scatter more than is gathered. PM 162.4

There is another class of literature, more defiling than the leprosy, more deadly than the plagues of Egypt, against which our publishing houses need unceasingly to guard. In accepting commercial work, let them beware lest matters presenting the very science of Satan be admitted into our institutions. Let not works setting forth the soul-destroying theories of hypnotism, spiritualism, Romanism, or other mysteries of iniquity find a place in our publishing houses.... PM 163.1

The managers of our institutions need to realize that in accepting their position they become responsible for the mental food given to the workers while in the institution. They are responsible for the character of the matter that goes forth from our presses. They will be called to account for the influence exerted by the introduction of matter that would defile the institution, contaminate the workers, or mislead the world.—Testimonies for the Church 7:164-167. PM 163.2

When Employees Should Refuse to Work—A responsibility rests not only upon the managers, but upon the employees. I have a word to say to the workers in every publishing house established among us: As you love and fear God, refuse to have anything to do with the knowledge against which God warned Adam. Let typesetters refuse to set a sentence of such matter. Let proofreaders refuse to read, pressmen to print, and binders to bind it. If asked to handle such matter, call for a meeting of the workers in the institution, that there may be an understanding as to what such things mean. Those in charge of the institution may urge that you are not responsible, that the managers must arrange these matters. But you are responsible—responsible for the use of your eyes, your hands, your mind. These are entrusted to you by God to be used for Him, not for the service of Satan. PM 163.3

When matters containing errors that counteract the work of God are printed in our houses of publication, God holds accountable not only those who allow Satan to lay a trap for souls, but those who in any way cooperate in the work of temptation. PM 164.1

My brethren in responsible positions, beware that you do not harness your workers to the car of superstition and heresy. Let not the institutions ordained by God to send out life-giving truth be made an agency for the dissemination of soul-destroying error. PM 164.2

Let our publishing houses, from the least to the greatest, refuse to print a line of such pernicious matter. Let it be understood by all with whom we have to do that from all our institutions literature containing the science of Satan is excluded. PM 164.3

We are brought into connection with the world, not that we may be leavened with the world's falsehood, but that as God's agencies we may leaven the world with His truth.—Testimonies for the Church 7:167, 168. (See also Testimonies for the Church 8:91-93.) PM 164.4

Calamity Predicted—I feel a terror of soul as I see to what a pass our publishing house has come. The presses in the Lord's institution have been printing the soul-destroying theories of Romanism and other mysteries of iniquity. The office must be purged of this objectionable matter. I have a testimony from the Lord for those who have placed such matter in the hands of the workers. God holds you accountable for presenting to young men and young women the fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge. Can it be possible that you have not a knowledge of the warnings given to the Pacific Press on this subject? Can it be possible that with a knowledge of these warnings you are going over the same ground, only doing much worse? It has often been repeated to you that angels of God are passing through every room in the office. What impression has this made on your minds? PM 164.5

You have given matter containing Satan's sentiments into the hands of the workers, bringing his deceptive, polluting principles before their minds. The Lord looks upon this action on your part as helping Satan to prepare his snare to catch souls. God will not hold guiltless those who have done this thing. He has a controversy with the managers of the publishing house. I have been almost afraid to open the Review, fearing to see that God has cleansed the publishing house by fire.—Testimonies for the Church 8:91. PM 164.6

Unless there is a reformation, calamity will overtake the publishing house, and world will know the reason.—Testimonies for the Church 8:96. PM 165.1

Commercialism Reproved at Mountain View—While at St. Helena, again and again it has been revealed to me that there was not a correct state of things at Mountain View; that there were present the very conditions that made it essential for the publishing work to be removed from Oakland. [The original West Coast Printing House in Oakland was established in 1874. Because of growing work and the problems created by the city environment, the publishing house was moved to Mountain View in 1904. The destructive fire of July 20, 1906, effectively settled the problem of commercial printing.] I saw that in the working out of human ideas and plans there was a disregarding of the light God had given in the past to correct existing evils. There is danger that the experience of the past will be repeated. The men who are serving in the management of the work can just as surely swerve the work into lines of commercialism as in the past. PM 165.2

My Instructor said, “This in no case must be.” They have had warnings in the past over and over again, for eighteen or twenty years, but have not fully heeded these warnings. There are those who have had no heart in the matter of moving out of Oakland, but have been opposing their resistance to the instructions that have been given; and their unbelief has strengthened with the spirit of opposition to the movement. The Lord's message was, “Out of the cities; break up the continual temptation to engage in commercial business, which has been such a great injury to the work.” A failure to heed the messages given, and repeated for years, has been a decided injury to the souls of many.—Manuscript 57, 1906. PM 165.3

Commercialism to Be Purged From Every Office—All heaven is interested in the work in which we are engaged. We must do a solid, not a superficial, work. I am grieved when I see our printing offices doing so much commercial work, virtually saying to the world, “Bring your work to us; we will do it for you.” We have more work for the Lord than we can possibly perform. There is much to be done that we will overlook unless we are baptized with the Holy Spirit. We desire that commercialism shall be purged from every office.—Manuscript 73, 1906. PM 166.1

Our Publishing Houses Governed by Distinct Principles—If the Echo office was to mean no more to our people than a secular publishing house, if it was to be conducted on the same principles as were other business institutions, then it was not wise to invest so much means in establishing the office. It would have been less expense to hire our printing done by outside parties.—Letter 23a, 1893. PM 166.2