Five months ago, the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) forced out one of the world’s leading Christian publishers over a book it didn’t actually publish.
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group had published David Platt’s Radical, John Piper’s Desiring God, and Stephen Arterburn’s Every Man’s Battle. But then Convergent, a sister imprint which shared its staff, published God and the Gay Christian, a book arguing that same-gender sex is not sinful.
NRB president Jerry Johnson argued that NRB members cannot produce “unbiblical material, regardless of the label under which they do it,” and asked Multnomah to “reconsider and end the practice of having Christian workers from their publishing house work on Convergent projects.” Multnomah declined, and resigned its NRB membership in May rather than submit to an ethics review. [CT reported the debate in its July/August issue.]
But today the parent company of Multnomah and Convergent, Crown Publishing Group, announced a “transformative moment” that basically does what the NRB had requested.
In a reorganization conceived during the five months since the NRB dustup, Crown is separating the location and leadership of the imprints. Convergent will be moving out of the Colorado Springs office, where it shared resources and employees with Multnomah, and into the New York City offices, according to Crown’s senior vice president, Tina Constable.
Publishing veteran Steve Cobb, who currently leads both imprints, will retire in March. Alexander Field, publisher at David C. Cook, will take over WaterBrook Multnomah and seek to “build upon [its] rich history in the evangelical space.” Convergent, which focuses on books for “progressive and mainline Christians who demand an open, inclusive, and culturally engaged exploration of faith,” will be led by David Kopp. (The release notes that Cobb’s retirement was first raised 18 months ago, prior to the NRB controversy.)
In May, longtime WaterBrook Multnomah author Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told CT that he believed Multnomah was “in serious danger of crashing its brand in terms of evangelical trust,” and was “quite certain that a host of evangelical authors share this deep concern.”
Johnson wrote in May that the NRB and Multnomah both “expressed a desire to revisit the issue of their membership if they separate the staff of WaterBrook Multnomah from the work of Convergent in the future.”
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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra