In an attempt to start to address this situation, a magazine was published in September 1955. With the aims of the magazine and in light of Psalm 60, Mr Norton chose the name The Banner of Truth. A gift had been given to cover the printing costs, but nothing further was promised to readers of that first magazine; there was no certainty of a second issue. Little did Sidney Norton and Iain Murray then imagine that over fifty-five years later, the Banner of Truthmagazine would still be in existence, with a new issue being produced each month!
The first magazine reflected its editors’ conviction that much of the best literature of historic Christianity had been allowed to fall into oblivion and that its recovery under God could well lead not only to a strengthening of the church today but to true revival. The origins of the Banner of Truth were therefore closely connected with the prayer that God would be pleased to visit Great Britain again in true awakening
Iain Murray’s interest in such literature had begun in 1951, when, as a young soldier in Singapore, a lady missionary had spoken to him and pointed him to the writings of M’Cheyne. Following on from the interest in M’Cheyne, on his return to England he had found the riches of long dead Puritan authors, hidden away in second-hand books. It was clear that the old Puritan authors had power in their writings. As the lives of more recent giants of church history such as Whitefield and Spurgeon were studied, it became apparent that the writings of the Puritans had been very influential in their lives. Seeing the way that God had used the writings of the Puritans in days gone by, Iain Murray and Sidney Norton longed to see such writings of the past readily available to the church once again. So along with the magazine in 1955, steps were taken to see if it might be possible to put back in print some of these treasures from the past.
But the hopes and plans were dashed when faced with financial reality, and the idea of publishing had to be put aside. In God’s providence, it was not the right time.
While the ideas of book publishing had to be put aside, help was forthcoming to produce another issue of the Banner of Truth magazine. In London, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the minister of Westminster Chapel, and from the first issue of the magazine, he took a close interest in what was developing. In February 1956, a second issue of the magazine was produced, with half of the production costs covered, at his encouragement, by a gift from the deacons of Westminster Chapel.