Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Popular Apostasy

Photo courtesy of the Franklin Collection.

I took my father for a drive one evening not too long ago. Over old country roads that were once so familiar. Latent memories brightened his face at every turn: “I used to plow that field for Jake, or plant that one for Dave, or combine that for Marlon.” Returning from the war, he and his often envied Oliver 70, purchased for two hundred dollars and two mules, not only tended his land but that of a multitude of others, land he knew as intimately as his own.

Suddenly, pointing toward the fading sun, he became disturbed: “There used to be a church there and a graveyard.” But I saw nothing but the silhouette of a fencerow entwined with reeds and vines. Yes, there had been a church, and perhaps as many as a dozen other one room sanctuaries scattered along that dusty meandering road, but like this one, little or nothing now remains. The voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride are now forever silent.

These forgotten churches of fair meadows and vale are so unlike those of today: No satellite receiver affixed to a steeple. No sermons to “spiritually” download or hymns with copyright code. No worship bands to rival a night club or bar. Or messages patterned after some Hollywood movie or star. No popular book studies other then the King James. No “Lights, Action, Camera” directing performers to take the stage. And sometimes not even a pastor. But they continued steadfastly in the apostles teaching and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers in a time when apostasy could travel little faster than an occasional circuit rider, in a time when Satan could deceive but one church at a time.

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