Before and After

Johnny Ramsey
Odessa, Texas

Last Sunday afternoon I witnessed the dedication of the new building of the Parker Heights Christian Church. This ceremony taught me several things. I pray these thoughts will indelibly impress each one of us to "stand fast in the faith" and to firmly oppose the inroads Satan is making in the religious world today.

First of all, they had the ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the new edifice. As I watched the great fanfare that accompanied this particular event, the Word of God came clearly to my mind -- "the vain glory of life." The preacher called on the eldest member of the church, the youngest, the head elder, leading deacon, the woman president of the choir, etc., to have a part in these exercises.

At the conclusion of this phase of the dedicatory service, the minister called for the chairman of the Odessa Ministerial Alliance to follow the honored guests into the building and onto the platform. Although this man was a Methodist pastor the Christian Church preacher called him "Brother Shaw." "Reverend Shaw" had a part on the program! All of this took place in a conservative Christian Church. At least the, Parker Heights minister told me that his congregation was of the conservative wing of the Disciples!

The processional into the sanctuary was led by a robed choir singing the doxology. Soft organ music followed this and was played throughout the seating of the audience. I suppose it aided the parishioners in finding their seats.

A printed program was handed to each one of us as we entered the building. On the front of it was an explanation of the, Christian Church and its origin. The names of Campbell, Stone and Walter Scott were given as the great men of the movement. It was stated that the Christian Church was dedicated to "following the teachings of the New Testament." As I looked about me to the robed choir, the Methodist pastor, the women on the program and the sectarian atmosphere it seemed clear that Roman Catholicism has made a greater impact on these people than had the New Testament.

As the organ continued to ring out, my mind recalled the many times folks had said "There isn't much difference in the Christian Church and the Church of Christ." The denominational speech throughout the dedication reminded me that the Christian Church has certainly become a full-fledged sectarian body. How great a departure has been wrought due to the attitude toward the Bible that placed the first musical instrument in the church building in Midway, Kentucky in 1859!

Brethren, do you know what was written on the cornerstone?


Upon this Rock I will build My Church.

(Matthew 16:18)

Our Lord would not have recognized it as His own. So many things have been added. Nowhere in the New Testament was Christ's Church named after the disciples of the Lord.

Soberly, I walked out of the building. History accurately records that one century ago these people had begun to want to be, like the nations round about them. They have had their heart's desire.

Reflectively I asked myself, "Shall we, too, cease to be content to walk in the narrow path?" "Will we let the vain glory of life get the best of us?"

Beloved, we are living in trying times again. We must have the courage of our convictions if the Lord's church is kept pure and sound. May God help us to make all things according to the pattern.

If the world stands for another century, where will the church of Christ stand in 2057? Perhaps our decisions today will decide that weighty question.

Truth Magazine I:8, p. 12
May 1957