Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 25, 1949
NUMBER 16, PAGE 3,6b

Playing Church In The Parks!

Wallace W. Thompson

Vacation time is here. People will cease from their labors a short period and relax in the exuberant breezes. The Lord has provided spacious grounds in the great out doors, such as, the shore lines of the surging seas, the giant monarchs of the forest, the tilted faces of majestic mountains, the gurgling brooks flowing through grassy shades and the dashing, bouncing fountains of the flowing rivers, the pale of desert sands and sages, the deep gorges of painted canyons, the wild flowered hills, the rolling plains, and paradisiacal islands. Only heaven can surpass these bountiful beauties. To look upon the landscapes of earth ought to increase our faith in God. Yet, we must look beyond the horizons, and beyond the glittering firmament of swinging chandeliers for hope and happiness. Many people worship things in nature's fields who do not worship God.

Times And Trends

Time changes. Customs and habits change. People change their attitudes. The age is past. Means of travel has changed the relationship of the peoples of earth. The world has been pleasure mad for the longest. The church has in every century had its problems and persecutions. Certain men have ever crept in as "wolves in sheep's clothing" to divide and scatter the flock. Men that cannot work through the church to foster their pernicious deeds and doctrines work through institutions. The devil has been using a "softening up" campaign through colleges and clubs or lodges. It calls for a dividing of the ranks of Christians. Many churches have reached the point where straight-forward preaching gives a sickening effect. Men who defy the vaunted pleas of popularity are called "radicals." And some very pious professors smirk and smile and say, "We stand with the majority"! There have always been pretentious preachers, and if they are not licentious morally, they are spiritually. They are "spots" on the church, they "feed themselves without fear", they "murmur and complain", they speak "great swelling words in admiration of men's persons", they are "mockers" and walk after their desires They use the Bible for advantage and work for fleshly profit. They do not love the church nor truth. They serve their own belly. They sell the truth and let it lay "fallen in the streets"! They put God's word on par with man's discoveries. They are faithless, fearless, and foolish perverted of "the faith once delivered". And most of the "softies" are conjoined with doubtful and daring men who defy the Word! There were those in the times of the apostles who were unfaithful, but that did not lessen the responsibility of the gospel preachers.

Might Does Not Make Right!

The right is mighty! God and three hundred soldiers were more than a match for multitudes of Midianites by the hill of Moreh. Jehovah and Elijah proved more powerful than Baal's four hundred and fifty prophets and four hundred more that sat at Jezebel's table. So, often the majority is in the wrong. There are numberless examples that attest this fact. All over the brotherhood churches are sponsoring "encampments" in parks and by pools of pleasure. The accompaniment to all this is "spiritual guidance." It looks as if the church were taking its "honeymoon" yearly. I wonder how soon it will be when we hear some zealot of pleasure develop a "National Movement" for the whole brotherhood. There is just as much scripture for the church to use the accompaniment of instrumental music in its work and worship, as to accompany it with pleasure and amusement. They are incompatible. If this keeps up, churches will begin to have playgrounds and party rooms, pleasure resorts and club rooms for the members. Can one scripture be cited to sustain such? No! Can one example be given in support of such? No! Does that make any difference to the people that want them? No! Not those who are "heady and high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God"!

Playing Church!

Children often live in dreamland, an unreal country, a fairyland. Their imagination is nearly as good as some preachers'. They play house, they play store, they play school, and get a big kick out of it. The older folks are following in their footsteps, only they are applying it to the church. They have formed themselves a society. They convene yearly at Yosemite, Tanda Lodge or some other happy-hunting ground. It is too big for any local congregation to pay the bills, so the rest of them just select a "sponsor." With the money that is contributed at such places they pay the expenses, or does one congregation pay all the bills? Tanda Lodge is an outgrowth of Yosemite. What is it? 0, a group of brethren organized themselves into a lodge, yes sir, like any other lodge only they are all members of the church, to provide recreation of all sorts. We do not know what will grow out of Tanda Lodge if they get by with it. Groups leave their congregations for week-end trips. Some of the members of Tanda Lodge will fellowship premillennialists; some of them will fellowship folks who worship with the instruments of music mechanical. The Board of Directors is honeycombed with compromisers that cannot stand sound doctrine.

Why does one go to the mountains? I have asked several who were going, and everyone admitted the main object was to have a vacation. This is true. The other is secondary or incidental. So, the Lord's work becomes secondary to pleasure. And while the brethren are skylarking in the mountains and valleys, under the domes and Half-Dome, the churches in the community suffer in attendance, contribution, and interest. And what if the whole church decided to meet there on the Lord's Day? It may not be long till we see signs like I saw, during a gospel meeting I conducted in Taft, California, on a denominational church building, viz., "CLOSED DURING VACATION PERIOD. OPEN AUG. 31." At the present rate of travel, it could happen to us. But, someone urges, "Good comes from it." None dare deny that good deeds are done by denominational churches, by clubs, by lodges, and missionary societies. Are we to say, "Let us do evil that good may come?

The forbidden fruit was "good for food." If it had not been good for anything there would have been no temptation. The devil sells all his products with that label, "It is good" or "It is fun", and another "there is no harm in it." If people can on a spree like this there is no preacher among us, if it is right, that can condemn a group going fishing and taking the Lord's Supper with them, or another on an outing or picnic, and yet another hunting in remote regions and missing the communion with his Lord and the saints. And they can do it as often as they like if they can do it once!

Let us soberly think on these matters. Let us not thrust these issues from us or toss them aside, but ponder them to get at the truth. I am perfectly willing to suffer the sharp barbs of the stiff-necked critics if you will but meditate and pray upon the matter. I have no fear, if you are sincere and love the church, as to your decision.

The Soft Group

They are not bold to speak the truth. Paul was, the apostles were. They dilly-dally, shilly-shally, beat around the bush, never come direct to the point. They want to love anything and everything, fellowship anything and everything. They speak affectedly. They can speak soft to everyone but a devoted preacher of the gospel. They fight for human arrangements; they idle and twaddle with divine arrangements. They fight to uphold human institutions; they abandon the fight to sustain the glorious church. They fight to teach human theories, they retreat from the outspoken Word of God! They use psychology, and methods of approach and never approach. They are long on manner of teaching, they are short on teaching. They are long on education, yet nobody can understand them, they are always misunderstood! Mark it well, "Birds of a feather flock together." Those with whom they associate are as much like them as two peas. Fellows that persistently associate with them are cast in the same mold! Many are not blind to their purposes. No, thank you, I care not to have association with men who do not love the church, and the truth. And if you say, "I love the church and truth" show it in your life, words, and actions, exalt them over everything!


A general trend is to form ecclesiastical groups within in the church. But each congregation ought to do its own work. There is no authority in the scriptures for one big church to become the custodian for many churches to promote a work anywhere. Others have a desire to burden the church with clubs, lodges, and committees; for this there is no authority. While others want to put the church into the pleasure and resort business. And yet others want to tie the strings of institutionalism (upon) the church and get it beyond its sphere of activity. Let us loose the strings forever and permit the church stand aloof from all such. Exalt it above human authority. Raise the blood-stained banner of truth as we march toward the "City of God", and hold it high! Wear in honor the name of the King of kings, and deny it not for man, demon, or angel. Keep telling the sweet, story, again and again, for it is ever new. Let it be joy by day and peace by night. In the great conflict there are more than "seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal" All over the are raising in magnificent might in united power... (illegible)... coming tide to put down ungodliness in the church gallant soldiers of the cross are waving their battle-proved and battle-scarred swords on the far-flung field in the fight against the foes of the faith. True, some are battle weary, and soon will relinquish the sword of battle for a crown of peace and rest. But another valiant soldier will come and stand in his place, and there shall be no gap in the ranks. Some glad day all fighting will cease. Then will come the day of rewards and eternal peace. Let us keep the faith!