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Vantage point

The good old days


Ah, they don’t have church the way they used to. For those of you who long for the good old days, here are a few of the things you missed.

Reformer John Calvin was a bit stricter than the typical pastor today. Three men were once arrested for laughing during one of his services. If that were enforced today, there would be whole jails filled with nothing but evangelicals.

Puritans really had the Christmas spirit. Problem was, it was kind of a bad spirit. Not only did they outlaw the celebration of Christmas in England, they passed a law making December 25 an official workday! In colonial Boston, the fine was five shillings if it was deemed one’s December frolicking was related to Christmas.

This era was not kind to women. In the Church of England, women had to bring their own seats or stand. They usually brought stools.

Puritans loved sermons to go at least two hours. Any preacher who stopped short of this was considered a slacker. An opening prayer might be a mere 15 minutes, but the closing prayer often reached an hour or more.

Dozing attendees were typically embarrassed by being awakened with a feather or foxtail on a stick, or worse, a blow from a blunt object such as a doorknob.

There were music controversies in the good old days, too. At one time only psalms could be sung, and those had to be sung without instrumental accompaniment, which was deemed sinful. The organ was a more controversial instrument in its day than drums have ever been. And hymns were the Christian rock songs of their era.

Not all the old days were good old days. The church’s past had its good and its bad … just like its present. Instead of lamenting the loss of the good old days, I suggest we:

• Praise God for the abundant good in today’s church.
• Strive to understand change before criticizing it.
• Pray about problem areas and work constructively to improve them.

If we all do this we can enjoy the good new days of the church together.

Ken Horn

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