Ghosts of Christians’ Past

April 27, 2009

It’s great to be a 21st century Christian. Whether you are a Catholic, a Baptist, a Methodist or some kind of miscellaneous ‘Christ follower,’ life is good. We have access to great theology, we have great Christian music, and we are able to share an incredible amount of ideas on how to be better Christians.

But we musn’t forget that our church today owes a lot to Christians of yesteryear and the ideas and theology that we have since been able to build upon. Had you been alive when these Christians were thriving, you would be proud to call yourself among their kind, and should still be today!

Awesome Christians Who No Longer Exist

Puritans
When I think of Puritans, several adjectives come to mind:
Tolerant
Snappy Clothing
Forgiving
Enjoying Life
Not Burning Women at the Stake

In fact, the Puritans so embodied these characteristics that their name has become a slang when you want to compliment someone.

‘Is she really wearing that on her date? Is she trying to look like a Puritan!’
‘Our sex education books look like they were written by Puritans!’

Puritans also showed us that the proper length for sermons is somewhere between 3 and 5 hours, that women should not speak in church, and that all entertainment, music and holidays are evil.

Puritan history pretty much goes like this:

Puritan Pastor: ‘We have arrived in America. We have escaped the cruel religious persecution of England. Now we can worship freely as we choose!’

Elias: ‘Pastor, I was thinking about your sermon, and I’m just not sure…’

Puritan Pastor: ‘Persecute him!’

Deacon: ‘What are you wearing? Is that a red ribbon in your hair?’

Puritan Pastor: ‘Persecute her!’

Ebenezer: ‘This one’s a witch!’

Silas: ‘Set up our ‘burnin’ stakes!’

Shakers
Shakers were like Puritans on steroids. Not to be confused with Quakers who gave us Pennsylvania, oatmeal, and motor oil (and still exist), Shakers were like the Pentecostal New Agers of the time. They believed in finding God within yourself. Sounds appealing. They used song and dance in worship, so far so good. But above all else, we can thank the Shakers for giving us the cherished and age old notion that sex is an instrument of the devil. Praise the Lord, we no longer have to feel some modicum of pleasure in life without feeling guilty about it.

Shaker history goes like this:

Church Visitor: ‘Well I quite liked your worship service. Thanks for inviting me.’

Shaker Pastor: ‘Oh we’re so glad you came. Have some of this delightful pound cake!’

Church Visitor: ‘Mmmm, it’s quite good. Say, I notice there’s no children here.’

Shaker Pastor: ‘That’s right. We believe…’it’ is evil. We don’t do it at all!’

Church Visitor: ‘Welp, see you later!’

Somehow, three centuries later, four Shakers still exist. Don’t know how that happened.

The Peoples’ Temple
When you visit a church and Pastor Jim Jones is funding the building by selling pet monkeys door to door, you know you’ve visited the right place.

Pastor Jones proved that you can be a Methodist, an Advenist, an Integrationist, a Marxist, a Messiah and an Atheist all at once and come out all right. He also gave us reason to add ‘drinking the kool-aid’ to our vocabulary.

Whenever someone asks me about my house church, and they’re giving a puzzled or suspicous look, I say, ‘Hold on, I’ve got to finish making the kool-aid. Sunday’s a big day!’

The Inquisitors
While not a denomination, Inquisitors were the church’s personal goons and henchmen hired to root out heretics with tactics such as making victims sit in ‘comfy chairs.’ The Inquisition represents one of the more awesome times in church history. One might be afraid that the church today will be taken over by heretics without any more Inquisitors, but thankfully, there are still people carrying the torch, such as…

Westboro Baptist Church
While not belonging to any Baptist denomination, Westboro Baptist and Pastor Fred Phelps are kicking it old school with down home damnation served up hot for everyone. Thanks to this church’s tireless efforts, we now know that God hates homosexuals, as well as Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and America because they all tolerate homosexuals. I’m glad I live just 90 miles from this guy.

Thus, we can be sure that the long and storied tradition of awesome Christians will continue long after we are gone. The Puritans, Shakers, Inquisitors are all gone. One day, Westboro Baptist will be gone. But their legacy will live on.

What is your favorite defunct Christians group? Do you think your church or denomination will last until the end of the world? What will be it’s contribution?

One response to Ghosts of Christians’ Past

  1. This is brillant! Well written. Accurate and hilarious. I wish my RE lessons were this fun, i would learn a hell of alot more! I had no idea half of these churches exsisted! :)