BETHANY (AP) – Reports from the Jordan River today indicate that John the Baptist, a religious leader known for immersing repentant sinners in water, will no longer allow himself to be called the “Baptist,” as described in one written account by a former tax collector known as Matthew. When asked why the name removal was necessary, John replied, “Our focus groups have indicated that people are rather turned off by the whole ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ idea. We want to remove any hindrance to their acceptance of our message. Thus, we are also considering changing our diet from locusts and honey to more acceptable grains and vegetables grown locally and organically, so as not to offend the People for the Ethical Treatment of Bugs.” However, in a surprising move, John plans to keep his camel-hair jacket, reminding protestors that camels moult five pounds of hair each year and are unharmed by the process of producing such garments.
ZURICH (AP) – Reports of religious reformer Balthasar Hubmaier and his stubborn insistence that infant baptism is unscriptural have created a firestorm, with observers predicting he will be burned to death and his wife Elizabeth, in a cruel mimicry of immersion baptism, will be drowned in the Danube River with a stone tied around her neck. According to Elizabeth, “Those restless young people at that awful school think they have all the answers and won’t even listen to anyone who disagrees with them. But I’m not going to let the ‘old ball and chain’ drag me down with him. If I’m going to fit in with everybody else around here, I simply must reject and renounce the name “Anabaptist.”
AMSTERDAM (AP) – Reports of Cambridge graduate and former Anglican minister John Smyth reciting a confession of faith and baptizing himself by immersion set off a scandal recently. Following his self-baptism, he then baptized 36 others, saying, “Whatever we do, let us not allow ourselves to be called ‘Baptists’ for our world clearly despises that term, and it will only limit our effectiveness as we seek to accomplish the will of God and share our faith with the nations. Perhaps we can find a kinder and gentler manner of referring to ourselves. Instead of taking such a strong stand against false teaching, let us simply call ourselves ‘the Nice Christians’ and see if people like that term better.”
LEICESTER (AP) – Minister William Carey recently authored a short book with a long title: An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens Along With the Renunciation of the Name Baptist, A Name Which Incontrovertibly Turneth Them Off. According to Carey, who is planning a missionary journey to Calcutta later this year, “If we are going to expect great things from God and attempt great things for God, we must by all means refuse to allow this blasted name to get in the way.”
CALCUTTA (AP) – Following his theological conviction that believer’s baptism is the only biblically valid position, American missionary Adoniram Judson announced today that, rather than dropping his affiliation with Congregationalist churches, he would simply become dually aligned with the “Nice Christians Who Immerse Believers After Their Profession of Faith But Must Not Be Referred to as Baptists,” a growing network of churches in America. Defending his dual affiliation, Judson said, “Just because we don’t see eye to eye on the nonessentials of baptism does not mean that we cannot cooperate together for the sake of our mutual gospel proclamation. Frankly, I would love to receive funding from both sources–the Congregationalists and the Nice Christians.”
GREENVILLE (AP) – William Bullein Johnson, a graduate of Brown University in Rhode Island, the first Nice Christian institution of higher education in America, was asked today to become the first President of the Warmer Climate Nice Christian Convention. The schism with Colder Climate Nice Christians concerns the appointment of missionaries from the Warmer Climate who desire nothing other than to tell people all over the world about Christ. Colder Climate Christians do not believe that Warmer Climate Christians are qualified to share this message since they support the evil institution of slavery by purchasing slaves from the Colder Climate Slave Trading Shipowners. According to Johnson, “It would certainly be appropriate for us to discover some way to define ourselves apart from the obvious and bland reality that we are ‘nice’ Christians. If only we could find some way succinctly to declare both that place from which we come geographically and those beliefs that we cherish most theologically.”
LAKE FOREST (AP) – In planting the Saddleback Valley Baptist Church, Pastor Rick Warren admits he is breaking the mold and charting a new and creative course for those Christians who follow the biblical method of baptizing believers by immersion after a profession of faith. “I like to make things simple so people can really understand and gain access to the truth,” said Warren, whose church happens to be located in the most rapidly growing area of the United States. “It’s not so much about methods and marketing. We just tell people about Jesus and baptize them like He told us. If people want to call us ‘Baptists’ for doing things this way, it’s fine with us. It’s kind of a shorthand way to define what we believe. We don’t want the absence of a clearly identifiable name to prevent people from coming to our Lord simply because they don’t know what we stand for.”
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – After years of struggling with what to call themselves, Warmer Climate Nice Christians will gather for their annual convention this summer in New Orleans. This religious organization has effectively managed to send missionaries all over the world, establish six outstanding seminaries, support the largest denominationally owned religious publishing house in the world, and become the largest non-Catholic denomination in the United States of America–all without the benefit of a decent name. Thus, this year, President Bryant Wright, upon the advice of his hand selected blue ribbon team, will propose the formal adoption of a new and exciting name for the denomination–the Southern Baptist Convention. In a press conference making every single item in the Nice Christian historical archives available to the public, Wright simply posed the question, “How can we expect others to understand, appreciate and celebrate our long and Christ honoring heritage if we are so quick to run from it ourselves?” Thus begins a brand new chapter in the lives of Baptists generally and Southern Baptists especially. One can only hope that, in the future, the name “Baptist” will engender reverence over ridicule, delight over derision and commendation over contempt.