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Are conservative Christian theology and liberal politics compatible?
Saturday, 29 August 2009
Joe Wasserkopf and the founding of the Inverse Baptist Convention
Mood:  mischievious
Topic: Pure Satire
Joe Wasserkopf and the founding of the Inverse Baptist Convention: A Tale of Religious Experience

About 2 a.m. on the Sunday morning before Christmas in a year not too long ago, professional burglar Joe Wasserkopf was practicing his trade at the First Baptist Church of Podunk Falls, Arkansas when suddenly the fear of and Hell came upon him.  He had always known well enough that stealing was wrong, but he had burglarized churches before without feeling the slightest remorse.  This fear he felt was absolutely unfamiliar to him and was overpowering.  He sat for a time totally paralyzed, fearing greatly, wondering what he must do to be saved.

As he sat steeping in his fear, Joe remembered the few things he thought he knew about Christianity and salvation.  He remembered that salvation had something to do with the forgiveness of his sins.  He also remembered that someone had once told him he must call upon Jesus' name to be saved.  And finally, he remembered that someone had once told him that he had to be baptized.

It was at this point in his fearful musings that Joe noticed the baptistery. It had been filled the night before, in anticipation of several baptisms the next morning, but it had not yet been heated.  Upon seeing the full baptistery, Joe suddenly understood what he must do. He asked Jesus to forgive him for burglarizing the church.  Then he stood on his head in the baptistery, mentally reciting Jesus name, determined to remain in that posture until Jesus showed him the way of salvation.   

Sure enough, about three minutes later Joe had a very powerful religious experience.  His life immediately changed for the better, and he started preaching to others the utility and necessity of being baptized by calling on Jesus' name while standing on one's head in a baptistery.  Mockers, of course, attributed his religious experience to anoxia and hypothermia.  However, he persevered, and he assembled a following in spite of the mockery. Those who criticized Joe and his followers were not "true" Christians and simply didn't have "faith."

Others--many others, it seemed--were having powerful religious experiences after two to four minutes in the tank utilizing this unusual mode of baptism.  There were a few near-fatalities early in the growth of the movement, but after a few years the technique became sufficiently standardized that those administering the rite could distinguish religious from medical distress, and the near-fatalities ceased.  Joe Wasserkopf left his life of crime and became a wealthy televangelist.

Then Joe and the leaders of some of the local churches in the movement decided that the movement was in danger of being "split" by the heretical teaching of some of the newcomers to the movement. These newcomers had indeed experienced powerful baptismal religious experiences, but their visions while standing on their heads were not entirely similar to those of Joe and the older leaders.  Indeed, some of them even had the gall to teach that there might be other ways to receive the salvation experience, without standing on one's head in cold water!  Joe and the other leaders feared that a "split" would deceive some of the faithful, and might also damage their incomes.  So, it was time to form a denominational organization to bring some discipline to bear.

Therefore, Joe and the old leadership formed the Inverse Baptist Convention, in order to maintain the unity of the movement and the pure teaching of its one distinctive doctrine--namely, that God grants the penitent believer salvation at the instant he or she receives baptism by inversion according to the rite prescribed by the organization.  

This tale is fictional, of course, but it is believable because it is so much like so many things that have actually happened throughout church history...      

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 2:52 PM EDT

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