In the realms of apocryphal stories involving death and destruction, there is one that recurs with remarkable frequency from fundamentalist pulpits — almost invariably presented as an actual event.
The story begins with “a man in my church” or perhaps “a man who was a friend of another man who once visited Bobby Roberson’s church a few years back.” It seems that this man had a beautiful wife and two young children and they were all healthy and happy and lived on milk and honey. But then one day the man decided to stop going to church or quit tithing or didn’t surrender to go to Belize on the last night of the missions conference while People Need the Lord was being sung at the invitation. And tragedy struck.
For one young child was bitten by a nest of snakes that had taken residence under the man’s house. And in his haste to take the child to the hospital, the man ran over the second young child while backing out of the driveway. The mother upon seeing this event worthy of a John Cleese movie, has the good sense to drop dead of a heart attack.
The scene ends with the man, having in one fell swoop lost everyone he loves, standing there recalling his folly at not wanting to go to the mission field because it was “too dangerous.”
The moral of the story is: “It’s dangerous backslide in a church where the pastor is always looking for illustrations.”
Once upon a time a missionary returned from service on the mission field and brought with him many strange and curious artifacts with which to shock and awe the people in his supporting churches. But as it happened among the colorful maps and other knickknacks which the missionary purchased at a local tourist shop for $6.99 there was also an evil statue which had been cursed (blessed?) by a local witch doctor. And that evil remained.
So it came to pass that when the missionary set up this statue upon his missionary display it caused many strange things to begin happening in the church building. Lights began to flicker, toilets would flush spontaneously, and the huge portrait of the senior pastor which hung in the vestibule would randomly be found upside down.
Thankfully there was a wise associate pastor in this church who recognized these as the sure signs of demon activity. Upon inquiring of the missionary about his artifacts, they removed the offending statue and set it ablaze in the parking lot whereupon were observed billows of green smoke, fiendish screams, and the neighbors calling the fire department.
So heed this lesson well and bring not back to these shores items blessed by the heathen. For St. Paul may have told us that an idol is nothing but they can still makes for a great story.
Once upon a time there was a drawbridge by which a train would cross a perilous chasm. And at that drawbridge was a keeper who’s job it was to lower the drawbridge in order that the train might pass unharmed.
Now it just so happened that it was a sunny Tuesday morning when the father got the bright idea to bring his only son to work with him and let the boy wedge himself between the gears of the drawbridge lowering mechanism.
“Gadzooks!” exclaimed the fatherÂ suddenly, “I just remembered that it’s time for a train to come through and now I’ve got to lower the drawbridge and crush you to death so that train full of strangers can live.”
So he does exactly that. This certainly doesn’t do the boy a whole lot of good and one can only imagine it doesn’t do the drawbridge gears any favors either.Â But the train is saved and goes through completely unaware of what has happened and nobody even bothers to stop and say “thank you” or send a fruit basket.
Somehow or another this is just like Christ dying to save humanity (not to mention providing great discussions for philosophy classes) whichÂ evidently was also a horrible accident.
Please pass out the tissues and turn to #365 in your Hymnals,Â Just as I Am.
In the battle of good over evil in men’s hearts and minds, fundamentalists believe that evil will triumph every single time it is encountered for more than a fleeting instant. Consider this story…
A man had two bird cages. In the one lived a melodious songbird. In the other an ugly, squawking (and notably black) crow. Influenced by some abominable whim this man decided to set the cages close to one another in order that the crow might learn to sing like the songbird. But alas after many weeks the man discovered to his consternation, horror and dismay that in fact the songbird was now squawking like the crow.
The moral of the story is that if you’re around evildoers, whore-mongers, and bearded men with wire rimmed glasses on a chain that you will inevitably grow to be like them instead of the other way around. Holiness is such a weak and wretched thing that it’s only defense is to hide itself in a hole until the end of the world and never see the light of day. Amen.