All this hard thinking about arguments for God’s existence has been making my head hurt. As a result, the Apologetic Professor is going to take a week away from such serious intellectual depths and sail instead into some shallower waters.
In the spirit of the internet, by which I mean saying whatever is on my mind in the most useless fashion possible, this week I’ve been thinking about Christian denominations and why they are named what they are. And something is very apparent if you look at the history of Christian denominations: We suck at naming stuff. We need to hire some PR firms or something.
As evidence, I present to you here, for the first time collected all in one place, some of the worst organization names that humanity has ever produced. In order to assure that I offend as many people as possible, and also to make my editors happy (as you are aware if you’ve read my recent posts, those idiots are constantly impressing upon me the need to increase the sheer number of my numerical lists), I’ve included here fully five of the worst denomination names ever.
[Editor’s note: The editorial staff at the Apologetic Professor does not endorse increasing the number of items in an inherently insulting and offensive list, and the senior writer’s suggestion to the contrary is bordering on the ridiculous. While we have tried during this post to correct obvious factual inaccuracies and limit the offensive material, we nonetheless apologize to anyone and everyone offended by this bizarre ramble. We would further like to emphasize that these critiques are meant only of the denomination names, and not of the people or the doctrines of those fine organizations.]
1. Anabaptist. I don’t even know what an Anabaptist is and I’m sure I’ll get some nasty e-mails about this (or e-mails from people telling me about the glorious history of the Anabaptist movement, of which I have some vague recollection). But even if I was a devout member of this denomination, which I’m sure is full of fine people if it still exists, I would think this name rather odd. I mean, it sounds like some kind of super-villain in a comic book called “The Adventures of Baptist Man.” I can imagine the comic book going something like this:
Baptist Man: It is a fine day to be strolling in Bible Belt City, protecting its fair citizens from alcohol and the occasional dance-like move, is it not, sidekick?
Moves-Without-Dancing Boy (Faithful Sidekick): Holy smokes, Baptist Man, what is that blot on our fair city up ahead?
Baptist Man: I see it, faithful sidekick. Oh, calm down, you idiot, it’s just a cloud.
Moves-Without-Dancing Boy: No, I think it’s someone actually smoking; that’s why I said holy smokes in the last panel, thus fulfilling my sidekick obligation to say holy something in a somewhat clever way during every episode. Now I will fulfill my dramatic introduction of the evil villain duty by saying: In fact, I think that smoker is none other than…
Baptist Man: (Gasps). The Evil Anabaptist! My foul archenemy and purveyor of all that is superficially wrong yet probably okay if done in the right spirit!
Anabaptist: Yes, it is I, the Anabaptist, blatantly smoking and tapping my foot in a very Pentecostal way. Bwahahahahaha!
Baptist Man: Sidekick, we must stop that foot!
Moves-Without-Dancing Boy: (Embarrassingly caught tapping foot himself in a not-quite-so-Pentecostal-yet-still-questionable way). Ummm….yes….but I think this is a job for…Hypocrisy Man!
[Scene cut off by editors of the Apologetic Professor for fear of alienating his many Baptist friends. The Apologetic Professor would like to note that he was raised Baptist, recently and happily attended a wonderful Baptist Church in Indiana where he was a part of one of the greatest home groups ever, attends a Baptist church with his fantastic in-laws when he goes back to Texas, and is proud of his Baptist heritage. He just likes poking fun at silliness in all its forms, that’s all!]
2. Christian. I know this is a solid Christian denomination, but…seriously? It is colossally arrogant to call yourself just “Christian,” as if you’re the real Christian denomination. If it were tried today, I’m pretty sure it would violate several U.S. copyright laws. No raisin-producing company can call itself “The Raisin Company” without raising some hackles. (Get it? “Raisin” company “raising” some hackles? Actually, I don’t get it, either. It was just some kind of weird subconscious accident).
But maybe I’m selling the marketing genius of the name short. In the South where I’m from, people refer to soda pop as coke, meaning that the generic name for all soda pops is derived from one particular brand of soda. (This leads to some weird sentences, such as “the kind of coke I’d like with my dinner is Pepsi.”) And I always thought the folks at Coca Cola must be marketing geniuses to have pulled that off. Maybe the Christian denomination folks are trying the same angle. In fact, if it’s legal, I suggest changing the name of the “University of Montana” to just “The University” or the “Big Sky Conference” to just “The Conference.”
Still, it has to create some confusion for members of the denomination trying to describe themselves. (“What denomination are you? Christian? No, I said what Christian denomination are you? Wait, you’re a Christian Christian?” And so it goes…) And it certainly has to create irritation among the non-Christian Christians like myself, who consider themselves perfectly Christian but who are apparently not Christian enough to be Christian.
3. Lutheran Church: Missouri Synod. Whoah! I’m tempted to seriously just leave it at whoah. I mean, I think the horribleness of this name speaks for itself. And I’m a little overwhelmed at where to begin critiquing it, in the same way I might freeze up if you asked me to describe the cute things my daughter does (there are so many it’s hard to know where to start). But for you, dear reader, I will try to plunge the depths of awfulness that is the name Lutheran Church: Missouri Synod (which, by the way, based on what little I know about it, is probably one of the denominations I am more likely to agree with than not overall…we’re here only critiquing the name, not the theology or history or people).
First of all, and most obviously, is the sheer length. That’s first. The length alone suggests multiple splits and divisions in the church, and that’s not exactly a good image to convey with a name.
Second, you should never have a name of an organization with a colon in it. I mean the punctuation mark, not the organ. I think having an organization with the colon organ in it would be a little creepy, though, now that it comes to a point.
[The editorial staff at the Apologetic Professor wishes to correct the senior writer on this point; it was he himself who inserted the colon, and in fact the actual name of the real church denomination does not have a colon in it. We have asked him to comment on the shocking and ironic hypocrisy below].
Third, I think putting a place name in a denomination makes something cosmic sound like it is limited to a small hill in the Ozarks (or wherever). You name something after a place when you want it to be associated with that place or it actually is in that place (e.g., South Hills Evangelical Church makes sense because it is actually located in a church building in the South Hills). You don’t name a church denomination that is supposed to capture the cosmic Christian Creed after a particular state!
Fourth…synod? I mean, synod? I know kinda what a synod is and that historically it is a word used a lot in the church, but it sounds more like a secret cult meeting than a church organization. And really, even though it has been used in the church a lot, that usage is mostly is limited to ancient church history. Is synod even an English word that the average citizen knows about today? I bet people today would be more likely to answer the question what is a synod? with “head cold” than “church meeting.”
4. The General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. Ok, really, I think I’d ruin the hilarity here by saying too much about this one. Metamucil, anyone?
5. Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists. This last slot was a close battle between Primitive Baptists, Old Regular Baptists, the hilariously difficult to understand Interstate and Foreign Landmark Missionary Baptist Association (who presumably attempt to witness to all the unwashed heathen highways and pagan landmarks overseas – you’ve got to hand it to them, as I presume there really is an untapped market for spreading the gospel to inanimate objects), the Church of God of the Original Mountain Assembly (not to be confused with the Church of God Mountain Assembly, with whom they apparently vehemently disagree on something…something mountainy, I assume), and our winner, the Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists.
Do I really need to critique this name for you? Just say it out loud a couple of times. What does it mean? What are the two seeds? Why are they in the Spirit? Why do we need fully four hyphens? What is Predestinarian and why does my spell checker, in bold red squiggly lines, consistently tell me it isn’t a real English word? I actually looked up the answer to those questions on Wikipedia, but…I’m not going to tell you what they are. Savor the mystery, people! Knowing the answers to those questions would be like breaking a beautiful crystal. Cherish its mystical beauty, but don’t drop it on the floor just to see what it’s made of!