A Fishy Baptism & The Last Day Bird Machine

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 28th, 2005

These two old stories were taken from the Centennial History of Missouri published in 1921.

The Dry Land Baptist

A pioneer in Callaway County was Thomas Kitchen. He attended the old Baptist church at Salem, of which his wife was member. He never joined the church because, as he explained to the members, he could not tell his experience, never having had any. He went by the description of the “dry land” Baptist for years, until one day he fell from the top of a mill Captain John Baker was building on Loutre creek. Kitchen dropped into the creek, killing a big catfish by the impact but sustaining no injury. After that he argued that he had been baptized and ought not to be called a dry land member of the church. He also enlarged his name to Thomas Jonah Kitchen, because he said that like Jonah of old he was saved by a fish.

Booneville’s “Last Day”

Millerites had obtained quite a following in Missouri as early as 1844. They predicted the “last day” of the world with confident definiteness. A comet of that year was interpreted as heralding the end of the world. Captain F.M. Posegate told in the St. Joseph News-Press some years ago his recollections, as a boy in Booneville, of the deep impression made upon the people when the last day fixed by the Millerites came: One man concluded he would make an effort to forestall the flying chariot in which the elect were to ascend to the presence of the Judge by using a flying machine, or bird machine as he styled it. He worked faithfully for weeks upon the contrivance and only a few days before the all-absorbing event was expected to materialize hauled it out onto a platform on top of his barn to give it a trial. At the first flop the machine fell to the ground, resulting in a broken neck for the man. To him the end of the world had come, the consolation to his relatives and friends being that he had at least escaped any possible suffering that the flames might inflict. At last the day upon which the prophesy was expected to culminate dawned—clear, soft, beautiful—typical of a old fashioned Missouri “Indian summer” day. (We do not seem to have such days now.) ‘Old Sol’ manifested no desire to hurry matters—the hours dragged slowly—the usual activities of everyday life seemed almost paralyzed, while a nervous uneasiness involving the entire community was apparent. As the sun, seemingly a glowing, flashing ball of fire, sank below the horizon and twilight began to shadow the earth, the suspense became almost unbearable and it would be idle to say that a feeling of doubt, of uncertainty, of unspeakable awe did not pervade the whole community. The head of the comet soon made its appearance and before its fleecy tail disappeared behind the western horizon, the moon, nearly at its full, was shedding its soft, silvery, steady light, rendering all things visible for miles around. Only one hour—sixty short minutes—remained during which the prophesy must materialize, if at all. The main street of the village was thronged with humanity—the believer, the unbeliever, the doubter and the scoffer. The elect, and there were many of them, arrayed in their ascension robes, stood joyously together all in readiness to be taken up. Suddenly, from out in the direction of Gibson’s hill, a spear of light harsher than that emitted by the moon sprang up. As it grew, spread, flared, no mortal pen could have given a fair idea of the silence that prevailed. No mortal artist could have painted the various expressions shown upon the countenances of individuals. Just at the moment when hope, joy, doubt, and fear were most strongly depicted a mounted messenger came clattering down Gibson hill. As he passed the Wyan residence, hat in hand, he yelled: ‘It is only an old haystack in Gibson’s outfield that is burning.’ All along the main street, from the brick house in which Todd and Loomis afterwards taught school to the Powel residence, overlooking the Missouri river, he proclaimed the message. With its close and the exhaustion of the fire from the haystack, the suspense ended; seemingly an audible sigh of relief rose from the souls of the overstrained throng of people who had so feverishly awaited the denouement. In the shortest time possible the streets were deserted and the little city was wrapped in a silence so profound as to be almost startling. It is a satisfaction to me now that I cannot recall a single instance where some thoughtless individual twitted a Millerite with the saying, old at that time, ‘I told you so.’ Neither do I remember to have heard any Millerite express any regret at the nonfulfillment of the prophesy.

I found the first story downright funny, though typical of “Christians” who, being zealous though scripturally ignorant, claim some of the most foolish things in the name of the Lord. The second is interesting to me particularly because of the lack of regret by the Millerites when their certain prophesy of the last day did not happen. It shouldn’t surprise us, as it seems that Christians in every generation have no problem with the false prophets and prophesies they foist on all. They are so certain that they are right that the stacking scriptural evidence against them means nothing, as is the case with those who swear by their secular and Christian prophets that our debt-based, usurious economic system is blessed of God. This story is also a case of scripturally ignorant foolishness, though it’s not nearly as humorous, in my opinion, because it bears witness to the apostasy that has been overtaking our nation for many generations, which is no laughing matter. The Missouri Rev

One Response

  1. Chad Says:

    Pastor, I always enjoy reading your posts.

    The Millerite story was interesting. Those old-time end-time prophets sure lacked the vision of our modern ones. Otherwise they would have simply written a new book!

    Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth should be quite laughable to even the most ardent dispensationlists due to the many prophecies that didn’t even come close to shaping up like he predicted. But he doesn’t let that stop him, he just writes another book with NEW AND IMPROVED stories to keep the faithful locked in their prayer closets.

    Of course, Tim LaHaye has further improved the business plan, writing fictional stories which for the most part exempt him from having to put his reputation on the line with specific assertions.

    The great thing about being a dispensationlist is that they don’t have to worry about what will happen when our financial sins bear fruit and come crashing down on our heads – they’ll all be raptured before then of course. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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