Good News: The Chaff's Gonna Burn

Good News: The Chaff's Gonna Burn

I laughed when I read the gospel in the lectionary last week.

John the Baptist often has that kind of effect on me, which may be the point. I don’t laugh out of ridicule or mockery. Rather, John wakes me to the unexpected and absurd nature of good news.

The laughter was specifically centered on a verse actually skipped by the lectionary, a non-important juncture, so it would seem, in the flow of the story of our Lord’s baptism.

I read it anyway.

Right after telling us about chaff burning with unquenchable fire, John the Baptizer’s narrator says: “So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people” (Luke 3:18).

Is that not hilarious? I could not contain myself.

Oh yeah, One is coming, John said, who will baptize us with Spirit and fire—sounds pretty cool—and then, smackdown, this Coming One will separate chaff from the grain and BURN IT WITH FIRE.

Which is good news, Luke says.

What the heck about burning anything with unquenchable fire is supposed to be good news? When is unquenchable fire EVER good news?

Into the Deep, pt. 2

Into the Deep, pt. 2

Being Baptist has a lot to do with baptism. It is right there in the name after all.

However, we are certainly not the only Christians who baptize.

So why are we called the Baptists?

Baptists first got their start in England 1609. Two men, John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, gathered with a small band of Jesus followers and snubbed church and state in one fell swoop—they baptized adults.

In 1609, most of the Western world was governed by the complete enmeshment of church and state authorities. In England, the king was head of the Anglican Church. By giving themselves to be baptized, the first Baptists were exposed not only to accusations of heresy by the Church, but also political treachery, if not treason.