If there is one thing most theologians are in need of it is a good laugh. After hours of poring over the sometimes terrible writing and convoluted thoughts of people we are generally in disagreement with, a little levity would seem to be a welcome thing.
I was pleased to be introduced to an old, humorous book a few months ago by Bruce Ashford. He credits Paige Patterson with bringing him to the font of amusement. Personally, I don’t care how it got to me. I just think it’s funny.
The book is Wildlife in the Kingdom Come: An Explorer Looks at the Critters and Creatures of the Theological Kingdom. It was written (and illustrated) by Ken C. Johnson and John H. Coe. Cast your memory back to the 1980’s and you may remember seeing Ken Johnson’s name as the creator and writer of McGee and Me! Or, more recently, from his work with Adventures in Odyssey. John H. Coe is actually a trained theologian who is at Biola and, amazingly, actually lists this book on his faculty page.
Wildlife in the Kingdom Come contains several dozen brief discussions of theological movements or elements of theology and a representative drawing. It is very tongue in cheek. It also leaves no theological movement protected, making fun of theologians of every stripe. The footnotes are humorous, too, citing authors such as Clark P. Nock and R. C. Sprawl.
Most of the humor is not highbrow. It relies on puns, caricatures and stereotypes. Of course, if the punchlines were too sophisticated it wouldn’t be nearly as fun to read. Who wants to work to get a chortle, anyway?
I’ll give five quotes to provide a taste of the book:
“Long ago in an age when the primitive shores of the Textual Critic Coastlands were forming, a fierce and tyrannical giant roamed the earth, the terrible Textus Receptus (TR). Rising from the Erasmus Manuscript Marshes, the TR ruled these lands particularly during the Jurassic Era of King James.”
“Anyone wishing to explore the theological kingdom will inevitably encounter the Problem Passage. This terrifying creature roams the Theological Hillsides and creates extremely difficult going for the would-be traveler. By positioning himself stubbornly on the explorer’s path, the Problem Passage impeded any attempt to forge a trail toward a complete theological system.”
“In the heartland of the Teaching Timberlands that border the Pulpit Prairies thrives the ever-stoic and staunch Expository Sermon. Though less daunting and spirited than his cousin, the Topical Sermon, this meticulous creature is an instinctive digger and a study in discipline.”
“Many centuries ago zealous (and at times, unbalanced) expeditions sought to rid the Great Primitivchuch Plains of a dreaded and poisonous parasite, the Heretic. Found throughout the theological lands, the Heretic is most fond of feeding off helpless hers of Unorthodox and Neoorthodox whose diet lacks any substantial dosages of doctrine of theological presuppositions. Although small and difficult to detect at first, the bite of this malicious little pest can have devastating results. As infection forms around the bite, schism and dissension spread throughout the body of the helpless victims. This condition ultimately gives way to such fatal diseases as Arianism, Modalism, Universalism, and the Ten-Percent Tithe.”
“By far the most beautiful and colorful of all the birds in the Moral Highgrounds is the proud Pelagian. This reigning king of pomp and splendor typically spreads his impeccably plumage for all to see. His feathered feat is usually an unabashed attempt to attract as many admirers as his flock can carry. So impressive is the sight that some have suggested that his brilliant display has a blinding affect [sic] on the admirers of this unfallen fowl.”
The list goes on. There are pages of these punny quips and sidelong theological references throughout. As a student of theology, I have guffawed, wheezed, snorted, and cackled at some of the jokes. My family things I’m crazy anyway, so that makes no difference.
The biggest downside of this book is that it is out of print. However, I still commend it because there are relatively inexpensive copies available used through Amazon. Trust me, theological friends, this is worth your money. It’s a skinny book, too, so it won’t be that much more weight the next time you move.