If this is a joke, it’s a very elaborate joke

Vorjack is assuming this is just an elaborate joke. David Swartz is praying it’s just a hoax. I honestly can’t tell.

Help, Mom! There Are Arminians Under My Bed!

Come along on a journey with Mitchell, as he recalls his nightmare for his mother. Mitchell was in a land of darkness and gloom, when due to no cooperation of his own, a Knight in shining armor saved him and all the other captives He intended to save. “Help, Mom”is a children’s allegory designed to teach your kids the Doctrines of Grace through the use of creative story-telling.

About the Author

JD Hall is the pastor of Fellowship Church in Eastern Montana, where he lives with his wife, Mandy, and three children. JD is a co-founder of Reformation Montana, a network and mission society consisting of Reformed Baptist churches in Montana and the surrounding region. He is a columnist for the Intermountain Christian News, and operates the Pulpit and Pen website. JD received his B.A. in Christian Education from Williams Baptist College and M.A. in History from Arkansas State University.

Some of the customer reviews posted at Amazon are clearly jokes — including some very funny ones:

Best indoctrination money can buy! (5 stars)

We bought this for our three boys, Beza, Calvin, and Van Till! They loved every minute of this book! Buying this book will root my children in a holy fear of the Arminian heresy!!! The joy they got out of this book made me almost as happy as when little Calvin started quoting the Institutes, little Van Till argued for the existence of God by assuming He existed, and little Beza threw rocks at that Methodist kid in his class! I know that God has predestined them to great things!!! I am so proud of my three little supralapsarians!!!”

I was predestined to read this book! (4 stars)

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has theologically-minded children! And by anyone I mean anyone in the whole world…And by whole world, I mean the elect.

I love the colorful illustrations, and all bible references were in the ESV, which was nice. This is a great story for Reformed children between the ages of 4-12, but would also be appropriate for pre-teen Dispensationalists and adult Pelagians.

But are they contributing to a joke, or lobbing jokes at an earnest, actual, not-intended-to-be-funny book?

I mean, come on, “due to no cooperation of his own, a Knight in shining armor saved him and all the other captives He intended to save” — that had to have been written by someone intending to lampoon Calvinism, right? That image — a “heroic” Knight rushing in to rescue only an elect few captives — seems like a vicious, mocking caricature of Reformed theology.

But that “About the Author” blurb mentions a website — JD Hall’s Pulpit & Pen.

And that site really, really doesn’t seem like a joke. It offers the sermons of JD Hall, and lots of ’em. And those sermons are just exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from the kind of person who would, without irony, write a “children’s allegory designed to teach your kids the Doctrines of Grace” featuring “a Knight in shining armor” who rescues those elect few “captives He intended to save.”

If this is a joke, it’s an incredibly elaborate joke — a hoax perpetrated by a comic genius who finds Christopher Guest’s troupe insufficiently subtle.

All of which is to say that I’m afraid this is not meant as a joke. Which is to say that I think it is a joke, but that JD Hall doesn’t realize that. He’s not Christopher Guest, he’s Corky St. Clair.


• Micah J. Murray, “The Day I Stopped Believing in God

• Richard Beck, “I Don’t Think Calvinists Can Be Therapists

• Richard Beck, “More on the Impossibility of Calvinistic Christian Psychotherapy


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  • FearlessSon

    I think you lost me somewhere along the line. I do not get it.

  • Bridgier Wood

    I’m pretty sure Sidney Montana is already an argument for predestination.

  • StevenAppelget

    Poe’s Law strikes again!

  • Looks like there’s also a sequel, creatively titled “Help! Arminians are giving me nightmares again!” Because if your kid didn’t embrace Calvinist doctrine after reading the first clumsily written book, the second one ought to do the trick.

  • At first I thought it said, “Armenians Are Under My Bed!” This is due, at least in part, to the fact that I always thought that I had been raised Arminianist.

  • MikeJ

    At first I thought it said, “Armenians Are Under My Bed!”

    My first thought was, “are they being massacred by Turks?”

  • Lori

    I read it as Armenians too and wondered if this was some weird, racist genocide denial thing. In my defense, I was raised in a church that really doesn’t talk about heresy much so my brain just doesn’t go there.

  • Me, too. I don’t think I’ve come across “Arminian” before.

  • “You have not setup any widgets for this Home page widget column.
    Configure Home Widgets →”

    He doesn’t know how to set up a WordPress site. Whether that’s an argument for or against it being a joke, I don’t know.

  • I learned about the Arminian heresy in college, in a class specifically designed to teach how the Catholic Church rose to prominence in Western Europe. When I first saw Fred mention Baptists fighting against it (a year or two ago), I thought he was joking.

  • It helps to know a bit about Christians who have fought over competing doctrines (or heresies, depending on who you talk to). If you’re in the mood for some theological geekery, start with a keyword search like “Calvinists vs. Arminians.”

  • Lori

    I know that I’d heard of the Arminian heresy before I started reading here, but I honestly can’t remember where. World religions maybe? IDK. Heresy just isn’t really a thing with the Church of Christ. They talk about what they consider improper teaching, but they’re not big on calling it X Heresy, probably because that’s too Catholic. I definitely know more about the Armenians than I do about the Arminian heresy

  • Winter

    I have to admit that I thought that, too. My second thought whenever I see “Arminian” is to wonder how in the world a German leader east of the Rhine came up with a Christian heresy before the Crucifixion even took place. I suppose Quinctilius Varus got an advance copy of the Gospel while he was governor of Judaea?

  • FearlessSon

    See, I assumed it had something to do with people living in a small country at the southern end of the Caucasus mountains.

  • So did I, until I reread it a few times and realized it’s “Arminians” with an I, not “Armenians” with an E. There are many fails present, but the spelling is correct… at least on the front cover. (Of course, I’m a Methodist, so I contemplated being offended by being compared to the monster under the bed again for a moment before deciding it was just too silly for that.)

  • J_Enigma32

    Same here, but I thought that they’d just misspelled the word. It took me a second before I realized it was intended to be Arminians (mostly because I had to remember what Arminians *were*), and even then I wasn’t sure, since that seems to me like it’s too deep for most children to understand. I mean, Arminian isn’t a word I hear everyday. Armenian isn’t either, but I run into that word far more often…

  • Sometimes it’s very hard to tell.

    (Oh, the reviews, by the way? That’s the real George Takei. :D)

  • Are you sure you aren’t thinking of Arianism? Arius lived in the third century and taught that God the Son was subordinate to God the Father.

    Jacobus Arminius (a/k/a Jakob Hermanszoon) lived in the 17th century and taught that the doctrine of election was hogwash.

  • Yep, I’m thinking of Arianism.

    I’d apparently never heard of Arminianism before at all :P.

  • Isn’t the answer…both? The book is real & the reviews are jokes?

  • Justme

    There was a push to Latinize names among academics during the period, Latin being the language of acadmeia. So Jakob Hermanzoon becomes Icobus Arminius. (Same thing with Calvin. Jean Cauvin becomes Ioannis Calvinis)

    Then you have people who Grecify their name. So Philipp Schwartzerdt decides to write under the Greek translation of his last name, and becomes Melanchthon

  • ReverendRef

    Although, to be fair to the people of Sidney . . . While I was still living in Montana there was the unfortunate story about the bloke from Scotland (I think) who wanted to pay a visit to his girlfriend who, for some reason, was living in Sydney. He booked his ticket, didn’t really pay attention, and ended up in Sidney (Montana, that is, not Australia) wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip flops . . . in January. IIRC, the people of Sidney all pitched in and bought him a ticket to down under.

  • Turcano

    Yeah, I was initially wondering if this was some weird jab at Turkey or something.

  • Maniraptor

    I was thinking of Arianism too. Now I’m kind of disappointed.

  • Yeah, and then I remembered what Armenians do to people who insult them:

  • christopher_y

    You tend to have heard of Arminianism if you’ve studied history at an English school because of Archbishop Laud and the Long Parliament and all that. “Heard of” does not necessarily equal understood.

  • Bridgier Wood

    Somewhat off topic… but I think I remember reading your blog back when you lived in Montana… Sheridan, wasn’t it?

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    Now I really want to hear George Takei do an audiobook version of Green Eggs And Ham.

    Oh my!

  • Vermic

    Help, Mom! There are Armenians Under My Bed! is the heartwarming tale of a little boy who discovers rock band System of a Down living in his bedroom! At first alarmed by the “scary” and “postmodern absurdist” musicians sharing his living space, the boy eventually comes to befriend his strange guests. In the end, he learns that musical subgenres can be ambiguous, but a friend’s loyalty never is. The next morning, was it all just a dream? The signed copy of Toxicity under his pillow hints otherwise!

  • Jeff Weskamp

    The only Armenians I want to have under my bed are the Kardashian sisters!

  • Daniel

    I have studied at an English school, was obsessively geeky about Tudor and Stuart history (so the period of Laud and the Long Parliament) but I still did a double take when I saw that this book wasn’t a racist title published under the auspices of the Turkish government.
    What’s the middle-eastern equivalent of Godwining a thread?

  • LL

    When people can’t tell the difference between your religious belief and a hoax (or troll or satire), you should probably rethink your belief.

  • Ben Howard

    It’s definitely real. There was a minor scuffle a week or so back when Rachel Held Evans tweeted asking if it was a joke. The author responded and he is not a man of mirth and humor.

  • ReverendRef

    Good memory. I served two congregations — Sheridan and Virginia City. I lived in Sheridan, the metropolis of the valley.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    My writing partner (the burned-out preacher-man) told me about this one a couple weeks ago, as an aside. Since then, it’s popped up at the spiritual-abuse blogs The Wartburg Watch and Spiritual Sounding Board. At the latter, it is now the longest thread in that blog’s history — over 500 and counting, with a couple Hyper-Calvinists (i.e. more Calvinist than Calvin) trying to hijack the thread into Celebrity Deathmatch: Calvin and TULIP vs All Comers.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    The second book might be a simple retitling instead of a sequel.
    During one of the election frenzies around ten years ago, somebody came out with a children’s book titled “HELP! MOMMY! THERE ARE LIBERALS UNDER MY BED!” and there might have been some legal action regarding the title.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    As you should whenever South Park dedicates an entire episode to you and/or your belief.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    True BE-LEEEEEE-vers rarely are.
    In an age of extremes like ours, you need to remember that as crazy and over-the-top as you can imagine for a joke, there will be some True Believer out there who is twice as crazy, twice as over-the-top, and DEAD SERIOUS.

  • Ethics Gradient

    I think everyone will like the ‘Name That Kids’ Book’ cartoon here: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/06/05/hey-mom-jd-hall-is-giving-me-nightmares/

    My favourite is “One Fish, Two Fish, God Chose You Fish”

  • reynard61

    Only if you promise to Cher and share alike…

  • Matri

    Obligatory *groans*

  • P J Evans

    I don’t know what Arminians believe, but I do know they’re not the same as Armenians. (For one thing, Armenians are into food. Lots of food. Lots of *tasty* food. Sweet pastries. Zankou’s broiled chicken with high-octane garlic sauce. Filled potato dumplings.)

  • LoneWolf343

    Poe’s Law in action, right here.

  • LoneWolf343

    I would buy all of Takei’s audiobooks.

  • MyopicBookworm

    Actually Arminians are into food too. My Mum said the Methodists do the best buffet lunches.