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An Anecdote from “Raccoon” John Smith

by Louis Cochran

In passing a Methodist camp meeting one day in September he stopped to watch a young Methodist preacher baptize a howling, rebellious infant by sprinkling water on the squirming body. When the service was concluded, he stepped to the front of the crowd and, identifying himself, took the preacher firmly by the arm and attempted to lead him toward the creek a few yards away.

“What are you trying to do, Brother Smith?” the young preacher protested. “Are you out of your mind?”

“What am I trying to do?” John affected deep surprise. “Why, sir, I am going to baptize you by immersion into the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to his commandment.”

“But I have no desire for such baptism. I know of you; you are called `The Dipper.’ But you are not going to dip me. I’m a Methodist; let me go!”

John tightened his hold on the man’s arm while the crowd watched, some in apprehension, others in amusement. “That is a scoffer’s blasphemy of a holy ordinance,” John said sternly. “Are you a believer?”

“Of course I’m a believer,” the preacher said indignantly. “But Im not willing to be immersed. It would do no good for you to baptize me against my will. It would be wrong!”

“I don’t understand,” John said. “Only a few minutes ago you baptized a helpless baby against its will, although it screamed and kicked. Did you get its consent first? Come along, sir, we will have no more of this foolishness.”

The crowd broke into open laughter, and John gave the young preacher a quick pull toward the creek, and then as suddenly released him.

Note by Dudley Ross Spears: John Smith lived in and around Wayne Country, Kentucky and left denominationalism to follow the New Testament only. He was a rugged and very strong farmer who was responsible for numerous conversions and established many local churches in the Commonwealth.