Last night I was looking over my notes from Thomas Kidd’s wonderful new book, God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution. You can look for my review next week at TGC Reviews. Anyone interested in American history and especially Christian contributions should pick up this book about the formative influences on the United States.

Kidd makes frequent references to John Leland, a Baptist evangelist from Massachusetts. Leland was so excited about Thomas Jefferson’s election as president in 1800 that he sent Jefferson a block of cheese weighing 1,235 pounds. Leland and friends further honored Jefferson by marking the cheese with one of Jefferson’s favorite phrases: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” While a friend to Jefferson, Leland made many enemies. After he preached to Jefferson and a joint session of Congress, one congressman called Leland a “cheesemonger.” You have to love the colorful insults of yesteryear!

Leland, a fiery evangelical and fierce advocate of disestablishment, could give it as good as he received it. Connecticut, along with other New England states, restricted Baptists and other dissenters while preferring the Congregationlist establishment descended from Puritan founders. Angry about a certification law passed in 1791, Leland unleashed a powerful defense of religious liberty. He titled his sermon, “The Rights of Conscience Inalienable, and Therefore Religious Opinions Not Cognizable by Law; or, The High-Flying Church-Man, Stripped of His Legal Robe, Appears a Yaho.”

They just don’t make sermon titles like they used to.

I know sharp readers out there have compiled their own lists of fun sermon titles from the past. Any you’d like to share with the rest of us?

Also, do you wonder what today’s sermon titles would be if we wrote them like Leland and his contemporaries? Wonder no more! I’ve “uncovered” three sermon titles that just couldn’t fit on a modern-day church bulletin:

Mark Dever: “Church Membership Defined and Defended Against the Individualistic Tendencies of Modernity; or, The Easy-Believer, Stripped of His Farcical Attendance Figures, Appears Lonely”

Tim Keller: “Man and the Mythology of American Meritocracy; or, The Overachiever, Stripped of His Gainful Employment, Appears an Idol-Worshiper”

John Piper: “Dangerous Delight in an Era of Diminished Demands and Deleterious Delusions; or, The Legalist, Stripped of His Judgmental Facade, Appears a Fraud”