The term "holy laughter" was coined to describe a phenomenon during which a person laughs uncontrollably, as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit's joy. It is characterized by uncontrollable laughter, sometimes accompanied by swooning or falling down to the floor. First-hand accounts from those who have experienced this, believe it to be a sign of a "blessing" or an "anointing" of the Holy Spirit.
“we do hear them speak in our tongues."
“declaring the wonderful works of God”
“the wonderful works of God.”
"Why did they think the believers were drunk?" asks Rodney Howard-Browne. "Because they must have acted like drunk people".
“For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.” (Acts 2:15)
If self-control is a fruit of the Spirit of God, how can uncontrollable laughter also be a fruit of His Spirit? Revival leaders claim that being "filled" with the Spirit means that we are sort of "tossed about" by His whims. But the idea that God would make people act drunk, or laugh uncontrollably, or make animal noises as a result of the Spirit's anointing is directly opposed to the way the Spirit acts, according to Galatians 5:22-23. The Spirit described in Galatians 5 is one that promotes self-control within us, not the opposite. Finally, there was no one in the Bible more filled with the Holy Spirit than Jesus, and not once does the Bible ever record Him laughing.
Despite this impossibility, some still appeal to personal experience to validate their behavior. This, too, is a dangerous premise from which to operate. As fallen creatures our personal judgments are all too fallible — particularly when it concerns spiritual matters. We should not test experience in light of experience; rather, we should test experience in light of the final court of arbitration, the Word of God. This is precisely why God directs His people to search His written Word for counsel in matters of doctrine and daily living. Faithful followers of Christ must therefore look not to their own personal experiences, but to the Scriptures as the ultimate measuring rod. As Scripture itself exhorts us, “test all things”
(1) There is no biblical precedent for "holy" laughter.
Laughter is rarely mentioned in the Bible. Yet, when it is, the Bible seems to make more of a case for holy sorrow than for "holy" laughter. Scripture supports Solomon's contention that "sorrow is better than laughter." It does not support the present "laughing revival."
(2) Substituting the word joy for laughter is a non sequitur. It is inaccurate and misleading.
There is no scriptural authority for equating biblical references to joy with the involuntary manifestations of "holy" laughter. Just because there are insufficient Bible texts to make the case for "holy" laughter, it does not follow that you can simply redefine the word laughter by substituting the word joy.
(3) "Holy" laughter advocates rarely, if ever, discuss the need to "test the spirits."
The Bible warns us that not every supernatural manifestation is necessarily from God.
(4) "Holy" laughter advocates rarely, if ever, talk about the Spirit's express warning that in the latter times some people will be supernaturally seduced by deceptive evil spirits into following them and not the one true God.
1 Timothy 4:1 warns,
1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
According to the August Charisma article, Rodney Howard-Browne "disparages" people who "try to apply theological tests" to what he does. The Hunters' book Holy Laughter refers to skeptics as God's "frozen chosen." Mona Johnian writes, "skeptics, hesitaters and procrastinators do not get anointed." She warns "that any person or church that wavered could be eliminated."
(7) Rodney Howard-Browne's prayer to God just prior to his "anointing" ("either you come down here and touch me or I'll come up there and touch you") was unscriptural.
Howard-Browne's prayer was the essence "my will be done." It was not "thy will be done," as taught by Jesus in scripture. Why should we automatically assume that it was God who answered his prayer?
(8) "Holy" laughter advocates, in talking about "signs and wonders," rarely, if ever, mention the Bible's many warnings about deceptive signs and wonders.
In Matthew 16:4 Jesus warns,
The eighth chapter of Acts describes how the disciples would not lay hands on Simon, a baptized believer, even though he desperately wanted the gift of the Holy Ghost, because his heart was "not right in the sight of God." 1 Timothy 5:22 warns us
(10) "Holy laughter advocates blatantly disregard the biblical admonition that things be done decently and in order.
1 Corinthians 14:40 says,
(11) The chaos and confusion that usually characterizes the "laughing revival: contradicts the Bible's description of the Person of God.
1 Corinthians 14:33 states,
To combat the deception that arose during the Welsh revival at the turn of this century authors Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts wrote "War on the Saints: a disclosure of the deceptive strategies used by evil spirits against God's people." Both were very involved with the revival and were extremely concerned about the demonic manifestations that began to dominate their meetings. The forward to War on the Saints warns of "the grave dangers that beset the path of uninformed enthusiasm."
(13) A number of Christians have experienced the equivalent of "holy" laughter when they were in the New Age.
Indian Guru Bhagvhan Shree Rajneesh was affectionately known by his followers as the "divine drunkard" because he was reputed to have drunk so deeply from the well of the "Divine." Hundreds of Sannyasins had flown to India "to drink" from "Bhagwan's wine." When followers were physically touched by Rajneesh, or even if they were merely in his presence, they would often experience feelings of great exhilaration and joy. Disciples of Swami Baba Muktananda would often manifest uncontrollable laughter after receiving Shaktipat (physical contact) from the guru.
(14) The "laughing revival" could one day merge with what the New Age calls the coming day of "planetary Pentecost."
Barbara Marx Hubbard, (revered New Age leader and a 1984 Democratic nominee for the Vice Presidency of the United States), writes in her book, Teachings from the Inner Christ, how the human race will soon experience a day of "Planetary Pentecost." Hubbard, claiming to be in contact with "Christ," writes: "the Planetary Smile is another name for the Planetary Pentecost. When enough of us share a common thought of our oneness with God, Spirit will be poured out on all flesh paying attention" (p.79). In her book The Revelation, Hubbard says "Christ," in describing the planetary smile, said: "an uncontrollable joy will ripple through the thinking layer of the earth. The co-creative systems, which are lying psychologically dormant in humanity will be activated. From within, all sensitive persons will feel the joy of the force, flooding their systems with love and attraction...as this joy flashes through the nervous systems of the most sensitive peoples on earth, it will create a psycho magnetic field of empathy, which will align the next wave of people in synchrony, everywhere on Earth. This massive, sudden empathic alignment will cause a shift in the consciousness of Earth" (p. 234-235). Writing in Happy Birth Day Planet Earth, Hubbard repeats what she heard from "Christ." He said, "as the planetary smile ripples through the nervous systems of earth, and the instant of co-operation begins, and empathy floods the feelings of the whole body of Earth, separation is overcome, and I appear to all of you at once (p. 10-11).
The controversy over "holy" laughter is already splitting congregations and causing deep divisions in the body of Christ. And while many people have already taken sides, there are many more who are still trying to figure out just what is going on. Is this really a move of God, or is this the kind of deception the Bible warns about in Matthew 24, 1 Timothy 4:1, and in the second chapter of Thessalonians?
Unity is indeed the heartfelt desire of every sincere Christian.
In reflecting on "holy" laughter during these very troubled times, a music special in the midst of an otherwise polite Hollywood type crowd, a male vocalist sang straight faced and sober into the teeth of their celebration. His words were electric and piercing, and they seemed to hang in the air. He sang, "you're laughing now, but you should be praying. You're in the midnight hour of your life."